A prominent British journalist and author of six books, Melanie Phillips has written extensively on British politics and culture. Educated at Oxford, her writings have appeared in such venues as The Guardian, The Observer, and The Sunday Times, and she is the recipient of the Orwell Prize for journalism. She currently writes a weekly column for London's Daily Mail.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made it clear that he will step down before the next Parliamentary election. The issue at stake for the United States is whether or not Blair's successor will be as staunchly supportive of American foreign policy as he has been. Given the current political climate in Britain, and the emergence and establishment of two disturbing trends in British society, it does not seem likely that the ‘special relationship' will be quite so special after Prime Minister Blair's departure.
The two powerful trends that are dominating British politics and society in recent years are a cultural enfeeblement with strong anti-American undertones, and the simultaneous evisceration of normative British values and national identity. As a result, while it is clear that the ‘special relationship' offers distinct benefits to both America and Britain, the UK is rapidly emerging as the weak link in the alliance.
Radical Islam is exploiting the cultural and moral vacuum which has been emerging in Britain over the past 30 years. The London terrorist bombings last July, perpetrated by homegrown Islamist terrorists, shocked British society which until then thought that radical Islam was confined to distant places about which British people knew little and cared less. However, once the shock subsided the British public determined that the factors which caused the Muslim youths to become suicide bombers did not have anything to do with religion. Rather, the British public concluded that the causes of the attacks were "Islamophobia," xenophobia, and Britain's alliance with the United States in the war in Iraq. None of these excuses stand up to scrutiny, though they all speak to the disintegration of normative cultural values and the emergence of the public's perception that radical Islam is not so much to blame for the attacks as is British society itself.
There are two main sources of radical Islam in Britain. During the 1990s numerous radicals from the Islamic world poured into Britain after having fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, where they had effectively become Jihadis. When these men returned to their home countries as battle-ready revolutionaries, many were expelled. These individuals eventually found their way to Britain, which, for a variety of reasons, was very hospitable to terrorists of all kinds. This turned Britain, during the 1990s, into the literal epicenter of European Jihad.
The second source of radicalization comes from Britain's legitimate immigrant population, which typically comes from the Indian subcontinent. The British public failed to realize that immigrants from these countries, and from Pakistan in particular, had been radicalized by the Wahhabi ideology from Saudi Arabia. In addition, many of the immigrants from these countries kept extremely close ties with family members back home, leading to more importation of radical Islam.
During this period of radicalization, for a variety of reasons, Britain almost completely lost control of its borders. An inability to effectively track and monitor who enters and leaves the country is clearly disastrous for national security, and this is precisely the situation that developed in Britain.
More fundamental problems and causes of the rise in radical Islamism in Britain are cultural and moral in nature. In the period since the last World War, Britain has lost belief in itself as a nation and in the idea of "the nation." The nation is no longer a source of pride but a cause of all of the world's ills, and legitimacy no longer resides with it, but instead with the supranational governing bodies of the world such as the European Union and the United Nations.
Human rights and minority rights legislation have acted as a kind of coercive arm for victim or grievance culture, in which minorities are always conceived as the victims of the majority. Therefore, if the majority does not comply with their demands, they are immediately guilty of crimes such as prejudice, racism, "Islamophobia," and xenophobia.
The British judiciary in particular has been driven by this human rights, or minority rights, doctrine. Under that rubric the judiciary has thwarted nearly every attempt by the government over the past two years to enforce some order into the immigration rules. For example, the judiciary regularly prevents the deportation of individuals suspected of terrorist activities to countries where it is thought that torture is practiced, even when the country is Afghanistan where the Taliban has been defeated and a pro-Western government is in place.
The human rights and minority rights movement had a dramatic impact on normative social values in Britain. The emerging desire to destroy and remake the entirety of British culture is further eviscerating British national values. This has negative consequences for immigrants, as it is impossible to integrate immigrants into society and culture when there is no society or culture for them to be integrated into. Schools do not teach the history of British national institutions, or of Britain as a nation; this excludes immigrants and, in particular, leaves young Muslims stranded.
These young Muslim immigrants come from incredibly poor countries and find themselves surrounded by decadent Britain. This decadence extends beyond appearances and into the debauched nature of youth culture, with drinking, drugs, and sex at the forefront of their lives. These youths find themselves stranded between two poles, making them an obvious and easy target for radical Islamist recruiters' philosophies.
The majority in Britain has absorbed the deformation of thought which invariably leads to the United States and Great Britain being blamed for all the world's ills, while minorities may be absolved of any and all responsibility even when they commit terrorist atrocities. All values are now relative, with no objectivity in sight. In British newspapers it is now commonplace to read that the Jews control the United States government and are directing American foreign policy. The governing class in Britain has failed to act, and it is appeasing these deformations of thought rather than attacking them.