Which are our Western Values?

Rob wrote an interesting post, Support Shiv Malik’s book, regarding various things among which a speech Tony Blair delivered to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in August 1, 2006. As Rob writes, Tony Blair “called for a complete renaissance on foreign policy to combat reactionary Islam:”

“Whatever the outward manifestation at any one time – argued Blair, then Prime Minister – it is a global fight about global values; it is about modernization, within Islam and outside of it; it is about whether our value system can be shown to be sufficiently robust, true, principled and appealing that it beats theirs. Islamist extremism’s whole strategy is based on a presumed sense of grievance that can motivate people to divide against each other. Our answer has to be a set of values strong enough to unite people with each other.
This is not just about security or military tactics.
It is about hearts and minds about inspiring people, persuading them, showing them what our values at their best stand for.” [italics by Rob]

This is my comment:

“A very good post, Rob. I will only comment on one aspect where we probably are of different opinion.”

“This complete “renaissance” on foreign policy to combat Islam fanatics, seen as a global fight about global values … mmmm, nice talk indeed. Tony Blair is a valuable man in many respects and he is not deprived of some greatness. I admired him for example in his last day as a prime Minister, where he showed dignity and courage.”

“But let us face it: how can Mr. Blair think he/we/the West can win this battle for values? Which were the values that provoked the Iraqi war? Finding (non existent) mass destruction weapons? Exporting democracy? Everybody now has a clearer idea why that war was started: for power in the region and for oil. Ok, that is realpolitik. Every power plays its game in the world chessboard. None the less, I am asking myself, are we especially entitled or do we have any special chances to win such a battle on global values? Isn’t there instead a lack of values in the West? Isn’t Blair’s talk you quote hypocritical to a large extent?”

“This war has provoked the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians (the number of US casualties being in comparison irrelevant). The Italian Berlusconi government joined the so to say happy bunch, my only consolation being that the VAST majority of Italians were totally against that war.

Best regards,

Man of Roma

“PS
Not that I think the Islamic fanatics have better values. But are we sure our set of values is really much more “robust, true, principled and appealing” that it is so clear that it can beat theirs?”

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17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. @Man of Roma

    I had to think and read several times before posting a comment. ( don’t know whether it will make any difference.)

    Let’s face it, A large no. of Islam followers have their rationality “almost blinkered by faith.” They may be very humble and polite and would gladly discuss religions and point out its greatness and fallacies but try touching Islam and they get defensive. Now that’s not my problem! Neither is anybody else’s. ( like you found out yourself)

    And it doesn’t make them fanatic, just Orthodox, which is fine.It doesn’t make them terrorists!!! As most of the world (west)thinks.

    >>“called for a complete renaissance on foreign policy to combat reactionary Islam:”

    Could somebody explain to me what exactly “reaction” mean? What was the action we did that we are facing a “reaction”? It’s not that fundamentalists were not before? Who were the ones to drag them between their fight? Who armed and trained them?

    So, are we really righteous when we proudly claim that “It is about hearts and minds about inspiring people, persuading them, showing them what our values at their best stand for.” Did we ever stood by our values? To be honest we never had them to begin with?

    And what makes anybody even think our set of values is really much more “robust, true, principled and appealing” that it is so clear that it can beat theirs?” My dear Blair have you ever read Quran even once that u claim such a thing, you talk about things which you don’t really know!!!

    As long as there will be a feeling, that one set of ideals and values are better than the others there is bound to be a struggle for supremacy. Islam can teach us a lot things, just like other religions. The only question is are we ready to learn? Are we ever going to interpret it the way it should be or still going by the false belief that we all (including muslims) have for Islam???

  2. Hi Man of Roma, here goes my answer. Best
    Rob

  3. @Falcon
    @Rob
    Two extensive answers to my point. I’ll take some time for replying. Thanks for your contributions guys.
    MoR

  4. My only reply is: Mr.Blair, a fool is not the best one to judge other fools. :P

    [Yes it applies to me too! :D ]

    IMHO, Religion is merely the vehicle, the true goal is world supremacy. Does the west prevail over the east or is it otherwise? In this time and age, nobody has the time to fight over trifles like religions and values. The bosses only care about the profits [oil for the west, power for the clerics] , be it the West or the Middle East. Religion is merely a way to get yourself an army, because nobody fights as ruthlessly as a fanatic!

    Only the third person can ever have an advantage in such a war… he looks from behind his wall and he waits!

  5. @Ashish
    Tomorrow I will write a new post that will reply to you also. Thanks

  6. @Ashish.

    Ah but, religion is only a vehicle because it is such a sure way of being able to control the people! It is one of the reasons for the constant internal battles between the secular and religious state, including the USA. Of course, religion has ‘right’ on its side!

    @MoR

    New (old) site as in link. Will be nice to see you again.

  7. @Andy
    I’ll surely be there. I was so sorry when I read you closed your blog.

  8. [...] so I’ll just consider some topics mentioned by him (plus Ashish’s and Falcon’s remarks) and will talk freely without too much organization, being a bit tired after a long work trip (and [...]

  9. @Rob
    @Falcon
    @Ashish

    I have replied to your comments
    here
    and here

  10. @Ashish
    In this time and age, nobody has the time to fight over trifles like religions and values. The bosses only care about the profits ….Only the third person can ever have an advantage….

    Yours is one of clearest definitions of Realpolitik. Third person? I agree, usually the third person profits: in the Iraqi war the third person being Iran. This is why I am afraid that if the neocons win again in America, we’ll have a Iran war …. :-(

  11. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Sidereal!!!

  12. [...] Finally, a third discussion among Rob and MoR (in his and in MoR’s blog, 1 & 2) and Indian Ashish and Falcon. It dealt with this void here in the West which we perceive [...]

  13. Just stumbled across this old post.

    Ok, that is realpolitik. Every power plays its game in the world chessboard. None the less, I am asking myself, are we especially entitled or do we have any special chances to win such a battle on global values?

    That sums it up nicely, you Old World cynic, you. Remember, Tony Blair, like GWB (remember him?) is also a born again Christian.

  14. Bush the son surely is, as you say. But I thought Blair was a Catholic. Not that I care. But he might have taken his phony – in my view – idealism from the Jesuits, the masters of Catholic deception ah ah ah.

    Then pls read the rest of it:

    Western Values, Again (1)
    Western Values, Again (2)

    The thing being (taken from those following posts): I am not blaming America for being a superpower and for fighting (sometimes badly, I’ll admit) for her interests. And I believe America is a true democracy. The Obama story tells a lot.

    Maybe I am cynical, but I believe that empires and powers are not ruled mainly by idealism or ethics; they are rather ruled most of all by practical considerations regarding their interests (whatever they tell to the people).

  15. Yes, you are probably right – Blair a catholic. Point is, he GOT religion.

    Cynic? I meant it as a compliment of sorts. We Americans are too naive.

    • I understand. But sometimes naïveté is refreshing in its exuberance. Plus, when it comes to business, Americans become like a ruthless (and highly effective) machine. As far as faith (or religion), it has its advantages. But I have none, hence I have no parachute.

      PS

      As far as superpowers like the USA (or democratic Athens in the V century BC), they are /were democratic internally (ideals etc.), imperialistic (and cynical) in their foreign policy. Understandable, to a certain extent. If you cross the line too much, people start hating you all the world over, and your Realpolitik fails. This is why I am happy Obama is there. I hope he can better America’s image. He has already. He’s adored in Europe (not to mention the Third and developing World).

  16. Despite my deeply skeptical view of politics, I feel giddy. It as if a window has been thrown open and the stench of the last eight years is dissipating already!

    Access to government records! Too many secrets! A nation of believers and NON-believers! Closing Gitmo! Rule of law and habeus corpus restored!

    I hope he can do something good for the economy, or his support will evaporate…

    Of course, economy. Too much is expected from him. I wouldn’t like to be in his place.


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