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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

England's Conservative party sucks up to Muslims

With Britain's Tony Blair on his way to leaving office due to internal Labour party opposition to his Israel policies (among other things), Israel has a real problem in England. So does the United States, whose lead Blair has followed in matters concerning Israel, Iraq and other areas.

Monday, British Conservative party leader David Cameron gave a speech in which he criticized as a failure Anglo-American "neoconservative" Middle East policy and called for a cordial but cautious relationship with the US.
Cameron stressed he sought to preserve Britain's "special relationship" with the US, condemned anti-Americanism and endorsed the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. However, he said, his government would not be "America's unconditional associate in every endeavor."

"We must be honest in looking at what has happened in the world during the five years that these [neoconservative] beliefs have been the guiding principles of British and American policy," he said. "On any reasonable measure, the challenges are greater today than five years ago."

His government would pursue a foreign policy guided by "liberal conservative" values which would "not turn a blind eye to the excesses of our allies - abuses of human rights in some Arab countries, or disproportionate Israeli bombing in Lebanon," he said at the JP Morgan annual lecture for the British American Project in London.

His negative characterization of Israel's retaliatory offensive against Hizbullah comes in contrast to the actions of Blair, who, despite intense pressure from within his party and from the media, refused to condemn Israel's actions as "disproportionate."

Cameron's speech also contrasted with remarks made the same day by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher at the White House. "With America, Britain stands in the front line against Islamist fanatics who hate our beliefs, our liberties and our citizens," Thatcher said. America and Britain "must not falter. We must not fail. We need to renew our resolve that, however bitter or lengthy the struggle, this evil shall not prevail."

In contrast, Cameron said that "neoconservative" policies lacked "humility and patience" and "represented a view which sees only light and darkness in the world." He disparaged references to an "axis of evil" in the world as unsophisticated, saying "foreign policy decisions are not black and white."

"We are not engaged in a clash of civilizations" but in a series of discrete conflicts that require "us to be a little smarter in how we handle those connections" between conflicts, he said.

Cameron described himself as a "liberal conservative, rather than a neoconservative." Liberal "because I support the aim of spreading freedom and democracy, and support humanitarian intervention" and conservative "because I recognize the complexities of human nature and am skeptical of grand schemes to remake the world."

Democracy cannot be imposed from above on unwilling peoples, Cameron argued, noting that, while "the ambition to spread democracy is noble and just," it "cannot be quickly achieved to suit a political timetable."

Cameron said that the key to defeating terrorism was to "cut off their life support systems." This meant "winning the trust of the majority Muslim community," resolving issues "of crucial concern to Muslims, like Palestine," and winnowing it away from a "deformed vision of Islam."


Were elections held today, Cameron's Conservatives would likely take power. A Populus poll published in the Times last week found 36% of respondents would vote for the Conservatives in the next general election, 32% for Labor and 20% for the Liberal Democrats.


Blair's common Israel policy with the US is not likely to be shared by Cameron, given the political fallout in Britain from the offensive against Hizbullah. A YouGov poll commissioned by the Telegraph last month found 63% believed the Israel's actions against Lebanon was disproportionate, 53% thought Blair had bungled the crisis and 64% believed Blair uncritically followed US policy.
This is only going to get worse as the Muslim population of Eurabia continues to increase.

Update 5:41 PM

A group of visiting British Labour party MP's say Blair's problems are only tangentially connected to Israel:
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's positions on the Middle East in general and Israel in particular were not a dominant factor in the process that forced him a few days ago to announce his intention to step down within the next year, according to several members of a delegation from his Labor Party who are visiting Israel this week.

It may be that his disinclination to call early for an immediate cease-fire in the Israeli-Hizbullah conflict was a minor factor in ratcheting up criticism of his performance from within Labor, one member of the group said. But where foreign affairs were concerned, many in the 15-strong group said, the main area where Blair was being judged was over his handling of the Iraq war, and the main focus of criticism was the sense that he allied himself too closely to the Bush administration.

Were the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to succeed Blair as prime minister and Labor leader, members of the group did not anticipate a dramatic change in positions on Israel. Brown, the son of a Methodist minister, has recalled visiting Israel with his father as a child, and has been here often since - notably last November when, immediately after landing at Ben-Gurion Airport, he was forced to return to the UK to vote on a piece of anti-terror legislation. (Brown's hurried flight home was to no avail; the government lost the vote. Brown returned to Israel a few days later.)

The group - comprising members of Parliament and members of the European Parliament - was organized by the Labor Friends of Israel. Its visit this week, with an itinerary including a tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, a tour of the West Bank security barrier and talks with Israeli and Palestinian Authority politicians and representatives, happened to begin as Blair made his visit to Israel at the weekend.


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