26 April 2014

Tony Blair’s Bloomberg Speech

On 23 April Tony Blair gave a speech, Why the Middle East Matters, at Bloomberg HQ, London. It was widely reported and its essence can be found in these extracts:
What is presently happening [in the Middle East], still represents the biggest threat to global security of the early 21st C. The region, including the wider area outside its conventional boundary – Pakistan, Afghanistan to the east and North Africa to the west – is in turmoil with no end in sight to the upheaval and any number of potential outcomes from the mildly optimistic to catastrophe.
At the root of the crisis lies a radicalised and politicised view of Islam, an ideology that distorts and warps Islam’s true message. … When we consider the defining challenges of our time, surely [religious extremism] should be up there along with the challenge of the environment or economic instability.
On this issue also, there is a complete identity of interest between East and West. China and Russia have exactly the same desire to defeat this ideology as do the USA and Europe.
But earlier, the first of his “four reasons why the Middle East remains of central importance and cannot be relegated to the second order” was that:
First and most obviously, it is still where a large part of the world’s energy supplies are generated, and whatever the long term implications of the USA energy revolution, the world’s dependence on the Middle East is not going to disappear any time soon. In any event, it has a determining effect on the price of oil; and thus on the stability and working of the global economy.
Because Russia has a major dependency on the price of oil remaining near current levels and would no doubt prefer it to be higher, is there really a “complete identity of interest”?

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