Monday, November 12, 2007

A call for humility

I have never hesitated to assert that a measure of humility is a mark of greatness and that those who aspire to high office and the title of statesman should admit their errors and human fallibility. In a long political life, my errors were many, especially in the rashness of my youth.

In my young naivety I was traduced into opposing the liberation of slaves and later equally rashly spoke in support of the American Confederation which would have continued to uphold this vile institution. I did so because, in the wake of the tide of freedom that swept across Europe mid-century, I equated the creation of new nation states with the extension of liberty. In that instance I was wrong and very soon repented of my error. I was privileged in the course of a lengthy career to have many opportunities to right the mistakes of my youth.

I mention all this in preamble as my studies of the new world, which we inhabit, have left me struggling to find the mark of statesmanship in the leaders of our United Kingdom. I hear that Mr Brown has made a speech on international affairs and find myself struggling to remember that he represents the Labour movement, to which we gave so much encouragement in my time. Mr Brown's policies, if not his demeanour, remind me too much of Beaconsfield.

Mr Brown rightly praises our Atlantic cousins. I myself oft-stated my admiration for the founders of that great and new nation of free peoples and their establishment of principles of liberty. However in what family does admiration for one's bold cousins lead to slavish devotion and adherence to their policies? The new America is undoubtedly following perilous and aggressive policies towards the Muslim world and both cousins undoubtedly have grounds to feel grief and grievance. But there is no family member who should be treated with greater caution than he who is blinded by grief and lashes out far and near in seeking redress for the inexplicable.

I understand that Mr Brown had initially sought to distance himself from his predecessor's inability to utter a negative phrase, a refusal, to the American president. Perhaps he now bides his time. I fear however he is too ignorant and too feeble to appreciate the danger of uniting Mesopotamia, Persia and the Pathans in an arc of emnity. Here are the cradles of civilisation and the source of many mighty cultures. Not even Beaconsfield would have condemned these peoples as savages. I understand that prior to the ill-advised destruction of Mesopotamia, the Persians were not associated with the actions that caused so much distress in Europe and America. Are we to repeat the mistakes of a century ago and make enemies for ourselves and allies of our enemies? We could win the hearts of the world by being beacons of freedom and emancipation but I fear there is no leadership. Mr Clegg or Mr Huhne, this could be your greatest hour!

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