Tom Griffin identifies parallels between the psychological warfare employed during the Cold War and the methods used by right-wing propagandists against Islam today, and draws attention to the role played by Dean Godson of Policy Exchange.
“‘During the Cold War, organisations such as the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office would assert the superiority of the West over its totalitarian rivals. And magazines such as Encounter did hand-to-hand combat with Soviet fellow travellers’, Godson wrote in The Times last year. ‘For any kind of truly moderate Islam to flourish, we need first to recapture our own self-confidence. At the moment, the extremists largely have the field to themselves.’
“In fact there is reason to believe that Cold War methods of psychological warfare are already shaping the debate about Islam and the war on terror in Britain. Dean Godson himself may be one the most successful practitioners….
“He is better known in Britain as the former chief leader writer of the Daily Telegraph, and as a research director for the Conservative think-tank Policy Exchange. In the latter capacity, he has been at the forefront of the debate about the British Government’s engagement with the Muslim community. He has been particularly critical of Government contacts with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which he describes as an ‘Islamist front group’.
“In July 2006, Godson sponsored the publication of When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries, in which New Statesman editor Martin Bright denounced the Foreign Office’s attempts to engage with political Islam, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The pamphlet featured copies of twelve high-level Whitehall documents leaked to Bright by a Foreign Office official.
“The individual responsible has reportedly been arrested under the Official Secrets Act, but Policy Exchange can nevertheless claim some success in influencing Government policy. In October last year, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly called for a ‘fundamental rebalancing’ of the Government’s relations with Muslim organizations, a move that was widely seen as a repudiation to the MCB.
“There are good reasons to be concerned about Dean Godson’s role in bringing about this change in policy. He has made no secret of his own advocacy of ‘political warfare’.”