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For decades now we have been importing war. The massive immigration of Muslims into western countries – began with the aftermath of the Algerian war in France and with the opening of West Germany to hundreds of thousands of Turkish gastarbeiter, “guest-workers” whose grandchildren are there still – has inevitably brought to the West the native pathologies of Muslim societies, that is, the tendency to assert themselves by violence and the disregard of any law that is not Sharia – or rather, their interpretation of Sharia.

It does not matter, from that point of view, whether or not the majority of Muslims is peaceful or respects the law. No doubt they do. But the same may be said of their correligionaries in their countries of origin, and yet all those countries suffer from the same pathologies, unless they are repressed by force. I can personally testify what a pleasure it is to work with one particular Egyptian client – pleasant and warm in manner, accurate in all they do, paying on the dot, and as upright as a flagpole. Yet we have seen that Egypt as a country has only two choices – military oppression, or religious savagery; and that the people themselves have eventually preferred oppression to letting their own large religious minority loose on the country.

I do not have to show why or how that is; it is sufficient to remark that it is so – and it is certainly so. Muslim countries are affected by civil violence on a scale unknown to pretty much any other civilization, and are correspondingly backward in all that we regard as advanced civilization – from health care to industrial prosperity; since all those things depend on a stable and decently non-violent state of society.

We have pretty much ignored the rising local symptoms of this pathology in our own countries, because, in effect, what can a few lunatics with knives do to a society whose defence is in RPGs, armoured vests, machine guns, rocketry, aircraft and aircraft carriers? Muslim violence, even where it prevailed, has always been treated as a public order problem. But now we no longer have that luxury. Terrorists no longer come with home-made explosives and handguns bought on the local black market. Because of the existence of vast war zones where armies meet with armies, each armed with modern weapons and increasingly learning military tactics, Mumbai first, and Paris now, have met with terrorists who moved and fought like trained commandos.

Some people like to say that this is the West's own fault; but that is nonsense. I was totally against the idiotic support for the so-called Arab Spring, that put Egypt, the largest Arab country, into deadly danger, and turned Libya and Syria into militarized wildernesses; and I have the blog posts to prove it. I said four or more years ago that the so-called Arab Spring in Syria was nothing but a Sunni insurrection – whatever few deluded secularists and democrats may have tried to join or direct it – and I gave my reasons to think so; and facts proved me right. But the fact is that long before the folly of Cameron, Obama and Hollande, before even Bush II's misconceived invasion of Iraq, events in the Muslim world were moving in that direction. The first state in the Muslim world to collapse into a welter of warlords and religious militias was Somalia, and that was long before Bush II came to power. Then there was the matter of Chechenia, and while the Russians may be blamed for that, Chechenia's hopeless jihad against the Bear was entirely the result of internal pressures. Certainly the Russians cannot be said to have encouraged the rebel factions against themselves, as the West insanely did in Syria and in Libya.

In effect, the Muslim world has been drifting towards civil war for at least a quarter of a century. Libya, Syria, Iraq, are latecomers to the party; and the forces that tore them apart had been sharpening their claws in Somalia and in Nigeria, in the Caucasus, in Afghanistan, in Bosnia, and – so far as anyone is allowed to know – even in Chinese Turkestan, in spite of the immense military and police apparatus that faced them there. Veterans of each jihad move to each new battlefield; we hear of Chechens, Uighurs, Iraqis, Libyans. In effect, a manifold insurrection has been brewing in all sorts of places, few of which we even got to hear from – who apart from me has ever paid any attention to the jihad in the Central African Republic?

And as we had little or no real part in the genesis of this war, so we have no real choice in whether to fight it. Nobody is going to like it. The Anglo-American expeditions to Iraq and to Afghanistan nearly tore apart both countries and the whole western alliance from the inside: the idea of having to face jihad now as it dominates the Fertile Crescent and Libya, let alone everywhere else in Asia and Africa, is so unimaginable that few people or nobody even dare speak of it. And yet the so-called Islamic State is an immediate and deadly threat, it not to our territorial integrity, then at least to our internal peace. The underground railway of volunteers, fed by the treacherous Turkish government of Recip Erdogan, is by now bringing not dozens but hundreds of Muslim volunteers from all European countries to the front line, where they are trained not even, as iin the Afghan and Pakistani terrorist camps of the recent past, in explosives handling and suicide bombing, but in modern warfare. When they come back, which they regularly do, they have become not just a public order threat, but a military one. We have no choice. The war has come to us at last, decades after we began to import it, and we will be made to fight it whether we want to or not.

And let us not delude ourselves that the mere repression of the Islamic State – which would be well into the power of European countries even without American support, if only they wanted to – will be enough. This war moves like a mole to any of a dozen possible frontlines, and once the European extremists have learned how to reach them, they will reach them. Sooner or later, our troops will be back in Afghanistan – possibly in the company of Chinese divisions – as well as in Nigeria, in Central Africa, in Somalia. This is the logic of events.
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Anyone who thinks that the massive police operations - they barely deserve the name of war - carried out by the USA and its allies since September 11, 2001 could have been avoided are talking total nonsense. What do they propose the USA should have done? Sat there and taken it? The reaction was absolutely inevitable, and indeed the rest of the world saw it coming and ran for cover. All the USA's worst enemies bent over backward to offer sympathy and support, beginning with Fidel Castro - the man who had tried to encourage Nikita Khruschev to atom-bomb the Yanquis. Only two governments openly congratulated the bombers and showed no compunction about the mass murder of civilians: Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Taleban Afghanistan. Why? because they both knew that there would be no point pretending. Saddam may not have been directly involved in the bombing, but his policy ever since his disastrous defeat in the previous war had been so unrelentingly hostile and dedicated to breaking down Anglo-American positions by every possible means that it would not have been safe to let him exist while the Allies were at war elsewhere in the Muslim world; and the Taleban were neck-deep in the conspiracy that had led to the massacre. It was, in fact, driven by largely local Afghani considerations. People don't remember that that was not the only major terrorist act that took place at the same time; one day or two before, the Taleban had murdered Ahmed Shah Massud, the Lion of Panjshir, the legendary hero of the struggle against Russia and the most prestigious leader of internal resistence against them. In Afghani eyes, this murder was at least as significant as the assault on the Twin Towers. The two were part of the same terrorist strategy. Three thousand Americans were butchered at least in part in order to reinforce the image of the Al Qaida-Taleban alliance in Afghanistan and frighten its enemies.

Of course, it went wrong; but anyone who thinks that the Taliban had not intended a war against America, or foreseen American intervention, simply does not understand the fact. That is what they wanted. That they lost it only means that they had overrated themselves and underrated the enemy; well, have I got news for you - that happens. And where America is concerned it happens with particular frequency; everybody from the Confederate rebels of 1860 to the Kaiser to Hitler and Tojo always found the Union more determined, more fierce,and infinitely quicker in action and thought, than they had imagined. The Taleban imagined themselves as the guerrilla hordes of a new Vietnam; within a few months of the masaacre, they had found out the difference.

What happened in Iraq and Afghanistan after the initial campaigns was not a war. A war means Cannae, Waterloo, the Somme. A war means armies clashing on battlefields, men dying by the hundreds every day, units surrendered or destroyed. No such thing has happened practically anywhere in ten years. The drip drip drip of casualties murdered by explosive devices is more typical of what the British forces had to face in Northern Ireland, or, for that matter, Italy's police forces in Sicily. It is grand policing, not war. The frequently-made parallel with Britain in the nineteenth century is absurd: British troops were faced and defeated in vast pitched battles against hordes of tribal warriors welding jezail rifles and knives, which has never happened in the Afghan operations. It is little more than Italy suffers for policing Sicily or Naples.

Finally there is the charge that the war has weakened America and reduced it to a debtor country with its bonds firmly in Chinese hands. Certainly operations have not been well managed: I have long since said that no wartime leader could do anything more stupid than cut taxes in the middle of a campaign, not only because expenditure inevitably rises, but because it undermines the message that the war is a common concern and the country ought to help to pay for it. But to blame the decline and deindustrialization of the USA on the war is beyond ridiculous. These things began almost thirty years ago, in the Ronald Thatcher era, which Bob Dylan welcomed with "Union Sundown" - an ambiguous title that meant both the ruin of unionized labour and the decline of the Union, that is the USA - and Springsteen sang that, in "Your hometown", "Foreman says these jobs are going, boys, and they ain't coming back - to your hometown". The war made barely any difference to this process, which has been to a large extent encouraged and welcomed by successive administrations.

The occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq was inevitable; indeed, it was the least that could be done in the circumstances. People who pretend otherwise as good as say that three thousand dead should have been forgotten.
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...and the reason why people debating it will never understand each other, is that there is a larger question about the current situation. Is it a war, yes or no? If it is a war, then a targeted assassination of an enemy leader such as this one is perfectly justified and correct; what is more, it is an excellent move, in the enemy's own code. Osama Bin Laden's most famous quotation - uttered within days of 9-11 - is " when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse." The American blow shows everyone that the West's reach is as long as its memory, and that it can strike at will even against the protection afforded Osama by a treacherous would-be ally who is also the Muslim world's strongest military power. America and her allies have proved the strong horse.

On the other hand, if we are not at war, if this is a matter of law enforcement on the grand scale, then the death of OBL is simply murder, with no ifs or buts. Even worse, it was done in the face of a sovereign state with claims to be an ally.

Unfortunately there is no consensus on this. The worldwide spread of banditry identified with OBL is a genuinely new thing, and nobody has so far presented an argument that can convince most people with an opposing viewpoint.

Finally, one thing cannot be in doubt. Whether or not the Obama administration agrees, waterboarding, sleep deprivation and the rest are torture, and torture has been banned from Western law codes - including military ones - for centuries. The supposed success in "interrogating" certain figures by such means no more proves it valid than the fact that a given individual is rich proves that he was right to rob a bank.
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This is the worst few days the Republicans have had in years. First, Obama sinks the Trump candidacy with all hands after he had imprudently been allowed to become a serious candidate. Second, he delivers the body of Public Enemy No.1, signed, sealed and delivered - a wholly different moment from the sense of slog and useless effort that was so far associated with Afghanistan; and it turns out that this success was the result of a patient investigative operation that had been going on for two years, and of which the President himself had been informed months ago. There is no way that this is anything but his success.

I oppose the President on the fundamental issue of abortion and will continue to do so. But this really does sound like his version of Sherman taking Atlanta.
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Nearly every right-wing American commentator in the last two days has gone doolally about the guilty sentence against a terrorist involved in the infamous bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania. With all the grace and intellectual gravitas of a lynch mob, they all howl at the judge, yell at the jury (traditional legal rights such as being tried by a jury of your peers are only OK until they deliver the result you want, evidently, to these "conservatives"), and rage at the President and the Attorney General. Some demand Eric Holder's resignation. And none of them even mention the yelling, trumpeting elephant in the room: namely, evidence obtained by torture. Unless, of course, it is to describe the ACLU's call to prosecute George W.Bush, who has admitted in writing that he is responsible for authorizing torture, as some kind of perverse anti-Republican plot - rather than the least that any person who believes in the rule of law should do.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike the ACLU and Eric Holder - especially his reverse racism and his moral cowardice - but in this matter they are as innocent as newborn babes. The person who insured that most of the evidence against this murderous scum could not be heard in any court of law worth the name was the person who ordered that it should be taken from him by torture. That person was George W. Bush. He says so, and I believe him. And because he says so, he belongs in front of a court of law himself. If there is any legal reason why waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other such charming innovations in police work should not be classified as torture, let him prove it in a court of law; instead of just having it maintained by the conjoined squawking of all his partisan supporters.

The jury hearing the case were in a terrible dilemma, and came out of it honourably if not in a legally snow-white manner. They had a man in front of them who obviuously belonged behind bars for life. They knew that the evidence against him had been obtrained in ways that none of them would countenance for a minute, and that hundreds of pages of it had been struck down by the judge in open court for being tainted by torture. What they did was to find him guilty on a single charge - which still can deliver him to the delightful confines of an American jail for life, and at the very least for twenty long, ugly years - and reject all the others, thus sending a message that the man was a villain but that they were not disposed to uphold, just because of that, the villainy of their own government. That jury behaved far better than the politicians of both sides, and infinitely better than the "conservative" commentariat.
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If I come across as irritable, and if I have a temper, it is to some extent - not largely, but at least to some extent - because I have spent all my life, literally from childhood, bashing my head against a soft, crushing, unconquerable obsession of the modern West, which poisons Italy and has all but murdered Britain: I mean the heresy of dialogue. That is, the general idea that there is no problem on earth that cannot be solved, and no distance that cannot be filled, and no difference that cannot be reconciled, by sitting down and talking about it. That, of course, is nonsense; but all my life - and while not ancient, I am well into my middle age - the vast majority of the people I met clung to it as though it were their mother's breast, feeding them their mother's milk.

There is literally no way to convince most of them that there are limits to dialogue. They ignore decades of total failure in crisis after crisis, and seize one minor and partial success - I mean the unreconciled "reconciliation" in Northern Ireland - to convince themselves that dialogue is always and everywhere the answer. Of course, even in Northern Ireland, there is no peace; only the absence of high-profile violence. Cops are not shot any more, but the terrorists of both sides effectively patrol and control their communities, cut off from each other by ever-growing lengths of wall. I don't want to underrate the importance of no longer having open violence; but this is, at best, a half-successful piece of "dialogue", and does not deserve its iconic status.

However, international public opinion has made a fetish of it (international public opinion, after all, does not live in Northern Ireland and doesn't have to suffer the swagger and menace of the "militants" on their streets). All right; so Irish blood no longer flows - though Irish bones are frequently broken. That's an improvement. But when this lowering of the temperature of violence is internationally promoted as a triumph of "dialogue", when Britain aggressively markets itself as specialists in conflict resolution across the world on the strength of Northern Ireland, when the figurehead of the "peace process" in NI, Tony Blair, is made the international delegate to have peace in the Middle East - then one has to wonder who can possibly imagine that what barely works in the streets of Belfast can ever be relevant to the armed millions of the East Mediterranean. But because the heresy of "dialogue" seems - by deliberately adopting a mental squint that fails to see the thousand wrong things - to have once been validated, there is no limit to the credit that can be claimed on its strength.

But the heresy of dialogue is not disastrous every now and then or at random; it is disastrous inevitably, always, and by its own nature. There is a process that has taken place again and again but from which the dialogue-addicts never learn. When a conflict arises, the dialogue-addicts inevitably tend to favour the more violent, more brutal and more unscrupulous side. So in the thirties they favoured Hitler against France, in the sixties the Soviet Union against America, and now the Muslim world against Israel.

Why? Because it is in the nature of things. It is in the nature of things that Prime Minister Bullying-Bastard will always be willing to talk. He is friendly, hospitable, will listen for hours. ON the other hand, Prime Minister Threatened-Decency cannot pretend that he can offer the moon. He has to place limits on the concessions he is willing to make. And the result of this is inevitably that the dialogue-addicts remain impressed, even enchanted, by the friendly openness of Mr.Bullying-Bastard, and increasingly sadly disappointed by the intransigence of Mr.Threatened-Decency. Hitler's antechamber positively swarmed with pacifists from every nation; even after he had conquered Poland and France, he was still talking peace, peace, peace at any cost. As for Joe Stalin, he positively took out the copyright on pacifism; every international pacifist association from the thirties onwards was a Soviet front. And our contemporary parallels! Why, how open to debate they are, how willing to talk, talk for hours at a time, any time of day and night! Nobody could possibly imagine that they have anything against dialogue. And they don't - since they expect dialogue to deliver everything they want, bit by bit. That is why "peace" must be a "process"; so that everything may be renegotiated over and over again, dead issues resurrected, impossible demands made over and over again with every appeareance of reasonableness. That is what "dialogue" is about.

What happened is quite simply this: that many Europeans, and an enormous majority of Britons, have become addicted to this opium. And because this drug only works one way, can only work one way, it always ends up allying the dialogue-addicts with the worst villains.
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Yes, we are fortunate. Like the great men of a time we thought we might never see again, we have our chance to defend freedom.Read more... )
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I will superimpose two pieces of news I have recently read. Let anyone who has any goodwill and mental openness see what conclusions they lead to.

Read more... )

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