- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2000

LONDON.I flew into London the other night from Kazakhstan, a country with very little history and all of that tragic. And here I am in Britain, a country with an elongated history and much of it happy.

Kazakhstan might not even be a country if it were not for the Soviet Union's propensity to dump people into its empty lands, lands more extensive than those of all Europe. Britain is a well-established country; but its present ruling political party, New Labor, appears to be intent on taking it apart.

Over the years, the Soviets dumped small numbers of people they deemed disagreeable into the Kazakh heartland where they mixed with the mostly nomadic Kazakh tribesmen. Thus, there are a few hundred thousand Koreans here and a few hundred thousand Poles there, and others thither and yon. The largest outside population that the Soviets brought into Kazakhstan were Russian. In a population of 16 million, some 30 percent to 40 percent are Russian.

One would think these diverse peoples might be at each other's throats, all vying for power and perks. Actually, they live together amicably. They share common values. For these recent vassals of communism, the values are new but apparently binding. Almost everyone in Kazakhstan, regardless of ethnic origin, celebrates capitalism and democratic practice. A communist past will do that to people.

Here in London, the adherents of New Labor under the boyish Prime Minister Tony Blair seem intent on cultivating values that divide. Steadily under Mr. Blair's policy of devolving power to the United Kingdom's regions, the country is coming apart. Scotland is drifting away. New Labor's itch to decouple the hereditary peers of the House of Lords is causing social devolution, and the social devolution goes beyond class warfare. As New Labor is essentially a congeries of Brits adhering to the enthusiasms of American Liberals, New Labor sets group against group.

Government policies divide women against men. They encourage the separation of homosexuals from heterosexuals. And of course all the racial and ethnic groups that have arrived in Britain in recent generations are encouraged to identify themselves and compete for government's goodies.

In Kazakhstan, a country with a tragic history, diverse peoples are attempting to come together and form a nation. In Britain, a country with a relatively happy history, Liberalism is dividing the nation into competing factions and attempting to expurgate its history. That is Liberalism revealing its essential animating principle, namely, to disturb the peace.

Mr. Blair, despite his claims to have transcended ideology, is but an American Liberal with a funny accent. He pays the same idiotic attention to encouraging group grievances: The Scots. Women. The blacks. And now he has rolled out a budget that is a British equivalent of the American New Dealer, Harry Hopkins' aphorism: tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect.

There is something tremendously puny about Mr. Blair's vision and tremendously shortsighted. Once he has separated Scotland from the rest of the country and the women from the men, and the House of Lords from the hereditary peers, it will be impossible to put the country back together again. Seeking refuge from all this pointless disturbing of the peace, I trudged off to Hampstead Heath and a conversation with one of the English-speaking peoples' most distinguished historians, Sir Martin Gilbert.

Author of numerous books on the Middle East and a three-volume history of the 20th century, Mr. Gilbert is most famous for writing the definitive biography of Winston Churchill, a British pol famed for keeping his country together and for that matter, keeping the whole Western world together.

Conversation with a serious historian always turns up interesting information. During World War II, the Germans sought to convince their Japanese allies to attack Russia, not Pearl Harbor. Churchill had calculated that an attack on British and American possessions in the Pacific would be futile, but the Japanese followed their own instincts to disaster and to the disaster of their German allies.

Imagine if in the spring of 1941 the Russians had been attacked by the Germans in the west and the Japanese in the east. And Mr. Gilbert has more to say about Churchill that is interesting.

We have all heard how Churchill supposedly suffered dreadful periods of depression and took aboard colossal quantities of hooch every day. Highly exaggerated, insists Mr. Gilbert. How could Churchill have led such a productive life and performed so lucidly during the war years when he was not a young man if he were daily in his cups, as legend has it? But did not his own doctor, Lord Moran, attest to Churchill's problems with drink and depression in his famous "Churchill: Taken From the Diaries of Lord Moran?"

Yes, responds the historian, but there was no diary. Moran, disgruntled with Churchill after the war, made up most of his reports of the great man's problems. Churchill drank modestly and was relatively free of depression. Most importantly he kept his country together. Now the tiny figure of Tony Blair is taking it apart.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator.

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