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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Neocon Party

This article of mine on how a David Cameron government would be brimming with hawks, appears in the First Post.

The Iraq war is widely discredited. George W Bush and Tony Blair are both out of office. Barack Obama has talked of a "new beginning" in his country's relationship with the Islamic world. Surely it's game over for the neocons, the small group of hardline hawks commonly held responsible for the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003?

Don't bet on it. If, as bookmakers believe, an overall majority for the Conservatives in the next election is a racing certainty, then the proponents of 'Shock and Awe' will once again be back in the corridors of power in Britain.

To understand why the neocons would be in such a strong position if David Cameron does make it to Number 10, we need to go back to the autumn of 2005, the time of the last Conservative party leadership election.

Fearing that in a head-to-head contest between popular former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke and right-winger David Davis, the more charismatic - and anti-war - Clarke would win, the neocon faction within the party started to champion the cause of a young, relatively little known MP for Witney, promoting him as the man who would 'modernise' the party and lead it back to power. The strategy worked a treat, and the little known MP - David Cameron - pulled off a surprise victory.

Cameron's campaign was masterminded by a triumvirate of MPs: Michael Gove, Ed Vaizey and George Osborne.

Gove, who believes the invasion of Iraq was a "proper British foreign policy success", is the author of the polemic Celsius 7/7, which has been described as a "neo-con rallying cry" for its attacks on Islamism, which he describes as a "totalitarian ideology" on a par with Nazism and Communism, and says must be fiercely opposed.

He, along with Vaizey, is a signatory to the principles of the ultra-hawkish Henry Jackson Society, an organisation founded at Peterhouse College Cambridge in 2005 and named after a warmongering US Senator who opposed d├ętente with the Soviet Union.
The Society supports the 'maintenance of a strong military' with a 'global reach'; among its international patrons are the serial warmonger Richard 'Prince of Darkness' Perle, a former staffer of Henry Jackson who was considered one of the leading architects of the Iraq war, and Bill Kristol, the influential American journalist, formerly with the New York Times, who called for military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities in 2006.

As for Osborne, Cameron's Shadow Chancellor and right-hand man; he praised the "excellent neoconservative case" for war against Iraq.

There are other strong neocon influences on Cameron. Policy Exchange, which has been described as the Tory leader's 'favourite think-tank', and which will have an open door to Number 10, was set up in 2002 by Michael Gove and fellow hawk Nicholas Boles, a member of the Notting Hill set who the Tories plan to parachute into the safe seat of Grantham and Stamford at the next election. Dean Godson, the group's research director and adviser on security issues, has been described as "one of the best connected neoconservatives in Britain".

When Godson, a former special assistant to the disgraced publisher Conrad Black, was dismissed by the Daily Telegraph, the newspaper's editor Martin Newland said of him (and Black's wife, fellow neocon Barbara Amiel, who also wrote for the paper): "It's OK to be pro-Israel, but not to be unbelievably pro-Likud Israel. It's OK to be pro-American but not look as if you're taking instructions from Washington."

In 2007, Policy Exchange was accused of deliberately stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment in Britain after a controversy over the veracity of some of the evidence it used in its report 'The Hijacking of British Islam'.

Although he said that Britain should learn from the 'failures' of neoconservatism in a speech in September 2006, and denied that he was a neocon himself, Cameron's public pronouncements on foreign affairs since then certainly give the Tory uber-hawks no grounds for believing that they have backed the wrong man.

Last summer, during the South Ossetia conflict, he called for Russia to be expelled from the G8, for Georgia's Nato membership to be "accelerated" and lambasted the British government for allowing Moscow's "aggression" to go unchecked.

He has consistently called for a tougher stance on Iran, warning that "every week, every month that goes by brings Iran closer to possessing a nuclear weapon." And, while staying largely silent on Israel's military assault on Gaza, he has declared his belief in Israel to be "indestructible" and pledged that he would be an "unswerving friend" to the country if he became Prime Minister.

Just as significant has been the way Cameron has protected his neocon allies during the expenses scandal - although they were arguably among the worst offenders. Gove, the Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, who was described by the Daily Mail's political commentator Peter Oborne as "one of the most notorious milkers of the expenses system", for spending thousands furnishing his London home before 'flipping' to a new property and claiming £13,000 in moving costs, came under no pressure from Cameron to stand down. He is likely to play a major role in the next Conservative government.

So too will fellow flipper George Osborne and Ed Vaizey, who claimed for over £2,000 in antique furniture bought from a business owned by David Cameron's mother-in-law.

The trio will not be the only hawks in Cameron's Cabinet. Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox, is the founder and UK Director of the 'The Atlantic Bridge', an organisation which promotes closer US/British foreign policy ties. Members of the group's advisory council include Gove, Osborne, Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague, a strong supporter of the Iraq war who has attacked Europe's "extraordinary weakness" in dealing with Russia.

It's a sobering thought that before the Iraq inquiry has finished its work, some of the war's most fervent supporters may, if the bookies are right and the Tories win the May 2010 election, once again be guiding Britain's foreign policy.


Chris Hall said...

Good article, even if a bit disheartening.

Still, we can but hope that the voters can come to the rescue of sorts and oust the the more brazen flippers amongst them.

Czarny Kot said...

Good digging, Mr. Clark.

Madam Miaow said...

Interesting and disturbing.

Didn't Gove claim a lunch expense off his newspaper when he was a "journalist", only to be told by his editor, "That's funny. I was lunching with him that day". Gove's response was something like, "The greedy so-and-so!" All the survival instincts of a cockroach in a nuclear war.

jack said...

There has been a lot of good analysis in the US since the Iraq war by some scholars and authors like Kevin MacDonald that the Neoconservative movement is the latest manifestation of a Jewish political movement like Communism before hand where the majority of Neocon strategists, pundits and think tanks are predominantly Jewish who advocate a pro Israeli policy like Pearle and Wolfowitz clean break document written in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then-Prime Minister of Israel about using US military to advocate war on Iraq, Iran and Syria for the benefit of Israel hence the probable primary motive for the Iraq war.

In fact most of the Neocons are former Trotskyite Communists who shifted to the right when the USSR broke of relations with Israel after the 6 day war to ensure good trade and weapons sales to Arab countries and the Jewish community at large became anti-communist when things like western aid and grain imports where linked Jewish emigration quotas from the USSR.

The anti-Russian mind set just reflects the view most Europeans have towards Russia.

It was pretty obvious the US/NATO /Ukraine/Israel and other countries that supplied massive arm shipment to Georgia before the Blitz on South Ossetia engineered and new in advance. Georgian intelligence recruiting militants in Russia’s Ingushetia region and Georgians in the Russian army, foreign mercenaries, US training exercise just before the assault, MPRI forces teaching Georgians in sabotage techniques, OSCE abandoning there post just before the assault, etc.

And our fantastic "free" media that once again shows it is just a PR outlet for the US and EU foreign policy.

Only Nebojsa Malic at made the good and obvious comparison to Operation Storm in Croatia in 95.

There also his friendly Israeli-Russian Oligarch mafia boss Boris Berezovsky.

frunobulax said...

Whoa, stinging riposte from Greater Surbiton:

Best to call it a day, Neil - you can't compete with stuff like: "It’s not called ‘Peterhouse College’, dear boy; it’s just plain ‘Peterhouse’." Priceless. It's stuff like that that put Kingston top of the 2008 RAE pops.

"... Henry Jackson Society, of which I am European Neighbourhood Section Director."

Respect for the da guy in de 'hood! Boo yah kah.

zf_1221 said...

nice post.
it's very useful for me.
thanks. :)