Guess the speaker *UPDATED*

Later today, a government’s representative is going to make the following important announcements:

Western governments have “the moral imperative to intervene – sometimes militarily – to help spread democracy throughout the world.”

The same speaker says that “fostering democracy in the Middle East ‘is the best long-term defence against global terrorism and conflict.'”

He feels that keeping democracy alive is hard work and must be actively fostered: “After the end of the cold war it was tempting to believe in the ‘end of history’ – the inevitable process of liberal democracy and capitalist economics. Now with the economic success of China, we can no longer take the forward march of democracy for granted.”

Who is the speaker? John Bolton? George Bush? Nope, wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, a representative of the Labour government. Some of his other pronouncements are even more rational and surprising:

Miliband’s broad-ranging speech reflects his deep concern that a combination of factors, including widespread distaste for the American neo-conservative movement, disillusionment at the practical failures in Iraq, and a feeling that some underdeveloped countries, such as Kenya, are simply too tribal for democracy, is storing up a powerful isolationist mood in Britain.

The foreign secretary, who has just returned from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, believes there is an urgent need to restate the case for the universal value of democracy.

He will argue that interventions in other countries must be more subtle, better planned, and if possible undertaken with the agreement of multilateral institutions. But “we must resist the argument of the left and the right to retreat into a world of realpolitik”.

Miliband believes that in the 1990s “something strange happened.

“The neo-conservative movement seemed more certain about spreading democracy around the world. The left seemed conflicted between the desirability of the goal and its qualms about the use of military means.

“In fact, the goal of spreading democracy should be a great progressive project; the means need to combine both soft and hard power. We should not let the debate about the how of foreign policy obscure the clarity about the what.”

This is not what one expects to hear from a Briton, nor from a member of the Labour party and, especially, a member of the Labour government. I wonder if he represents official government policy, if he is running ideas up a flag pole to see if any one salutes, or if he is that bizarre thing, a principled moralist in a politically-correct, Leftist government.

UPDATE:  Welcome, American Thinker readers!  Ironically, because I’m getting so many lovely hits here, today is the first day I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Yeah, what she said (plus a little of what I have to say)

I was trying to set up a post that selectively quotes from Melanie Phillips’ articles explaining the utter insanity behind the Archbishop of Canterbury’s muddled remarks about bringing sharia law into the British legal system — but I couldn’t. Each paragraph is so information-packed and important that (a) I couldn’t pick what to quote and (b) I couldn’t bear to dilute the impact of the articles in their entirety. I therefore urge you to read the articles yourself, which you will find here and here.

I do have a few words to add, though, about parallel private legal systems. We have them here too. Religious Jews have often resolved disputes through rabbis, not civil courts, and more and more people opt for private mediation or arbitration in the hope that those methods will be cheaper than litigation. With the Jewish disputes, it goes without saying that the law applied is Jewish law. (Phillips has a good description of these tribunals in Britain, and they’re much the same here.) As for the mediations or arbitrations, people can choose their law: they can pick the law of the state in which they live, or the state most favorable to the party in the stronger bargaining position. Heck, they could even choose the law of another nation entirely, assuming all parties agree. If the ultimate outcome of the religious tribunal, arbitration or mediation pleases the participants, that’s the end of the matter, and they go away happily, without the American civil litigation system ever being the wiser.

However, if they’re not happy, they do have recourse to the American litigation system. Sometimes the judge will simply tell the disgruntled party that he agreed in advance to the arbitration, the arbitration was conducted appropriately, and that’s the end of the story. Sometimes, though, the complainant will get to have his case heard and, in that case, American law, whether it be federal or state law, applies, as it would to any other similarly situated claimant. Additionally, if someone comes in complaining that the mediation, arbitration or religious tribunal resulted in an outcome that is antithetical to American law (for example, requiring him to sell his daughter into prostitution or to place himself into slavery), the American system will bring the alternative proceedings to a screeching halt. For all that I’m no fan of judges, only those who are mentally disturbed would allow their courts to be used for those purposes.

Rowan Williams muddled proposal, however, does not contemplate a system such as the American one, in which people can circumvent Civil Courts if they so desire (opting, say, for sharia courts), but if they don’t desire, they are bound by British law in British courts. Instead, he truly states a belief that the British courts should apply sharia law. As Melanie Phillips explains:

Dr Williams for some reason abandoned nuance altogether and left no room for doubt about what he was saying. Which was, in short, that although the

sensational reporting of opinion polls

recording large numbers of British Muslims who want to live in the UK under Islamic sharia law

clouds the issue,

the adoption of sharia law in the UK seems

unavoidable

and indeed desirable, since Muslims should not have to choose between

the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty.

So although

nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states,

Muslims should be able to choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a sharia court. Such courts should therefore be

incorporated into the British legal system

as a

constructive accommodation

with Islam.

There is no parallel for this in the American system or even in the British system. Both will enforce as judgments private agreements but, as I noted above, they will not do so if the outcome is inconsistent with fundamental principles of American or British jurisprudence. Woe to England if it backs down from its near universal outrage at Williams’ proposal and allows his ideas to become reality, whether actively or by default.

So, go read Melanie Phillips’ article and then say a prayer for England, for she sorely needs it. And if you’re in a reading mood about Williams, read this one too, at American Thinker.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Cause and addictive effect?

Britain’s health care system is again having problems. This time, the problem is that physicians are over-prescribing painkillers, causing addictive behavior — and doing so despite strong official guidelines to the contrary. This could just be a medical trend, but one does wonder if it’s also because doctor’s in Britain are no longer very good? I know that’s nasty of me to say, but I firmly believe that American doctors are amongst the best in the world, in large part because the compensation is good enough that the best and the brightest will sacrifice their 20s and part of their 30s to prepare to be doctors. In America, they spend 4 years in college, 4 years in medical school, 1 year in internship, and 2 years in residency — and that’s just to be an internist. If they want to specialize, they could be spending another 5 years in training, for a total of 16 years learning how to be the best. Unless one is a saint, one usually does that only for the promise of lots of money (coupled, one hopes, with job satisfaction). In countries where medicine is socialized there’s not much money, there’s not much prestige, and there’s less training. Is it surprising, then, that these doctors don’t know how to follow instructions? And is that what we want here?

By the way, I’m just hypothesizing based on first hand knowledge I have about the British and American medical systems. I have not looked for concrete information to back up my hypotheses, and could just be making a fool of myself here.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

The Imam of Canterbury *UPDATED*

The most famous Archbishop of Canterbury was the martyred Thomas a Becket, a man who was ostensibly the victim of a political assassination, yet who essentially died for his faith. He’d been a hard living young man but, when his best friend Henry II invested him as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important seat in the British religious heirarchy, he went through a profound change and began to take his religion seriously — so seriously that he took political stands antithetical to Henry’s interests, something that came as a great surprise to the latter, who had assumed that Becket’s would be “his man” in the Bishopric. Eventually, Becket’s attempts to defend the church’s integrity against Henry’s political desires irked the latter so much that he exclaimed “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” A handful of his loyalists, rather than viewing this as a purely rhetorical question, took it literally, and cut down Becket within the hallowed walls of his own church.

Thinking about Becket, I rather wonder what he would have made of the current occupier of his Bishopric, which is still the most important position in the Church of England:

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK “seems unavoidable”.

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

An approach to law which simply said – there’s one law for everybody – I think that’s a bit of a danger
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says “sensational reporting of opinion polls” clouds the issue.

I can’t figure out if Williams is naive, stupid or a genuine Fifth Column within the C of E. Aside from the peculiarity of a church leader arguing for the hegemony of another religion, his ignorance is scary. He doesn’t seem to understand that sharia is a package deal. Just today, I read a little bit about that package:

Two sisters – identified only as Zohreh and Azar – have been convicted of adultery in Iran.

They have now been sentenced to be stoned to death.

Adultery is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the canons of Islamic Sharia law. The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the stoning sentence.

Zohreh and Azar have already received 99 lashes for “illegal relations.” Yet they were tried again for the same crime, and convicted of adultery on the evidence of videotape that showed them in the presence of other men while their husbands were absent. The video does not show either of them engaging in any sexual activity at all.

Their crime is non-existent, their trials a miscarriage of justice, and their sentencing a barbarity.

All those who believe in human rights and human dignity should protest against this sentence.

Proponents of sharia law in the West like to point out that it’s just a little thing that helps neighbors mediate fights, or husband and wife avoid (or, if need be, embrace) divorce. They willfully ignore the fact that sharia law is the single most misogynistic law in the world and, perhaps, in history. They — the same people who quiver at the mention of waterboarding — also turn a blind eye to sharia’s demands for whipping, dis-limbing, hanging and beheading. If we in the West let this camel’s innocuous little nose into the tent, if we just look to it just as a mediator of little neighbor disputes, I can assure you that very quickly that whole camel, beheading and all, will have nosed its way into the center of the Western criminal and judicial system, with horrific effects on all, especially women.

Hat tip: JL

UPDATE: Hot Air also caught and commented on this story.

UPDATE II: Another glimpse at the sharia law Williams finds so innocuous.

UPDATE III: Considering Britain’s problem with alcoholism, this little riff on sharia attitudes towards drinking alcohol (a 22 year old being hanged for drinking alcohol four times), might actually be a good thing. (And yes, that was sarcasm.)

UPDATE IV:  The information in Danny Lemieux’s comment deserves to be up here, in the post:

Here is a perspective that will never appear in the Western MSM:

There are Anglicans all over the Third World /Developing World pitted in a life struggle against Islam, from the Middle East (Sudan, Palestine, Iraq) to Africa to Southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan). Look anywhere along the burning crescent where Islam collides with kuffar infidels, you will find Anglicans struggling to protect their faith.

The largest Anglican community (by far) is in Nigeria, where Anglicans and other Christians have been struggling against an ongoing and vicious  jihad by northern Muslims, one that often breaks out into random massacres of Christian villages and a vicious imposition of Sharia in Muslim-controlled areas.

An aide to the Nigerian bishop Akinola once told me that the greatest damage the U.S. church did by appointing an openly homosexual bishop (the current bishop in New Hampshire) was to undercut the moral authority of Christians struggling against Islam in his country. It gave Muslim radicals a powerful propaganda tool with which to expand their influence.

I can’t think of an act more damaging to these Anglican Christians , in fact…ALL Christians, than to have the Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of what is primarily a Third World Church,  give notice of his surrender to Sharia…other than, perhaps, his own conversion to Islam. What this twit did was not only horrendously stupid but enormously costly to those of Christian faith struggling in the trenches to protect all for which it stands. He will have blood on his hands for this.

This is . . . ignorance

The AP phrases the story as one about Brits “losing their grip on reality” because they think historical figures are mythical. This is not a reality problem, though. This is sheer pig-ignorance, the end result of a country that is so busy teaching political correctness, that it has phased out teaching its own history:

Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.

The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.

And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.

Three percent thought Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s most famous writers, is a work of fiction himself.

Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi and Battle of Waterloo victor the Duke of Wellington also appeared in the top 10 of people thought to be myths.

Meanwhile, 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Holmes actually existed; 33 percent thought the same of W. E. Johns’ fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.

UKTV Gold television surveyed 3,000 people.

You can be a Muslim and a good citizen too

A nice story of genuine heroism out of Britain:

Among the new Britons taking part in citizenship ceremonies today will be one man who has already put his life on the line to protect his adopted country.

Reda Hassaine will stand in Islington Town Hall, North London, to affirm allegiance to the Queen and pledge to give his “loyalty to the United Kingdom and to respect its rights and freedoms”.

Mr Hassaine’s journey to this point has been long and dangerous. An Algerian who went undercover in Finsbury Park mosque to gather information on extremists, he has endured beatings and death threats, and abandonment by his spymasters. After years of fighting to be British, he told The Times: “At last I can look forward to planning my life, to being able to travel freely. I will be so proud to call myself a British citizen.”

Mr Hassaine, 46, arrived in Britain in 1994, one of thousands fleeing the civil conflict between Islamist guerrillas and the Algerian military. As a journalist, he was under threat of death from the Islamists, and, after a friend was murdered, he volunteered for the Algerian secret services. He began attending mosques in North London where exiled members of the Armed Islamic Group were raising funds and planning attacks in Algeria and France.

Mr Hassaine was also asked to pass information to DGSE, the French intelligence service, and he established contact with the London embassy. Their interest in his work grew as Abu Hamza al-Masri turned the Finsbury Park mosque into an extremist haven. Mr Hassaine alleges that the French discussed kidnapping the cleric.

By the end of 1998 Mr Hassaine was working for Scotland Yard’s Special Branch before being passed to an MI5 handler. He continued to report on the activities of Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, the Palestinian cleric who ran a Friday prayer group from a community centre near Baker Street. But Britain did not regard the growing band of Islamistswith the same seriousness as either France or Algeria. The French nicknamed the city Londonistan but at the end of the 1990s the main terrorist threat to Britain was still assessed to be the IRA and dissident Irish republican groups.

In 2000 Mr Hassaine’s cover was blown and he was badly beaten by Abu Qatada’s henchmen. He claims that his MI5 handlers, who he says had promised him British citizenship in return for his information, dropped him.

“I volunteered to work for the intelligence services of all three countries because all of them had the same enemy,” he said. “The only reward I expected was from God, who teaches that if you save a life it is like you have saved all of humanity and if you kill it is as if you have killed all of humanity.”  (Emphasis mine. — ed.)

After September 11, 2001, Mr Hassaine became a prominent whistleblower, revealing how Britain had turned “a blind eye” to the Islamist threat.

His decision to go public seemed to threaten his hopes of citizenship. His former wife and his two children became citizens in 2005 but he had to wait. In a letter to Treasury solicitors, Mr Hassaine’s lawyers wrote: “Mr Hassaine was paid very little for his work but agreed to do so on the promise that citizenship would be arranged for him and his family and that he would be protected. Instead he has been threatened with deportation and his life has been put at great risk.”

This month the Home Office wrote to Mr Hassaine congratulating him. He said: “This is all I ever wanted. It gives my life a security that it has lacked for years.”

Britain’s descent into madness

From Mark Steyn:

My favorite headline of the year so far comes from The Daily Mail in Britain: “Government Renames Islamic Terrorism As ‘Anti-Islamic Activity’ To Woo Muslims.”

Her Majesty’s government is not alone in feeling it’s not always helpful to link Islam and the, ah, various unpleasantnesses with suicide bombers and whatnot. Even in his cowboy Crusader heyday, President Bush liked to cool down the crowd with a lot of religion-of-peace stuff. But the British have now decided that kind of mealy-mouthed “respect” is no longer sufficient. So, henceforth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated “anti-Islamic activity” Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. “There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief,” she told her audience. “Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic.”

[snip]

The British home secretary would respond that not all moderate imams are as gung-ho to detonate moppets. Which is true. But, by insisting on re-labeling terrorism committed by Muslims in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity,” Her Majesty’s government is engaging not merely in Orwellian Newspeak but in self-defeating Orwellian Newspeak. The broader message it sends is that ours is a weak culture so unconfident and insecure that if you bomb us and kill us our first urge is to find a way to flatter and apologize to you.

Here’s another news item out of Britain this week: A new version of The Three Little Pigs was turned down for some “excellence in education” award on the grounds that “the use of pigs raises cultural issues” and, as a result, the judges “had concerns for the Asian community” — i.e., Muslims. Non-Muslim Asians — Hindus and Buddhists – have no “concerns” about anthropomorphized pigs.

This is now a recurring theme in British life. A while back, it was a local government council telling workers not to have knick-knacks on their desks representing Winnie-the-Pooh’s porcine sidekick, Piglet. As Martin Niemöller famously said, first they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character and, if I was, I’m more of an Eeyore. So then they came for the Three Little Pigs, and Babe, and by the time I realized my country had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” and bring the nightmare to an end.

You’ll want to read the rest, which you’ll find here.

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