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Whatever else you think of Tony Blair (and I understand that there are many who despise him, for apparently good reasons, at least on the domestic policy front), he seems to understand the enemy and its nature, and gives great speeches about it. He did so yesterday.

The easiest line for any politician seeking office in the West today is to attack American policy. A couple of weeks ago as I was addressing young Slovak students, one got up, denouncing US/UK policy in Iraq, fully bought in to the demonisation of the US, utterly oblivious to the fact that without the US and the liberation of his country, he would have been unable to ask such a question, let alone get an answer to it.

There is an interesting debate going on inside government today about how to counter extremism in British communities. Ministers have been advised never to use the term "Islamist extremist". It will give offence. It is true. It will. There are those - perfectly decent-minded people - who say the extremists who commit these acts of terrorism are not true Muslims. And, of course, they are right. They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian. But, unfortunately, he is still a "Protestant" bigot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it.

Yet, in respect of radical Islam, the paradigm insists that to say what is true, is to provoke, to show insensitivity, to demonstrate the same qualities of purblind ignorance that leads us to suppose that Muslims view democracy or liberty in the same way we do.

Just as it lets go unchallenged the frequent refrain that it is to be expected that Muslim opinion will react violently to the invasion of Iraq: after all it is a Muslim country. Thus, the attitude is: we understand your sense of grievance; we acknowledge your anger at the invasion of a Muslim country; but to strike back through terrorism is wrong.

It is a posture of weakness, defeatism and most of all, deeply insulting to every Muslim who believes in freedom ie the majority. Instead of challenging the extremism, this attitude panders to it and therefore instead of choking it, feeds its growth.

None of this means, incidentally, that the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan was right; merely that it is nonsense to suggest it was done because the countries are Muslim...

...This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy. It is just that; it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong.

Read the whole thing. It's the first of three, with the other two to come in the next few days or weeks.

I wish, though, that actual British policy, particularly toward unassimilated Muslims in the UK, reflected the words of this speech.

Posted by Rand Simberg at March 22, 2006 08:14 AM
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Blair's redeeming social value
Excerpt: Rand Simberg has pointed out an excellent speech by Tony Blair about the global war we are fighting. Here is a short excerpt from the Blair speech which Rand highlights: We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changin...
Tracked: March 22, 2006 10:38 AM

Yup, Blair says some spectacularly correct things sometimes. If only he were better able to have an effect on the way this turns out.

Posted by Kevin Parkin at March 22, 2006 09:41 AM

Fred Barnes once said, actually, he said it several times, "he is the best speaker of anyone who speaks english" And once during an episode of "The Beltway Boys" Fred actually started crying, like he did during the original broadcast, of Tony's speach to the joint session of congress.

Tony, may lack a thing on INTERNAL governance, but he has a real understanding of world affairs, and historical precedent. The joint session speach is tear jerking, out of guilt, not "i feel your pain" but by describing a thing as it is, and THIS speach was DAMN CLOSE! because he defined society, and if that isn't worth protecting, then that is a problem for YOU, not for those who wish to protect civilized society.

Not QUITE churchillian, but DAMN DAMN close.

Posted by wickedpinto at March 22, 2006 11:56 PM

I cannot *stand* the man - it's all 'compassion', 'respect', 'focus groups', 'consensus' and other tripe to keep the politically correct mental pygmys in the 'Noo' Labour party happy. He's a socialist, through and through (except he has about 4 milliion in mortgages), he's for state schools (except he sent his kids to private ones), he's for not giving into Europe (except he rubber stamps all legislation from the corrupt European parliament), he's for not giving up our rebate from Europe unless the French give up the CAP (except he did - the French, of course, did not), he's for freedom (except he wants ID cards), he's for having stronger borders (except we have a flood of illegal immigrants in this country).

Basically, he talks a good speech, and he may even believe it - but the unreconstructed socialists and communists in the Labour party have watered down every piece of legislation he's tried to get through until it's a total waste of time and huge amounts of money. Our country is in a right state because of him - he hoodwinked the British public into thinking that Labour had changed, that they were no longer the 'tax and spend' party (Tax freedom day is now June 1st), and that they believed in business (which is now used as an unpaid social services arm of the government). They haven't changed, they are leftists statists, and I truly despair of what might happen in the next 5-10 years.

About the only thing he has done that is right is get involved in the WoT (and how the Labour party hate him for it!) - it's a good speech, but I'd disagree with one little point. It *is* a clash of civilisations, and we all know which one is going to win. The only question is how many people are going to die before it's over.

Sorry Rand, but to compare this guy to Churchill, who it could be reasonably argued, saved Western Civilisation by holding on against the Nazis until the US got into the fray, really sticks in my throat.

Posted by Tony (UK) at March 22, 2006 11:59 PM

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