Wednesday, February 13, 2008

David Miliband: ‘Britain must intervene to spread democracy’

Foreign Secretary David Miliband quickened Cranmer’s pulse with this assertion, in terms redolent of the Britain of a bygone era. He set out his vision for a moral approach to international relations, and insisted that mistakes made in Iraq or Afghanistan should not stop Great Britain from helping to spread democracy throughout the world.

And Britain’s support would not be merely by words but with actions, for this is our ‘moral impulse’. He specified Burma and China, though said nothing about the likes of Zimbabwe or Iran.

The Foreign Secretary offers practical suggestions on how Britain can promote and support democracy abroad, which include: the development of a free media; encouraging greater economic openness; and holding out the carrot of membership of international alliances such as the EU or NATO.

While the prospect of membership of the EU is decidedly antithetical to the very democracy about which Mr Miliband talks, the others are manifestly weapons in the pro-democratic arsenal. The Foreign Secretary believes the case for the universal value of democracy needs urgent restating without recourse to the kind of American neo-conservative rhetoric which seems to irritate much of the world.

But whatever the specifics or practicalities, it is refreshing to hear of a missionary zeal in the assertion of the superiority of Western values, even if the rhetoric has its genesis in New Labour. Of course, it will offend the BBC and The Guardian because it confronts directly the pretence that all cultures are equal, or that all political systems have equivalent moral foundations.

The liberty of democracy permits freedom of expression, especially in writing, and this includes higher criticism of religion. To criticise the sources of the Qur’an in Islamic states would constitute apostasy, and carries a capital punishment. It is the realisation of this, among many others, that permits the understanding of why democracy is not just another way to live, but the only way to live — the only system in human history in which the individual is genuinely free, as Thomas Jefferson put it, to ‘pursue happiness’.

Recognition of the superiority of Western values is observable every day, if only in the one-way human migration to the West. Yet the assent has become an expression of the strictly private realm, for any public assertion usually carries with it accusations of ‘racism’ or some ‘phobia’. And the diminution of public assent leads inexorably to the taking of those hard-won liberties for granted - a reluctance to acknowledge their superiority, or shame of the superiority of the Christian values which gave them life.

Just a generation ago, the assertion of the superiority of Western values — the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, equalities, freedoms of expression and conscience — was uncontentious. But ignorance, inaction, and moral laziness have shifted the perspective. The adoption of relativism in all spheres has inculcated a sense of cultural and moral equality: ‘If other people live under tyranny, then who are we to “impose” democracy on them?’ If others live in benighted societies in which half their population can be treated as chattel, then why should we disturb them? Like the multicultural edifice before it, this genuine prejudice — the refusal to discern or assert moral difference — is finally collapsing, as it must do, and the UK now stands prepared to intervene when the reality comes a-knocking.

Cranmer is minded to recall India of the early 19th century, when Sir Charles James Napier was confronted with Hindu demands for a lifting of the ban on suttee. And the general famously replied: ‘You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.’

The assertion of moral, political or cultural superiority does not imply force. Liberty and human rights are spread as much by example as by force. The problem has been the fallacy of multiculturalism which has been totalitarian in its consequences, and lies have supplanted truths, and the truths have consequently been forgotten.

The Government’s adoption of ‘shari’a banking’ and the tax-and-benefits recognition of polygamy have set a new standard: if the people of Britain are no longer equal in the eyes of the banking trade or the exchequer, why should they continue to be equal in the eyes of the law? There are many cultures in which they are not, and it is no coincidence that equality before the law arose out of Judaeo-Christian ethics. By contrast, shari’a law recognises no such equality. Our unwillingness categorically to condemn shari’a (in its formal or informal practice) at home or abroad is a manifest expression of defeat rather than an expression of sensitivity.

And the callow racial exclusivity of our values is already felt. Western values were never enjoyed by the dozens of immigrant women whose murders appear to have gone uninvestigated by the British police because the police thought such ‘honour’ crimes a ‘community issue’. They were never extended to the tens of thousands of UK women genitally mutilated yet still awaiting the prosecution of even one mutilator. If we can’t assert the superiority of our values at home, what hope is there that our values would ever extend to, for instance, Iran, where teenage boys are hanged for being gay, and women stoned for owning their own lives? If we in the West don’t speak up for pluralism, democracy and the rule of law, who will? And what chance do reformers have in other countries?

Decades of intense cultural relativism and designer tribalism have made the British terrified of passing judgment. But it is time we spoke up. All systems are not equal. Across the non-Western world there are millions of people who would believe in our values and who envy our rights. It is time we believed in them too.

16 Comments:

Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

...development of a free media

The government already has special servers installed in all UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) so that all UK internet traffic can be surveilled. It is also publicising plans to curtail access to certain sites (today Jihadist sites, tomorrow Your Grace's) as if it didn't know who was accessing what already. When millibrain speaks of a free media he means one that the government is free to choke or at least manipulate. See Margaret Thatcher's denial of "The Oxygen of Publicity" to the IRA if you think this is in some way party political and not intrinsic to government. See also the ECHELON project for how the Anglosphere spies on itself and everyone else.

membership of the EU is decidedly antithetical to the very democracy about which Mr Miliband talks

Oh, come on. Anyway, about which democracies is the millibrain, and Your Grace, opining? Does he include Iran, or Russia? These are both democracies, though I don't fancy them much myself.

Recognition of the superiority of Western values is observable every day, if only in the one-way human migration to the West

Why then are so many wishing to implement Shariah? I'd say they're here for the money, mostly, and that many of them think our culture stinks. Myself, having immigrated to and then dis-immigrated from the USA, I think I know how they feel.

tens of thousands of UK women genitally mutilated yet still awaiting the prosecution of even one mutilator

An interesting claim. Got a cite? And, if I were to replace the word "women" with "men" can anybody guess what I would be talking about? Really, there's no shortage of barbarism in the world, some of it on our doorstep.
But I nitpick. Female genital mutilation has to stop.

My thinking is that this is the most recent reframing of Labour's position on the Iraq war in anticipation of a change of leadership in the USA. It wishes to distance itself from the disgusting and failed Bush/Blair era, and yet somehow escape blame. I predict that the Tories will fall into line, perhaps after some puffing and blowing, because they have exactly nowhere else to go. Sadly, the realist in me will also follow.

13 February 2008 at 08:48  
Anonymous mickey said...

Your Grace,

The inherent flaw within the concept of democracy (with universal suffrage) is that it is divisive, it pits groups against one another. It might work passably when the people within the governed entity are homogeneous, in all respects, but when overlaid onto societies with tribal, religious or other deep social schisms it seems to create far more profound problems than it solves.

My second point is that democracy in the West involves a contract, of sorts, with the voter. Pay personal tax and get a vote in return. But transpose this idea onto countries where personal taxation is an anathema to the populace and one can see here is another major flaw in the idea that our system can be imposed on others. In many such countries, I would suggest, all that people want from their government is to be left alone and we all know that is one thing which our own democratic model resounding fails to deliver!

13 February 2008 at 08:54  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

David Miliband: ‘Britain must intervene to spread democracy’

Foreign Secretary David Miliband quickened Cranmer’s pulse with this assertion,


I hoped that was satirical. Apparently not. His Grace is not treating the deluded vapourings of a New Labour apparatchik with the contempt they deserve.

He set out his vision for a moral approach to international relations, and insisted that mistakes made in Iraq or Afghanistan should not stop Great Britain from helping to spread democracy throughout the world.

"Mistakes" is one way of putting it. Satire isn't dead: politicians are now multi-tasking by writing speeches that satirize themselves.

Decades of intense cultural relativism and designer tribalism have made the British terrified of passing judgment.

And where was Milimarxist when all that was going on?

But it is time we spoke up. All systems are not equal. Across the non-Western world there are millions of people who would believe in our values and who envy our rights. It is time we believed in them too.

Half neo-con, half Guardian leader. Not a happy combination. Thanks to posturing mountebanks like Milimarxist and Bliar, we'll be lucky if we hang on to democracy in this country.

13 February 2008 at 09:40  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace

Miliband has indicated that he regards it as a moral duty to impose democracy upon others. He is manifestly unable to understand any of those three concepts (moral, duty and democracy). And by what right is 'democracy' to be imposed, anyway? Indeed, which particular version of 'democracy' does he have in mind? Interesting that a man of his reported extraction should indulge in such a crusade.

It would be laughable if the village idiot had made such pronouncements. Worryingly it is a Minister of State who has voiced these views.

Clearly this man is highly dangerous - either because he is grossly incompetent or because he is suffering from megalomania. Whichever it is, I hope that some charitable soul will put him out of his agony. I'll be very happy to supply unlimited quantities of timber and kerosene.

13 February 2008 at 11:26  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

As the boy dave speaks for a government that cannot protect the UKs borders, and has run down the armed services, I cannot take him seriously. With his winning smirk he looks as if he would not be out of place in short grey trousers, grey shirt, blazer cap and tie.

The forces of darkness are far stronger than democracy in most parts of the world. One has only to look at the various examples in Africa where tribalism has made hitherto properous countries into basket cases. No doubt Sharia law will complete the job for those countries who have so far avoided this.

Any meaningful policy for the UK must be
a) to become as energy independent as possible so we don't have to rely on dodgy regimes to keep warm; this means building more nuclear power stations and quickly
b) to limit immigration to countries which are either within the EU (we have treaty obligations in the EU and have to abide by them) or those that have Her Majesty as Head of State. (The remainder of our dependencies and also Australia, Canada, New Zealand) . For any other countries, there would be a strict but small quota system, depending on jobs available, skill shortages etc. Being brought in as a spouse from one of these other countries would not count as a reason for entry.
c) to withdraw from the multivarious 'human rights' treaties which seem to inhibit us from deporting criminals back to the rat holes they came from. I find this a bit strange, but since our judges, ( Mr Justice Bleedwell-Heartsore and his ilk ) seem to pray these treaties in aid when blocking such deportations, lets get rid of the treaties and renegotiate them in terms which do not hinder us from policing our borders.
d) to build up the armed services and be ready to react to threats from aforementioned basket cases.

Only then can we be in a position to decide what to do about the barbarous kleptocracies in the outer darkness. Obviously as a Christian Nation (still) it would be incumbent to do something, probably through the various Christian aid agencies, as UK government aid will go straight into kleptocrat's pockets.

13 February 2008 at 15:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, he is just plain stupid. We want democracy in this country before he babbles about others, a thing he is plainly against.

13 February 2008 at 15:01  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

This is Millipede we're talking about.

It's all just lies. Look at what NuArbeit are doing as regards spreading democracy and free press and yadda yadda here!

Maybe Gordon thinks the BNP vote are more important than the Muslim vote next time around. No idea.

13 February 2008 at 15:26  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Universalism indeed. This is what Human Rights leads to : Global Government.

Politics is the application of violence anyway. As Voltaire put it:"I may not agree with what you say" etc.

13 February 2008 at 15:29  
Anonymous emil johnson said...

Get out your pith helmets--it's empire time! Look, Britain is having enough trouble keeping its own political traditions. It reminds me of the lady in the Dickens novel who is always gathering up money for people on other continents while her own children are freezing and starving.

13 February 2008 at 17:14  
Blogger Dean McConnell said...

Spreading "Western Values" like democracy and freedom from state sponsored theft and murder is a wonderful idea. But it is also true that without the rich soil of the Christian world view that produced the full grown version of those values to begin with, such values are likely to be stunted or to fade away - even in the West itself.

13 February 2008 at 19:25  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

You've got it all wrong dean mcconnell, don't you know that "freedom" is a sociological structure preserved by government?

I am of course being sarcastic, but the above Marx inspired is believed even by the so called "Neo-Cons."

13 February 2008 at 21:05  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace unfortunately i am unable to extend any useful response , i remain convinced that this goverment and the millibands are "the pretenders" , this is a speech from someone who has just sat behind a 300 yr old desk , used by the great men before him .

it is a weak statement , which has some curious undertones , as though at his say so he could make someone pay !!.
look at how he handles sudan "teddy" and first USA meeting .

he doesnt cut it for me nor did he in his previous posts , name one thing he is recognised for ??

sour grapes , well i suppose we have all forgotten douglas hird , diffrent class altogether.

on the subject of british rights , john redwood has done a nice article on his blog , our monarchy/parlimentary power arrangement has served us very well. given that presidents tend to actually waste a lot of money , i find it unbelieveable that bringing changes will improve it, i have always been glad i have lived in the UK , its historys and freedoms .

it is not so much the sneaky way the Lisbon treaty (which will fail in europe i now think as there populations have not been told ) it is the fact that it has not allowed to be defeated in debate , surely our long parlimentary hsitory if the lisbon treaty is worthy , it would succeed in the house on its strengths, instead our crucial freedoms have been deemed to be better managed by a labour .

they never have believed in good democracy have they!

14 February 2008 at 00:20  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

"well i suppose we have all forgotten douglas hird"

.. Good name drop. Douglas Hurd was highly prescient on the now regreted Serbia intervention.

14 February 2008 at 02:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the Foreign Secretary of the UK Government where the Council of Europe recently said "it is childishly simple to register bogus voters" and the British voting system was "open to fraud", particularly with postal votes.

Not only do we invade Iraq and Afghanistan but we have an electoral system less reliable than theirs.

15 February 2008 at 01:12  
OpenID curly15 said...

Such a shame that the youthful Potteresque MP for South Shields couldn't call for a little more open democracy in his own constituency!

15 February 2008 at 10:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be so uncharitable

But is not Milliband one of the most 'unfortunate' products of our Lords creation?

His mother must still love, but blind me. Its almost to scary to look at.

Atlas shrugged, took a quick throw down the bog and then swiftly wiped his mouth.

16 February 2008 at 02:20  

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