Why has our government decided to give greater assistance to the opponents of Assad’s regime in Syria? The answer is to be found in cliché, sentimentality and fantasy, a misperception of what is actually going on there.
There is a prevailing romantic vision of idealistic – it helps the delusion if they can be described as “young people” – aspiring democrats bravely spending their lives (and their mobile phone accounts) against the brutal dictator Assad.
No doubt Assad is a very nasty piece of work, but many of those who are opposing him are by no means pure as the driven snow; and many of them may actually be a great deal worse. The “activists” – as the relentlessly euphemistic BBC refers to Assad’s opponents – are not aspiring democrats at all. The reality is that the opposition to Assad is largely an uprising of Sunni militants whose aim is not simply to cast out the foul dictator but to exterminate all those who do not share their own extreme views: the Alawites, the Druze and the Christians especially.
You would think it incumbent on those in the press who presume to talk about international conflicts to betray at least elementary signs of political savvy: what one might call a reality quotient. But no. It’s always got to be black and white: complicated conflicts spoken of as if they were Star Wars – the simple opposition of the sons of light against the servants of darkness.
This is not the case. Has no one noticed that there is a fundamentalist, violent Islamist insurgency all across North Africa and the Middle East, extolled by the blissfully ignorant as “the Arab Spring”? Libya and Egypt are in chaos and darker forces than any imagined by the BBC and The Guardian are seizing the reins of power and will, given time, pose a more perilous threat to world peace than that exercised by such as Gaddafi or Assad.
Moreover, the revolution is not confined to North Africa and the Middle East. We must observe also what is going on in Sudan and Somalia, Mali, Yemen, Nigeria and half a dozen other loci of instability.
The fact is that every few hundred years there is a militant Islamist insurgency. It has to be defeated. It was defeated at the Battle of Tours, at Lepanto, in Malta. Only a few centuries ago, they were at gates of Vienna. And if we don’t take decisive action, they will soon be there again.
These are, as Miss Austen would say, truths universally acknowledged. Only freedom of speech and the insistence on the reality quotient is trumped by abject political correctness every time. This political-correctness will be the death of us.
The Rev Dr Peter Mullen