Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mark Steyn: Wake up, folks - it's war!

Mark Steyn: Wake up, folks - it's war!


A couple of items from Tuesday’s papers. On the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian pilot programme for the Met’s new shoot-to-kill policy, the Daily Telegraph reports:

‘A Home Office spokesman last night admitted that it had not yet identified his immigration status: “We are looking into the case and will provide more information as soon as we are able to do so.’’’

Meanwhile, the Times includes this background information on one of the thwarted bombers of the 21 July attacks — Yassin Hassan Omar, a Somali ‘asylum-seeker’:

‘Omar, who was last seen vaulting a barrier at Warren Street station, has been the registered occupant of the flat since 1999. Ibrahim, who was last seen in Hackney Road, East London, after his failed attempt to blow up a No. 26 bus, shared it with him for the past two years. Omar received £88 a week in housing benefit to pay for the council property and also received income support, immigration officials say.’

So here’s how things stand:

1) Four days after Mr de Menezes became the most famous foreigner in the United Kingdom, Her Majesty’s Government is unable to give a definitive answer on his immigration status.

2) Four years after 9/11, British taxpayers are subsidising the jihad — in Mr Omar’s Bounds Green council flat and in many other places.

There’s a pleasant thought the next time you’re on a bus when some Islamakazi self-detonates: it’s on your tax bill; P-A-Y-E — pay as you explode.

Number One comes at a time when the relevant department, the Home Office, not content with being unable to run its existing records system for foreigners, is determined to inflict an expensive and cumbersome bureaucracy on every non-foreigner in the land. Indeed, the Home Secretary has now upgraded it into a fundamental human right: ‘Just let us put in place our hierarchy of rights,’ Charles Clarke told MEPs just before the second attacks. ‘The right to live. The right to go to work on the Underground. The right to have an ID card.’ Human rights-wise, that last one is right up there with the right to be subject to confiscatory taxation.

And Number Two isn’t some stunning shocking development, either. In The Spectator of 29 December 2001, I noted the likes of Zac Moussaoui, the French citizen who became an Islamist radical while living on welfare in London, and wrote:

‘If you’re looking for “root causes” for terrorism, European-sized welfare programmes are a good place to start. Maybe if they had to go out to work, they’d join the Daily Mirror and become the next John Pilger. Or maybe they’d open a drive-thru Halal Burger chain and make a fortune. Instead, Tony Blair pays Islamic fundamentalists in London to stay at home, fester and plot.’

I wasn’t the first to notice the links between Euro-Canadian welfare and terrorism. Mickey Kaus, an iconoclastic California liberal, was way ahead. But, after three-and-a-half years, one would be entitled to assume that a government whose fortunes are as heavily invested in the terrorist threat as this one’s might have spotted it, too — especially given the ever greater numbers of British jihadi uncovered from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Israel and America.

That’s why I regretfully have to disagree with the editor of this great publication in his prescription of the current situation which appeared in these pages a week or two back under the headline ‘Just don’t call it war’. As you’ll have gathered, the boss objects to the language of ‘war, whether cultural or military.... Last week’s bombs were placed not by martyrs nor by soldiers, but by criminals.’

Sorry, but that’s the way to lose. A narrowly focused ‘criminal’ approach means entrusting the whole business to the state bureaucracy. The obvious problem with that is that it’s mostly reactive: blow somewhere up, we’ll seal it off, and detectives will investigate it as a crime scene. You could make the approach less reactive by a sustained effort to improve scrutiny of immigration, entitlement to welfare and other matters within the purview of government. But consider those two snippets from the Tuesday papers and then figure out the likelihood of that happening. A ‘criminal’ approach gives terrorists all the rights of criminals, and between British and European ‘human rights’ that’s quite a bundle. If it’s a war, you can take wartime measures — including withdrawal from the UN Convention on Refugees, repeal of the European Human Rights Act, and a clawback of sovereignty from the EU. But if you fight this thing as a law-enforcement matter, Islamist welfare queens will use all the above to their full extent and continue openly promoting the murder of the Prime Minister, British troops, etc. with impunity.

Softly-softly won’t catchee monkey. Slo-mo conflicts are the hardest to win, in part because in advanced societies the public finds it hard to stay focused. Granted, there are exceptions to that rule: the government, battling the commies in Malaya, went the Boris Johnson route and declined to call it a war; and the eventual victory in the Malayan ‘Emergency’ might tend to support his thesis. It was said that London was reluctant to use the term ‘war’ for reasons of home and business insurance, but it’s also a broader kind of insurance: it lowers the stakes, it softens the people up for a non-victory — as in the Irish ‘Troubles’. Sometimes, as in Malaya, you happen to win one of these ‘emergencies’ or ‘troubles’, and that’s a bonus. But the point is, by designating something as other than a war, you tend to make it peripheral, and therefore loseable.

That’s not an option here. Madrid and London — along with other events such as the murder of Theo Van Gogh — are, in essence, the opening shots of a European civil war. You can laugh at that if you wish, but the Islamists’ most often-stated goal is not infidel withdrawal from Iraq but the re-establishment of a Muslim caliphate living under Sharia that extends to Europe; and there’s a lot to be said for taking these chaps at their word and then seeing whether their behaviour is consistent.

Furthermore, there’s a lot more of the world that lives under Sharia than there was, say, 30 years ago: Pakistan adopted it in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984.... Fifty years ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it’s in the grip of Islamic law. So, as a political project, radical Islam has made some headway, and continues to do so almost every day of the week: since the beginning of the year, for example, some 10 per cent of southern Thailand’s Buddhist population have abandoned their homes — a far bigger disruption than the tsunami, yet all but unreported in the Western press. And whatever one’s opinion of the various local conflicts around the world — Muslims vs Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs Jews in the Holy Land, Muslims vs Russians in Chechnya, Muslims vs Christians in Africa — the fact is that the jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you’re not shy about taking on the Israelis and Russians, why wouldn’t you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Spaniards?

If the jihad has its war aims, maybe we should start thinking about ours. What would victory look like? As fascism and communism were in their day, Islamism is now the ideology of choice for the world’s grievance-mongers. That means we have to destroy the ideology, or at least its potency — not Islam per se, but at the very minimum the malign strain of Wahabism, which thanks to Saudi oil money has been transformed from a fetish of isolated desert derelicts into the most influential radicalising force in contemporary Islam, from Indonesia to Leeds. Europeans who aren’t prepared to roll back Wahabism had better be prepared to live with it, or under it.

Mustering the popular will for that sort of struggle isn’t easy. But the longer you leave it the harder it becomes. Whether or not one accepts the Johnson line that Iraq is irrelevant to the war on terror, it requires a perverse genius on the part of Tony Blair to have found the political courage to fight an unpopular war on a distant shore but not the political courage to wage it closer to home where it would have commanded far more support.

On a couple of very fleeting visits to London and Belfast in recent weeks, I had the vague feeling that Britain is on the brink of a tragedy it doesn’t quite comprehend. America’s post-9/11 muscular nationalism was easily mocked by Europeans, but its absence in London is palpable: try to imagine Mayor Giuliani uttering half the stuff Ken Livingstone said in the last fortnight (‘The bombings would never have happened if the West had simply left the Arab nations alone in the wake of the first world war’). Even if he’s right, the message it communicates is weakness: bomb us, and we apologise — or at the very least go to comically absurd lengths to distinguish terrorism against London from terrorism against Israel. Tony Blair, in his recitation in the House of Commons of nations afflicted by terrorism, couldn’t even bring himself to mention the Zionist Entity. Boris Johnson, in his call to non-arms, began with an elaborate riff on the difference between Brits and Jews in these matters:

‘If we were Israelis, we would by now be doing a standard thing to that white semi-detached pebbledash house at 51 Colwyn Road, Beeston. Having given due warning, we would dispatch an American-built ground-assault helicopter and blow the place to bits. Then we would send in bulldozers to scrape over the remains....’


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