September 13, 2006


With the neocons discredited, here comes libcon Cameron: Bush and Blair believe al-Qaida threatens our way of life. They are wrong, and the Tory leader seems to get it (Simon Jenkins, September 13, 2006, The Guardian)

He is right or he is wrong. Which? "The war on terror is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century," said George Bush on Monday. "It is a struggle for civilisation ... The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle on the streets of Baghdad." It is as Manichean as that.

Bush is wrong. My parents endured one life-or-death struggle, against Hitler's fascism, and I grew up during another, against Soviet communism. Both were real threats. When Bush was dodging war service in Vietnam and Tony Blair was a supporter of CND, I had no qualms about backing nuclear deterrence. Foreigners did not just want to conquer my country and change the way I lived, but they had amassed sufficient state power to make that ambition plausible. I call that a threat to the security of the nation. It required massive defence.

Putting Osama bin Laden (or Saddam Hussein) in this league is ludicrous. No force they could command could possibly have ranked with Hitler or Stalin as "a threat to the future of civilisation". Such a concept of history is illiterate and warped. The comparison offends those who fought and died in previous conflicts. It is populist rant, the exploitation by nervy politicians of the obvious fact that modern terrorism can kill more people than before (though it rarely has), and its perpetrators seem invulnerable to reason (though they rarely were).

Modern terror may be more outrageous but it is weaker as a political force. IRA outrages were as effective as al-Qaida's are not. Fanatical hatred has nowhere to go beyond a bigger bomb, and the bigger the bomb the greater the revulsion from those on whom the bomber depends. [...]

Nato's impending failure in Afghanistan will run alongside the November elections in America, Blair's departure from office and Cameron's new-found enlightenment. All suggest a worm starting to turn. The stupid party in foreign policy is in retreat. Perhaps, at last, the intelligent party is returning to power.

Mr. Jenkins succumbs to the natural need to believe the war one suppored mattered utterly, but the reality is that neither Nazism nor Communism were existential threats either. The fight against Islamicism is for the sake of Muslims in the Middle East, not for our own.

Meanwhile, calling the Tories the Intelligent Party is a blood libel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2006 12:00 AM

The Nazi and Communist threats were more technologically advanced because of their closer connection to Western Civilization and the knowledge if offered. But the lack of spiritual backing made both those beliefs more likely to collapse when things got tough. Radical Islam suffers militarily from its rejection of all things Western, but is more likely to hang on for longer than the Third Reich or even the Soviet Union did, because of its connection to a higher (if horribly misguided) beliefs system.

As for the Guardian calling the Torries the Intellegent Party, I suppose this is how it must have been in the U.S. between Aug. 22, 1939 and May 22, 1941 with the far left/communists and the isolationist wing of the Republican Party. An unlikely mutual admiration society that figures to be only a temporary alliance.

Posted by: John at September 13, 2006 10:41 AM

No, it isn't. Rising standards of living will dispose of it.

Posted by: oj at September 13, 2006 10:47 AM

oj. Totally correct and it won't take ten years either no matter who wins in '08.

Posted by: erp at September 13, 2006 12:15 PM