NB: The territory taken from Iraq and Syria has gone by various titles: ISIS, ISIL and IS. I shall use ISIS standing for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
The present mess in the Middle East and North Africa is largely the creation of the prime political absurdity which lies at the heart of the modern liberal fantasy, namely, that what they call liberal democracy (in truth a politically correct illiberal state) can be manufactured if only the right circumstances are created. This woefully wrongheaded idea reprises today the mistake made during the dissolution of the British Empire. The British withdrawal strategy was simple: for each ex-colony create the formal structures of a parliamentary democracy – parliaments, written constitutions, electoral systems and so on – and then, like a climbing plant covering a trellis, democratic behaviour would grow and wrap itself around the formal structures. It was at best laughably naïve and at worst a cynical fig leaf to cover the unseemly haste with which Britain relinquished control of their colonies.
The reason why the British post-colonial strategy failed is beautifully simple: political systems cannot be self-consciously created. They are organic growths. When it comes to representative government elected on a broad franchise ( a more honest description of the reality than democracy) , such growths are remarkably rare. Look around the world and see how many secure representative political systems there are. The Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand qualify because they have such representative systems and have not experienced violent revolution either at all or for centuries. All are Anglo-Saxon in origin. Who else? Switzerland and Iceland. Being generous we can perhaps add the Scandinavians and Holland. For the rest, including all the major European states, there is not one which has not had governments overthrown by outright violence or unconstitutional means since 1900.
To the rarity of stable and lasting representative government growing organically, can be added the insuperable problem of territories with immense ethnic and racial variety accepting the outcomes of elections with which they disagree. Indeed, such variety is probably the prime reason why representative government is so rare. Such disabling heterogeneity of population was the situation with the colonies Britain freed after 1945 and is the situation with the ethnic, racial and religious kaleidoscope that is the Middle East and North Africa.
A complaint is often made that the European colonial powers caused much of the post-colonial difficulty through their drawing of colonial boundaries which produced territories without a natural national unity. This complaint does not hold water. It is not that the European imperial powers did not draw such boundaries, but rather that it would not have made any general difference where the boundaries were drawn because the same problem would have arisen as a consequence of the exceptionally diverse nature of the lands involved. There were no discrete territories with populations which were large enough and homogeneous enough in race, religion and culture to form a natural nation state.
The fruits of recent Western meddling
The consequences of Western interference since the turn of the century has been uniformly dismal: it has either replaced harsh order with growing chaos or replaced one dictatorship with another. Consider how the present situation in the Middle East and North Africa has come about. First, Bush junior and Blair go gallivanting into Afghanistan and reduce that to a battleground for violent Islam and tribal hatreds and jealousies to play out. From there they decide to meddle in Iraq by invading on the entirely spurious grounds that Saddam Hussein represented a threat to the West because he had weapons of mass destruction. That the UN Weapons inspectors reported they had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction and asked for more time counted for nothing. Neither did the fact that at the time of the invasion Saddam was being restrained in his behaviour by sanctions and a Western-enforced no-fly zone over the Kurdish areas. Having deposed Saddam and his regime Iraq was placed under a military occupation which went the way of all military occupations, gradual dissolution through the exhaustion of the occupying power.
Then came the miserably entitled Arab Spring, whose fruits have been bitter indeed. Because there are nonatural nation states in the area, the “Arab Spring” was doomed to the failure it has been because the states involved were all fissile territories whose diverse populations were only held in check from internecine fighting by harsh dictators, whether republican or monarchical.
Libya has been reduced to a state of anarchy with rival militias, tribes, gangs – call them what you will- making hay with the weapons made freely available by the overthrow of Gadhafi. With a grim irony Egypt has swapped a covert military dictatorship for an overt military dictatorship, whilst dispensing with an elected if Islamist president on the way. Iraq has lurched into an increasing state of disorder as the US has gradually withdrawn and is now divided between Iraq, Kurdistan and ISIS.
Most gruesomely for Western politicians, the tyrant of Syria Bashir Assad has withstood the attempts, vociferously supported by the West, to destroy him and his regime by the rag-tag and politically indeterminate “Free Syrian Army” and is now through the emergence of ISIS the only plausible obstacle to ISIS ‘ continued existence and expansion. If realpolitik ruled the West would be making common cause with Assad but because they have labelled him a devil they cannot bring themselves to do the sensible thing and make common cause with him so that he can restore some sort of order to Syria.
What can and should be done by the West?
The liberal warmongers are ever more eagerly saying that If the West does not intervene militarily to destroy aggressive Islam then parts of the Middle East will be breeding grounds and safe havens for terrorists to carry their terror into the West.
But if the West does intervene militarily to successfully snuff out ISIS, then the likelihood would be that ISIS members, especially those who come from Western states, would return to their various countries determined to wage terrorist war there. Moreover, the West would be committed to remaining indefinitely in the territory they have taken from ISIS, their very presence being a standing motive for violent Muslims in the West to attack the countries which harbour them.
Nor would the destruction of ISIS in Iraq and Syria be an end of violent Islam creating havens to protect, train and send terrorists into to the West. Afghanistan is ripe to fall to the Taliban once Western military forces are withdrawn. Parts of Pakistan are controlled by violent Islam. Libya is little more than a geographical expression filled with petty warlords and ripe for violent Islam to go to if it is not already there. Deeper into Africa there is the Boko Haram spreading throughout the West. In the East Kenya and Uganda suffer from Muslim terrorist attacks, Ethiopia and Somalia have serious Islamist incursions to deal with while in Sudan violent Islam holds power. It is increasingly difficult to point to parts of Africa which remain untouched by violent Islam.
The plain truth is that even if the West were willing and able to suppress ISIS in Syria and Iraq by force, they could never control violent Islam because violent Islam would simply keep on the move from one accommodating territory to another.
How serious a threat to the West is ISIS?
The potential of ISIS to create a lasting aggressive and powerful Islamic state is grossly overblown. It has taken a great deal of territory very rapidly, but that is unsurprising in a place like the Middle East where there is a good deal of desert and the formal states whose land has been taken were all in some governmental disarray , which is not a recipe for inspiring troops to resolutely fight a determined aggressor such as ISIS. In the case of Iraq the discriminatory behaviour of the Maliki government had seriously alienated the Sunni minority which provided a reason for Iraqi Sunnis to have some fellow feeling with the Sunni ISIS. Moreover, even where there are large numbers of people willing to resist ISIS, as appears to be the case in Kurdistan, that is of little avail if they are equipped with much inferior weaponry and training.
But taking territory is one thing, maintaining control of it quite another. That is particularly the case where the territory conquered has a population which is chronically divided by religion and ethnicity and is spread over several formal states. ISIS need to rapidly show they are up to administering the land they have taken. Easier said than done, especially as they are likely to be engaging in warfare for quite some time to come, both with elements within the territory they have taken and from outside. Terror tactics only take a conqueror go so far. They are not a sufficient basis for ruling.
There is also considerable scope for ISIS to fracture because the land they have captured is exceptionally ethnically and religiously diverse, the ISIS personnel is very cosmopolitan and may come to be resented by even the native Sunnis in the ISIS territory and ISIS will have to fight the remnant of Iraq (with its hostile Shia majority) and Assad’s Syrian Army. There is also the possibility that Iran may join in.
Much has been made of the modern weaponry and auxiliary military equipment ISIS have taken , but the equipment will require considerable expertise to maintain and operate it. Such skills, especially that needed to maintain the equipment, will probably not be available in the quantities needed. Moreover, ISIS will need to buy more modern weaponry, especially munitions, as time goes on and it is not clear who will sell it to them in sufficient quantity and quality.
A ghastly irony for the West, and most particularly the USA, is the fact that they have supplied much of the military equipment which ISIS are using , either because the equipment has been captured from Iraqi forces or because the equipment was supplied by the West to the Syrian rebels fighting Assad, significant numbers of whom share the mentality of ISIS. The fact that ISIS have had the success they have had is unsurprising given the circumstances. Keeping hold of what they have will take up all their energies for the foreseeable future.
The enemy within
The real threat to the West comes not from ISIS but the large Muslim populations in the West which the treacherous and deluded liberal internationalists have allowed to settle as they pursued their fatuous dream of a world without borders or nation states. The last UK Census in 2011 shows 2.7 million people identifying themselves as Muslims (4.8 per cent of the population). This is almost certainly substantially less than the real figure because the Census depends on self-reporting and there is a significant minority of the UK population who never complete the Census form because they are either here illegally or have a mentality which makes them think that giving any information about themselves to a government is dangerous.
How does the West protect itself from homicidal Muslims within its own territory? It would be a next to impossible question to find an adequate answer to even in a country which has meaningful border controls because of the number of Muslims born and bred in the West. In a country such as Britain which effectively has open borders the question becomes not merely hideously difficult but absurd.
In Britain the Coalition government has floundered around talking about removing passports from people trying to leave Britain if they are suspected Jihadis, , the banning from Britain of those who have been in Iraq and Syria, the reintroduction of control orders and, most pathetically, the idea that Muslim coming back from fighting for ISIS can be turned into good British citizens through re-education.
Any action by Western politicians is problematic because as a class they have lost the ability to instinctively act in the national interests of the people they are supposed to represent. They ignore the first duty of a politician in a democracy which is to ask what is best for their own people. Instead their calamitous mentality is that described in Jean Raspail’s “Camp of the Saints” where the response of politicians and the liberal elite generally to the passive-aggressive misery of huge numbers of migrants from the Third World arriving in the West overwhelms the needs of their own people.
But Western elites are becoming seriously afraid of both the danger represented by violent Muslims in their countries and the anger of their native populations . As a consequence there are things being said now by public figures which would have been unthinkable only a few short weeks ago. The one-time Shadow Home Secretary David Davis pushes for British Muslims who go to fight with the likes of Isis to be stripped of their British citizenship regardless of whether this leaves them stateless so that their “trip to Syria is no longer a short violent holiday but a life sentence to the lifestyle they claim to espouse, complete with Sharia law and a desert climate”. The Leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage advocates the same thing while the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey says that “ Multiculturalism has resulted in honour killings, female genital mutilation and rule by Sharia law” and supports the call to remove British citizenship from those who go to join violent Islam. The Mayor London Boris Johnson wants Muslims returning from Syria and Iraq to be considered guilty until proven innocent of terrorist activity, a bald reversal of the ancient right under English law to be considered innocent until proven guilty. .
The journalist Leo McKinstry places the responsibility for the present danger firmly on successive British governments :
“The fact is that extremism has flourished in a climate formed by the twin strategies of mass immigration and multiculturalism. Open borders have led to a phenomenal expansion in Britain’s Muslim population to almost three million, many of the new arrivals hailing from parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where Islamic sectarianism is rife.
At the same time the dogma of cultural diversity has become one of the central obsessions of the state. We are constantly told that we must celebrate the vibrant enrichment of our society. But, by its emphasis on cultural differences and its loathing for traditional British values the doctrine of diversity has been a catastrophe for Britain.
In place of integration it has promoted division and separatism. We are a land increasingly without a mutual sense of belonging or shared national identity. It is little wonder that, according to one recent survey, 26 per cent of Muslims here said they feel no loyalty to Britain.”
The problem is that while the public rhetoric is changing nothing significant alters on the ground. The words change but the circumstances remain much the same. The liberal elites are still paralysed by both political correctness and the ghastly fact that dangerous fifth columns now exist because of their mass immigration policies and the consequent need to suppress native British dissent about its effects. In addition through their policy of multiculturalism the liberal elite has encouraged ethnic and racial minorities to both live culturally apart from and behave in a flagrantly provocative manner towards the native population. The upshot of all this is that those with power in the West dare not admit there is a general problem amongst immigrant communities ( which live largely separate lives in their own communities) because to do so would be to admit that the fault lay with them.
In an attempt to circumvent the danger of being held to account, Western politicians and the mainstream media try to peddle the “violent Muslims are only a tiny percentage of Muslims living amongst us; the vast majority are well educated, peace loving, hardworking law abiding citizens”. This is a dubious proposition in itself when the crime, educational attainment, benefit take up and unemployment statistics show Muslims to be more prone to crime, have below average educational attainment and are more likely to be unemployed or on in-work benefits than the population as a whole. But even if none of those things were true the problem of violent Islam in Britain would still be there because many of the Muslims who have been outed as sharing violent Islam’s ideas are not from the lower reaches of society.
The important thing to understand is that it is never the peaceful minority which counts in these circumstances. What matters is the terrorist minority. They drive the terror and enlist the non-violent to aid them in various ways. The Provisional IRA (PIRA) in Ireland probably never had no more than a thousand people actively engaged in terrorism: sanctioning and planning terrorist attacks, making bombs, planting bombs, killing or maiming those thought to untrustworthy or simply disobedient to PIRA’s will. But there were very large numbers who were willing to provide PIRA with safe houses, to store of weapons, to tell PIRA about informers and come out on the streets at the drop of a hat to protest in the PIRA interest. In addition, the existence of a large population with a sense of victimhood (the Irish Catholics) allowed in Mao’s words the PIRA “guerrilla to move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea. “
But there are terrorist and terrorists. There are two radical differences between PIRA and violent Islam. PIRA were not driven by religious fanaticism (it was a Marxist organisation) and its members were drawn from communities which shared similar moral values to those of the British. This meant that when the time came to make a peace of sorts between Britain and Irish Republicans there was a great deal of cultural similarity between the two parties. The representatives of violent Islam, even those born and bred here, will have little fellow feeling with or understanding of the native British population.
The second and most important difference is that the nature of the PIRA and ISIS end games. For PIRA it was a united Ireland. That was a genuinely possibility because the British government accepted that if Northern Ireland voted for union with the Irish Republic they could have it provided the Republic agreed. Although hardline members of PIRA did not want to make peace, many PIRA members did , together with a majority of ordinary republicans . Crucially, the republicans in favour of peace could see it simply as a stepping stone to the unification of Ireland, not as a defeat for their cause. In addition, the demographics of Northern Ireland were heading towards a Catholic and therefore largely republican majority by the time peace was formally made.
Violent Islam does not have an end game which any Western government could concede either in whole or in part. Its practitioners want the overthrow of Western society and the imposition of Islam. There is no conception of compromise. If Britain existed under the control of such people it would be an unforgiving theocracy. Because violent Islam is implacable, no concession short of outright victory for violent Islam will end the violence. If Western governments make concessions such as granting Sharia courts parity with civil courts violent Islam will simply pocket the bribe and march on towards the final end of total dominance.
Where does this leave the West? It leaves the countries with large Muslim populations at perpetual risk from both terrorism and the likelihood of Western elites attempting to appease Muslims by granting them more and more privileges. These risks will increase because Western Muslims have higher birth rates than native Western populations. In addition, further substantial Muslim immigration will probably occur because Western governments will try to placate Muslims by relaxing entry requirements and border controls are always likely to be ineffective . Western black converts to Islam could also swell the numbers significantly.
Is there a silver lining or two amongst the Islamic clouds? Well, at least the realities of the situation the liberal elite have created are becoming impossible to ignore. Most encouragingly, the concept of treason is suddenly back on the political agenda. This is fundamentally important because patriotism is not an optional extra but the glue which sticks a society together. But the storm cloud which cannot be dispersed is the immoveable fact of millions of Muslims living within Western societies who harbour substantial numbers of people who are unquestioningly hostile to the countries in which they reside. That is what rule by the politically correct devotees to internationalism have brought us. It has been an act of the most fundamental treason.