The Neoconservatism in Michael Gove and Celsius 7/7 (3) – Foreign Policy and an Amoral “Moral Clarity”



In this series, we will delve deeper into the views held by our new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove as articulated in his book, Celsius 7/7, with additional commentary explaining the neoconservativism underpinning the statements where appropriate, and the impact it has thus far had on the good Britons of this country.

Click here to read Part 1.

Click here to read Part 2.


Michael Gove’s views on Foreign Policy

Gove’s articulation of foreign policy issues are, in typical neocon fashion, equally belligerent and supremacist.  He arrogantly writes that,

“If we believe in the superiority of our way of life, if we believe in, as the anti-apartheid movement the civil rights movement believed… then we should believe in, and want urgently to work for, the spread of democracy across the globe.”[1]

Warring is thus arrogantly premised upon the colonialist notion of superiority.  The remit of a discussion on the appropriateness of democracy for all nations is beyond our scope, however, it is a dubious claim to say the least.

Nevertheless, let’s entertain Gove’s spread of benevolence.  Gove writes that the nineties had ushered a new era with a New World Order: “new global architecture designed to safeguard human rights and entrench peace”.[2] One would have thought this revolved around the admittedly emasculated United Nations and the international legal frameworks and norms. The neoconservative formulation of foreign policy, “Hard Wilsonianism” however, drives a sledgehammer through international norms and mechanisms. The neocon Max Boot characterised it as rejecting “reliance on international organizations and treaties to accomplish our objectives.” Indeed the Platonic duality exists at all levels, including the international arena. The US can do whatever she pleases. Other, weaker states should follow a different set of rules. Robert Kagan expressed this view in his book, Of Paradise and Power, where he stated bluntly that the strong do as they please, while the weak concern themselves with justice and international law.[3] Indeed he actively advocates double standards, stating that it may be the only “means of human progress.”[4]

Gove, once again, is no different.  When it comes to his darling, the Zionist entity of Israel, Gove echoes his “friend” and inspiration for the book, George Wiedenfeld,

“Israel is also prepared… to use military force… and will not relegate the security of its people to second place behind the need to observe the sensitivities of outside judges…”[5]

Of course these “outside judges” demand that Israel recede from the occupied territories to the pre-1967 borders. Gove highlights that a “cruel deception” was being played on the Zionists in Palestine.  This “cruel deception”, was the exchange of “real estate for promissory notes”. Under customary international law, the Zionist entity is a force occupying Palestinian territory, as confirmed by the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the illegal wall. The “New World Order” and human rights passions breakdown when it comes to Israel it seems.

Gove then proceeds to undermine and attack the International Criminal Court, and the United Nations for restricting the “nation state” from democratically sanctioning war. Yes, the assault on the international legal framework is because he cannot freely sanction the killing of people abroad in pursuit of values he does not believe in. He writes,

“The insistence that Britain could act only with UN backing is further proof of the declining faith in the capacity of the nation state to operate freely and independently.  On a deeper level, it is remarkable that a democratic vote in the United Kingdom should not be considered truly legitimate unless it has been approved by a body…”[6]

The only slight problem with Gove’s argument is that the UK voluntarily signed-up to the UN and is bound by the Charter which governs international actions such as aggression and self-defence. Gove, is effectively arguing for the violation of international norms.

“Moral Clarity” and Iraq

Gove encourages his readers to analyse, not with moral relativism, but with “moral clarity”.[7] “Moral clarity” are terms lifted straight from veteran neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan and their designs of the neoconservative foreign policy.  Gove uses “moral clarity” to assert his supremacist, elitist views. For instance, he writes,

“The ability to pass a moral judgment… to uphold the values of a particular culture as more worthy of emulation,  to declare without shame that what one knows is better than what others would wish to impost, is increasingly rare in the contemporary West.”[8]

He then cites the neocon Allan Bloom’s book, The Closing of the American Mind, to reinforce his point that the invocation of “moral clarity”, is considered arrogance and racism (and that it should not).  The citation is ironic, given that Gove is imploring “moral clarity” in the context of exporting “liberal values”. Bloom argues against liberalism.  Following his teacher Leo Strauss, Bloom believes that,

“…liberalism has won but it may be decisively unsatisfactory. Communism was a mad extension of liberal rationalism, and everyone has seen that it neither words nor is desirable.”[9]


Nevertheless, let’s examine Gove’s excuse for supremacism that is “moral clarity”.

It is little surprise to learn that Gove fully supports the invasion of Iraq. Even despite this, his views around the war are patently shocking.

“The wisdom of deploying military force in the first place was strenuously questioned. The war, it was promised, would result in the displacement of thousands, starvation, a refugee crisis, the destabilization of every neighbouring country (was that necessarily meant to be a bad thing?)…”[10]

The abovementioned horrors of war are brushed aside by Gove because for him, the spreading of his values outweighs such concerns. Moreover, he practically condones the destabilisation of other countries not being targeted.

The “errors” of the Iraq war make for even more perverse reading.  In the world of Gove, the misjudgement made in the war was the “application of, not too much force, but too little”.[11]

To support his hypothesis, he sordidly cites possibly two of the worst examples he could find.  He describes the “exemplary military force” applied with “vigour” in the case of Fallujah and Jenin as “beneficial”.

In Fallujah, the US used illegal white phosphorous incendiary weapons. The assault completely devastated the area.  George Monbiot wrote at the time,

“Both the invasion of Iraq and the assault on Falluja were illegal acts of aggression. Before attacking the city, the marines stopped men “of fighting age” from leaving. Many women and children stayed: the Guardian’s correspondent estimated that between 30,000 and 50,000 civilians were left. The marines treated Falluja as if its only inhabitants were fighters. They levelled thousands of buildings, illegally denied access to the Iraqi Red Crescent and, according to the UN’s special rapporteur, used “hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population”.

“An assault weapon the marines were using had been armed with warheads containing “about 35% thermobaric novel explosive (NE) and 65% standard high explosive”…. An article published in the Gazette in 2000 details the effects of their use by the Russians in Grozny. Thermobaric, or “fuel-air” weapons, it says, form a cloud of volatile gases or finely powdered explosives… Personnel under the cloud are literally crushed to death. Outside the cloud area, the blast wave travels at some 3,000 metres per second … As a result, a fuel-air explosive can have the effect of a tactical nuclear weapon without residual radiation … It is hard to see how you could use these weapons in Falluja without killing civilians.”

Investigative journalist William Langewiesche further added,

“The Marines attacked with high explosives and heavy weapons… they wrecked the city’s infrastructure, damaged or destroyed 20,000 houses or more, and did the same to dozens of schools and mosques… They turned Fallujah into Stalingrad.”

Clearly, the “moral clarity” afforded by Gove is one which is distinctly “beneficial” to barbaric Western statesmen.

Gove similarly whitewashes the 2001 Jenin attack by the IDF.  Hung up on whether the killing of 26 civilians in the attack was a “massacre” or not, he attributes a claim to the Palestinian politician Saeb Erekat that in Jenin the number dead “would be around 500”.[12] This attributed claim is a myth.  While Gove strenuously elucidates Zionist propaganda around the event, reducing the military assault to “police action” he fails to mention that, the UN Security Council-mandated investigation into the Jenin attack was repeatedly blocked by Israel, which refused all cooperation. The eventual UN report, corroborating findings of human rights organisations, found that Israel used excessive and disproportionate force in civilian areas, blocked medical treatment for wounded civilians for days, and prevented access to the camp to humanitarian aid and journalists.

Again, what sort of warped “morality” would justify, defend and regard such atrocities as “beneficial”? A neoconservative one.  Irving Kristol approvingly quotes Machiavelli in the context of burning and plundering villages that,

“…for neither conscious nor shame ought to have any influence upon you… those who obtain great power do so either by force or fraud, and having got them they conceal under some honest name the foulness of their deeds”.[13]

Indeed, Gove himself is merely drawing upon the Rapid Dominance (“shock and awe”) doctrine which looks to Hiroshima as a model strategy for war. It was devised at the US National Defence University during the nineties and adopted by neocons Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz for the Iraq war.

With such horrific, amoral views masquerading beneath the garnishing of “liberal values” and “moral clarity”, one wonders how on earth a man like this is in a senior ministerial position, let alone one responsible for justice. Pertinently, this offensive foreign policy and the way in which it is constructed fulfils a purpose which negatively impacts all people in Britain. This will be the subject matter of the next part in this series.


[1] Gove, M., Celsius 7/7, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, p.136

[2] Ibid p.42

[3] Kagan, R., Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, New York: Vintage Books, 2004, pp.10-11

[4] Ibid, p.100

[5] See Fn. 1, p.73

[6] Ibid p.76

[7] Ibid p.81

[8] Ibid p.79

[9] Allan Bloom, “Responses to Fukuyama’s End of History and the Last Man”. Full text available here:

[10] See Fn. 1, p.77

[11] Ibid p.78

[12] Ibid p.71

[13] Kristol I, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, The Free Press: New York, 1995, pp.157-158

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