Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on the Today show this morning that as the new Middle East shapes out, it’s more important for the U.S. to be on the side of right instead of worrying about being liked.
“I’ve just come back from my 88th visit to the Middle East since leaving office,” said Blair, now the envoy for the Quartet on the Middle East. “If I were you in America, I would not worry about being loved. That’s not your role in the world, right? Your role is to be strong and you are strong.”
He said it’s key to remember that in all of the locations where anti-American protests have been seen, there are two groups fighting for the region’s future.
“So, it’s true, you have these anti- American protesters burning the flag, saying terrible things, trying to kill American people. You also have in Libya, for example, after the tragic death of your ambassador there, you had thousands of people coming out protesting against the killers and demanding action taken against them,” Blair said.
“So, you know, in the end, you’ve got to see this as a long struggle in which we’ve got to be on the side of the decent people, and there are decent people out there.”
A common denominator in the Arab Spring countries, he said, is that those who have been rid of repressive dictatorship now have to “learn that democracy isn’t about just a way of voting, it’s a way of thinking.”
“If they want to make progress, we’ve got to help them, but also challenge them to realize that the test of a democracy is not just how the majority win, but how they then treat the minority, how they treat, for example, people of different religious faiths to their own,” Blair said.