Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Intellectual PM versus the Islamic Fanatics

When news broke of the attempted car bombings in London and the SUV explosion in Glasgow airport, the British media immediately posited the question of the new Prime Minister’s resoluteness. The somber Gordon Brown appeared briefly on national television from 10 Downing Street late Saturday. “I want all British people to be vigilant and I want them to support the police and all the authorities in the difficult decisions that they have to make,” he said. “I know that the British people will stand together, united, resolute and strong.” Clearly the terrorists were testing the new Prime Minister and trying to influence his policies. Will they be successful?

By now we know that the Islamic terrorists were all connected to the medical profession, as many as six of them being doctors. They were not impoverished youths lashing out at an unfair socio-economic structure. Friend Phil Clark wrote that “the arrests of physicians/medical students in the UK underscores the degree to which we Westerner's are wrong in estimating that the threat would not come from educated professionals, and further shows how ineffective assumed assimilation is as a protection.”

Western Alliance friend Pappy opined that Dr. Mohammed Asha was “doing his best to help spread the flames of socialized medicine. The bombs failed to go off because, just like socialized medicine, there was a waiting period.”

Christopher Hitchens (“Don’t Mince Words”) observes that “we were warned for years of the danger, by Britons of Asian descent such as Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali and Salman Rushdie. They knew what the village mullahs looked like and sounded like, and they said as much.” More recently British Channel Four's
Undercover Mosque and Christiane Amanpour’s CNN Special Investigations Unit showcased British Muslim fanatics who came right out with their program. “Straight into the camera, leading figures like Anjem Choudary spoke of their love for Osama Bin Laden and their explicit rejection of any definition of Islam as a religion of peace. On tape or in person, mullahs in prominent British mosques called for the killing of Indians and Jews.”

What is even more sinister, Hitchens notes that the car bomb was parked outside a club in Piccadilly on ladies night and that “this explosion might have been designed to lure people into the street, the better to be burned and shredded by the succeeding explosion from the second car-borne cargo of gasoline and nails. The murderers did not just want body parts in general but female body parts in particular.”

An ABC news report on June 18 described large teams of newly trained suicide bombers who are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape. Teams assigned to carry out attacks in Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.

We will have to wait to see how militantly the British authorities take the rising threat level. And what about Gordon Brown? A recent piece (“An Intellectual in Power”) by John Lloyd in Prospect magazine gives cause for optimism. Although known as an intellectual, “Brown has a kind of contempt for pure intellectuals,” says an aide. “He has little use for those for whom ideas are everything. He reads and talks and thinks with practice in mind.”

Brown’s intellectual appetites are more catholic than his political image implies. “He has really moved away from a social democratic position on the economy. He is pretty much a market liberal,” says another adviser. He is a fan of globalization, his favorite book being Why Globalization Works by Martin Wolf. He reads big books like Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy, Timothy Garton Ash's Free World and Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilisations. Brown has an appreciation for the threats facing Western Civilization.

Brown has recently been giving speeches and writing articles on Britishness. He adheres to the view of Linda Colley (Britons) that Britain is “an invented nation, united by a broadly Protestant culture.” It sounds a lot like Seymour Martin Lipsett’s American Exceptionalism. (“He's fascinated by the US's ability to ground itself in writing and image, in a way we can't.”) Brown’s British Council lecture Britishness (July, 2004) roused a patriotism which in the British was real, deep and popular.

In his recently published book, Courage: Eight Portraits, the new prime minister celebrates individuals who were called upon to show courage in face of great danger or injustice, and who rose, in differing ways, magnificently. “There are good reasons” he writes, “why I believe we continue to immortalise them… because we believe that the concept of courage says something about us and the best in us.”

Brown senses a threat of a moral breakdown at both the individual and the social level in Britain. (Our Culture, What’s Left of It by Theodore Dalrymple) “The modern left, especially since the 1960s, has been often scornful of a morality it regarded as bourgeois, and even while calling for extreme forms of collectivism has in practice endorsed much of the libertarian individualism of contemporary consumerism.”

Brown has invited conservative political scientist James Q Wilson and philosopher Gertrude Himmelfarb -- both American -- to give seminars at No 10 Downing Street. In The Moral Sense (1993), Wilson argues that “the indulgence, cruelty and violence that are now a familiar part of life have been the fault of those who too weakly, or apologetically, maintain moral-social limits.” Himmelfarb, a historian of ideas, sees in the work of “David Hume, Adam Smith and others the same kind of search as that in which Brown is said to be engaged: a quest for a robust social morality.”

Thus far, I see Gordon Brown as a worthy successor of Tony Blair, perhaps even more American than the long time Labour leader. Thus far, I like the cut of his jib.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detailed info on Brown, (well writen as usual).


8:09 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home