This is a partial transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," August 19, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Last week's arrest of two dozen British Muslims in a foiled terror plot has brought renewed focus to that country's problem with homegrown terror.
My guest this week says that despite the resolve of Prime Minister Tony Blair after September 11, London has become the European hub for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic extremism.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for London's Daily Mail, and the author of the new book "Londonistan." She joins me now from Jerusalem.
Melanie Phillips, welcome.
MELANIE PHILLIPS, AUTHOR, "LONDONISTAN": Thank you. Hello.
GIGOT: I think that when a lot Americans think of Britain and they see Tony Blair's support for the U.S. and the war in Iraq and they say, boy, thank heavens we have that ally in Europe on our side.
But you argue in your book that may not be really accurate, why not?
PHILLIPS: Well, it's a shameful and shocking thing to report, but Tony Blair is pretty well isolated in Britain. He's isolated even within his own cabinet. He's isolated within the Labour Party — the ruling Labour Party — and he's isolated within the population, which believes that he is a "poodle" of George Bush's America and the war in Iraq in particular.
Britain is consumed, at the moment, by a virulent anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism, which drives all common sense out of the window, I'm afraid, in public debate.
And even though Tony Blair is very much on the side about global terror and so on, the war in Iraq, I'm afraid he, nevertheless, has presided over an administration which continues to refuse to acknowledge the nature of the threat facing Britain.
That is to say, clearly, people in Britain are aware that Britain faces a very serious terrorist threat. The discovery of the appalling transatlantic plot a few days ago is proof enough of that.
But what people in Britain, in our establishment, in our ruling political class, even in the security establishment — the police, the intelligence service — what they refuse to acknowledge is the nature of this terrorism, that it's based in religion. That it's based in the Islamic jihad, that what we are facing is a global war of religion.
And because they refuse to acknowledge that for all kinds of reasons to do with minority rights and so forth — of the kind that you have also in America — because they're refusing to acknowledge what this thing is, they are not taking the action that is needed to combat it, certainly not, in my view, to stop it.
GIGOT: But a year ago, of course, you had these successful attacks on London. But this year, you have a foiled plot, which it looks, at least from this vantage point, as a big success.
Are you saying that there is — that Britain is not making any progress on this front, and we're going to see more and more of this?
PHILLIPS: Well, it's certainly made some progress, and all credit to our security authorities for foiling this appalling transatlantic plot.
But at the same time, we are told there are literally dozens and dozens of other plots currently underway, currently being investigated by our security forces.
And the point I'm making is this: That while Britain's intelligence and security and policing people have undoubtedly wised up to the need to thwart these terrorist plots before they come to their appalling fruition, and break up terrorist cells, that in my view is not enough.
What they have to be doing, what the country should be doing is addressing the ideas, the demented and paranoid ideas that are driving people to these monstrous and inhuman acts.
And that is what Britain is not doing. It is not saying we are simply not going to tolerate people in the Muslim community being preached and being taught hatred of Jews, hatred of America, hatred of the West, the vision, the desire to overturn the country. We're not going to put up with that.
GIGOT: Are you saying, just, just...
PHILLIPS: They're simply not saying that.
GIGOT: Are you saying that they should ban certain kinds of speech, for example?
GIGOT: They should go into mosques and say you cannot preach certain things? And isn't that inconsistent with what we've come to understand is the Anglo-American tradition of free speech and free religion? You're saying that those values ought to be put in some kind of jeopardy?
PHILLIPS: Well, we are putting our whole civilization in jeopardy unless we address the hatred and the lies that are driving people to mass murder.
I think both Britain and America are very hung up on this freedom of speech issue. Freedom of speech is rightfully a very important value in our society. But if it is abused so that our society is potential destroyed, that's not very sensible.
In the past, we understood this. In this past, we understood there were ideas that could kill, that there were ideas that no society should be expected to tolerate if they were a direct threat to that society.
We don't tolerate, in Britain we're supposed not to tolerate, for example, speech which incites racial hatred because we believe that the damage to individuals and society is so great it outweighs our rightful respect for freedom of speech.
And when it comes to religious hatred, religiously based hatred of other people — Jews, Americans, the West — we somehow say, oh, we must back off because it's religion, because it's an ethnic minority, we must have nothing to do with this. It's kind of prejudiced to interfere with this.
Well, I think this is madness, because we are turning a blind eye to the ideas, which are driving people to these monstrous and inhuman acts to our security.
GIGOT: What about the analogy that some people draw between the lessons that the British might have learned in their long battle against the Irish Republican Army, which used terrorism for years? And they say, look, we managed to get control over that problem. It was a long fight. And we can use the same methods against this kind of terror.
PHILLIPS: Well, I think this is a misguided argument because we are facing a very different kind of terror. And this is, in fact, the British problem. The British do see this problem of the Islamic global jihad as a kind of souped-up Northern Irish problem. But it's not.
Northern Island's terrorism, the IRA, Irish Republican terrorism was terrorism with a particular purpose. It was to achieve a united Ireland. It was not non-negotiable. One could say one should not have negotiated with the IRA, but that's not the point. It was not a non-negotiable position.
The Islamic jihad is a non-negotiable position. The Islamic jihad says we're in the business of destroying Western civilization, overturning Western society, of destroying America, of destroying Britain, and turning them into Islamic societies, and of murdering large numbers of people to that end.
Now, that is a non-negotiable position. And so we cannot possibly, in my view, adapt, or adopt, the same techniques that we have used in the past towards discreet particular terrorist programs, which are a very different matter.
I think what we're facing with the global Islamic jihad is something we've never faced before. It's not war as we understand it between states. But it's certainly not terrorism as we understand it. And this is the problem we face. We haven't got the language to describe this. We're facing a new phenomenon.
GIGOT: All right. Melanie Phillips, thank you for that very provocative warning. Thanks for coming.
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