What sort of office would this candidate be asked to run for in the United States:
A deputy governor in Iraq, decorated for that service with a high honor, military officer and diplomat, chairman of the board of a charity designed to preserve the ancient cultural treasures of Afghanistan and a professor at Harvard. Did I forget he walked from Turkey to Bangladesh across Afghanistan and wrote two books?
At the very least a state-level job such as Lieutenant Governor or perhaps Attorney General, certainly Congress and maybe US Senate. If he were elected, it would be whispered of even higher office almost immediately. No, its not Scott Brown.
Well, it happened in the UK last week. Rory Stewart, the deputy governor of a Iraqi state during occupation, a military officer and diplomat (is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire which is one of Britain’s highest decorations for his service in Iraq), and a published author was elected an MP for Penrith and the Border riding after winning with 53% of the vote!
Stewart’s not done yet: He also was a tutor for Prince William and Harry and had just finished a stint as a Harvard professor. Brad Pitt has purchased the film rights to his adventures! And he’s younger (born January 3, 1973) than Governor Jindal!
But the story’s not finished. Stewart’s also the Executive Chairman and board member of a non-profit foundation determined to save Afghan historical treasures: The Turquoise Mountain Foundation. From the website: “Turquoise Mountain’s aim is to revive Afghanistan’s traditional crafts, and to regenerate Murad Khane, a historic area of Kabul’s old city known for its rich cultural heritage.” Wow. Talk about multiculturalism. This is true respect for the culture of others that multiculturalism is a cheap counterfeit of. Stewart also walked, that’s right, WALKED from Turkey to Bangladesh, a two year trek narrated in another book, “The Places in Between”; that is the book Pitt has the rights for. Stewart was the British Representative in Montenegro in the 90s just prior to the Kosovo conflict. Julian Glover at the Guardian says this:
An observer could be forgiven for wondering whether Stewart has entered some kind of unconscious competition for the most astonishing obituary of his generation.
Stewart lives a life of astonishing activity:
Can a man who debates and dines with presidential candidates, is a friend of the Prince of Wales and has to dash back from Penrith for supper with Michael Bloomberg – the mayor of New York City – hack it as a backbencher?
I think I better lay down until that midlife crisis goes away…
Now that I am up from my underachieving ways (although the true test of any achievement is not what humans think but what Christ thinks: “Well done, good and faithful servant;…enter into the joy of your master.” [Matthew 25:21 (RSV)]), I’ll start with the brief post on Rory Stewart about Afghanistan where I agreed with him in regard to the troop level in Afghanistan. Stewart expresses my feelings on the war. It’s time to cut back and stop nation-building. A small troop level is acceptable to find bin Laden (Why we won’t adopt the Ron Paul position: Issue the letter of marque and reprisal on bin Laden!) is acceptable along with training the Afghan forces but this nation-building is unnecessary and we can no longer afford it.
What’s his platform, Sanders? Let’s start with Afghanistan:
Jason Zengerle at the New Republic described him as a “T.E.Lawrence of Afghanistan” (T.E.Lawrence was Lawrence of Arabia) and speculated on his war position:
And yet, for all his obvious ambition, Stewart believes the key to any successful U.S. policy in Afghanistan is modesty. “What muddling through is really about is recognizing that we don’t have all the answers,” he says. “It’s not as if we have some amazing high modernist ideology that we’re kind of engineers of the human soul or central planners who are going to come out and create an ideal state. We don’t have that ideological certainty, we don’t know what we’re trying to do, nor do we actually have the power. We don’t have the kind of authoritarian weight to impose this on another country. Nor do we have the knowledge.” He continues: “In that kind of situation, you’re much better off making small, incremental steps which are reversible. You can try something, if that doesn’t work, you can back off and try something else.”
Sounds like a humble foreign policy to me. A humble foreign policy is what Bush 43 called for and Ron Paul endorsed. Nonintervention is certainly in favor these days. Stewart says our intervention is “actually provoking the Taliban”; He is quoted thus:
In Stewart’s view, we need fewer troops and less commitment. A bit of practical help, rather than a vision. A return to pre-2004.
“What happened after that was a murmur from people who felt disappointed that we hadn’t created a gender sensitive, multi-ethnic, centralised state.
“Generally what happens when you push a boulder up hill is that as soon as you let go it rolls down again.”
Hurrah! I agree. Recall that post-Taliban Afghanistan nearly caused the execution of a follower of Christ for talking about Jesus. Our intervention probably saved his life.
Stewart also believes that withdrawal will not increase the terrorist potential:
Stewart warns that increased activity is just drawing us into a counter insurgency. He also doubts the final fruits of our work — a democratic nation. Most startlingly counterintuitive of all, he denies that Afghanistan is even much of a terrorist threat in the first place.
“We need to get Afghanistan into proportion. We have become fixated and Afghans have connived in this. A senior Afghan politician said to me: ‘Rory please stop calling Afghanistan a humanitarian project. We must be the number one terrorist threat in the world because if we are not, the West will stop giving us money.’ It is a crazed, co-dependent relationship.
Stewart should know as the foundation chairman and diplomat. For more, read this Bill Moyers transcript.
So, Sanders, what are Stewart’s other positions? Might he be a liberal? Perhaps. He was not even a Conservative Party member when he applied to be an MP. But I am not the first blogger to add the initials PM to OBE and MP to Stewart; Paul Waugh at the Evening Standard said as much.
Here’s a start reminiscent of Wendell Willkie: “I’d rather be an effective, respected, serious member of Parliament, than I would a kind of Prime Minister who was seen as an apparatchik,” Stewart told kansascity.com.
Stewart then uncorks a hint in the kansascity.com article that if, say Governor Jindal said out loud, would immediately stoke White House buzz:
“There’s not much point in being prime minister for the sake of being prime minister, but I think this is a very interesting opportunity to see if it’s possible to take the risk – because I think it is a huge risk – to try to be a little bit more honest and explicit.”
As for Stewart being a liberal, he was briefly a Labourite. He told Julian Glover of the Guardian that he is less skeptical of the EU than most Tories:
Questions have also been asked about why he has chosen the Tories rather than Labour; after all, he was a member of the Labour party as a teenager and he diverges from the Tory line on Iraq, Afghanistan and some aspects of the European Union. But he seems at home ideologically with his new party. He shows a Cameronesque irritation with government: “Excessive regulation, red tape, all the stuff people complain about. You have got more hope with the Tories of having people who speak that kind of language; you can say that sort of thing without them getting defensive . . . I found student politics when I was at university a bit uncomfortable,” he says. “I think the Conservative party has changed and I have changed.”
But what he says about the EU is more nuanced and intriguing:
He even praises aspects of the EU, as few Tories do these days. “The world isn’t one way or another. Things can be changed very, very rapidly and can be changed by someone with sufficient confidence, sufficient knowledge and sufficient authority.”
Maybe it will be Prime Minister Rory Stewart with sufficient authority to take on the EU! That seemed to be Glover’s take on it:
Quite possibly he imagines himself to be that person. One thing that is not in doubt is his self-confidence.
That would be fine by me. I too admire this new MP (Lunch perhaps with the other young turks and this writer? I’d start saving my money for a trip to London!) and I must say that if David Cameron was willing to have these sorts of people in his Parliament, that says a lot about him that is favorable. I would say Stewart might be just a typical ambitious politico except he seems to have tremendous integrity and honour. Perhaps even a Churchill for his time. The UK could certainly use a Churchill these days. We’ll see what happens…