Former British PM addresses audience in Tulsa

By Justin Juozapavicius

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 1 2011 5:40 p.m. MDT

Protesters B. Geary(left) and Larry Hochhaus hold signs as Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, speaks at Oral Roberts University as part of the Tulsa Business Forums presented by Oklahoma State University's Spears School of Business Nov. 1, 2011. A small group of 3 protesters from Tulsa Peace Fellowship stood in front of the Mabee Center.

Tulsa World, Mike Simons, Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday the war on terror will be a "generation-long struggle" and held out hope that peace between Israel and Palestine could someday ease tension across the world.

Speaking on the campus of Oral Roberts University, a campus founded by a television evangelist, Blair said the free world's enemies held an ideology that perverted a religion. The solution, he said, could be reached by holding a "common set of values" that includes free markets, democracy and diversity.

"We actually become defeatist in our position. We begin to think that with all of this power shifting, maybe there is a fundamental problem," Blair said. "The answer is not to lose faith in who we are and what we believe in, but actually to regain it and apply those values and way of life to the changed world around us."

Blair also called the global financial meltdown a major challenge for the world today — but said the Occupy Wall Street movement isn't about who to blame for economic problems, but rather is about preventing another economic collapse and keeping markets open.

"Frankly, these movements don't offer an answer. The problem was we didn't spot (the collapse)," said Blair, whose appearance at ORU was sponsored by Oklahoma State University's Spears School of Business.

Blair served as prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1997 to 2007, and was leader of Britain's Labour Party from 1994-2007.

"I don't think there ever has been a tougher time to be a leader," said Blair, who was making his first trip to Oklahoma. "The toughest thing about being prime minister was trying to find the right answer, to find the right path."

He has served as Mideast envoy for international mediators hoping to win peace between Israel and Palestine, but last week mediators couldn't bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders back to the bargaining table. He said a trip to the region last week marked his 72nd time to the region.

"I'm short-term worried," Blair said.

In addition to his duties as a Mideast envoy, Blair has founded the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which works to bring an understanding between different religions; The Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, which helps leaders address the major changes to help bring their people out of poverty; and The Tony Blair Sports Foundation, which encourages young people to play a sport, especially those who are socially excluded, among other duties.

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