Published in: Daily Mail
Sixty years on, Britain has commemorated the end of World War Two and the sacrifices made to achieve victory over fascism. The ceremonials took place yesterday in the long shadow of last Thursday's atrocities in London - the terrible manifestation of a very different kind of threat.
We now face an enemy which has no country, no uniform and no visible shape but is instead a loose and shifting affiliation of groups across the world, bound only by their unifying cause.
The problem is that, unlike sixty years ago, our leaders shy away from giving this menace its proper name. They call it 'terrorism'. But in fact it is nothing less than a world war being waged in the name of religion - with terror its weapon of attack - whose aim is to emasculate the power and reach of western culture and replace it by the hegemony of Islam.
The foot-soldiers of this religious army have camouflaged themselves among the citizens of the world. The result in Britain, according to leaked government documents, is that up to an estimated 16,000 British Muslims are said to be sympathetic to terrorism and and, according to fomer Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens, up to 3000 British born or British based people have passed through al Qaeda training camps over the years.
Of course, the vast majority of Muslims are undoubtedly decent, law-abiding, peaceful citizens. But since only one bomber needs to get lucky in order to cause death and destruction, these statistics are clearly absolutely horrifying.
In the face of this threat, however, our Prime Minister is muddled. He said last weekend that the root causes of terrorism were the perversion of Islam and extremism, fanaticism and acute forms of poverty in one continent which could spread their poison throughout the world.
He was right about the extremism and fanaticism, but wrong about the rest. Poverty is not the issue. Many Islamic terrorists are wealthy; most poor peoples do not resort to terror. The root cause of this threat is a religion whose dominant traditions have, over the past twelve centuries, preached or practised at various times of intensity holy war against the infidel.
Most British Muslims are appalled by these attacks. Indeed, they themselves are at equal risk of becoming victims of such indiscriminate terror. And many of them clearly wish to reconcile the undoubtedly peaceful elements of their faith with the tenets of western society.
But at same time they and others - from the Prime Minister downwards - are in denial when they say that because Islam is a religion of peace, by implication those who commit such acts are not true Muslims. On the contrary, this war against the west is not only being fought in the name of Islam but its aims, if not all its tactics, have been condoned by countless Islamic states and religious authorities and supported by millions of Muslims across the world.
Our leaders are too frightened to say this for fear of upsetting the Muslim community. So on the basis of a deeply flawed analysis, the government has produced a hopelessly misguided strategy.
This is to give British Muslims widespread concessions in the hope that this will dampen down the rage of the most extreme. According to the Home Office Permanent Secretary Sir John Gieve, the roots of Muslim extremism in Britain lie in 'discrimination, disadvantage and exclusion.' The remedy, therefore, is to reduce discrimination and promote integration. Hence, for example, ministers' support for the law against incitement to religious hatred, or the introduction of sharia-compliant mortgages and suggestions by the Inland Revenue that polygamy should be recognised for the purposes of inheritance tax.
But Muslim extremism is not caused by lack of integration; the lack of integration is caused by the fact that Muslims are being inflamed against the west by radical preachers. A small minority of young Muslims are vulnerable to this process because, adrift between the profoundly opposing cultures of Islam and the western free-for-all, they are easy prey for the ostensibly righteous and idealistic message that they must fight the decadence and corruption of the west.
Some people think that the war in Iraq, where al Qaeda has regrouped after it was smashed in Afghanistan, has greatly inflamed Islamic terrorism and resulted in its export to Britain.
The first and most obvious answer to this is that 9/11 preceded the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; indeed, America had been attacked by al Qaeda for a decade even before the Twin Towers were hit.
Iraq is indeed central, but for a different reason. Al Qaeda desperately wants the coalition troops to withdraw from Iraq, where the stakes for terror across the Middle East are so enormous, and has decided that the best way to achieve this is to put pressure on the public. Hence the bombings of Madrid and now London, whose aim was to destroy the alliance with America.
Those arguing that the Iraq war has put the coalition countries in danger are therefore doing the bombers' dirty propaganda work for them. The Spanish fell for it. But even though they withdrew their troops, this did not stop al Qaeda from subsequently trying twice more to bomb the Spanish people - thus proving that for al Qaeda, the Iraq war is merely a side issue.
This is demonstrated time and again by its terror attacks across the world from Indonesia to the Caucasus, including in countries which were opposed to the Iraq war - while in Britain, as in Germany and elsewhere, planned attacks were being tracked and foiled even before 9/11.
Nevertheless, despite this evidence of unprovoked attacks on country after country, radical imams teach that the very existence of western influence is an act of aggression. Any action against the west is therefore said to be a legitimate defence of religious principles - and so any actual defence by the west against Islamic terror is presented instead as a further act of war to be avenged.
This lethal double-think means that the defence against terror has indeed inadvertently acted as a recruiting sergeant for that terror. But this is the terrible dilemma that terrorism poses. If its victims try to defend themselves by taking action against the terrorists (and Saddam was a godfather of terror) this feeds their warped victimology and recruits more to their cause. But to take the path of least resistance instead of fighting back is to signal a defeatism which spurs the terrorists on to their perceived and inevitable victory.
In other words, the choice is this: we take actions which may increase the immediate problem or, in the long term, we suffer total defeat.
Given such a choice, the only morally viable position is to fight terror with all the means at our disposal. There is no doubt that chronic American mistakes in failing adequately to respond to the nature and scale of the battle in Iraq have exacerbated the problem of Muslims flocking to the cause.
But to say that the fight against religious fascism should not be fought because it turns those who are fighting it into a target is a bit like complaining that the only reason London endured the Blitz was because Britain had declared war on Germany.
Now as then, appeasing aggression means cultural suicide. We are in for the long haul -- but we must no longer flinch from the truth, and from the means we must use to defeat the horror that we all face.