Monday 16 November 2015

I'm Sure We All Have Our Own Views on Paris

Some months ago I saw an article explaining why terrorist attacks do not constitute an "existential threat" to western society.  The writer made much play of numbers: how the hundreds or (in the case of 9/11) thousands of deaths are - in coldly objective terms - of trivial impact; and that in a world where nuclear weapons have actually been used, and genocides perpetrated, we should know better than to class terrorism in the same league.

This is the unsubtle stuff of a student debating society.  "Existential threats" don't always come in the readily identifable form of the Spanish Armada or the Battle of the Atlantic.  Deaths don't need to be benchmarked against the First Day of the Somme.  "The most striking feature of Islamist terrorism in Europe is how little of it there has been" - OK, but that's Nick Cohen writing on Saturday, and he certainly sees a serious threat: the death-knell of European liberalism is what he fears is ringing in his ears.

I too believe today's threat really does merit consideration in extreme terms; my reason is different to his.  It's the capitulationist tendency I fear among politicians and populace alike: so many prone - as human beings - to detect quickly which way a strong wind is blowing, and to look for a quiet life (see the first, third and fourth letters in this predictable little batch).

Is it in bad taste to use French illustrations?  Vichy is one, Submission is another.   M.Hollande has offered fighting talk, but for every De Gaulle (and Churchill) there is a P├ętain (and a Halifax) and the 98% of an entire population that inevitably falls under their sway.  I know dozens of MPs.  There are very few of these artists of the possible who, when push comes to shove, would draw a line in the sand anywhere, on any issue - provided they can see their way clear to being re-elected.  And who doesn't keep their heads down when enemy tanks are rolling down the street?

The full-cycle dynamics of the threat, then, are to do with what the 'deal-makers' amongst our elected representatives will concede if they really feel the wind blowing in a new direction, in this case if they detect the terror-merchants have the stamina and strategy to match their evil intent and their current resource-base.  As it happens, right now I could see it going either way.  All the short-term frontier-closings and extra-bombs-over-Syria are no more than phoney-war stuff, activity for the sake of being seen to act, neither here nor there.  We are waiting for the first signs of the main event.  To us a sporting metaphor, a lot hinges on whichever side scores next ...

What might the next move be?  Even the Guardian opines that "the defeat of Isis in Syria will not dissolve the threat of jihadi violence, but it is a necessary step on that road. That will surely entail military action".  A very probable next play, I reckon, is a spectacular intervention by Putin's plentiful forces.  Russia is suffering a lot - from low oil prices, sanctions, insulting political gestures from the west and very insulting commercial terms from China, their market of last resort.  Getting onto the right side of some of these issues depends on Russia being promoted to the status of our enemy's enemy and that, he will feel, is within Putin's power to deliver*.   Whether he's right about that or not, it seems to me he is entirely likely to follow something like Raedwald's suggested course of action, shortly after there is clarity on the downing of the airliner in Egypt.

We are told that the G20 is already becoming a series of little breakout meetings on Syria.  Putin is still a member of that club (as are Saudi and Turkey and indeed China - altogether a more meaningful forum than the G7), and he'll be sniffing the air, alright.  

Perhaps Obama can call off his bear-baiters and get more of the world back onside, which is what is needed - as a first step - to eradicate the threat posed by the combined forces of the terror-merchants and the capitulationists.  

"You ask, what is our policy ... what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory."  Half the reason we won last time around was that everyone, from modest families in terraced houses to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the White House, knew that Churchill meant it.  


*Where does that leave Ukraine?  That's an interesting one.  Might see Russia contenting itself with Crimea.  At the same time, the EU might find itself losing interest, too.  Last year's issue ...


Raedwald said...

Spot on about the political feet of clay. Our 'professional' politicians really are such ghastly venal little dags, aren't they? Yes, I too believe that the Commons contains persons (at least a few) who would sell-out to ISIS to secure re-election.

Anonymous said...

Just back from Madrid and had the odd and, in my opinion at the time, unnecessary bag checks at each rail station.

11 years on from the 2004 train bombings, Renfe are still checking train luggage and despite this (and the fact that 191 people were killed) every one of the seats on the train was sold.

We don't need a reaction, we need adjustment to the reality there are a few violent people out there intent to kill as many as they can. And we should be assured there are violent people on our side intent on stopping them doing it.

Timbo614 said...

I don't comment much these days but I do agree with other articles and opinions that this latest atrocity may be a turning point.

The jihadists and extremists call us "decadent, cowardly, unbelievers, soft" and they openly vow our eradication the more we procrastinate, consult human rights laws and keep feeding and housing the enemy (even after they return from shooting at us), the more we prove them right.

ISIS has declared itself a "state" a "country" whether it is recognised or official seems neither here nor there - it exists. That gives us a target... we should put ourselves on a "war footing" and officially declare war on it, take aim at it and defend our way of life the way we have in the past. The territory they have claimed should be reclaimed even if we have to leave it a scorched, useless radioactive desert (it isn't far from that now.

Google/youtube/facebook these product of the west that benefit enormously from our western civilisation should also be brought to book, all propaganda from "the enemy" should be taken down immediately on pain of financial retribution and custodial sentences for the bosses if they don't.

Anonymous said...

This is why it is important to protect 1) competitive elections and 2) freedom of expression and liberalism in general. Check out JCJ's immediate reaction: to say that the attacks change nothing in migration policy. Can you imagine a "president" of a continent saying that, if he had to face the voters next time around?

Professor Pizzle said...

Excellent piece ND

Couldn't agree more with Timbo. We have the technological capability to do it, but no longer possess the moral will. In the unlikely event it happened, the moment pictures of the carnage we inflicted emerged our soft white underbelly would rise up through the media and twitter to make us all feel monsters, and beg us to 'think of the cheeldren'.

Apparently our children never count in such calculations.

Nick Drew said...

anon - yes, JCJ is an utter disgrace - and yet "we" are represented at the G20 by the EU !

well, that's the formal situation - I could imagine those little breakout meetings don't ever include the likes of him

Elby the Beserk said...

"European liberalism" it was that brought this about. Cohen's articls is good, but he failes to spot the massive hole in his argument. We brought this on ourselves, indeed "European Liberalism (if ever there was a word than has been debauched, it is "Liberalism") forced it down our throats. And is now standing back, going "Oh fuck".

DJK said...

Sadly, I think that all we can expect from our leaders is a lot of displacement activity, plus platitudes about how we shouldn't demonise Islam.

Timbo: Good point about Google, Facebook, etc. They should be made to acknowledge that the special place and the profits they enjoy come with responsibility. They need to decide who's side they're on in this war.

Anonymous said...

130 deaths and several hundred injuries don't constitute an "existential threat" to western society. A Muslim population of 30% plus does, the demographics all point one way, and I don't see what there is to stop it.

European and British ruling elites seem to be quite happy about it. At this moment Marine le Pen is in criminal court, charged IIRC with comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the occupation of France in 1940.

Anonymous said...

We can't expect any leadership from the White House at the moment. The occupant resembles a cross betweeen Nero and the Manchurian Candidate. And this business of paying Erdogan to hang onto the migrants - something about Danegeld and getting rid of the Dane I think.

Electro-Kevin said...

I don't think the real threat is the violent one. In fact ISIS has done the west a really big favour.

It has hit too hard and too early and alerted us.

If it had waited a few generations hence then it would have found it much easier to assert itself and eradicate the infidel.

That said I think we are in for difficult times.

Imagine 5 'Michael Ryans' rampaging through a big town or minor city without the armed coverage enjoyed by London. It could go on for hours before a decent response was organised.

France has about 280,000 armed police officers compared to our 6000.

The real issue is not here but how the French and the Germans will treat Muslims (all Muslims) in this war. Their reactions will be far less tolerant than ours.

Here we are told Nigel Farage is an extremist !

JuliaM said...

Excellent post!

MyContrarianName said...

I am greatly troubled by these latest incidents. And on more than one level.

Primarily, a sane and balanced response to primeval savagery seems to have gone out the window. The media are now trumpeting a shoot to kill policy as some sort of intelligent - nay, necessary - response. Have we lost our senses entirely?
The 'SAS on our streets' nonsense is just macho-posturing for the blue rinse pant wetters and thick-necked tattoo bearers. Its terribly disheartening that governments resort to this guff.

We are all being herded by the media to reactionary positions that are ultimately to our detriment. I am wholly untrusting of the idea we should suspend our judgement and allow government agencies to expand and respond without limit.
I'd imagine if the government announced that the dept of agriculture was to be expanded by 3k jobs or £5Bn there would be uproar; on this site especially.
I find the double-down logic bizarre; the intelligence services demonstrably failed to prevent this attack so we should pay them more.

Qui Bono? Some blogs are interpreting a French declaration of war as legally triggering Clause 4 (or somesuch one-attacked-all-attacked) of the NATO treaty which allows for an allied intervention in Syria. In Syria. Where Russia are currently kicking the living shit out of anything that moves.

Thus far, the proposals amount to undercover soldiers on the streets, extended security and surveillance powers and a possible mobilisation of NATO into a theatre currently occupied by Russia. These are responses only the most fuckwitted could applaud; those ISIS buggers despise our liberal freedoms so we should curtail them?
Isnt this appeasement by another name?

But there is no victory to be had over an amorphous band of battle hardened Uzbek/Chechen/Nigerian/Egyptian gangsters. The real truth here is that if we in the West hadnt destabilised half the muslim world with our energy-politics dressed up as do-goodery these murdering pigs would be languishing in jails all across the middle east. Indeed many of them were until we started 'liberating' coutries.

In the end, it wont be the Russians or the West who go all-in on the ground. We dont have the appetite and they dont have the bodies. As I've said before only the Chinese have the ability - in terms of sheer manpower - to hold down the Muslim world. It would be a massive drain on them financially in the short term but a useful cull of their male heavy population. In addition, an extended presence in the gulf area would give them guaranteed oil and gas supplies and afford them a Military presence West of India - their real rivals for the next 1/2 century.

andrew said...

If you degrade their offensive capacity (bomb them, cut off money),
the next thing they will do is to infiltrate - because it is cheap.

What do we do - close the borders or watch each other

Jihad may have become cheaper, but it still costs.
How long is it until the Saudis run out of money?

CityUnslicker said...

my contrarian name. Nope, this is not about oil supplies. Has not been for a long, long time.

This is about what oil has done to the host countries ruled by tinpot despots and what the west is not doing to put pressure on saudia, iran and pakistan to stop the flow by closing madrassa's of both shitte and sunni. at hear this is the islamic civil war.

The issue is, thanks of mass immmigration we are as involved in this as they were in WW1 and WW2 which had nothing to do with them either.

Also, a small point, our intelligence services have done a good job. I think even the French are not too bad and clearly the blind side here was Belgium. The SAS are in reality probably the answer to ISIS - although, as I posted last week, the real answer, strangely, would be the UN going back to its roots.

Anonymous said...

MCN Agree with your sentiments and analysis of the cause of such terrorism and would only add that apart from those who may have been languishing in jails who turned to activism there are probably others who seeing what was being done to their countries decided not to turn the other cheek but to fight back and we wonder about this?? Surely bombing the s*** out of them will turn even more to militancy and create an even bigger refugee crisis.

I suppose it's too late now to say we should never have poked our noses into middle east politics. Deciding that Gadaffi/Saddam/Assad shouldn't be head of state is akin to some of them saying we shouldn't have the royals in charge here. We'd have told them to mind their own business if they had.

War is never the solution. We need to learn to listen to other peoples' points of view.

DJK said...

Deposing the secular strongmen in the Middle East (Ghadaffi, Saddam, Assad, etc) seemed stupid at the time and has really not worked out well. But how do you explain British born Pakistanis blowing themselves up on the London Underground? How does that even fit in to the Sunni/Shiite civil war narrative?

Jer said...

DJK - How do you explain British born Pakistanis blowing themselves up on the London Underground?

As I recall from the video one of the bombers made "This is a war and I am a fighter (or soldier - memory fades)".

That's what he thought, that we don't think the same is our problem.