Blair: ‘Nonsense’ to say west causes terrorism

Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected the notion that military actions by the U.S., United Kingdom and other western countries are the cause of violent Islamic extremism around the world.

“We're making a huge error when we end up thinking somehow it's our actions that have caused this,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press" on Sunday.

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In Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, “we removed brutal dictatorships, allowed the people a chance to elect their government.”

Those nations are now struggling to support themselves after the militaries have left Iraq and as the U.S. is on the way out of Afghanistan, but that is due to “the disruptive effect” of radical Islam from Iran and al Qaeda, according to Blair.

“They combined to try and destabilize the wishes of the majority of the country,” he said.

“Now when we weren't involved, as in Syria, they're still going and fighting jihad there. So you can carry on explaining all this by saying, ‘It's us. We provoked them’... It's nonsense.”

In a speech last week, Blair warned that violent Islamic ideology “is growing” and continued to pose a threat to the west.

“We have to take sides,” he said in the London speech. “We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time. We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent and sees it as a whole. And above all, we have to commit.”

Critics have said that recent violent opposition to democracy and other western notions was a backlash to over-aggressive foreign policy in the years after Sept. 11, 2001.  

Blair refuted that notion on Sunday.

“This has grown up over a long period of time,” he said. “It's come out of the Middle East. It's been taught in informal and formal education systems.”