What Tony Blair gets wrong on Egypt and Islamism

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Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, says the world fails to understand the challenge posed by radical Islam. He believes we need to “take sides” with those Muslims who favour modernity and join their fight.

There is plenty to agree with in what Blair had to say in his ambitious speech at Bloomberg’s London office earlier Wednesday.

He is right, for example, that our desire to wash our hands of the Middle East — after the bitter experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan — is a mistake. We should be doing more to help where we can, such as in Tunisia. We should also have a more strategic and coherent vision of what it is we want to achieve in the region.

Yet this wasn’t the new or challenging part of Blair’s speech. The core of what he had to say was about how we should approach Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, and what should be the touchstone of our decisions to cooperate or oppose governments in the Middle East…