The one positive thing I can say about Max Hastings at the Daily Mail is that he is consistent, albeit consistently wrong. His latest foray into the problems posed by Islamic terrorism expound the position he has held since 9/11 and perhaps earlier. It is a position common amongst the politically correct literati who dominate mainstream media in Europe and North America. It is basically this:
(a) The threat of Islamic terrorism has been greatly exaggerated and comes only from a tiny minority of extremists, and
(b) In order to minimise that threat we should not do anything to provoke the terrorists or the Muslim world in general.
The above constitute two colossal untruths which, though repeated ad nauseam by the great and the good, will have terrible consequences for all of us if they continue to dominate political culture and government policy.
The first of these, point (a), is demonstrated by Hastings with the statement that, “Statistically, a Western traveller or expatriate worker is far more likely to die in a motorway smash in the snow than to be murdered by Al Qaeda,” as well as, “Since 9/11, Al Qaeda has launched several major attacks that have cost many lives. The 2002 Bali bombings killed 202 people; 191 died in the 2004 Madrid bombings; the 7/7 attacks in London killed 52 people as well as the four bombers. But in recent years, the terrorist movement has failed to achieve any murderous spectacular.”
The latter quote is breathtaking in its dishonesty, and it is astonishing that such statements can be published in a reputable newspaper. In fact, since 9/11 Islamic terrorists worldwide have launched over 22,000 deadly attacks which have claimed the lives of over a million people. It is true that comparatively few of those killed have been Westerners and no doubt that is why Hastings makes no mention of them. But does that mean that other human beings are of no account? Does Mr Hastings not include Africans and Asians among humanity? Islamic extremists (the term Al Qaeda is a meaningless invention of American intelligence agencies) are currently involved in at least a dozen murderous conflicts in various parts of the globe. Over the past ten years for example thousands of Christians have been slaughtered by the Islamist Boko Haram movement in Nigeria alone. Ancient Christian communities are being decimated throughout the Middle East, from Egypt to Iraq. Murderous Islamist-inspired wars continue to rage in the Caucasus, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Kashmir, in Thailand, in Indonesia, and in the Philippines.
The threat of Islamist mass murder is also alive and well in Europe and North America (notwithstanding Hastings’ attempt to suggest otherwise), but has –mercifully – been generally contained thus far. But it has been contained only by the intensive surveillance of quite literally thousands of would-be Islamic terrorists throughout Europe and America. An army of tens of thousands of police and intelligence personnel have been necessary to contain the threat. Without these there would have been many more Madrids, Balis, and indeed 9/11s.
The truth is, militant Islam is involved in a general “holy war” against the rest of humanity, which commenced long before 9/11. At least 200,000 were slaughtered in a horrific civil war in Algeria during the ‘90s. Whole villages had their throats slit by the Islamists in Algeria between 1994 and 1997, but these atrocities were barely noticed in the British media because Europeans were (in general) not the victims. The 1980s and ‘90s also saw massive bloodletting in Sudan, as the Khartoum government sought to impose sharia law on the Christian south. None of this had anything to do with George Bush or Tony Blair.
Which brings us on to point (b), namely the idea that to minimize the threat of Islamic terrorism we should not do anything to provoke Muslims, such as intervening militarily in Muslim countries. It is true that Western interventions in Muslim lands are almost invariably counter-productive in that they rarely, if ever, result in the stable Western-style democracy that we’d hoped for. On this count Hastings is right. Yet the other reason he disapproves of such interventions is that they foster Muslim anger against the West. This of course is arrant nonsense. Military interventions of the West in Muslim lands are almost invariably aimed at helping oppressed Muslim populations. Think of the West’s intervention in Bosnia, which saved the lives of thousands of Muslims from Serbian death-squads. And the interventions in Iraq and Libya were of the same ilk. Saddam Hussein was a secularist who probably killed more Muslims than anyone since Genghis Khan. It is true that this did not prevent the Islamists from using his removal as a “reason” for attacking the West. But in this they merely adopted a popular canard of Western leftists for their own propaganda purposes. The fanatics who bombed London on 7/7 needed no reason furnished by Tony Blair to hate the West.
The main problem with Hastings’ attitude, and it is one espoused by almost all commentators in the mainstream media, is that it leads to a cowardly tiptoeing around Islam and a refusal to confront the truth. To place Islam beyond criticism, through fear of attack, is to begin the process of submission to sharia law. The history of Islam is whitewashed by Western academics and media personalities in a way enjoyed by no other faith – and still this has not bought us peace. Nor will it. In order to counter the Islamist threat we must first and foremost be able to speak the truth. The rampant misogyny and intolerance of Islam must be confronted and confronted boldly. The West must make it clear to “allies” like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that it will not tolerate the sentencing to death by Pakistan of a Christian peasant woman on a trumped-up charge of “blasphemy,” nor the execution by Saudi Arabia of a 15-year old Sri Lankan girl on the grounds of a confession to murder forced from her under torture.
It is a disgrace that we even consider such barbarous regimes as allies in the first place.
The threat of a resurgent and militant Islam is a challenge of the first order to Western civilization (or what remains of it); not least because of the West’s own appalling moral decadence, where there prevails a reluctance and even an inability to recognize the difference between good and evil. As Samuel Huntington famously remarked, Islam has bloody borders; and one of those borders now runs (thanks to decades of mass immigration) right through the heart of urban Europe. The problem of Islamic terrorism is not going to go away, and opinions such as those expressed by Max Hastings will certainly not help speed its demise. Hastings’ attitude, which is basically predicated on the notion that if we’re nice to Muslims they might not hurt us, was addressed by Winston Churchill in his description of the appeaser: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”