Islamic State: Tony Blair says the UK should not rule out ground troops

The former Prime Minister warns that the only way to tackle Islamic State could be on the ground.

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We’ve seen Gordon Brown’s renaissance in recent weeks, and now it’s Tony Blair’s turn. Though it seems when weighing in on the situation in the Middle East, he never really went away. Much to the frustration of many in light of his own ill-fated invasion of Iraq over a decade ago.

His latest intervention is a warning to the UK government that the only way it can really tackle Islamic State (also known as Isis) is by using ground troops.

He said that, at some point, “someone's boots on the ground” would be a necessary tactic:

I'm not saying we in the West need to do this; it would be better if it were done by those people closer to the ground who have got the most immediate and direct interests in fighting them.

But I don't think we can in all circumstances rule it out and after all we do have the force capability to do this.

Blair’s words will be greeted with some anger and cynicism by his detractors, considering the latest crisis in Iraq and Syria has been partially blamed on his bungled conflict in the area. However, if David Cameron really meant his words last week that the UK would “hunt down” murdered British hostage David Haines’ killers, Blair does well to remind the government that there are perhaps more pressing international concerns than the West Lothian Question.

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

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