Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

6 November 2008

Barack Obama: America’s Tony Blair

Is Barack Obama a US version of Tony Blair? This is not a comparison that’s being made very much. After all, Tony Blair is yesterday’s man and George Bush’s big pal to boot. Progressives feel they were let down by Tony Blair; and they’re not about to compare that traitor with the man who’s now reignited their hope. But therein, of course, lies the validity of the analogy.

Think of the parallels: Obama is about the same age as Tony Blair when he came to power. Both men promised to bring fundamental change not only to the way their country was governed but to its whole ethos: a new liberal individualism, and a refocusing of market economics towards the promotion of opportunity and a more even distribution of the social benefits of prosperity. Obama also has the Blair charm factor, with a particularly strong appeal to women voters. And Obama has himself been handed a huge opportunity to push through his agenda, as the first-past-the-post electoral system has presented him with a majority in Congress that is out of proportion to the level of support he actually obtained in the country.

And, perhaps most fundamentally of all, he represents the prospect of a secularisation of America – challenging some of the most innately conservative features of American society, politics and values that have a Christian foundation: the responsibility of the individual to better himself and to look after his own, rather than relying on the state; the importance of the voluntary sector as a means to foster community and provide for those in need; the stress on traditional family values, heterosexual marriage and Christian faith. Against these fundamental building blocks of America, Obama looks set to implement a social-democratic political programme and a liberal moral agenda: the use of the tax system to redistribute wealth; a greater role for state welfare and social services, perhaps even a US version of the National Health Service; the possibility that young people may be obliged to do some form of state-sponsored community service, competing with voluntarism and suggesting echoes of Gordon Brown’s idea of needing to earn one’s rights through the due exercise of one’s social responsibilities; the promotion of the ethos of equality of opportunity; and a secular-liberal affirmation of the right of all persons – of whatever gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or creed – to live out their lives in the manner of their choosing, in a way that implies a moral equivalence of all such free individual choices, as opposed to a fundamentally Christian basis for society and ethics.

As part of this liberal-individualistic agenda, there is an aggressive assertion of women’s ‘right to choose’ over above the unborn human’s right to live. As others have shown, Obama is militantly pro-abortion, even to the extent that he may try to introduce an amendment to the US constitution that would make it a right for women to terminate their pregnancies all the way up to nine months for any reason, possibly including merely financial circumstances. He also advocates not only stem-cell research using live human embryos but the deliberate mass creation of embryos solely for the purpose of such research. In this, too, there is a parallel between Obama and New Labour which, despite the ostensibly Christian credentials of its leaders Blair and Brown, has maintained the UK’s comparatively late time limit for abortions (28 weeks) and high rate of terminations (200,000 a year), and has driven through legislation permitting stem-cell research and the creation of hybrid animal-human embryos – all in the name of social and scientific progress.

Another disquieting parallel between Obama and Blair is suggested by their brand of political Christianity. Like Blair, Obama appears to be imbued by a sense of his ‘God-given’ mission to bring change. To be fair to him, it would be hard for anyone with a Christian faith not to believe that God had called and chosen him for the task in some special way given his humble origins and seemingly miraculous meteoric rise to power. But it’s in the potential for megalomania and messianism that this combination of personal faith and massive temporal power presents concerns – particularly, the way in which Obama’s sense of mission to bring change, democracy and secular-liberal freedoms to the world may express itself in military terms.

Obama is no pacifist; and, indeed, he has gone on record as wanting to carry out some form of Iraq-style US military surge in Afghanistan – thereby echoing Tony Blair’s and Gordon Brown’s staunch support for this exercise in Western-liberal supremacism and military folly. The West cannot and will not win – at least, not by military means – in Afghanistan: no army has ever succeeded in subduing that land by military might, not in thousands of years of empires that have met their match in Afghanistan’s barren mountainous hinterlands; not even the mighty Soviet Red Army. And yet Obama would carry on with this fruitless destruction of human life and take the fight on into Pakistan, with the potential of plunging that nuclear power into its own version of Iraq’s internecine chaos. But the lives of Taliban insurgents, Pakistani Islamic fanatics and Afghan civilians are expendable, it seems, in the cause of Western liberal values that Obama believes will somehow be advanced by their demise, as by the deaths of many more US and British servicemen and -women.

I don’t believe, as some appear to do, that Obama is the Antichrist. But I do believe that the combination of his sense of divine calling and commitment to secular liberalism makes him a potential enemy not just of America’s Christian traditions and values but of the sanctity of the human person, of Christian faith and institutions, and of life itself.

By their works shall ye know them. Let us hope that Obama will not be judged by the many thousands or millions of extra lives that may be needlessly lost in the operating theatre, research labs and battle fields. And let us hope that Obama genuinely will bring unity to America and not greater division, as Blair brought to Britain.

And God bless America.

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5 Comments »

  1. […] Barack Obama: America’s Tony Blair After all, Tony Blair is yesterday’s man and George Bush’s big pal to boot. Progressives feel they were let down by Tony Blair; […]

    Pingback by George Bush On Best Political Blogs » Barack Obama: America’s Tony Blair — 7 November 2008 @ 9.56 am | Reply

  2. Blair did not bring greater division to Britain. It has always been divided into its constituency parts including its various “countries” inside a country. The Scots are still fighting the English, the Welsh fight each other, the Northern Irish have, sort of, settled to accommodate one another (thanks to BLAIR) and the English are umpteen little regions with umpteen little loyalties. Little wonder we’re confused at times.

    I assume you refer to Iraq and foreign policy issues when you declare, so knowingly, that Blair divided people. I am not so convinced. Even the huge crowds who protested against the Iraq war were a 30th of th evoting population. And they were encouraged in their protests by the liberal left intelligentsia who are and always have been anti war of any sort. Remember that 60%+ of the population was in favour at the start and were riled into turning against, imho, by the press’s constant onslaughts against Blair’s (and Bush’s) motives.

    With his domestic policies he took many with him – three historic election victories are proof of that. And even the last victory, in 2005, was deep into the Middle East situations. He still won. No other leader for Labour would have won, in my humble opinion.

    The attempt by politicians to help people come together in their “Britishness” is more a call to understand what we have in common than anything ulterior, and I don’t see why that is such a bad thing. The civil and human righters have hijacked Magna Carta and other such worthy causes, whilst turning a blind eye to those who are, and have been for decades & not just since 9/11, intent on the destruction of western civilization.

    Yes, Obama is like Blair in many ways, and he knows it. Many politicians model themselves on Blair, whether you like it or not.

    We will have to wait and see whether Obama has the same breadth of vision as to the general world picture. That is important in the leader of America, no matter how others try to write it off. We will soon see if Obama shares the Blair and Bush opinion that the world needs western “values” in order to advance. Those values can be belittled easily, but they are not shared by all countries. By all people, probably. But it is governments that run people’s countries.

    Comment by keeptonyblairforpm — 8 November 2008 @ 2.26 am | Reply

  3. When I said Blair brought division to Britain, I was indeed thinking of the Iraq War and also of the asymmetric devolution settlement, which has broken the organic sense of unity within the Union that used to exist; and has led to the Scots and Welsh focusing on their own national identity and interests – including through the Westminster parliament, at England’s expense – while many English people are left feeling resentful towards the Scots, in particular, and towards the UK parliament and government that seeks to deny a distinct identity and comparable level of self-government for England. It’s New Labour that is responsible for breaking up the Union, which no longer exists in any truly unitary sense.

    The Iraq War was indeed deeply divisive. You quote figures suggesting that a clear majority supported it at its beginning. Well, I seem to recollect other opinion polls at the time that suggested it was more 50:50, and I think you rather lightly dismiss one of the largest ever protest marches in British history. Plus that was only at the start of the war, when most people trusted Blair’s account of why the war was supposedly needed. Obviously, things got progressively worse as it emerged that the evidence for there being WMDs in Iraq had always been incredibly slim; that Blair had misled parliament; and that the legal advice in support of the war was so flawed.

    And that’s not to mention all the draconian laws infringing our civil liberties and privacy supposedly intended to assist in the fight against ‘Terror’: a term which hysterically stoked up Islamophobia, in which Blair was ably abetted by his insinuating right-hand man Jack Straw. Which is not to say there isn’t a threat from terrorism; but Blair divided opinion and played on people’s fears, rather than coming up with a realistic analysis and strategy for combating terrorism at source: something that he could not do, in any case, because his foreign policy put Britain at greater risk of terrorist attack, not less.

    I also blame Blair for taking Britain in a more secular direction: more intolerant not just towards Islam but all religion, including Christianity, despite his at times incomprehensible claims to have a Catholic-Christian faith. As evidence for that, I would point to his dogmatic support for the Equality Act, making no exception for Christian adoption agencies that did not wish to place children for adoption with gay couples on grounds of conscience; and the radically un-Christian provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, promoting equal rights to Lesbian ‘parents’ while denying the rights of fathers and children, both born and unborn.

    And the election ‘victories’ you cite only arose because of the distortions of the first-past-the-post voting system. In the 2005 election, for instance, Blair polled the lowest absolute vote and the lowest share of the vote of any government for decades. If you think 40% popular opposition to the Iraq War constitutes an insignificant minority, then the 36% of voters (and the 22% of the population) that voted Labour in 2005 hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement of Blair.

    Comment by David — 9 November 2008 @ 4.48 am | Reply

  4. Sorry, but as a woman I do not find Barack Obama particularly appealing. The face of a smug git and a liar to boot does not an Adonis make.

    Comment by Miss L. — 10 November 2008 @ 9.05 pm | Reply

  5. Corrie Ten Boom spoke about tribulation & persecution coming upon those who are Overcomers. Those who are bringing Light of Jesus into world filled with darkness & hate. Obama does not believe in Deity of Christ so his actions are those of an unbeliever who does not believe what our LORD has said. Only Overcomers are Children of GOD. “If you do not believe I AM you will die in your sins.” USA is a Constitutional Republic. Both Democrats & some Republicans are using judges of Supreme Court to make it into a Democracy. They have succeeded with Abortion in saying women have rights over their own bodies. Obama agrees with this by inflicting agony of pain on babies being aborted from wombs & killing of babies who are alive having survived abortion process. Corrie said, “The world is deathly still. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Overcomers are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world.”

    Comment by Kenneth Tremble — 12 November 2008 @ 7.16 am | Reply


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