16 November, 2006

Blair of the Yard's speech in Berlin

Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has been in Berlin giving a speech on the dangers posed to the UK by terrorism. In the speech, there is: some political toadying, especially support for the government's vacuous waffle about building a narrative of Britishness; a great deal of self-congratulation on how effective the police have been in fighting terrorism and crime in London; yet another demand for more police powers to deal with terrorists; and an interesting insight into how our senior policeman views the war on terror.

According to Blair, the War on Terror has three parts: the "real war" in Afghanistan and Iraq; the "intelligence war" between a number of states and terrorist groups such as al Qaeda; and a "war of ideas" between western and extremist Islamic values. Blair goes on to say that,

What we have to get over is the message that this is not a clash of civilisations, because tolerant and compassionate ideas are the fundamental underpinnings of all three of the Abrahamic faiths, including Islam and, indeed, of all the other great religions of the world.
At least twice before I have rehearsed the far from original view that the conflict is in fact a kulturkampf, a war between civilisations in which Islam is posing a threat to the Western way of life. Indeed, as I have pointed out previously, the UK's senior professional soldier, Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said as much when he described the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as the foreign dimension to Islamist challenges to our way of life.

Unless the police discern the obvious clash of civilisations and also the existence of a far from obvious internal kulturkampf within Islam (between two conflicting views characterised as orthodox and radical), they arguably will never fully understand the complexities of the problem they are trying to deal with. Certainly, Blair appears to have little understanding of contemporary Islamic theological debates.

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