While President Bush is ordering more American troops to Iraq in an effort to quell the violence and stabilize the Iraqi government so that it might ultimately take charge of its own security, what remains of leadership in Britain is competing amongst itself over who wants out faster.
Not to worry, though. The British Security Service, MI5, has announced plans to send out e-mail alerts of changes to the national threat level. They’ll have to send a lot of e-mails if the terrorists get the message that the West can’t take the heat.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose rhetoric about the terror threat and assistance to the United States’ fight, which has been heroic and an example of the classically British “stiff upper lip,” is to be replaced as Labour Party leader and prime minister later this year by Chancellor Gordon Brown, whose rhetoric and announced plans for withdrawal of British troops expose his limp upper lip.
Brown announced his desire to place Britain’s national interests above the historic “special relationship” Britain has enjoyed with the United States. The only problem with that thinking is terrorism. In the fight against terrorism, the interests of the United States and Britain are inextricably joined. Perhaps Brown should recall Benjamin Franklin’s remark: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”
While Tony Blair has managed to stand against the tide of anti-war British public opinion, Gordon Brown appears ready to sink under it and take Britain down with him. Already inundated with legal and illegal Muslim immigrants, some of whom continue to teach and preach jihad and the overthrow of all elected governments, how will Brown’s rhetoric transform those for whom Western-style democracy is an affront?
“The British national interest is what I and my colleagues are about,” said Brown. But the British national interest – indeed, the international interest of all free people – is to defeat this virulent strain of Islamofascism. They are committed to defeating us.
Brown says his “strategy” is to defeat terrorists by capturing their hearts and minds. That is unlikely to succeed against people who want to explode bombs that will tear into OUR hearts and minds. Brown thinks the same strategy that worked in opposing communism in the ’40s and ’50s could be a “model” for the next chapter in this war. He is badly mistaken.
Gordon Brown and others for whom the memory of Sept. 11 and the London bombings of July 7, 2005 may be fading, might wish to revisit the text of Tony Blair’s Sedgefield speech in March 2004. These few excerpts might refresh minds as to the danger of fighting a 21st-century threat with 20th-century weapons and remind them of the connection between terrorists in Iraq and terrorists throughout the world: “… the nature of the global threat we face … is real and existential and it is the task of leadership to expose it and fight it, whatever the political cost; and that the true danger is not to any single politician’s reputation, but to our country if we now ignore this threat or erase it from the agenda in embarrassment at the difficulties it causes.”
At a January 2003 press conference, Blair said, “… it is a matter of time unless we act and take a stand before terrorism and weapons of mass destruction come together, and I regard them as two sides of the same coin.”
Back to the Sedgefield speech: “From Sept. 11 on, I could see the threat plainly. Here were terrorists prepared to bring about Armageddon. … Bin Laden has called it a ‘duty’ to obtain nuclear weapons.”
And finally, “… to those who think that these things are all disconnected, random acts, disparate threats with no common thread to bind them, look at what’s happening in Iraq today. The terrorists pouring into Iraq know full well the importance of destroying not just the nascent progress of Iraq toward stability, prosperity and democracy, but of destroying our confidence, of defeating our will to persevere.”
Tony Blair gets it. Gordon Brown doesn’t. President Bush gets it. The anti-war American left, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who wants to ban funds for any additional troops, doesn’t. Not only are troop reinforcements necessary, so is a reinforcement of American and British backbone … and a stiffening of that upper lip.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist and author.