Another fine mess


Jet Fighter“Another fine mess you’ve got us into!” The line comes from a short 1930s film by those slapstick clowns Laurel and Hardy. For Laurel and Hardy, substitute our two modern comedians Cameron and Obama and apply it to their foreign policy. How’s this for joined up thinking? Just a year ago, Cameron asked parliament to approve his decision to bomb Assad’s regime in Syria and to give support to the rebels fighting to depose him. Parliament turned him down. Twelve months later, Cameron asks parliament’s permission to bomb the Syrian rebels – an act which will give aid and comfort to Assad. Thinking of comedy lines, I recall a corny TV quiz show with the catchphrase, “It’s make your mind up time!” Cameron and Obama have proved ill-disposed to make their minds up about anything.

Obama is now bombing quite merrily Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. Britain will bomb IS in Iraq, but not in Syria. As Winston Churchill didn’t say, “We shall fight them on the beaches but not on the landing grounds.” IS doesn’t recognise the border between Syria and Iraq in any case. But this fine mess is not even the half of it…

From the speeches delivered by Cameron and Obama, you would think that IS was the only enemy. Why will our statesmen not open their eyes and face brute facts? There is a murderous Islamic insurgency led by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Al Q’aeda and its offshoots are perpetrating atrocities wholesale in Sudan, Somalia and Mali. A similar terrorist group attacked the Westgate shopping centre in Kenya leaving seventy-one people dead. Libya – another country we “liberated” by our bombing – is now an ungovernable chaos of warring factions and a no go area for westerners. We know about Iraq and Syria. We announced the precise date for the removal of our troops from Afghanistan and so now the Taliban – the ones against whom we fought a costly land war to establish “democracy” – are quietly preparing to take over again. Add the atrocities of 9/11 in New York and 7/7 in London. Terrorist wholesale slaughter of civilians in Bali and Madrid.

Such insurgencies have occurred frequently over the last 1300 years. In AD 732 a Muslim army of 200,000 was defeated by the Christian Charles Martel at Tours. If that battle had been lost, all Europe would have fallen to militant Islam. In 1565 the relief of the Siege of Malta, by a Christian alliance, ensured that the Mediterranean did not fall into Muslim hands and so give them a toehold in Europe.

At the Battle of Lepanto on 7th October 1571, a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Spain, the Republic of Venice, the Papacy, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy and the Knights Hospitaller decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire.

There was that other 11th September – 1683 when Christian armies under Jan Sobieski arrived at the gates of Vienna and defeated the last substantial Muslim insurgency: the last, that is, before the one which we face at present. There is no doubt that militant Islam’s current aggression will have to be firmly suppressed if Europe as we know it is to survive. If Western powers do not act firmly, the continent will be dominated by the Islamic ideology within a generation, with the resulting loss of all our freedoms – and the loss of countless lives.

What we are engaged in is asymmetric warfare: that is, our enemies are fighting us furiously and we are refusing to fight back effectively.

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