« Good Business: Your World Needs You | Main | The Ambassadors »



"How can any moderniser say: "The sapping of confidence in Western values encouraged by the Radical left since 1968"? Nobody will buy that."

Brain, it sounds awfully like you are suggesting we abandon intellectual discourse regarding the prevalent tendency towards self-loathing about the Enlightenment and the West on grounds that it doesn't make a good speech soundbite.

Isn't that sort of attitude one that holds the intellectual capability of the electorate in contempt?

The Orator

"Well, that may not be cricket, but I don’t think it merits outrage"

It is clear from his exasperated style that Jenner is more outraged by Gove than Galloway. What's more he is permitted to be outraged because he is a peacenik, whereas Gove is not in his view. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing not least because it gives people enough rope to hang their own arguments.

This is not a debate anymore. It's about instincts. The outcome of a good debate is not concensus, it's everyone saying what they really think. And that always means what they really feel. I thank Micheal Gove for putting in the effort to write a book and showing his true colours. It's all the more impressive because he's a Cameroon. But the argument is over, the electorate is polarised, now lets count the heads on either side and make a decision. No wait, we already did. Blair and Bush were re-elected. Nearly forgot.

Sean Fear

I don't agree with Gove about everything, but his instincts seem a good deal sounder than those of Brian Jenner.

David L Nilsson

It's pretty funny to compare Gove with William Shirer, who was a foreign correspondent in Germany in the 1930s, following the rise of the Nazis at first hand. Gove, as he once admitted in a 'Spectator' article iirc, dislikes flying and rarely leaves Britain; I doubt he can speak Arabic or has spent much time in the countries he wants us to be afraid, be very afraid of. He prbably gets his bogeyman stuff from Zionist sources.

Given David Cameron's latest plague-on-both-houses speech trying to renovate the special relationship while disclaiming neoconnerie, where does that leave Gove and his fellow shabbos goyim and 'Anglospherical' Americolators in the Henry Jackson Society?

Of course Cameron may merely be trimming his sails to the wind. As Brian Jenner says, neoconnish messianism about using our troops to teach the world to sing democratically is a total turnoff for the British electorate. But then again, Cameron may be for real. He may have been listening to downy old realists of diplomacy such as Douglas Hurd and Malcolm Rifkind, rather than an excitable, conspiracist, pamphleteering pipsqueak.

Sean Fear

"He may have been listening to downy old realists of diplomacy such as Douglas Hurd and Malcolm Rifkind"

And what a good job they did when they were in charge?


Hyperbole like Gove's convinces no one who doesnt already believe what he says to be true. He converts no one.

A true friend of Israel and the west would be seeking to find a way for them to live in peace with their neighbours and for religions to co-exist in tolerance.

Its all very well advocating violence as the solution. Its easy and frankly lazy, to volunteer someone else's kids onto the desert battlefield.

- pre 67 borders
- Right of Return
- Palestinian State

The only permanent solution to the whole problem.


They helped to achieve a remarkable consensus of nations that enabled the victory of Gulf War 1 Sean. Despite the disasters in the Balkans I would feel much more comfortable with people like that directing foreign policy than someone of Goves persuasion who appears to believe that we should be imposing our values on others whether they like it or not.


I would feel much more comfortable with people like that directing foreign policy than someone of Goves persuasion who appears to believe that we should be imposing our values on others whether they like it or not.

Yes, because Islamists do not want to impose their values on us. I do wonder how many people have read Gove's book or are instead just making judgements on the basis of the reviews.


"Muslims do not need British values. We believe Islam is superior, we believe Islam will be implemented one day." - Anjem Choudary

That quote epitomises the views that Gove's argument addresses. There is no wiggle room with people like that, no soft diplomacy, no group hug.


Yes Dizzy.Get people like that out of our country no one would argue with that.Big difference between that and the half arsed imposition of democracy (?!) on theirs, (Hamas anyone) or rule by a bunch of Shia killers in Iraq.


"Big difference between that and the half arsed imposition of democracy "


What does that have to do with Gove's book?

Mr Eugenides

I would say that the disgusting campaign fought by Gorgeous and his cronies in the 2005 election, including the sotto voce reminders to Muslim constituents of Oona King's Jewish background, certainly deserves our outrage, as in fairness does most of what Galloway does.

Mr Jenner indicates on his website that he learnt his trade watching debates at the Oxford Union. Quoting Chris Patten may have been considered de rigeur there, but out in the real world, it's not quite so clever.


Can I apologise for failing to close an italics tag. Hopefully it should be fixed now.


"Is it wise to wage the War on Terror if it makes the situation far worse and you can’t win it?"

Dear oh dear oh dear...no wonder Jenner has problems with Gove talking about morality...good to see he's got a strong moral code underpinning his beliefs...er...


I must admit to not having read Gove's book. However, reading Jenner's review is almost enough to make me agree with whatever Gove has written.

Quoting Patten is bad enough, but when its questioning whether we in the west are really "custodians of a superior set of moral values and attitudes", it makes me despair. Has Jenner any idea what Sharia law consists of? Or that this system of law is not a disgusting abberation like the gulags or gas chambers, but is the very foundation on which Islamic society is meant to be built?

His arguments read like someone trying to be clever at a dinner party

PS - to Wellness who wrote that the only solution to the Middle East problem was...

"- pre 67 borders
- Right of Return
- Palestinian State"

Ummm... how about the recognition of Israel's right to exist as one of those conditions? Might help a bit


M Gove sees things only as 'black and white' when there is plenty of grey. The US/UK simply can't go in militarily everywhere and try and change regimes. We don't have the man power and the stomach to do so. If we were to go into Iran we simply wouldn't be able to sustain 3 fronts (iraq, afghanistan, Iran) and would end up in a much worse state than we are in at the moment. We can't get any of our allies to send another 1000 troops to afghanistan now things have got tough let alone many thousands if we wanted to go into Iran, and Iraq is on the brink of civil war as we can't control the insurgency. We've made such a mess of things in Iraq that Iran has become the regional super power and can cause havoc in Iraq when it wants. Neo-conservative answers to the obvious problems are all well and good but the execution of those ideas have to be right. Unfortunately our execution has gone wrong and the majority of the politicians, public and military will not have the stomach for another fight on the basis of WMD's, no matter how justified. M Gove can write what he likes butwe have our hands full dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan - it'll be a long time before any rogue regime is tackled head on again.

Cardinal Pirelli

Firstly, nobody has mentioned the most praiseworthy aspect here which is to give two conflicting reviews. Good to see that sort of thinking.

Secondly, let Gove keep writing, he'll get it out of his system soon and then he can concentrate on his strengths, which are definitely not in the realm of foreign affairs.


How many of those that are passing judgement of Gove have actually read the book?



Syria and the Palestinians as well as Jordan and Saudi Arabia have all indicated that fulfillment of those three conditions would result in recognition of Israel.

There are many countries however around the globe, who refuse to recognise Israel because it was the last great colonialist act. They are mainly former colonies and hence movement by them will take time.


Well done, Brian Jenner. Every Conservative should have the UK national interest as their first priority. That interest is not best served by fighting proxy wars on behalf of Israel. Rather than carrying out the illogical arguments of people like Michael Gove - who wants to persist with the same strategy that led to the likes of the July 7 attacks under the bizarre belief that they will stop future attacks - we should adopt a position of looking after our own interests first and let other countries deal with their own disputes, both internal and external.


"There are many countries however around the globe, who refuse to recognise Israel because it was the last great colonialist act. They are mainly former colonies and hence movement by them will take time."
Pardon? And states like Saudi Arabia and Jordan were not artificial? If you had learnt some history, Wellness, you would have known that Hebrew is a semitic tongue, the Jews are an indigenous Middle Eastern people and lived continuously (until they were ethncially cleansed by the Arabs) in countries like Iraq for almost 3,000 years. The colonials are the Arabs, who conquered the region in the 7th century and subjugated the original Jewish and Christian inhabitants.


bataween - Here is my understanding of events: this will sound simplistic, but please problematise it.

Nationalism in the Middle East is a relatively recent phenomenon.

The idea of a Jewish nationalism only really took off in the late nineteenth century, followed by mass immigration and calls from Zionists who wanted to establish a Jewish homeland.

Prior to this, Jews and Arabs lived in relative harmony: certainly more harmoniously than in Europe.

However, Jewish immigration to Israel and purchase of land which displaced Arab tenant farmers became a source of serious problems between the two communities. Here is where the accusations of colonialism begin.

When the British left, everything was up for grabs, and instead of allowing the formation of a single state in which Jews and Arabs work out some way of living harmoniously together as they had done for previously, the British instead decided to atone for European holocaust guilt by supporting the calls of certain groups for the creation of a Jewish state.

This was always going to be problematic in such a plural area. Moderate Jewish voices who did not support this version of Zionism unfortunately lost the argument. What we see now is the innevitable fall out with an Israel that is unsurprisingly viewed as a Western colony, as it was established with the material and ideological support of the West, and obviously Britain and the US in particular.

Even more unfortunately, Israel pursued a reckless and disastrous expansionist agenda, with terrible consequences for Arab-Jewish relations. Whether this agenda was pursued in reaction to Arab hostility or because of an ideological belief in taking the entire region of Palestine is up for debate.

The only real solution - although it may now be sixty years too late - is a binational one with right of return.

This would actually address legitimate Arab grievance in the Middle East.

Apologies - that was an essay, and neither have I read Michael Gove's book! Though I intend to.

David T

Brian Jenner is a very old friend of mine.

He thinks that Gove's book isn't very good. I'm inclined to agree. I find aspects of it - particularly those relating to the general conservative theme of 'moral and national decline - to be fanciful in the extreme.

The quality of the book, however, is quite a different matter from the general argument. Gove recognises three things of importance:

- That Islamism is a form of totalitarian, viciously anti-liberal politics, whose ideological roots - as Paul Berman demonstrates - are shared with European fascism.

- That Islamism is not simply a reflexive response to European and US foreign policy, or the existence of the State of Israel: but rather is ideologically self directed, and has been successfully propagated in large parts of the Middle East and elsewhere in the Muslim world, where it has thrived in the absence of an open and democratic politics.

- That there has been a consistent failure to recognise the first two points on much of the British Left and what is often termed the "liberal establishment".

Brian Jenner's review is a symptom of a similar insouciance in parts of the Right.

I wish the Tory Party luck in dealing with the daydreamers whose response to Islamism and jihadism is to close their eyes very tightly and to hope it goes away.


Gove and his supporters are depressing (but eloquent) advocates of simplicity and idiocy.

There is a tradition that foreign policy is complex, and relies upon great care and skill. Like chess. But unlike such a game, the consequences of failure are so great as to demand the highest level of critical thinking when engaging in the debate.

It is therefore a great shame that Gove should be a participant in public debates about foreign policy because he has so little to offer, at least when compared with others that know and understand so much more.

As with Robert Halfon's comment, Gove makes the signal mistake of making a crude analogy between the Nazis and Islamists. There is literally no comparison between the two other than in the authors' minds. The threat the two offer are not comparable, nor are the means used, nor the goals, nor the participants, nor the consequences.

The only reason why the Nazi analogy is used is because it is the last example of force being used without significant internal opposition as to the morality of its use.

On the internet there is such a thing as Godwin's Law. That the first person to cite the Nazis in an argument has lost. Gove's book is Godwin's Law gone mad.

Sally Roberts

""Ms King’s Jewish birth, her gender and her support for the liberation of Iraq were all highlighted". Well, that may not be cricket, but I don’t think it merits outrage."
Mr Jenner I most certainly think it does!!!
Interesting reviews, both of them and I was particularly interested to read Robert Halfon's highlighting of the threat from Iran. It is interesting that in the last week a conference was held in Tehran which had as its theme the denial of the Holocaust. So far only one senior Conservative (so far as I know) has spoken out to condemn this.

The comments to this entry are closed.

  • Tracker 2
  • Extreme Tracker