British security policy: made in Washington?
Members of a U.S. right-wing neoconservative think tank – the Heritage foundation – have this week written an article advising on new policies in Britain relating to Islam and ‘terrorism’. The apocalyptic article, published on the US website humanevents.com, argues that the British government is "right to press for an extension of the limit to 56 days"; that even a "90-day period should be strongly considered"; that the UK should immediately withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)"; and even that the "the establishment of the Conservative Muslim Forum is a dangerous flirtation with Islamic extremism that should be brought to an end". Internationally, they call for Britain to ramp up its military spending and to be ready to attack Iran, despite the disastrous western attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. They also strongly endorse David Cameron’s call for a ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain because it "supports the re-establishment of a Muslim caliphate or empire", proudly boasting that it is banned by the dictatorial regimes of Egypt and Pakistan.
Indeed, it was a hysterical call from this think tank that first advocated a repressive policy towards Hizb ut-Tahrir in a paper written by Ariel Cohen. Whilst that paper has been derided by academics of international standing, these extreme anti-Muslim voices seem to be making the running in creating opinion in British political circles, most noticeably within the leadership of the Conservative Party. It is said that senior members of the Conservative front bench had meetings and sought guidance on their policy from this think tank.
Think tanks such as the Heritage foundation – like Cameron and his followers – have never mounted any intellectual challenge to Hizb ut-Tahrir’s ideas, though we are happy to throw down the gauntlet to them to debate serious matters such as the war on terror, the future governance of the Muslim world, and the West’s colonial policies. A debate they continue to avoid.
However, a question should be asked: Are Britain’s security policies, and the policies of David Cameron, currently being made by neoconservatives in Washington? They place enormous pressure on Britain to follow the US in a belligerent policy towards Iran, despite the fact that few people in Britain could stomach another war of aggression.
They are pushing for a Britain where dissenting political views that they cannot refute intellectually are banned and criminalised; that critical Muslim voices are branded as Islamic ‘extremists’; and where people can be locked up for 2-3 months in extreme conditions and then coerced into making false confessions.
Most people are unaware of the links between such think tanks and politicians and sections of the media in Britain. They might not realise that these think tanks were the real architects of the arguments that fuelled the invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, such links do exist, and the relationships should be made more transparent, so that people are aware that policies that affect their daily lives are being directed by people who live thousands of miles away.
Dr Abdul Wahid
Chairman UK Executive
Monday, 12 November 2007