Thursday, September 14, 2006


Terrorism Threats to West are not 'Nonsense'

Readers of this blog will know I rate Simon Jenkins as the most thoughtful and provocative of our British columnists but I'm not sure I agree with yesterday's offering. In it he argued that the terrorist threat had been hugely exaggerated, that you could not compare it to those which had occasioned either the Second World war or the Cold War. He deems the Bush-Blair casting of a dire terrorist threat to the western way of life to be self serving 'nonsense'. 'Most western countries' he writes, 'are healthy democracies with entrenched democracies, near invulnerable to military attack.'

I wish I could see it like this as I think Jenkins displays amazing complacency on this issue. I agree with the point about Hitler and Stalin and I agree that, had Bush not over-reacted, bin Laden might well have lost the support he has subsequently garnered. But: we are not in a situation where the military tactics of either of these wars are of the slightest relevance; we went along with Bush, made the mistake, along with many others, and now face a threat which is very far from being 'nonsense'. The recent Channel 4 programme on The Cult of the Suicide Bomber, exposed the existence of unknown numbers of young Muslims being nurtured by religious extremists to self-sacrifice for their Muslim brothers via the insanity of killing themselves along with as many other members of the 'decadent west' as they can manage.

And their ranks are being swelled all the time, from within the UK and from without as jihadists return from the 'frontline' in Iraq and elsewhere. There are minorities of varying sizes in most European countries which all seem prey to these horrific teachings and we know from opinion polls that they command a worrying amount of sympathy within their respective communities. If well integrated young men from Leeds, who loved soccer and playing cricket as well as their own families and children, can morph into people who walk into the Tube stacked with deadly explosives and intent on mass murder, then we do have real reasons for concern. [The awful irony of the 7-7 bombrs is that the social club which harboured their transition from citizens to terrorists was funded by the council tax payers of Leeds.]

In Northern Ireland only small numbers of young Catholics made this journey into terrorism and caused untold destruction and heartbreak for nearly half a century. I think this new kind of terrorist is just as potentially dangerous, the more so because they live ubiquitously in mainland UK. As I see it- and I really do hope I'm wrong- in our open liberal society, we are all too 'vulnerable' to a campaign which could overshadow anything inflicted on us by the IRA.

Skipper, I agree with you and I am fairly sure the families of those murdered on the tube last year would also concur. I thought Jenkins’s article showed unbelievable naivety. Islamic terror is real and we do have an ‘enemy within’ who could make the IRA look like amateurs. People of the left should stop harping on about Bush and Blair and wake up to reality. If this was the 1930s the left would be volunteering to fight Islamists and fascists; not become appeasers and apologists.
I heard Simon Jenkins being interviewed as was also somewhat bemused by his opinion and that in the USA there is a growing movement objecting to the cost of war on terrorism.
I felt that Skipper should balance the comments on N.Ireland by adding that a number of young Loyalists also carried out horrendous acts during The Troubles but this seems to often overlooked
The Irish situation was not just a case of "only small numbers of young Catholics". In order for PIRA to survive and grow in the nationalist areas of Ireland they had to have the sympathies of large sections of the nationalist/catholic population who felt alienated from a discriminatory loyalist regime propped up by the British state. You cannot start history from where you want it to start. The same will be true of the current wave of young men operating in the name of jihad. Unless the countries of the so-called 'west' can satisfy the overwhelming percentage of Muslims that they are not Islamophobic, pro-Israel and Imperialist, that they do support a peaceful solution in the Middle East, that they are not going to invent WMD as a precursor to invading or attacking Iran, that they will adopt an even-handed approach, they will not drain the swamp and the mosquitos will continue to bite.
I think that Skipper's article, and the first two comments, do some disservice to Jenkins's article. As I read it, his article was primarily a reaction to Bush's grandiose talk about clashes of civilisations. "Modern terror may be more outrageous but it is weaker as a political force." Jenkins acknowledges the existence of Islamic terrorism, but (correctly) disputes the counterfactual assertion that it is a threat to western life and philosophies.

Terrorism may be vicious and violent and bloody and brutal, but one is far more at risk of falling victim to petty criminals than to international terrorists.

It's wrong of Jenkins to say that most western countries are "near invulnerable to military attack", but with regard to the damage that Islamic terrorists could possibly levy, society is not at risk of absolute destruction.

Dreadnought - It's not helpful for you to refer to the families of the 7/7 victims in order to further your own argument. It's also quite fallacious to presuppose their political views.
SPL – I am not presupposing anyone’s political views. I just think it is reasonable to think that the families of those murdered, more than anyone, would have an issue with Islamic terrorism.
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