A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

West needs to remember we are part of the West

I was a bit taken aback by Security Minister Lord West comments this morning about Gaza fueling terrorism.

Of course he is right that foreign policy can drive radicalisation, but that doesn't mean you should temper your foreign policy to avoid upsetting radical Islamists, any more than you should shape your immigration policy to appease the BNP.

Reacting to bits of UK foreign policy you don't like - or in this case bits of Israel's policies you don't like - by wanting to blow yourself and innocent people up, rather than by making some placards or writing to your MP or voting Liberal Democrat - suggests a degree of alienation and indeed pathological nuttiness that isn't going to be satisfied by slight changes to foreign policy.

It isn't foreign policy or Iraq or Palestine that are the ideological root grievances of Al-Qaeda and its copycat organisations - those are just "transitional demands" that help recruit people - the root grievance of the people doing the recruiting is with the existence of liberal democracies and the way of life they nurture - just as it wasn't the rather reasonable sounding "peace, bread and land" that Lenin actually wanted - what he sought was the overthrow of the existing society and that set of issues/grievances was a neat way of conning some cannon fodder into the arms of the Bolshevik cadres.

Which brings me to the bit of what Lord West said that I had real trouble with - his statement that "in the mind of people making hate, there is a linkage between the US, Israel and the UK" - as though that linkage doesn't exist and should be disowned.

I think that's appeasing the terrorists. There is a linkage between the US and the UK - they are our main military and political ally. And there may not be a formal alliance or treaty between Israel and the UK but there is a profound "linkage" - Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. People there live in a way that is broadly similar to the UK in terms of civic life, freedom and the way society and the economy function. It is home to many thousands of former and current UK citizens. Because it is a liberal democracy with cultural links and contributions to the West its enemies are the same as our enemies - global Islamist terrorism and Iran's attempts to build a nuclear arsenal and the ballistic missile technology to deliver it.

We may deplore some of the tactics used by the IDF in Gaza, or disagree with the actual decision of Israel to use force, but the fight it is in is the same fight Lord West is conducting as Security Minister - against terror wielded in the name of a perverted interpretation of religion - whether it is by suicide bombers on tubes in London, or in restaurants in Tel Aviv, or by random rocket attacks, or by Presidents threatening to wipe out with nuclear weapons a nearby state for having the temerity to have a majority Jewish population.

Trying to distance ourselves from other democracies won't appease potential terrorists. It will make us look like the cowardly, decadent and self-interested people they think we are, and lead them to believe that we are so ashamed of our own values and way-of-life that we won't defend them.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Dan said...

Great post.

Anyone who takes issue with it needs to explain why they wouldn't want the BNP to drive our immigration policy.

Dan

11:02 pm, January 28, 2009

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

This myth about Israel being a 'liberal democracy' really does need to be nailed. Liberal democracies neither have religious criteria for citizenship nor occupy others countries.

11:19 pm, January 28, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

Luke

Stop sniping at Lenin and the Bolsheviks, these were the Organisers of collective Labour fighting for rights and freedom for the oppressed peasants!

Liberal democracies are crap and a big con.

In this so called democracy of the UK the more money you have the more freedom the less money you have the more of a slave you become to the Capitalist parasites!

With the Gaza issue, lets hope Obama can push through something to introduce dialogue. Ken Livingstone actually paved the way for John Major to have talks with all parties to resolve the Northern Ireland issue, before then Thatcher would frown upon any suggestion of Negotiations

12:40 am, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Ben said...

Spot on, Luke. Some of the smoke signals that have come out of parts of the government on foreign and security policy over the last months are not in line with a progressive agenda. Those of Lord West certainly are not. We also hear un-named ministers slagging off the liberal Quilliam Foundation. A travesty of the universal and progressive values the party supposedly stands for. They need to sort it out.

1:58 am, January 29, 2009

 
Blogger Bill said...

Isn't Turkey a Middle Eastern liberal democracy (at the minute)?

8:50 am, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Mark Adams said...

Quite right, Luke. Many of my friends on the left who disagree get very worked up about Israel being a Jewish state and therefore believe that it cannot be a liberal democracy. It's not possible to convince them by pointing out that the UK is technically a Christian state, given the established role of the CofE. And they do not seem at all concerned about the large number of Islamic states in the region.

Keep up the good work.

9:31 am, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the only liberal democracy in the Middle East"

What sets Israel apart from, say, Lebanon or Turkey?

Both far from perfect democracies (and liberal is questionable - though that may be as much a reflection of social attitudes as anything else) but then again Israel is banning Arab political parties at the moment so is also pretty flawed in that regard...

11:14 am, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whilst I would never endorse or encourage terrorism, other means very rarely work. Since when have a few placards made a difference? If you lobby your MP yoiu're relying on getting substantial numbers to support you and even then the MP may or may not represent your views in parliment depending on their own views and that of their party.

12:14 pm, January 29, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Gallagher said...

i dont think historical or contemporary international affairs show us that because a state is a 'democracy' it acts lawfully or morally when it comes to its foreign policy, its very nice that israelis get to live like europeans or americans in the middle east, but that doesnt excuse the behavior of their state

1:04 pm, January 29, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

What the hell has this Labour party turned into?
Where is the International and Red Flag?

These Labour party people should remember that the party had the emblem of: Workers of the World Unite!

Workers of the World are being murdered and exploited by the Capitalist classes. Its time we gave up this East and west crap and concentrated in liberating workers of the World from capitalism!

3:07 pm, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous MichaelC said...

If Israel is a democracy, why has it banned Arab parties from contesting elections? Maybe the meaning of "democracy" has been reinvented by New Labour?

5:08 pm, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arabs are not allowed to contest elections in Israel as they fall into a much lower category and are not seen as human!

5:39 pm, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous CJ from the Paintbrush said...

Idiots posting here about Israel banning Arab parties contesting the upcoming election should do a better job of keeping themselves updated

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057497.html

I'm not saying that Israel is perfect or that it was not disgraceful to try to stop the Arab parties participating in the election, but I don't think there are many countries in Middle East with strong-willed courts prepared to stand up for the rights of minority citizens.

7:36 pm, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Arabs are not allowed to contest elections in Israel as they fall into a much lower category and are not seen as human!"

This poster is either a prat or a Troll !

GW

9:38 pm, January 29, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fenham by election result yesterday lib dems 1049 labour 1025 bnp 836 cons 186 bnp vote 27 per cent up from 9 per cent a year ago turn out 40 per cent up from 20 per cent last time

10:03 am, January 30, 2009

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"Reacting to bits of UK foreign policy you don't like - or in this case bits of Israel's policies you don't like - by wanting to blow yourself and innocent people up, rather than by making some placards or writing to your MP or voting Liberal Democrat - suggests a degree of alienation and indeed pathological nuttiness that isn't going to be satisfied by slight changes to foreign policy."

I saw a bit in the paper the other day about a civilian woman who had lost her whole family to an Israeli bomb. As she had nothing left to lose, and understadably saw Israel as taking it from her (Hamas don't frop the bombs), she vowed to 'become a martyr'.

I'm sure a change in foreign policy would have made her a bit less 'pathological' and 'nutty'. It probably would have been quite nice for her husband and kids, too...

11:57 am, January 30, 2009

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"This poster is either a prat or a Troll !"

It's difficult not to be considered a troll on here!

12:06 pm, January 30, 2009

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Personally I think Turkey is part of Europe, not part of the Middle East.

12:46 pm, January 30, 2009

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Tom

West was talking about the reaction of potential British terrorists attacking Britain over Gaza, not potential Gazan ones attacking Israel.

12:55 pm, January 30, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

Anonymous said...

"Arabs are not allowed to contest elections in Israel as they fall into a much lower category and are not seen as human!"

This poster is either a prat or a Troll !

Anonymous

You were the one who wrote it and now you call yourself a Prat?

8:59 pm, January 30, 2009

 
Anonymous stephen said...

Of course he is right that foreign policy can drive radicalisation, but that doesn't mean you should temper your foreign policy to avoid upsetting radical Islamists, any more than you should shape your immigration policy to appease the BNP

Though of course that is EXACTLY what Labour is doing.

11:55 am, January 31, 2009

 
Blogger Daniel E said...

Luke,

If you consider turkey part of Europe, could you mention that to the Austrians )

I am a self-decribed Zionist, but I think the "Only Liberal Democracy in the Middle East" is weak. As much as I want Turkey to be part of the EU, geographically it's not part of Europe. I think that Cyprus, probably counts as a Middle Eastern Democracy. There's also arguments for Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian Authority. The line's weak

8:46 pm, February 03, 2009

 

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