Thursday, March 23, 2006


Blogger was down for me today. Grrr.

But on the off-chance you missed it, here's a bit of Harry on Tony Blair:
For a long while, since his speech in Chicago in 1999 in fact, it has been clear that Tony Blair's foreign policy is based upon internationalist-interventionism and since September 11 he has been one of the few political leaders who has fully grasped the real nature of Islamist terrorism.

Today's speech from Blair was a continuation of this thinking but was significant in the emphasis it put on the 'battle of ideas'. So many times the refrain from Blair and Bush's critics has been that the 'war on terror' cannot be won by military means alone - I've always found this odd since neither of the two leaders has ever suggested otherwise. Nonetheless it was encouraging to hear Blair talk in clear language about the ideological struggle. Encouraging, primarily because it is a reminder that, unlike so many of his critics, he really does know what Islamism is, where it comes from and how it aims to defeat the values of human rights and liberal democracy that should be confronting it.

As he put it:

This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don't mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.
Great words Tony. Now let's see you put them into action. Let's see you affording the likes of Irshad Manji more time.

But this should also be encouragement for moderates and reformers within Islam. Those whose voices are frequently ignored or are dismissed for "not being proper Muslims" by the extremists they oppose; those who must be exasperated at the media presence enjoyed by the likes of the MAB and MCB. According to recent polls, neither can claim to be representative of most Muslims.

Tony continues:
But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists.
Got it in one. He might be a smarmy git, but he's completely sussed this one out.

As for Harry, some have criticised his decision to write for the Guardian. But I'd argue that:

1) They owe him a penny or two for his hand in the Dilpazier Aslam affair - a blog is the least they can do.

2) He'll reach a wider audience than Harry's Place alone, which will still post his posts.

3) Nick Cohen could do with some company - it must be getting lonely over there.

Regardless of where it's published, it's a great piece. Read it all.


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