Saturday, 28 November 2015

There are no safe spaces now

When did the SNP last support a war? Was it in 1314 or was it in 1745? They certainly didn’t support “England’s war” in 1939, nor as far as I recall have they supported any war since. Nicola Sturgeon might have pretended that she would listen to the arguments made by David Cameron and the UK Government, but she was listening in the same way as Nelson was seeing when he put a telescope to his blind eye and declared that he could see no ships. There was never any chance that the SNP would support Britain, as once more it looks likely that our forces will go to war. Have the SNP ever supported Britain in anything whatsoever?

The SNP may not be as vocal about it, but with regard to defence they are very similar indeed to Jeremy Corbyn. Whatever side Britain is on, Mr Corbyn appears always to take the opposite. When the IRA were attacking us, he’d have their supporters to lunch. He would have been delighted to hand over the Falkland Islands to Argentina. I’m quite sure he would have preferred being ruled by the Soviet Union as at least that would have brought about socialism. No doubt, he would prefer being ruled by Hamas than the Tory party. In order to make any and all of these things more likely he would have unilaterally given up all of our nuclear weapons without expecting anything in return. It’s the gesture, after all, that counts.

Quite a lot of SNP supporters, especially those who live in the West of Scotland have similar sympathies to Mr Corbyn. They too hate Britain and express sympathy for "militants" whether in Northern Ireland or in parts of the Middle East. This is the trouble with terrorism. Once you go down the route of supporting the cause, whether it’s a united Ireland or the destruction of Israel, you have a tendency to at least in part support the means. Mr Corbyn could never quite bring himself to condemn IRA terrorism without at the same time condemning British terrorism. The UK’s armed forces were always morally equivalent to the people they were fighting. After all Mr Corbyn shared the IRA's aims and objectives, though, of course, he deplored their tactics, or was it that he deplored the British army for provoking these tactics?

Did Mr Corbyn and friends ever condemn terrorism when it was directed against Israel? Or did they rather excuse and explain this terrorism simply by means of the fact that Israel existed. But this is our problem really. The terrorism that has been directed against Israel for the past decades is the same terrorism that is now directed against us.

When all of Israel’s neighbours decided to attack simultaneously in June 1967, they lost in six days. They tried again in 1973 and lost again. It was the failure of these military actions above all that gave rise to terrorism as a tactic. They could not defeat Israel with armies so instead they tried insurgency and terrorism.

Terrorism was rather different in the 1960s and 1970s. There were lots of hijackings. Planes would end up on a runway somewhere and there would be negotiations. This sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore, does it? There were shootings, but those who did the shooting nearly always wanted to get away. That too doesn’t happen anymore.
Terrorism in the 1970s outraged us, but both in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East it wasn’t like today. There were limits. It was almost as if there were rules. But the trouble with terrorism is that if you don’t defeat it, there is the tendency for it to get much worse.

We all remember the hostages who were taken in the 1980s. We were all outraged by the long captivity of people like Terry Waite. But the situation is incomparably worse today. If someone is taken hostage now in Syria or Iraq what are the chances of them surviving?

Terrorists today don’t hijack planes, they blow them up or crash them into buildings. That is precisely why there are no hijackings anymore. Any hijacked plane would immediately be shot down. Terrorists nowadays are not interested in negotiation and they are not interested in survival. This is the fundamental difference.

In the 1970s we were dealing with secular terrorism and for that reason the terrorist wanted to survive. Now we are dealing with religious terrorism and the terrorist doesn’t care if he survives on Earth, for he believes that he will survive and be reward in paradise. If that were not the case, suicide bombing would make no sense whatsoever.

The problem we have though is that someone like Mr Corbyn, understands and sympathises with people who blow themselves up in Israel. He thinks their cause is just and is an understandable reaction to injustice by Israel. There are many people in Britain who agree with him, at least to an extent. But here is our problem, the person who blows himself up fighting against Israel is not in any meaningful sense different from the person who blows himself up flying his plane into the World Trade Centre, who blows himself up on the Tube, or who shoots hundreds of people in Paris and dies in the process. These people will all agree with each other and think each of their causes is just. No doubt, this is because it is the same cause.

Barbarism if left unchecked leads to ever greater levels of barbarism. We know this from the conduct of the German Army in World War II. Once you go down that route there is practically speaking no limit to what men will do to other men. We have now reached a level of barbarity in the Middle East that no-one could have imagined in the 1970s. What will it be like in twenty years’ time if it is not stopped now? What new methods of torture will these people find? What new methods of attacking us will they discover? If they use Kalashnikovs today, who is to say that they will not use chemical weapons tomorrow?

Some people think that pacifism will defend us against terrorism. In this respect both Mr Corbyn and the SNP are in agreement. They think that if we leave the terrorists alone, they won’t attack us. They think that Middle Eastern terrorism is caused by injustice in the Middle East. They think the solution therefore is to address this injustice. They think moreover that it is our fault that there are terrorists. If we had not taken part in prior wars, if we had not been imperialists, then no-one would want to hurt us. They explain terrorism and to an extent therefore justify it.

Pacifism is a nice ideal. It’s easy to admire Gandhi’s passive resistance. It can work too. But what do you think would have been the result if the Soviet Union had responded to Operation Barbarossa with passive resistance? If Gandhi had tried to fight the Imperial Japanese army with pacifism, they would simply have crushed him on the first day. Pacifism only worked because Gandhi was up against a reasonable opponent, the British, who had a conscience. Does anyone seriously think that our opponent today has a conscience?

The SNP’s only response to military threat is to unilaterally get rid of our nuclear weapons and to promise never to attack anyone ever. Pound for pound we get more deterrence out of Trident than out of all of the rest of our armed forces put together. None of this much mattered before when the SNP only had a handful of MPs, but now they actually have influence.  The UK and the West in general is faced with a dangerous threat that is going to get worse if we don’t do something about it. Far too many people on the Left sympathise too much with our enemies and would do all they can to undermine Britain.  Now is not the time for division. We cannot afford weakness and break-up any more than France can.

We will not defeat terrorism in the Middle East by air strikes alone. But the fact that it will not be enough is not a reason for doing nothing. The wars we have taken part in recently have not gone well, but the fault was not so much that we fought, but how we fought. If Iraq were prosperous, democratic, free and peaceful today, no-one would remember anything else about that war. The problem is that we have lost the will to fight like we did during World War II. We have become decadent and unwilling to do what is necessary, above all unwilling to take even light casualties. In our universities some students talk of “safe spaces” where they won’t be able to hear anything they disagree with. They want to be given “trigger warnings” in case they read something unpleasant in Ovid or find prejudice in the plays of Shakespeare. Many people in the West are unable even to think or speak the truth lest it causes offence. We each have a little censor saying don't write that, don't think that someone might call you a nasty name.  

I’m sorry folks, there are no safe spaces after Paris. You won’t be given a warning if someone pulls the trigger. It is time, above all, for us to tell the truth about the threat we face.

Don’t sympathise with terrorism. Don’t try to justify or understand it. Don’t sympathise with the causes of those who hate us. Fight them.

Pacifism will not help us. Our enemies will simply laugh at our weakness. Now is the time rather to do what our enemy least wants and make him cease laughing and thinking of us as weak. It is always difficult to fight against people who don’t care if they live or die. The United States Navy discovered this in 1944. Religious fanaticism is a powerful force that can motivate and boost morale, but we have defeated fanaticism before and we can do so again.  

Scottish politics and the attempt to divide our country appear ludicrously parochial now. What would it take for Scottish nationalists to realise that there are more important things than hating the UK, Westminster and Tories? They are stuck in a 1980s time-warp endlessly debating nuclear disarmament and re-fighting the battles of the Middle Ages rather than those of today. Really what would it take for the SNP to wake up and face up to the threat of 2015 rather than 1314? If Paris isn’t enough, what would be? It's all very well being insular, but there are no safe spaces now.  Not here, nor anywhere else.


  1. It will happen here as SNP continue their slide from their brief moment when they conned the 38% of the electorate 2014. We will be left with the something for nothing brigade,and other tree hugging leftie sandal wearers.YEP coming to a public building or mass gathering near you

    1. Recent polls have SNP on >50% of vote next year witha peak in July 15 of 62% in a TNS poll, potentially they will be taking all FPTP constiuency seats.

      The SNP actually achieved something like 49.9% of votes in General election or will you be counting the dead and unwilling as honest to goodness Tories/Labour now ?

      Labour currently at risk of falling into the Tory dead zone below 20% on percentage of votes...

      So please, not another honeymoon is over comment as its wishful thinking at best and more likely duplicitous.

  2. I usually agree with you , but not in supporting Israel. By doing this you are against the Palestinian people in there just claim for a two state solution. I am also disappointed that you appear to class them along with Isis suicide bombers.

    1. I oppose terrorism in Israel and everywhere else. That does not mean that I don't want a just political settlement for the region. I do. I just don't think it should be brought about by armed struggle. I opposed that in Northern Ireland, why should I take a different view with regard to someone else's country? There people in and around Israel who are terrorists or who support terrorism. There are suicide bombers. Many of these people do have a similar viewpoint to those in Syria and Iraq. To deny this strikes me as denying much of the history of the past 30-40 years. I believe that if there were no terrorism directed against Israel, there would be far more chance that peace and justice would come there.

  3. The SNP supported the war in Kuwait to repel Saddam. They've always supported a conflict where the UN takes the lead. That is a reasonable position to take.

    However, the rest of your piece is somewhat naive in the analysis. You state we must fight terrorism, I agree. But terrorism by its very nature is stateless. The attacks in Paris were carried out by people who for the most part were Parisian or Belgium nationals.

    It's very easy to react angrily when atrocities are committed it's more difficult to react soberly with the presence of forethought.

    Syria and Iraq are caught in civil war, (the causes of this have been debated to death so no real point in debating the rights and wrongs of it here) a war that is already, to a point, sucking in neighboring countries and regions.

    Escalation of this conflict will not be hard to trigger, the Turks involvement in shooting down a Russian jet is one such event which could have escalated the conflict beyond its current theatre.

    To react by creating splintering factions will only lead to greater instability and more likely lead to increased terror events. The radicalisation of young Muslims must be the first and top priority for all governments, but bombing the region only fuels the hatred and gives the clerics seeds of hate to grow.

    After hundreds of generations of war you would think grown up people would have realised simple truisms. But alas it appears we are doomed to rinse, lather and repeat perhaps we may even use a bottle of Trident just because we can.

    1. It amounts to let's do nothing.

    2. "They've always supported a conflict where the UN takes the lead"

      The UN has said do what it takes yet 'Stronger for Scotland' Sturgeon and co still has to 'wait and see'. Caught between a rock and a hard place she is. Support Cameron and be seen by her supporters as getting into bed with 'the enemy'. Alternatively appease her membership and squirm out of it by issuing some kind of Doctors note, in doing so looking ridiculous in the eyes of the world (and the UN).

      "The radicalisation of young Muslims must be the first and top priority for all governments"

      This is already happening.

      "but bombing the region only fuels the hatred and gives the clerics seeds of hate to grow"

      True, it does this. But you are wrong to state it is the only effect. Whether you like it or not it does impair and degrade their ability operate, that's why the nations involved have been targeted.

    3. This time last year Cameron wanted to attack one of the sides who were fighting he wants to attack ISIS...

      If fighting and war solved terrorism then why is the US who have rarely been out of conflict since end of WW2 still been targeted.

      The lazy history revisionism of WW2 does you no service at all. Lest you forget that the beloved US only entered once attacked by Japan and once the Germans declared war on the US. All conveniently put in a cupboard.

      If only those advocating war(surely a trait of nationalism) had to fight the wars themselves.

      Do you really think that the UK with some aging Tornado's can do more than Russia,US,Turkey and France combined ? Its utter nonsense wrapped up in distilled jingoism.

    4. "This time last year Cameron wanted to attack one of the sides who were fighting he wants to attack ISIS"

      Priorities are allowed to change.

      "If fighting and war solved terrorism"

      Who is this person claiming they have found a solution?

      "Lest you forget that the beloved US only entered once attacked by Japan and once the Germans declared war on the US"

      Object lesson in the folly of sticking the head in the sand and hoping it all goes away.

      "Do you really think that the UK with some aging Tornado's can do more than Russia,US,Turkey and France combined"


  4. On the contrary. Use the combined efforts of the intelligence service and operatives to attack ISIS from within. As with any group there will be hard line fanatics that need taken out.

    Prevent ISIS from aquiring finance and assistance from sypathetic states and groups. Choke the supply of oil of which they control and have been untouched by western forces (why I wonder?).

    The goals of the west in this conflict are not transparent; but defeating terrorism clearly isn't one of them.

    1. There will always be some who are happy to follow the goals regardless of whether they know them on not. Much like the Germans when they were led to ruination by the Nazi state there are always people who seem to be happiest when doing what they are told unquestionably.

      The idea that we now follow Cameron into another fight in Syria which is 180 degress from his previous war offering is stunning. A situation that seems to be conventiently forgotten by people who should know better.

      Imagine we did go ahead with previous airstrikes......

    2. "Imagine we did go ahead with previous airstrikes......"

      Parliament worked, is what you are saying. It said they were not a great idea at that time.