On this week's edition of The Spectator Podcast, we consider President Trump’s growing military ambitions, dissect the problem of radical Islam in our prisons, and judge what makes a perfect marmalade.
First, this week's magazine cover depicts Donald Trump in full Kaiser Wilhelm II costume. The reason for that image is Andrew J. Bacevich's assertion that far from being a modern-day Hitler, a better analogue for the new American supremo is the last German emperor. The isolationist image that Trump cultivated during the campaign is beginning to melt away, leaving the possibility of war with North Korea, and even China. Professor Bacevich joins the podcast to discuss the complex military situation, along with General Sir Richard Barrons and Dr Heather Williams.
In his cover piece this week, Andrew writes that:
"There remains something irresistible about dredging up bits of the past to explain the present, especially when colourful personalities are involved. So let me propose an alternative to those who see Trump as Hitler sans the moustache (although retaining the bad haircut). Stick with Germany, its villainous past making it an agreeable foil for us Anglo-Saxons. Rather than focusing on the Third Reich, however, consider the Second. That’s right: Donald Trump as Kaiser Wilhelm II."
And Sir Richard adds that:
"There is a sense of a very new administration, perhaps surprised itself to be in power, and feeling its way into its responsibilities, and feelings its way into foreign policy, and, to some degree, unwilling to take the counsel of what it regards as elites or officials in the US government and elsewhere. It's too early to call it definitively in terms of outcomes, but, as seen from this side of the Atlantic, it creates huge uncertainty about the nature of our world and the nature of US leadership in our world, and what does that mean for our collective security and prosperity in the medium term?"
Next, we turned our attention to prisons. In this week's magazine, Ian Acheson writes about how he was asked to create proposals for managing the spread of radical Islam in Britain's prisons, but has been disappointed by the implementation of his ideas. To discuss this issue, we brought together Douglas Murray and Tom Gash.
On the subject of Islam in our prisons, Douglas notes that:
"The issue for prisons on this particular area of Islamist recruiting is that they are very fertile ground. You've got people who are already, of course, disenfranchised from the state, disenchanted with the state. You have people who are very capable recruiters and inciters, that's why they're there. And, of course, you have the gang element, that it's a gang to be part of. And, in prison, being part of a gang, particularly a strong gang, is of great importance."
And Tom adds that the situation is not easy for prison staff:
"Done well, religion is a force for good in people's rehabilitation and it can allow them to reform their identities into a much more positive state. But, for many prison officers with limited training and experience, it's very hard to determine the difference between 'good Islam' and 'bad Islam', and actually one of the problems can be that officers would tend to see all Islam as 'bad Islam'. Of course, what that does is it forces people into quite a negative grouping together, and it puts your radical Islam with your positive Islam, but it also places those in legitimate Islam on the outside."
Finally, much like an orphaned bear at a London station, we turn our attention to marmalade. The bitter orange preserve isn't for everyone – indeed its sales have seen a damaging decline – but Sophia Money-Coutts sings its praises, having attended the World Marmalade Awards, where Misti Traya was a contestant. They both join the podcast to redress the marmalade balance, as Sophia writes:
"Well, excuse me, but I direct you to this year’s World Marmalade Awards, held a few weeks ago in a big Georgian house called Dalemain just outside Penrith, which attracted nearly 2,000 homemade jars from around the globe. Big jars, little jars, jars decorated with glitter, sticky jars that had leaked in the post, jars with gingham hats. All laid out on trestle tables with individual, handwritten tasting notes from the WI judges underneath, marking each jar out of 20."
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