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.

Al Qaeda’s a problem even when it’s contained

Apparently even locking up Al Qaeda guys for decades is inadequate to squelch the trouble they foment:

Prison officers are struggling to control a group of al-Qaeda terrorists who are clashing with other serious offenders in one of Britain’s high-security jails.

Frankland Prison, County Durham, holds an estimated 20 al-Qaeda members and sympathisers, serving long sentences for planning atrocities in the United Kingdom and abroad. They include Dhiren Barot, who was jailed for 30 years, and Omar Khyam, jailed for at least 20 years, for plotting to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre and the Ministry of Sound nightclub.

In recent weeks three disturbances have taken place at the prison. The Prison Officers Association (POA) said many of those involved had been moved to Frankland from Belmarsh Prison in London. ‘They don’t want to be in Frankland; they want to be in Belmarsh with their friends. They are getting more organised and want to be together in one place, which is scary,’ said Steve Gough, vice-chairman of the POA. (Emphasis mine.)

Gough warned that the increasing regularity of the disturbances was becoming a serious problem. ‘We are struggling to contain it,’ he said. ‘It’s having an effect on other prisoners.’

But don’t worry. It’s not just the jailers. The prisoners have their grievances, too. They say it’s not fair that their jailers are white:

Arani [an attorney for one of the Al Qaeda prisoners] added that 99 per cent of the staff at Frankland are of white origin: ‘This extreme imbalance across the board foments intolerance, racial hatred and white supremacist behaviour from a large percentage of inmates as well as some of the officers, too.’

What’s amazing is that the prisoners are still freely allowed to stir up trouble outside the walls, as well as in. Thus, Barot, who planned to blow up hundreds of people, is whining on websites:

In a lengthy email to an Islamist website, Barot recently outlined his concerns about what he called ‘oppressive conditions’ in Frankland. He said he was subject to three intensive cell searches in a fortnight and two visits to the segregation block in a week because he was suspected of having a mobile phone.

He said he had also been denied ‘suitable’ Islamic literature and CDs.

‘Any time the prison feels that I may have found a “friend” that I may be “overly” socialising with, more often than not the individuals concerned are promptly shipped out to other establishments. Why? For irrational fear of “sermonising” or “talent-scouting”,’ Barot told Ummah.com. ‘Not only have I been subjected to mentally tortuous surroundings… but now physically, too, in order to break my psyche.’

You can read the rest here, but only if you want to depress yourself.

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.

Britain starting to examine the law of unintended consequences

I would dearly love to see us stop funding Islamists by buying oil from the Middle East. To me, that means two things: examining our own oil sources (ANWAR, anyone?) and/or developing alternative energies. As everyone who visits this blog knows, though, I’ve been extremely hostile to biofuels, which I believe will cause food shortages amongst the most vulnerable. Apparently I’m not the only one who is starting to figure out that biofuels may not be as magic as promised:

Controversial plans to make cars greener by using fuel made from crops and animal fat will be thrown into doubt this week when MPs are expected to question whether they will do more harm than good.

Biofuels have been hailed as a green alternative to oil by some, but in the US, where there are massive plants converting maize (corn), it has been criticised for making food more expensive and being environmentally unfriendly.

From April, petrol and diesel sold in the UK must have 2.5 per cent biofuels, drawn from sources such as tallow, rapeseed and sugar beet, rising to 5 per cent in two years’ time. The EU wants to increase this to 10 per cent by 2020.

But the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is likely to call tomorrow for the schemes to be delayed because of fears that biofuels can have negative consequences. Criticisms include claims that producing some biofuels emits more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels and that habitats such as tropical rainforests are being destroyed to plant the new crops. The report, ‘Are Biofuels Sustainable?’, is also thought to predict that rising food prices pushed up by competition for land could restrict growth in the industry.

The committee’s report follows a separate study last week by the Royal Society calling for strict controls on how biofuels are grown. Stavros Dimas, the EU Environment Commissioner, has also admitted that it might have been premature to press ahead with biofuels, which were fiercely debated at the United Nation’s Bali conference on climate change in December.

UPDATE: I urge anyone reading this post to take the time to read the comments too. They are very well informed and help round out the limited point I made by focusing on scientific data (which I didn’t know) and the profound differences between American and European agriculture (which I also didn’t know).

The voracious British government marches on

The progressives of the Victorian era would be proud, but the old fashioned liberals are rolling in their graves:

Independent schools are to be made to open their doors to more children from poor homes under guidelines announced to stop them being run as “exclusive clubs”.

Schools failing to meet the regulations could have bank accounts frozen, trustees suspended, buildings seized or even be closed down under a range of sanctions.

In the new guidance from the Charity Commission, schools are told they should consider charging lower fees so more families are able to afford places.

Schools with higher charges have been informed they should ensure money is set aside to provide free or subsidised places for poor pupils. They should also consider sharing facilities and expert teachers with local state schools.

The recommendations, which come in a landmark document, are designed to ensure independent schools justify their charitable status by meeting a “public benefit” test and hold on to £100 million-a-year tax-breaks.

Schools may be subjected to “random” spot checks and inspections to ensure they comply.

Education experts say some may have to increase class sizes, ditch A-level courses or cut teachers’ perks to fund more free places.

Under Labour’s 2006 Charities Act, organisations including independent schools, hospitals and religious groups no longer have an automatic right to call themselves charities.

According to the guidance, they must prove “people in poverty” benefit from their services – even if they cannot afford fees.

“At the extreme, charities should not be seen as ‘exclusive clubs’ that only a few can join, since the ‘public’ benefit from that is very limited,” says the document.

Now they pass the cui bono publico test, of course, but at what cost?

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