- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2005

In announcing last week a sweeping crackdown in Britain on the “evil ideology” coming to be known as Islamofascism, Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that “the rules of the game have changed.” So, it would appear, has he.

In fact, Mr. Blair has become an exemplar of the old adage that a “conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.” The two bombing attacks on London’s mass-transit systems, perpetrated mostly by home-grown Islamist suicide bombers (actual or would-be), not only mugged Britain’s recently reelected leader, but his country, as well.

As a result, Tony Blair appears to have broad popular support for abandoning his past, disastrous political correctness — a stance he had clung to even after the September 11, 2001 hijackers mugged a great many American liberals (at least temporarily). Gone was his previous commitment to allow Islamist communities to operate with impunity in Britain, even those that made no secret of their sympathies with, and support for, terror.

By contrast, on August 5, the prime minister announced that he was “absolutely and completely committed” to ensuring that those foreign clerics and others who come to Britain and condone, glorify or justify terrorism are deported. Ditto those “actively engaged” with Web sites, bookshops, networks and organizations considered to be inciting hatred. Two such organizations, the radical Islamofascist Al Mujahiroun and its successor, Hizb-ut-Tahira, were proscribed. Mosques where such activities are allowed to take place will be shut down. Asylum will no longer be granted terrorists or their sympathizers. And British nationals engaging in speech that promotes terror risk being stripped of their citizenship and deported or incarcerated.

Suffice it to say, Tony Blair’s mugged-liberal response to terror attacks in the United Kingdom makes the USA Patriot Act look like the American Civil Liberty Union’s fondest dream. It is also a reminder of the sorts of infringements on civil liberties that may be demanded by Americans if the Patriot Act were not to be renewed and/or terrorists succeed in attacking this country again with devastating effect.

Unfortunately, if Mr. Blair has had an epiphany about the gravity of his past underestimation of the danger posed by Islamofascism at home, he seems as yet unwilling (or perhaps, given his domestic preoccupations at the moment, simply unable) to recognize the ominous implications of the errors of his ways abroad. Specifically, even as the prime minister is trying to shut down the safe haven for terror he and his predecessors have permitted in Britain, he continues to insist that a new safe haven be afforded them in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

Indeed, Tony Blair’s fixation with the creation of a Palestinian state that will, inevitably, become an Islamofascist breeding ground and base of operations is of a piece with the political and strategic miscalculations that animated his indulgence of Islamists in the U.K. To demonstrate that he was not George Bush’s “poodle” on foreign policy, to appease his party’s vehemently anti-Iraq leftist majority and to pander to anti-West Muslims in places like Leeds, London, Birmingham and overseas, Mr. Blair has insisted on the early establishment of a sovereign “Palestine.”

The prime minister evidently remains untroubled that the bitter fruit of his efforts in the so-called Quartet — the diplomatic equivalent of gang rape involving the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and the United States teamed up to stick it to Israel — will be the creation of yet another Islamofascist state-sponsor of terror in the Middle East.

For example, Mr. Blair has insisted that the “Road Map” be followed to create a Palestinian state, with none of the caveats or safeguards President Bush enunciated in June 2002. At the Gleneagles G-8 meeting last month, Mr. Blair also forced through a multinational commitment to provide $3 billion to the Palestinian Authority (PA). And British pressure is at work in the U.S. government’s insistence that Israel provide arms to the PA — even though the U.S. envoy in charge of this project, Army Lt. Gen. William Ward, admitted to Congress in July that he had no idea what had happened to the thousands of M-16s Israel had previously given the Palestinians pursuant to the Oslo Accords.

The evidence is now unmistakable. Tony Blair is as wrong about the foreseeable prospects for Palestine as he was, pre-mugging, about the wisdom of ignoring Islamofascism in Britain. Islamists will soon hold unchallenged sway over Gaza and parts of the West Bank, rightly claiming that their terror forced Israel to withdraw and that its continuation will result, in due course, in the “liberation” of the rest of the “occupied” territory (meaning all of Israel).

Mr. Blair has long been courageous and visionary on Iraq and Afghanistan. Lately, he has become so with respect to the terrorist footprint in Britain. It is in the interest of all freedom-loving people that he and President Bush act now to prevent a worse “mugging” by far and encourage Israel to suspend its impending, ominous retreat in the face of Palestinian terror.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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