A comment made by the Prime Minister recently left me feeling poleaxed, and upon reading it I felt like rubbing my eyes and dousing myself in cold water to ensure that I was awake. Surely he could not have uttered the following sentence and believed in the substance of the words that he was enunciating with respect to the recent hostage crisis in Algeria:
What does he mean by stating “had to deal with”? By using these words he seems to imply that the problem there has been solved. Has it? What has been achieved in Afghanistan? How has the problem been dealt with in Pakistan? Has the Islamist problem been solved in either country, or even here in the UK? Quite clearly, the answer must be no. Our intervention in Afghanistan may have eliminated al-Qaeda training camps, but what in reality has it achieved? When our forces leave that country after well over a decade of death, mutilation, psychological trauma and the expenditure of billions of pounds, what will we see? A prosperous Afghanistan friendly to the UK advocating freedom of opinion and expression for its citizens, together with respect and equal rights for its women, or a jubilant Taliban-dominated theocracy celebrating victory over the infidel, just as antipathetical to the UK and the West in general as it was in 2001 and imbued with a spirit of vengeance? It would seem that the second scenario would be far closer to what emerges than the former one.
A decade on from invasion and its subsequent occupation Iraq remains a religiously and ethnically cleft violent wreck. The Arab Spring, encouraged by the UK Government, has led to increased instability across North Africa and the Middle East, with Islamists playing a major role in the popular uprisings and in the new administrations that have emerged following the toppling of the old regimes. Cameron and Hague were keen to intervene in Libya, and have been chomping at the bit to do the same in Syria, irrespective of the chaos and geopolitical blowback that such meddling can produce. It has been widely claimed that the post-Qaddhafi instability in Libya has helped to flood parts of North Africa with weaponry, assisting an upsurge in violent Islamist militancy that has manifested itself both in the ongoing attempt to overthrow the Malian government as well as in the recent Algerian hostage crisis.
The Prime Minister’s call for a “global response” to what he dubs the “al-Qaeda” threat is thoroughly wrongheaded. Islamism existed before Bin Laden and it will exist long after his passing. Islamism, in one form or another, is as old as Islam itself, and until that ideology dies we will always have a problem with its violent fanatics wishing to impose their crude, vicious and misanthropic ideology upon everyone else: non-literalist Muslims and non-Muslims alike. What, after all, does Cameron mean when he states that:
Perhaps the Prime Minister should steer clear of reference to “iron” to denote resolve, for we all now how brittle his “cast iron” guarantee proved to be with respect to an EU membership referendum. Is he committing us to an endless series of wars in which we fight with our hands tied behind our backs, bereft of either a clear goal or modus operandi? If so, who will die and who will pay for this policy? What benefit will it bring and to whom?
It would appear that the immense corrupting wealth of the Saudis and the other Arab petrodollar states of the Gulf has effectively muzzled politicians such as Cameron. The fountainhead of Islamism today, in both its violent and political variants, is Saudi Arabia. Find an effective alternative to oil, and the Saudis’ malign and growing influence would collapse. Thus, to find such an alternative should be one of our key political and economic tasks. The Saudis produce nothing of value other than what they pump out of the ground, with the rest of their wealth being derived from parasitic investment around the globe. If Cameron truly wished to wage war to destroy Islamism he would call for the subjugation and occupation of the Arabian Peninsula, but to be ‘successful’, that sort of war would call forth the logic of total war witnessed in the horrific brutality displayed by both sides on the Eastern Front with its associated exterminist logic. Who wants such a war? Not me. I would prefer the option of the peaceful development of viable alternative energy sources and the concomitant undermining and collapse of the economic, political and cultural influence of the Arab petrodollar states. Only then will we stand a chance of defeating Islamism.
Cameron and Hague are intellectual lightweights, and if they truly wished to root out Islamism they could make no better start than by rooting it out at home, for after all, they and their political predecessors in the Labour Party have allowed it to flourish in Britain. They may as well launch drone strikes on Tower Hamlets and Bradford as upon Pakistan, for there is not a great deal to differentiate the two environments other than an increasingly nominal sovereignty. As it is, the two men seem intent upon poking their noses into as many Islamist hornets’ nests as possible, with Syria and Mali looking like our most probable forthcoming entanglements.
Such interventions will be pointless, bloody, expensive and ineffectual. Moreover, they will generate ever-greater resentment against us, no matter how ill founded, by Muslims around the globe. At the same time, Cameron, Hague and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will continue to push for the economic and eventual political integration of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa into an expanded EU, arguing that this is ‘necessary’ to disseminate economic prosperity throughout the Arab world and thereby undermine support for Islamism. This is the eventual goal of Euromed, but in reality what it would achieve, if its logic were to be fully enacted, would be for every state in the EU to be flooded by a massive demographic wave from the Muslim states of the eastern and southern Mediterranean littoral, bringing economic and cultural decline to Europe, as well as the demographic eclipse and eventual disappearance of the European peoples. Alas, a twin combination of cack-handed interventionism and half-baked policies on economic integration are likely to be the favoured response of the current Government. It is a grim prospect, but we can expect only support for such a policy from an intellectually bankrupt Labour Party. Where is the effective opposition? Who will articulate the much-needed alternative?