Former prime minister of Britain Tony Blair has appealed to the West to deploy ground forces to crush Islamic State or face more terror attacks.
He also called for a “fundamental change of strategy” to defeat this terrorist group.
Writing in the Sunday Times on the Brussels bombings, Blair said the fight needs to be not only against the violence of extremism, but also the Islamist ideology behind it. Calling the attacks in Belgium shocking, he warned they are going to keep coming.
“The risk is that we leave the roots untouched. It is easier to look upon this problem as if the violence were cultish in nature, the provenance of tens of thousands of brainwashed crazies who, person by person, we have to arrest or ‘de-radicalize’.
“Regarding it instead as a much broader problem of ideology leads us into uncomfortable terrain because here the challenge is not measured in thousands but in millions,’ he said.
“The reality is that the adherents of this view of Islam are numbered in many millions, have, in some countries, elements of official support, and are systematically teaching it to millions of young people across the world … This ideology is not interested in coexistence. It does not seek dialogue but dominance. It cannot therefore be contained. It has to be defeated,” he wrote.
Local forces could be used against IS in Iraq, Syria and Libya but they need equipment and active, on-the-ground, military support from western coalition forces which he described as the most capable.
But such engagements mean more casualties. Frank talks are needed on how to conduct these campaigns and evolve “new methods of coalition building and cooperation between nations.”
If IS militants are not defeated, the world will witness frequent acts of terrorism which will lead to more loss of lives and destabilize “our political and social cohesion.”
“Eventually, the terrorists will commit an act of such size and horror that we will change our posture; but by then, the battle will be much harder to win without measures that contradict our basic value system,” he warned.
Blair also called for greater co-operation between intelligence agencies, an effective system of processing refugees, and in the long term, education promoting religious tolerance and effective aid and development policy.