December 10, 2001

They Actually Said It
The British ruling classes put you and me at risk in their quest for glory

It was David Blunkett, the British Home Secretary, who said it. When talking about secret service information he opined "that information tells us that because of our alliance – quite rightly – with the United States and because of our vulnerability we are at risk". Now hang on a minute, weren't we fighting "shoulder to shoulder" with America because it was in our national interest? This is an important point. The whole thrust of our involvement in the Afghanistan adventure has been to make us safer from attack. Now I may be a bear of little brain, but how exactly does an increased risk of attack make us safer?

Now for those with short memories, I will recap what our leaders have told us about this threat. Iain Duncan Smith, the opposition leader, claimed that the Afghan adventure "is about ensuring that in a few years' time we are not faced with a much greater threat to our way of life".

St. Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, enthused to Parliament "we will act because for the protection of our people ... we need to eliminate the threat Bin Laden and his terrorism represent." Fairly clear? And the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, claimed "in these four weeks the world has become a very much safer place and Afghanistan a very much happier place." However David Blunkett, in a moment of exasperation, has unwound this, or has he?

Now some things may be said about what was said. For Tony Blair there is nothing that can be said in his mitigation, he lied to Parliament. The fact that Parliament is foolish, or more likely craven, enough to swallow the idea that by allying with America we would somehow make ourselves safer – says as much about Parliament as it does about Blair. Iain Duncan Smith has a get-out clause, as he is talking longer term than the next month – although surely any un-addressed revolutionary impulse will be undisturbed in the long term. It is Jack Straw's claim that shows how little our elite care for our interests. There is a mention of world safety and Afghan happiness, but nothing about British security. It is so true when it is said that the British Foreign office is there for the interests of foreigners.

Of course, the idea that our participation in this adventure would improve our security is farcical. The case could be made that the Afghan adventure would improve America's security, America was already a primary target. It could further be argued that a prompt and open disengagement from Israel, Iraq and Saudi Arabia would serve America's interest as poorly as her perpetual presence in the Middle East. The smoke screen for disengagement may be to pulverise the most active terrorist conspiracy and fry its leader. Nevertheless, none of this answers the question of why it is in Britain's interests.

The short answer is that it is not in Britain's interest to be involved. Britain was not a primary target, no matter what is said by the sophists who point at the British passport holders killed in the World Trade Centre, neither is she particularly associated with the causes that the Islamicists oppose. Britain, as the Home Secretary finally admits, has been made a target by its government. What does the government have to gain from this? Tony Blair can get an ovation in Congress and his foreign secretary can go around the Middle East acting as America's ambassador. I am sure it is a boost to the ego, but what about the public that they are meant to serve? Well, the increased risk of anthrax in the water supply or chemical weapons on the London Underground. Was it really worth that?

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Emmanuel Goldstein

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Emmanuel Goldstein is the pseudonym of a political drifter on the fringes of English classical liberal and Euro-sceptic activity. He is a former member of the Labour Party, who knows Blair and some of his closest buddies better than they realise, yet. He has a challenging job in the real world, working for a profit-making private company and not sponging off the taxpayer in politics, journalism or the civil service. "Airstrip One," appears Mondays at

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