'Michael Fallon, another wise grey man of the Tory cabinet, gave a speech this July at the Policy Exchange thinktank. This was not the time for infighting, he reminded his party. Instead, Conservatives should focus their energy on challenging the decline of the public sphere. This was a speech riddled with conventional Tory wisdom about western democratic exceptionalism.“We have to stand up for … our democracy, our tolerance, our freedom under the law that enables our people to flourish … the threat to that western narrative is now ferocious, based on misinformation, new media, and a callous disregard for facts.” In a final flourish, Fallon declared that for democracy to thrive, “we need to call out aggression and intimidation” in our political life.'
Fallon is the usual disingenuous lines that dress up British foreign policy as if it really were about promoting 'our values' at home and abroad, one seamless Good menaced by Evil within and without. Such , in fact, is always the cant of authoritarians, though, in accordance with doublethink, the national security state is to be imposed by referencing freedom.
Fallon's credo is not 'Tory wisdom' in any authentic sense of its older traditions and conservative thought. It's a radical neoconservativism with more in common with US style nationalism, with its messianic mission of exporting revolution through 'exceptional' force while securitising the realm at home by curtailing civil liberties and maintaining a repressive surveillance state.
Dangerous times loom ahead. Should Trump lurch towards war with Iran, it's quite probable Britain could align with the US in any war against it. The domestic turbulence of Brexit and focus on this has absorbed all energies and attention. May's government has barely had any time at all to pay attention to the twin crises of North Korea and Iran or the prospect of 'World War Three'.
Fallon is the worst sort of wooden headed functionary. Britain has already started to draw up plans for military action with the US in North Korea. There has barely been any proper debate in Britain over whether it would be prepared to join the US or not. There is little or no indication of an independent British position on North Korea or much evidence of a foreign policy at all.
On Iran, at least Boris Johnson, as Foreign Secretary, publicly disagreed with S of S Tillerson over Trump's determination to ditch the 2015 nuclear deal. Yet with Brexit, the infighting in the Tories and Labour could escalate if Trump and his generals shift towards war with Iran. With IS destroyed, now the coalition of convenience against them has come undone in Iraq and Syria.
While Johnson wants to keep the nuclear deal, that does not mean, once the deal is ditched, that a state of war between Israel and Iran could not draw in the US and Britain. The Middle East could be on the brink of a very serious war late in 2017 and early 2018 and Britain would be potentially involved in this d veloping crisis which is getting very little focus in the British media.
Fallon's rhetoric is preparing the way for a 'shoulder to shoulder' position of Britain along with the US in the event of a war with Iran as Tehran expands its influence from Iraq through eastern Syria through to Hezbollah territories in southern Lebanon. Those who would be ranged against this expansion of a 'new terror' threat would be securitised as threats and enemies within.
Corbyn as Labour leader would be the obvious domestic target of the government should he openly oppose the war and the 'western narrative'. With a government floundering over Brexit, the potential to use foreign policy and the new terror threat after IS as a means to demand national loyalty and portray Corbyn's Labour as unpatriotic domestic enemies of state security is likely.
The mounting crisis in the Middle East could break out into a war very soon, just as war in 1914 broke out amidst turbulent Parliamentary debates over the future of Britain over Home Rule for Ireland. The temptation of a war for purported geopolitical advantage and security of Britain's allies, of an 'escape forwards' from domestic crises could likewise happen in 2018.