‘Neither US or UK interested in fighting extremism’
While David Cameron in the UK is denying a link between British foreign involvement and the increase in the number of radicalized Muslims, the debate over radicalization rages on the other side of the Atlantic as well. Retired US General Wesley Clark recently said disloyal Americans should be thrown into 'internment camps'.
RT: Pretty harsh rhetoric there from Wesley Clark. Do you think segregating people who've been radicalized anywhere be it in Britain or in the US, will help battle radicalization itself?
Dan Glazebrook: No and it’s important to remember that the US and British governments neither of them are actually interested in fighting radicalization or extremism per se, but are for facilitating extremism as a tool of foreign policy in the Middle East particularly in Syria, where since 2011 in Libya and Syria they have been facilitating these kind of extremist groups as a means to undermine, weaken and destroy independent states like Libya and Syria.
And in fact, giving the intelligence services more powers, which is what Cameron is proposing, which is the kind of thing Wesley Clark is proposing, actually gives more leverage to the intelligence agencies who have been implicated now in colluding and facilitating the flight of people from the West to go and fight in Syria. So it would give them more leverage to actually blackmail vulnerable young people to join these groups. They’re very open that they have many agents in IS and Al-Qaeda, and of course they would argue to destroy these groups from within. The reality is that it’s more likely so they can use those groups more effectively as a tool of foreign policy, and giving intelligence services more powers will serve to aid them in their recruitment of vulnerable young people to go into these organizations to better control them.
RT: What are the dangers of implementing this idea - what counts as 'not sharing US values'? Merely visiting an extremist website?
DG: Exactly and what’s interesting is that Cameron has been talking about this idea in particular for years now, this idea of combating non-violent extremism. He has never really thought to actually define it and I think it’s amorphous nature is part of the appeal of this general fear mongering about the idea that you can give governments and police forces and intelligence agencies the power to crack down on extremism, and there is an obligation on all public services including schools, universities to crack down on extremism and radicalism without ever defining what it is. Of course that’s going to make people err on the side of caution and make all of these institutions worried about taking on anyone with what might seem to be a non-mainstream type of idea or political thinking. Actually it’s a tool of trying to scare people away from getting involved in the political arena whatsoever, in my opinion. They have never really defined it.
RT: How do such ideas tally with the traditional image of America as the 'great melting pot' as people are getting obviously worried? Do such ideas have some backing?
DG: I think it has certain amount of backing here because the fear mongering has been very effective and of course the activity of groups like IS, which, as I say, kind of ironically, paradoxically, whatever, their rise has actually been facilitated by the West. But that kind of activities and atrocities that they are involved in of course do put fear into people’s minds. It’s interesting because Cameron talked about how we would combat extremism you might think he is talking about Wahhabism, which is the specific ideology that Al-Qaeda and IS both adopt. But actually the biggest supporter and facilitator of Wahhabism is Saudi Arabia, and the biggest weapon suppliers and the biggest supporters of Saudi Arabia are the US and Britain. And they are not proposing to change that. So what is he talking about this extremism, this ideology? And if you look in some detail - Cameron wrote an article a couple of weeks ago in the Telegraph and he specifically, as his first example of a criteria of a radical, to be someone who opposes the West or says that the West is evil or bad. I think he is deliberately leaving the definition of ‘extremism’ vague in order to try and depoliticize the whole population, make people scared of speaking their mind, less they become subject to an internment order, house arrest, whatever it is.
RT: Even with tightened security, one has to admit that more and more people across the world are joining the jihadi ranks. What should be done to stop the trend?
DG: The media should stop glorifying them. Every time the media tries to demonize IS it effectively glorifies them. Every time it splashes these school girls who went to Syria to fight on the front pages and make the headlines news it turns them into celebrities and encourages more people to go. The government, if it were serious, would be supporting people who are fighting against those groups effectively like the Syria government for example rather than try to undermine the Syria government which is the only bulwark against IS left. So these are the kind of things that it would be doing if it were serious about tackling them but it’s not.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.