* Story Highlights
* Former UK PM Tony Blair: Fight against Islamic terrorism like fascism of 30s
* Blair says Iran backs, finances terror around world
* Speech at charity dinner in New York was first since leaving office in June
NEW YORK -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the world must not be "forced into retreat" against Islamic terrorists as it faced a situation similar to the Nazi threat before World War II.
In his first major speech since leaving office in June, Blair told a charity dinner in New York: "Analogies with the past are never properly accurate and analogies especially with the rising fascism can be easily misleading but in pure chronology I sometimes wonder if we're not in the 1920s or 1930s again.
"This ideology now has a state, Iran, that is prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilizing countries whose people wish to live in peace."
Blair's speech Thursday came days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reiterated the Bush administration's stance that "all options" must be kept "on the table" in confronting the threats posed by Iran. This was a reference to the option of using military action against the long-time U.S. adversary.
Addressing the issue of terrorists, Blair continued: "There is a tendency even now, even in some of our own circles, to believe that they are as they are because we have provoked them and if we left them alone they would leave us alone," he said.
Blair, who gave strong personal backing to U.S. President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks, added: "I fear this is mistaken. They have no intention of leaving us alone.
"They have made their choice and leave us with only one to make -- to be forced into retreat or to exhibit even greater determination and belief in standing up for our values than they do in standing up for their's."
Blair, who now represents the Quartet of the United States, Europe, Russia and the United Nations on the Middle East, said: "Unfortunately I tell you in all frankness that this struggle is far from over.
"Out there in the Middle East we've seen ... the ideology driving this extremism and terror is not exhausted. On the contrary it believes it can and will exhaust us first.
He added: "America and Europe should not be divided, we should stand up together.
"The values we share are as vital and true and, above all, needed today as they have been at any time in the last 100 years."