ROME : Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni says the world is still paying the price of a misguided ‘war on terror’ launched by the United States in reaction to the 9/11 2001 attacks on its soil.

In a defence of Italy’s decision not to actively participate in the current bombing campaign against the so-called Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, Gentiloni argued Wednesday that defeating terrorism would take more than a generation to achieve and that military action could only play a limited role.

“We are still paying, after 15 years, the consequences of what was supposed to be a lightning war to eliminate the terrorist threat,” the minister wrote in a letter to Corriere della Sera.

He said Italian forces were “among the most involved and appreciated” in a crisis zone he described as stretching from Africa’s Atlantic shores to Pakistan.

Gentiloni was responding to a front page editorial in the influential daily which suggested Italy had erred by rebuffing France’s call on its allies to join an intensified anti-IS bombing campaign after the Paris attacks and by emphasising non-military efforts to weaken Islamist groups.

“I am not aware of any French request that Italy did not respond to,” Gentiloni wrote.

Gentiloni said military action had to be combined with diplomatic efforts, intelligence sharing, cooperation with countries at risk of destabilisation and, as Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has stressed, action on the cultural front.

“The tremendously subjective nature of Islamist fundamentalism will be beaten by isolating it at every level in Islamic countries and in Europe. Yes, even in our own suburbs,” Gentiloni wrote.

The foreign minister’s letter echoed remarks made on December 10 by Renzi, who warned that the West would get nowhere with “gut, instinctive or kneejerk” reactions to atrocities such as the attacks on Paris.

Renzi went on to emphasise the need to give priority to combating radicalisation amongst youth of Islamic heritage who are born and raised in Europe.

Gentiloni stressed that Italy was not saying poverty could be used as an excuse for the phenomenon of homegrown terrorism.

“I do not have any time for sociological interpretations but I have less time for those who still preach that the challenge we have in front of us can be addressed by a few brilliant military actions,” he wrote.