Michael Shermer got the chance to ask Tony Blair how we spread various central Western ideals of democracy, education, civil liberties, equality, etc. in hostile theocratic countries without resorting to military force. Part of Blair’s answer:
“It’s one of the great myths perpetrated in our own societies is that somehow people who live in oppressive or backward looking governments actually prefer it that way and that we just don’t understand their culture. You will often hear this in certain countries about the role of women when it is usually men talking about it, but any time you get the opportunity to talk to any women in those countries separated from those who might overhear them, believe it or not they tell you that they would prefer to be free and equal.”“We have allies in this fight who are the people, most of whom want change. The thing is, however, you need the security means to stand up when you are confronted to answer back, and if you don’t you will get rolled over by them and there’s no use in thinking any different. However, the ultimate answer is not the force of arms but the force of ideas.”
“I think the 20th century was the century of fundamentalist political ideology, but the 21stcentury is going to be about religious or cultural ideology. The single most important thing we can do is also to provide a basis for peaceful co-existence. The best way of defeating these ideas is with better ideas.
The whole article is here.