Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative. John Stuart Mill
The British Tory party has long been known as the “stupid party” and we didn’t have to wait long for its essential dimness to reveal itself.
Speaking to the Times, the new defence secretary Liam Fox spluttered that Britain was:
"not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country".
Let’s break that down.
Presumably the reference to “education policy” means Britain should not have a broader state-building agenda in Afghanistan, its goals should be purely military.
That was the initial approach of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and it has failed utterly, forcing many ordinary Afghanis into the arms of the Taliban. Military and development experts who know a lot more about Afghanistan than the bellicose Fox are united in their view that success on the battlefield is dependent on creating a viable state that is more attractive to Afghanis than the alternative offered by the enemy. The case was well made by Britain’s new international development secretary while flying to Afghanistan on a British mission (which Fox is also a part of):
Speaking on the flight to Afghanistan, the international development secretary appeared to contradict Dr Fox today. "We need to ensure that we help the Afghan people to build a functioning state," he said. "That's about providing basic education and healthcare facilities. But it's also about ensuring that there are opportunities for promoting livelihoods, that people have jobs.Quite.
Fox’s reference to one of Britain’s key allies as a “13th-century country" could not be more revealing of Tory attitudes towards foreigners. You don’t have to be a Marxist to see Fox’s ignorant and offensive remark as evidence that the British Tory party has made no progress whatsoever from its jingoistic 19th century roots.
This week’s runner up for dumb diplomacy is another conservative, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Commenting on the report by international experts into the sinking of a South Korean warship in March the Amazonian secretary of state declared:
Let me clear: this will not be and cannot be business as usual.
Meaning what? By “business as usual” Clinton presumably means the largely successful policy of containment that has been followed for many years in response to the problem posed by North Korea. If not “business as usual,” then what? If she is to be taken seriously, presumably Clinton means military and economic measures against the North, steps that could easily lead to a rapid escalation of tensions and possibly war, given the unpredictability of the regime in the North. But perhaps we shouldn’t take her seriously—probably this general threat by Clinton is just bullshit, designed to make her and her sinking superpower sound tough. Let’s just hope Kim Jong-Il sees it that way.