‘Britain’s phoney war on terror’

“After spending time recently with senior Pentagon officials and other Americans involved in counter-terrorism, I was struck by the global scope of their concerns. Above all I was reminded how different their attitudes are from those of their British counterparts, still obsessed with ‘community cohesion’ and the ‘radicalisation’ of young Muslims. In Britain the views of the non-Muslim majority are largely ignored – or lead to them being branded as potential ‘Islamophobes’. In the United States the unthinkable and unsayable are debated openly….

“Europe can be weak in combating terrorism at a political level, largely because of the effects of officially decreed multiculturalism and a failure to do much about the impact of population movements on the host culture and economy. Not surprisingly, the failure of European governments to get a grip on what are still relatively small Muslim minorities provokes exasperation in America.

“Many of the 1.6m Muslims living in Britain, for example, still do not seem fully to appreciate the outrage that a finger-jabbing minority causes at home and abroad with each escalating demand for Islamist enclaves. Like a perennial student, new Labour favours debate and dialogue. But in dealing with the Muslim Council of Britain, the government has unwittingly accepted as ‘community’ interlocutors men who have blamed Islamist terrorism primarily on British foreign policy, while failing to condemn suicide bombing outside the UK….

“The one British politician who grasps the need to be as frank as our American cousins about the threat from terrorists who are actively plotting indiscriminate slaughter is not the prime minister, who appears to be locked into the globalising vapidities that thrill Davos seminars, but David Cameron. The leader of the opposition understands the existential threat from jihadism and has comprehensive ideas about how to combat it…. He is fully conscious of the need to balance ancient liberties with the right to stay alive.”

Michael Burleigh in the Sunday Times, 25 May 2008

Update:  See Yusuf Smith’s comments at Indigo Jo Blogs, 27 May 2008