UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown Emphasizes “War of Ideas”

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Shortly after the departure of Prime Minister Blair and the appointment of Gordon Brown, junior foreign minister Mark Malloch Brown wasted no time in telling all who would listen that he despised the “neoconservatives” of the Bush administration and that the new British government would not be “tied at the hip” to America. His boss, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, quickly rebuffed the junior foreign minister stating, “Our commitment to work with the American government in general, and the Bush administration in particular, is resolute,” to the BBC.

PM Brown’s recent statements in the U.S. indicate the U.K. is committed to establishing a stable, democratic government in Iraq. This is encouraging. More encouraging still is Brown’s framing of the struggle against Islamist totalitarianism as an ideological and military war similar to the Cold War.

Mr Brown called for the allies to deploy the “arsenal of democracy”, as well as military might, against insurgents. Recalling the cultural battles of the Cold War, he said the West needed to engage schools, universities, museums, institutes, churches, trade unions and sports clubs into nurturing alternatives to terrorist ideology.

“The way ahead is to support all communities in developing a strong identity resistant to violent extremists trying to recruit vulnerable young people,” he said.

We must undercut the terrorists’ so-called ‘single narrative’ and defeat their ideas. At home and abroad we must back mainstream and moderate voices and reformers, emphasizing the shared values that exist across faiths and communities.

Mr Brown’s focus on soft power and the cultural war against jihadism marks a change of emphasis from some of Tony Blair’s more bellicose statements.

But the new Prime Minister also used the article to reassert his belief in close ties between Britain and the US, saying the two countries were “united by the streams of history and the strengths of our ideals”.

“This partnership of purpose matters now more than ever,” he said.

Writing in the New York Sun, Nicholas Wapshott reports that Mr. Brown’s recent statements disappointed critics of the war in Iraq and those who hoped the new prime minister would dramatically change the close relationship between the U.S. and U.K. Sure to raise the ire of the radical left on both sides of the pond, Mr. Brown claimed, “We are at one in fighting the battle against terrorism, and that struggle is one we will fight with determination and with resilience and right across the world,” and acknowledged a “generation-long battle” against Islamist totalitarianism.

This does not represent a major change in position for Brown, he was saying similar things in 2006. Here is an excerpt from his Labour Party speech that year:

[L]et us be clear: the renewal of New Labour will be founded on that essential truth – the need for global cooperation in the fight against terrorism, never anti-Americanism, recognising that the values of decent people everywhere are for liberty, democracy and justice not just for ourselves but for everyone, not least for the poorest countries and peoples of the world.

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