Sunday, November 15, 2015

Responding to the Paris atrocity

It is important that the West's responses to Friday's outrage in Paris should be measured, proportionate, and effective. So these suggestions should be seen as taking part in a debate which needs to start, not as demanding that the governments of the free world do any of these things by yesterday.

But it would be grossly irresponsible not to take sensible measures to defend ourselves, while trying to ensure that those measures do not themselves destroy the very freedoms which are under attack.

Many years ago, when I first read that refugees from Nazi Germany were often detained while the countries to which they had fled checked that Hitler had not planted spies and saboteurs among them, I was rather shocked.

But the governments which carried out those checks were wise. Hitler did try to plant Abwehr and SS agents among the genuine refugees. Fortunately we were better at catching them than the Nazis were at planting them. The real refugees, who understood only too well what the regime they had fled from was like, often understood this better than middle class lefties or liberals.

We actually had military units in WWII which contained a high proportion of German and Austrian volunteers who had fled Nazi Europe, many of whom had briefly been detained by people wearing the same uniforms they had now been allowed to don themselves, and who nicknamed themselves "The King's Own Loyal Enemy Aliens." (see a book about them here.)

The West faces the same problem today, and unfortunately it would appear that we do not understand the mindset of Jihadis as well as our grandparents understood those of their German contemporaries.

It appears likely that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi (the head of DAESH, the self-styled "Islamic State") has agents among the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been pouring into Europe, and that some of those who perpetrated Friday's atrocity in Paris may have been among them.

It may seem ruthless in the light of the ghastly tragedies playing out in Syria and Africa to say that we cannot allow open borders, but sadly we can no more afford to allow people in without checking that they are not killers working for Al Baghdadi than our grandfathers could afford to not to check whether the refugees of their day were SS killers working for Hitler.

The statement by European Council chairman Donald Tusk last week that Europe was in a "race against time" to save the Schengen agreement is already out of date. On Friday that race ended and the Schengen agreement lost it.

And while we should learn from the mistakes of the past such as the invasion of Iraq and how it was handled, we need to recognise that there is NOTHING we can do that will stop people like Al Qaeda and DAESH from attacking us. DAESH is a death cult which wants to kill the majority of the world's population for not worshipping and thinking the same way they do, including hundreds of millions of Muslims (who they regard as apostates.)

DAESH and Al Qaeda are not attacking us because we invaded Iraq or because we didn't invade Syria. They are attacking us because we believe in democracy which they regard as evil, because we attempt, however feebly, to practice free speech and freedom of religion which they regard as evil, because we try to run our societies on the basis that men and women are equal while they think that women are second class citizens whose word is worth 50% of that of a man's and who are fit only for housework, cooking and as sex slaves.

They will always find a way to argue that everything is the West's fault and to justify attacking the West. If we intervene in a country with a Muslim majority on whatever grounds we will be accused of invading Muslim territory and being at war with Islam. If we don't intervene in a country with a Muslim majority where there is a tyrannical government or a civil war we will be accused of failing to protect Muslims from oppression.

The reality is that Jihadi extremists have killed far more Muslims than the West ever has. Most of the people who have been killed in Iraq and Syria over the last three decades did not die at the hands of US or British or French forces but at those of people who call themselves Muslims - although the Muslims that I know completely disavow these killers.

I think we have to revisit how we deal with these extremists, and although we need to be much wiser in how we go about it than Bush and Blair were in Iraq, anyone who imagines that we can protect ourselves from the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Mohammed Emwazi without any use of force is living in cloud-cuckoo land.

As Dr Thomas Sowell put it,

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