Former British PM Tony Blair has spoken of the need for new strategies to counter radical Islam, and condemned the failure to challenge the anti-West narrative that is being propagated:
"Speaking in New York to a think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the former British prime minister said a failure to challenge the ''narrative'' that Muslims were oppressed by the West was fuelling extremism around the world....
''The practitioners of extremism are small in number; the adherents of the narrative stretch far broader into parts of mainstream thinking,'' he said....
The policy choices from 9/11 onwards were and are immensely difficult. Eventually they come down to: do we confront this extremist ideology in order to change it, or do we manage it and hope, in time, it changes itself? … I don't believe it can be benignly managed out of existence.''
A key problem with Mr Blair's argument, on the face of it, is that, as he admits, most Muslims, extremist or not, essentially accept the arguments of the extremists. Terrorist manifestations of Islam coincide with a renewal of fervour manifested in the culture, with the spread of the burqa to countries where it was not previously worn, increasing intolerance of other religions (see below on Indonesia), and so forth.
The War in Afghanistan.....
- PM Julia Gillard visited the troops in Afghanistan; Opposition leader Abbott claimed to be too worried about the prospect of jetlag to take up the invitation to join her. The Opposition's demands for boosting resources with tanks, Tiger helicopters and more were systematically demolished over the week with ADF assessments that tanks were completely unsuitable for the terrain, the helicopters will not come into service for another two years, and so forth;
- There are persistent reports that the Afghan Government is in peace talks with the Taliban and other insurgent groups;
- There was a fascinating interview on the 7.30 Report last night with reporter Bob Woodward on the travails of President Obama in dealing with the US military on the War. Not encouraging for any sense that a just war is being waged, and with some worrying warnings on the powder keg that is Pakistan....;
- Pakistan has refused to reopen a key supply route closed in protest against the killing of two Pakistan soldiers by US forces, despite receiving and apology and the finding of the investigation that the that the Pakistani soldiers fired at the two U.S. helicopters prior to the attack.
- Inside Catholic reports that a Catholic priest and a dozen others were arrested during Mass in Saudi Arabia last week, accused of proselytising;
- Christians continue to flee from Iraq, with the community now less than half its size before the war;
- a recent survey shows that religious intolerance is rising in Indonesia, with 58% opposing the construction of non-Islamic places of worship, up from 41% in 2001.
And at Wednesday's General Audience, anticipating yesterday's feast, the Pope urged Christians to seek intercession, protection and personal encounter with Christ through the "simple but efficient prayer," speaking of the Rosary as "a particular prayer of the Church and a spiritual weapon for each of us."