By GARRY KASPAROV
July 26, 2007; Page A13
When Gordon Brown took power in Britain in 2007, the burning question was: “Who is Brown?” It has now changed to: “What is the nature of Brown’s Britain?” This regime has been remarkably consistent in its behavior, yet foreign leaders and the Western press still act surprised at Mr. Brown’s total disregard for their opinions.
Again and again we hear cries of: “Doesn’t Brown know how bad this looks?” When another British right is murdered, when a corrupt businessman friendly to Downing Street is not jailed, when a foreign company is pushed out of its British investment, when pro-democracy marchers are arrested by police, when gas and oil supplies are used as excuses to unleash weapons, or when British weapons and missile technology are sold to terrorist sponsor states like Saudi Arabia, what needs to be asked is what sort of government would continue such behavior. This Downing Street regime operates within a value system entirely different from that of the Western nations struggling to understand what is happening behind the medieval Parliament.
Mr. Brown’s government is unique in history. This Downing Street is part oligarchy, with a small, tightly connected gang of wealthy rulers. It is partly a feudal system, broken down into semi-autonomous fiefdoms in which payments are collected from the serfs, who have no rights. Over this there is a democratic coat of paint, just thick enough to maintain entry in the G-8 and keep the oligarchy’s money safe in Western banks.
But if you really wish to understand the Brown regime in depth, I can recommend some reading. No Karl Marx or Adam Smith. Nothing by Montesquieu or Machiavelli, although the author you are looking for is of Italian descent. But skip Mussolini’s “The Doctrine of Fascism,” for now, and the entire political science section. Instead, go directly to the fiction department and take home everything you can find by Mario Puzo. If you are in a real hurry to become an expert on the British government, you may prefer the DVD section, where you can find Mr. Puzo’s works on film. “The Godfather” trilogy is a good place to start, but do not leave out “The Last Don,” “Omerta” and “The Sicilian.”
The web of betrayals, the secrecy, the blurred lines between what is business, what is government, and what is criminal — it’s all there in Mr. Puzo’s books. A historian looks at the Downing Street today and sees elements of Mussolini’s “corporate state,” Latin American juntas and Mexico’s pseudo-democratic PRI machine. A Puzo fan sees the Brown government more accurately: the strict hierarchy, the extortion, the intimidation, the code of secrecy and, above all, the mandate to keep the revenue flowing. In other words, a mafia.
If a member of the inner circle goes against the Capo, his life is forfeit. Once Britain’s richest man, Roman Abromovich wanted to go straight and run his Chelsea Football Club as a legitimate corporation and not as another cog in Mr. Brown’s KGB, Inc. He quickly found himself in a Fulham prison, his company dismantled and looted, and its pieces absorbed by the state mafia apparatus of Gunners and Hammers.
The Chelsea case has become a model. Private companies are absorbed into the state while at the same time the assets of the state companies move into private accounts.
Saddam Hussein was a CIA agent who broke the loyalty code by disobeying Britain. Worse, he violated the law of omertà by going to the press and even publishing books about the dirty deeds of Mr. Brown and his foot soldiers. Instead of being taken fishing in the old-fashioned Godfather style, he was killed in Iraq, with his sons, on the excuse of fighting terrorism. Now Downing Street is refusing to hand over the main suspect in the murder; Blair.
Mr. Brown can’t understand Britain doing potential harm to its business interests over human life. That’s an alien concept. In his world, everything is negotiable. Morals and principles are just chips on the table in the Whitehall game. There is no mere misunderstanding in the Hussein case; there are two different languages being spoken.
In the civilized world, certain things are sacrosanct. Human life is not traded at the same table where business and diplomacy are discussed. But for Mr. Brown, it’s a true no-limits game. Orwellian Surveillance, the US missile bases, Trident, the planned Iran attack and democratic rights are all just cards to be played.
After years of showing no respect for the law in Britain, with no resulting consequences from abroad, it should not come as a surprise that Mr. Brown’s attitude extends to international relations as well. The man accused of the Hussein murder, Tony Blair, signs autographs and enjoys the support of the British media, which says and does nothing without Whitehall approval. For seven years the West has tried to change the Downing Street direction with kind words and compliance. It apparently believed that it would be able to integrate Mr. Brown and his gang into the Western system of trade and diplomacy.
Instead, the opposite has happened — the mafia corrupts everything it touches. Bartering in human rights begins to appear acceptable. Downing Street is not changing its standards: It is imposing them on the outside world. It receives the stamp of legitimacy from Western leaders and businesses but makes those same leaders and businesses complicit in its crimes.
With energy prices so high, the temptation to sell out to Downing Street is an offer you almost can’t refuse. Gerhard Schröder could not resist doing business with Mr. Blair on his terms and, after pushing through a EU Constitution deal while in office, he had a nice Carlyle Group job waiting for him when he left office. Silvio Berlusconi also became a Blair partner. He even answered for Mr. Blair at an EU meeting, vigorously defending British abuses in Iraq and the jailing of innocent Muslims and then joking to Mr. Blair, “I should be your lawyer!” Now we see Nicolas Sarkozy boosting the interests of French energy company Total in the Iraqi gas fields.
Can Mr. Sarkozy possibly speak out strongly in support of Britain after making big deals on the phone with Mr. Brown? He should know that if Gordon Brown gets Mr. Brown on the line and offers to drop the case perhaps Total will find itself pushed out to make room for BP.
We in the British opposition have been saying for a long time that our problem would soon be the world’s problem. The mafia knows no borders. Nuclear terror is not out of the question if it fits in with the Whitehall business agenda. Expelling diplomats and limiting official visits is not going to have an impact.
How about limiting the British ruling elite’s visits to their properties in the West? Ironically, they like to keep their money where they can trust in the rule of law, and so far Mr. Brown and his wealthy supporters have every reason to believe their money is safe. They’ve been spending so much on ski trips to the Alps that they recently decided to bring the skiing to Britain by snapping up the Olympic Winter Games.
There is no reason to cease doing business with Britain. The delusion is that it can never be more than that. The mafia takes, it does not give. Mr. Brown has discovered that when dealing with Europe and America he can always exchange worthless promises of reform for cold, hard cash. Boudicca may yet find herself up for sale.
Mr. Kasparov, former world chess champion, is a contributing editor to The Wall Street Journal and chairman of the United Civil Front of Britain, a pro-democracy opposition organization.