A Critical Overview of the Counter-Extremism Strategy

counter-extremism or counter liberties

“We will be absolutely clear about the people and groups we will not deal with because we find their views and behaviour to be so inconsistent with our own.”

~ Counter-Extremism Strategy document

Following on from my previous blog, I take brief look at the Counter-Extremism Strategy which has been published to much neocon fanfare and celebration.  Most of the measures have been either already implemented unofficially, or announced as upcoming proposals. I have covered these parts in detail in the following blogs:

In short, it’s the usual inevitable neoconservative mix of Machiavellian fear (“dangerous”, “poisonous”, “harmful”, “threat”, “extremists”, “Islamists”!), double speak (protect freedoms by curtailing them/“targeted powers” which are “flexible”/claiming “not about Islam” but advancing only “liberal” Islam), and irrationality (the Strategy is based on the PM’s assertions rather than empirical evidence, whilst conflating crime into the extremism discourse), not to mention implicit association with negative cultural practices with Islam and Muslims (or the phantom menace that are the “Islamists”), adding to the stigmatisation of the Muslim minority.

Any additional points? There are few which twiddled my whiskers as they say. Below is my elucidation of those points.

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

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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.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Deformist Call and a Lesson from the Haskalah

MaajidNawazAyaanHirsiAli

The past couple of weeks have been quite eventful in the context of the “reformist” deformist attack on Islam. There is no longer a need for a smokescreen of social issues behind which to mount the attack. It seems to be the case that the events like the actions of ISIS have provided a sufficient pretext to renew the call to deform Islam. This, despite the fact that scholars from different theological backgrounds have continually expressed their revulsion at ISIS activities, not as a matter of political expedience but through Islamic textual deductions.

The Conveyor Belt to Disbelief

Neoconservatism has been at the forefront of pushing a reformation, or as I call it, a deformation in Islam, particularly after the onset of the Iraq War. Leading neocon and architect of the disastrous US foreign policy, Paul Wolfowitz stated on the eve of the Iraq war,

“We need an Islamic reformation and I think there is a real hope for one”.[1]

The fountains of traditional Islamic learning also came in for neocon smear. In a speech at Georgetown University on the 30th of October 2003, Wolfowitz described madaaris (Islamic schools) as “schools that teach hatred, schools that teach terrorism” while providing free “theologically extremist teaching to ‘millions’” of Muslim children.[2]

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Human Rights and Justice: Understanding the Neoconservative Threat

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In my previous article, I highlighted how Moazzam Begg and his ordeal signalled the death knell of the counter terrorism and counter extremism agenda.  His presence, words and actions were and still are a thorn in the side of the neocon government’s intentions.

Que Alan Henning’s death. However saddening and condemnable it is, from a government point of view, frankly it’s the best thing that can happen for the neocons to continue the onwards march of the war on human rights, and continuation of the foreign policy agenda.  It is a means of accelerating the recuperation from the damage dealt by the release of Moazzam Begg.

Neoconservatism – a “Mode of thinking”

Murray has supported American policies like done attacks and waterboarding

Douglas Murray – supported American policies like drone attacks and waterboarding

Neoconservative policies are driving much of British politics today, but aside from a light mention of what neocons really stand for on this blog, the understanding of the intricate play of neoconservatism with the politics and the people requires a deeper analysis of the writings of the neocons and the sources from which they derive. I have already mentioned Douglas Murray, a man who does exert an influence over the current direction of UK’s frankly absurd policies. Murray in his book cites Leo Strauss,[1] and academics like Shadia Drury have described their thoughts as “Machiavellian”, abusing democracy to achieve their own ends.  For many, this serves little meaning in terms of everyday life.  In order to fully understand the implication of the neoconservative mind-set, one needs to delve further into the neocon “mode of thinking”.

The Henry Jackson Society, which is a key influence on UK domestic and foreign security policy, proudly imports (and exports) the American neoconservative “persuasion”.[2]  The focus on America is why Douglas Murray has passionately spoken in defence of American policies, for instance defending the use of US drone attacks and shockingly, even torture in the form of water-boarding. It is also why William Shawcross has defended Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq war and why Michael Gove pursued his “ideological” military-esque foray into the Muslim minority vis-à-vis Trojan Hoax, and why now the ground has been prepped for the neocons in Government to pull the plug on the Human Rights Act, to the disdain of various rights groups such as Liberty and Amnesty.

The “fathers of neoconservatism” are Irving Kristol and Leo Strauss. I will focus on Irving Kristol and other contemporary “leading lights” like David Brooks as it was Kristol  who brought out the writings of Strauss and wrote in defence and promotion of neocon “persuasions” (as opposed to principles) whilst contemporary neocon thinkers have built upon what has been written.

Neocons and the Acquisition of Power

The aim of the neocons is to firstly get into power, and once in power, stay there. They fundamentally do not believe in liberal “principles” as they do conservative ones.  This notion allows for the easy dispelling of other principles, such as the rule of law. As Kristol explains, there are moments when it is “wrong to do the right thing”,

“There are occasions where circumstances trump principles. Statesmanship consists not in being loyal to one’s avowed principles (that’s easy), but in recognizing the occasions one’s principles are being trumpeted by circumstances…”[3]

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