Lemmingland, ten years on
Published in: Daily Mail
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 has been marked by a fresh outbreak in Britain of the political equivalent of auto-immune disease: treating the mortal enemies of the west as the victims of the west, while treating the west’s defenders as its mortal enemies.
One thing al Qaeda got right about Britain and Europe (but not about the patriotic heartlands of the US) was that they no longer had the will to fight and die for their beliefs because they no longer knew what they were.
Surely, however, even al Qaeda could not have envisaged quite how stunningly incapable the western intelligentsia and political class would be of grasping the difference between civilisation and its would-be destroyers, and how comprehensively they would therefore play into the Islamists’ hands – even now, ten years on.
For the chattering classes seem determined to give al Qaeda a helping hand in reducing the west to a state of paralysis and impotence. According to liberal opinion, every single thing America did after 9/11 was wrong.
The strategy of pre-emptive war was wrong. Better, apparently, that Saddam should still be in power developing his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes! Better that the Taleban were still in power training al Qaeda! Then we would all be so much safer!
So the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wrong. The security measures taken against Islamic terrorism at home were wrong. Indeed, opined a Times writer, how worse than useless was this ‘war on a medieval world view’ (which after all only killed a few thousand people) when the British and US government could have been doing something really useful, like fighting climate change – over whose course, as we all know, mankind has such purchase.
In the Guardian the esteemed thinker Francis Fukuyama, whose earlier thesis that the global triumph of democracy had brought about the end of history was not altogether borne out by the events of 9/11, marked the anniversary by dismissing al Qaeda as ‘a mere blip or diversion’, with the US ‘overreaction’ to 9/11 turning anti-Americanism into ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy’ – the murder of almost 3000 Americans in the attacks on New York and Washington clearly being inspired by a ‘blip’ that had nothing to do with anti-Americanism.
Also in the Guardian, Mehdi Hasan identified the ‘preachers of hate and division’ -- not as Islamist fanatics but as those who warn against them. The only victims mentioned in this article were not the murdered Americans on 9/11, nor the Muslim and other victims of Islamist terrorism across the world, but Muslims in Britain who were now apparently too terrified to speak in public for fear of being labelled an extremist (with the exception, it seems, of Mehdi Hasan).
And last week on BBC News Hard Talk, former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani repeatedly laughed incredulously at the assumptions of his interviewer, BBC correspondent Stephen Sackur. Wouldn’t you admit, said Sackur, that American policy after 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq was a mistake? Why should I admit that? said Giuliani when he had finished laughing; the US has foiled 42 separate terror attacks since then because of that security policy put in place by President Bush.
Sackur tried again. But surely, he said, the police security strategy of targeting the Muslim community ‘gets in the way of the healing’. Giuliani laughed again even more incredulously. Well they would hardly target synagogues or churches he said. Of course the police targeted the mosques. It was from the mosques that the terror plots were coming. This is no more bad for Muslims than it was bad for Italian/Americans when I went after the Mafia in New York!
No wonder Giuliani laughed – he must have thought he’d wandered onto the set of a BBC comedy show by mistake.
Sackur prayed in aid the remarks made by the former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, in her Reith Lecture when she attacked the war in Iraq. Leaving aside the fact that since she ran MI5 rather than MI6 she presumably has no special insight into foreign affairs; and leaving aside also the fact that she was in charge of the Security Service when it so spectacularly failed to grasp that Islamic radicalisation within the UK was such a terrible problem, her remarks helped illuminate why the British ruling class just doesn’t get it, even today.
For the former head of the Security Service revealed a depth of ignorance which was truly terrifying. She insisted that 9/11 was merely a crime, not an act of war, and different only in scale from any other crime. But what made me fall off my chair was this passage:
‘There are a few Muslims who argue that democracy, the right to elect a secular government, does not accord with Islamic principles. ..It is perhaps worth noting that the modern Muslim Brotherhood does not subscribe to these non-democratic principles and actually condemned 9/11.
‘But I still find it difficult to accept that the terror attacks were on ‘freedom’ or ‘democracy’ as some have claimed. The young men who committed the crime came from countries without democratic rights or freedoms, with no liberty to express their views in open debate, no easy way of changing their rulers, no opportunity for choice and well-aware that the west often supported these autocratic rulers, for them as for many others an external enemy was I believe a unifying way of expressing their own frustrations.’
A few Muslims? It is a principle of Islam, common to all four schools of the religion, that there can be no secular authority that takes precedence over Islamic law. The Brotherhood most certainly adheres to this principle. Insofar as it condemns violence against the west, it makes clear that it does so for purely tactical reasons. Its supreme spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi enjoins instead that Muslims should take over the west for Islam by flooding it with Muslims and infiltrating its institutions.
As for al Qaeda being inspired by frustration with Arab rulers, has this woman never read the works of Osama bin Laden, as in his Letter to the American People where his first requirement is that America should become an Islamic state? How can the inspiration for those who turn themselves into human bombs be frustration at their lack of democratic freedom when so many Islamic terrorists have been highly educated within the west? If they are so frustrated by lack of democratic freedoms, who do they constantly declare their intention to snuff out those freedoms?
And how does ‘taking out their frustration on the west’ explain this, the wholesale persecution of Christians by Islamists across the Third World? How does it explain the assassination of the Pakistani regional governor for his stance against Islamist extremism – and the quarter of a million who took to the streets in Pakistan in support of this murder?
How does Manningham-Buller square her theory about ‘frustration’ or Palestinian ‘grievances’ with the sermon delivered by Qaradawi last January, when he called for the killing of every Jew in the world? Why does she ignore the hallucinatory levels of demented Jew-hatred and religious fanaticism that actually inspire Islamic terrorism? How can such a person ever have been appointed to run Britain’s Security Service?
The one person who does understand what is at stake here is Tony Blair – who is of course treated as if he is a war criminal or insane or both.
In his interview on the BBC Radio Four Today Programme at the weekend, Blair ran the gamut of the usual canards from interviewer John Humphrys: going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was a disaster, this distracted the US and UK from catching bin Laden, the wars radicalised British Muslims, Saddam was no threat to the west, his removal had empowered Iran, and so on and on.
Patiently, Blair tried again and again to return the conversation to reality. It was wrong, he said, to think of al Qaeda as just an isolated bunch of criminals; they were at the extreme end of a spectrum of Islamic thinking which was visible in attacks in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and across the world. No effect on Humphrys.
It was absurd to say, said Blair, that the war in Iraq had radicalised British Muslims when the killings in Iraq were being perpetrated by other Muslims and what the UK and US were trying to bring them was democracy. No effect.
It was wrong, he said, to say that he way to deal with Iran should have been to keep Saddam in power; the way to deal with Iran was to stop it getting nuclear weapons, if necessary by force. No effect.
After listening to this absurd farrago of illogicality, ignorance and false assumptions being hurled at Blair, I looked up my own Daily Mail column that was published on September 12 2002. I wrote then:
'Any new regime in Iraq must fulfil only one criterion for us: that it will not pose a threat to the rest of the world. And the same goes for the other countries in Bush's axis of terror: Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The US hopes that sorting Saddam will deliver to these other states the simple message: unless you desist from terror, you're next.
‘If these states don't put their houses in order, then the west has a moral duty to act against them too if the world is not to be held to ransom forever. Those who say war with Iraq threatens the stability of the whole region need a reality check again. The whole point is to upset the stability of the region, because the region has bankrolled, armed and trained terrorists for decades.’
The real problem with the US and UK reaction to 9/11 was that they did not follow through. It was Iran which destabilised Iraq post Saddam, Iran which was killing coalition troops there just as it had attacked western interests ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Saddam and the Taleban were threats to our interests from their sponsorship of terror and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction which they intended to use against the west (and contrary to received wisdom, WMD programmes were found in Iraq that had been in existence up to the start of the war). But we should have gone on to deal with Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Saudi as well.
Instead, the US and UK have now reached the even more perverse situation where, having mucked up Iraq and Afghanistan by half-hearted or incompetently-prosecuted wars and giving the enemy the clear impression that the west is not prepared to stay the course, the US and UK have been busy helping topple regimes that were, to some extent at least, helpful to the west while failing to deal with the mortal threat posed by Iran and its ally, Syria.
The jubilation at the fall of Gaddafy and Mubarak is, to say, the least, premature. Indeed, it is stupidity of the first order. As Conservative Home reported, David Cameron spoke optimistically about the ‘Arab Spring’ and described people in Egypt and Libya ‘seizing an alternative to the poisonous narrative of the extremists’ and that ‘the spread of democracy and rights’ was the trend rather than the ‘spread of extremism.’ Stating that al Qaeda was ‘politically defeated’, Cameron said: ‘Al Qaeda’s [has] had almost nothing to do with the Arab Spring. They’ve been irrelevant.’
How can he possibly be so ill-informed? An al Qaeda commander is reportedly in charge of armed brigades in Tripoli, weapons caches have gone missing, weapons have reportedly been smuggled from Libya to Hamas, the rebels are being aided by Iran and other jihadists are in their ranks.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to take a dominant position in the government, the mob almost lynched diplomats at the Israel embassy last week, Coptic Christians are being banned from public office and attacked.
We don’t yet know what will happen in these countries; but the likelihood is currently very high that the UK, US and France will end up replacing tyrants and despots who were helpful to the west by tyrants and despots who intend to destroy the west.
The former Bishop of Rochester, the Pakistan-born Michael Nazir-Ali -- who has said that al Qaeda has been in the forefront of the Libyan revolt -- has written of Islamic jihadi ideology on which he is an expert:
‘Such an ideology expects Islam to dominate rather than to accept a subservient place in world affairs. It promotes pan-Islam and the ultimate rejection of nation-states, even Muslim ones...its ultimate aim is a single Islamic political, social, economic and spiritual entity.
‘...This is not to mention Shi’a radicalism which, in the form of Hizbollah, is now present on the borders of Israel. The radical Shi’a crescent is waxing all over the Middle-East and it has enormous security implications for states in the area and beyond.’
Back in the 1990s, Nazir-Ali warned the British government that large numbers of British Muslims were being dangerously radicalised. What’s the difference between his situation then and now? In the 1990s, ministers simply didn’t believe him when he told the truth about the Islamisation of Britain and the need to defend the west against a civilisational attack; his warnings were ignored. In 2009, he was effectively driven out of office in the Church of England because he told the truth about the Islamisation of Britain and the need to defend the west against a civilisational attack.
That is how Britain has travelled in the past ten years since 9/11 – steadily towards the edge of the cliff. And Lemmingland is still travelling in exactly the same direction.