Magazine article The Spectator

Not in Our Name

Magazine article The Spectator

Not in Our Name

Article excerpt

There is nothing conservative about war. For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of socialism and state control. It is the excuse for censorship, organised lying, regulation and taxation. It is paradise for the busybody and the nark. It damages family life and wounds the Church. It is, in short, the ally of everything summed up by the ugly word 'progress'.

So why did the Conservative party support this left-wing war? It has missed a wonderful opportunity to be true to its principles, to be right, and to re-engage with the people of this country. Those who have dismissed it for years as a callous pressure-group motivated by nothing but money might have been forced to reconsider their view. But the Tories have so utterly lost the power of thought that they have become what their cruellest opponents pretend they are. Not since they endorsed the unhinged privatisation of the railways have the Conservatives acted so contrary to their own wisdom, and so exactly as if they were the brainless destroyers that alternative comedians imagine them to be.

This war was always different from those that have gone before. Previous conflicts in the modern age, even if usually caused by failures of deterrence, and even if they extended the power of the state, did at least have the virtue of being in British interests, because if we did not fight them we would be ruined, subjugated or fatally humbled. This one is so hard to justify that its supporters treat their own arguments with scorn, wanly grinding out cant phrases that long ago lost their meaning, trying to frighten us with bogeymen or pretending grotesquely that liberty and civilisation can be imposed on Mesopotamia with explosives.

The idea that naked force can create human freedom is itself a left-wing idea. Even more socialist are the war faction's contempt for the sovereignty of nations and their unashamed belief that ends justify means. No wonder that the war's hottest-- eyed supporters on both sides of the Atlantic are ex-Marxists who have lost their faith but have yet to lose their Leninist tendency to worship worldly power. Yet ranged alongside them are Tories who are supposed to stand for the gentler and more modest cause of faith and nation, Church and King.

Why aren't they embarrassed? Why aren't they suspicious? Why doesn't the enthusiasm of Mr Blair make them wonder if this is right rather than imagining that there are two, wholly contradictory Mr Blairs in the same body?

Mr Blair doesn't like Britain. During the Cold War he belonged to CND, which wanted the USSR to be the only nuclear power in Europe. Knowing how important this fact was, he tried very hard to deny his membership until it was proved beyond all doubt. He opposed the retaking of the Falklands. He is even now trying to sell Gibraltar to Spain, and has delivered Northern Ireland, trussed and gagged, to the IRA. So now he's a patriot? And Mrs Blair is one too, is she? And if they are not, then why should the war they love so much be treated as a patriotic conflict?

And then examine the sheer unConservative crudity and bullying intolerance of the war party and of the modern American war machine whose orders we now follow. My affection for the USA and its people, and my readiness to defend it and them against mean-minded foes, are on record in plenty of places. And, as it happened, I really believed (and still believe) the pro-Nato things I used to say during the Cold War, about how deterrence would create real peace, while weakness would bring war. In those days left-wingers called me rude names. Yet now I find myself accused of anti-Americanism and even treachery because I am against this war. My fears for American liberties, following the grotesquely named `Patriot Act' and the founding of the `Department of Homeland Security', are treated not as the warnings of a candid friend but as disloyalty. Disloyalty to what?

There seems to be an ideology of 'Americanism' in which one is either totally loyal or one is a suspect - another feature of the pro-war cause which perhaps attracts those ex-Marxists. …

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