Events in London in recent weeks have highlighted the growing collusion between American neoconservatives and the European far right in stirring up hatred of Muslims.
Richard Bartholomew has details of a meeting at the George Restaurant in east London in August attended by Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer and Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion at the invitation of the Christian Action Network. Also invited were the English Defence League, the group responsible for a number of recent violent anti-Muslim protests.
Robert Spencer says on his blog that he and Murray refused to meet with the EDL, and cites Adrian Morgan as a witness to this version of events. But the presence of Morgan, who did meet the EDL, is itself evidence of the emerging relationship between the neocons and the far-right.
Morgan is a contributing editor to Family Security Matters, which has been described as a front for the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think-tank run by the ultra-neoconservative Frank Gaffney.
He is also the author of Western Resistance, a defunct blog on which he laid out his view of the BNP:
I am slightly ambivalent about the British National Party, on account of its racist past. Nowadays, under the leadership of Nick Griffin, a skilled politician, the racist agenda has become replaced by an agenda which is highly focused against Islam. With this aspect of its policies, I am in agreement. Islam poses a more serious threat to every aspect of British democracy than anything previously encountered. (via the Internet Archive)
Ambivalent or not, Morgan's interest in the BNP is reciprocated, according to Searchlight Magazine, which reported in 2007 on the efforts of BNP idealogue Alan Goodacre to tap support from right wing bloggers:
Goodacre also stated his intention to try and gain the help of Adrian Morgan who writes regularly for the Western Resistance website and has previously contributed to The Guardian and New Scientist and was once a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society. Morgan also contributes to the “Islam Watch” website – “Islam under scrutiny by ex-Muslims” – which would explain Goodacre’s interest in him.
It might also be explained by Morgan's membership of the 910 Group, an offshoot of the Center for Vigilant Freedom (CVF), which ran the CounterJihad Europa conference in October 2007. Among those speaking alongside Robert Spencer at this Brussels event were representatives of European far-right parties such as Filip Dewinter of the Vlaams Belang and Ted Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats.
The CVF's Christine Brim suggested in November 2007 that the strategy of embracing such parties could be extended to Jean-Marie Le Pen and the BNP:
We suggest looking for the possible movement of Le Pen’s political party Front National towards the center-right, as they may change their platform to pro-active support to improve the situations of European Jews and Israel. The same trend is happening in Austria, and with the BNP in the UK (also not invited and did not attend the conference). If such parties specifically state pro-Israel positions, and take real actions opposing anti-semitism and disavowing previous positions – and reach out to Jewish constituents and encourage Jewish participation in party positions – these are real actions to observe, and to approve. They have not done this yet – but are starting. (via the Internet Archive)
We hope that our future behaviour may in time bring you to understand that our repudiation of antisemitism is genuine. We are the only party in Britain that is truly serious about fighting the Islamofascist threat.
Morgan, Brim and Goodacre have each employed the same sleight of hand, attempting to present the embrace of Islamophobia as some kind of atonement for anti-semitism, rather than another manifestation of the same underlying racism. If this strategy seems crude, it may yet take neo-fascist Gianfranco Fini to the Italian premiership.
Time Magazine describes the process:
To fulfill his big ambitions, Fini understood in the early 1990s that he had to distance himself from his past. Eventually, he came to believe that the shortest path from marginal Mussolini nostalgic to mainstream political power was unwavering support for the state of Israel. The decisive moment came when Fini traveled to Israel in November 2003, declaring his affection for the Jewish state and his "shame" for Italy's racial laws under fascism. The following year, Silvio Berlusconi made him foreign minister, where the longtime leader of the National Alliance party stood out amongst his European partners for his pro-Israel policy.
He is pro-European Union and pro-US – neither of which fit easy with the claim that he is still a fascist. After September 11, AN posters across Italy declared ‘Solidarity with the United States’ – Italian fascists despise the US for obvious historical reasons.
He is also explicitly in favour of capitalism and the free market. Again this is a break not only with old style Italian corporatist fascism but also the later post-war concept of the ’social right’ which believed in large scale state ownership and nationalisation etc.
AN also supported the liberation of Iraq, a position that I am not aware of any of Europe’s genuine fascists taking.
As Time noted "having "Israel" stamped in your passport and publicly condemning anti-Semitism cannot alone remove lingering doubts about extremist tendencies." Yet the attempt to prove otherwise has some influential backers.
In addition to being a key player in the CVF, and secretary of another counter-jihad outfit, the International Free Press Society, Christine Brim is a senior vice-president at Frank Gaffney's Washington think-tank, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), and director of its Victory Coalition Fund, an incubator for anti-Islamist projects.
The CSP is open about its involvement in political warfare and even has a vice-president for information operations who blogs on the subject. Its General Counsel David Yerushalmi heads up the Society of Americans for National Existence, whose material found its way into last year's Policy Exchange briefing against the Global Peace and Unity event in London.
Gaffney's sister Devon Cross, a member of the CSP advisory council, heads up the Policy Forum on International Security Affairs, a neoconservative briefing operation for European journalists which was run for some time out of Annabel's nightclub in Mayfair.
The CSP and the Policy Forum have been endorsed by some of America's wealthiest conservative foundations. The Philanthropy Roundtable recommended both organisations in its 2006 publication, The Struggle Against Radical Islam: A Donor's Guide (pdf) which criticised the US Government for failing to develop political warfare and public diplomacy programmes modelled on those of the Cold War, and called on private sector donors to fill the gap.
Neoconservatives had repeatedly come up against resistance in attempting to run political warfare programmes through their powerbase at the Pentagon during the Bush administration. One such proposal was leaked to the New York Times in 2004:
Pentagon and military officials directly involved in the debate say that such a secret propaganda program, for example, could include planting news stories in the foreign press or creating false documents and Web sites translated into Arabic as an effort to discredit and undermine the influence of mosques and religious schools that preach anti-American principles.
Some of those are in the Middle Eastern and South Asian countries like Pakistan, still considered a haven for operatives of Al Qaeda. But such a campaign could reach even to allied countries like Germany, for example, where some mosques have become crucibles for Islamic militancy and anti-Americanism.
A private sector version of that strategy is clearly visible in the smears and secret briefings directed at British mosques, a campaign which has now taken a step further with the recent wave of street protests by provocateurs like the BNP-connected English Defence League and the Counter-Jihad Europa affiliate Stop the Islamisation of Europe.
Communities Minister John Denham last week announced plans to address issues alienating white, working-class people at risk of being exploited by the far-right. If that approach is to succeed, the wealthy right-wing propagandists who are actively trying to set working-class communities against each other must be exposed.