Hands Up

The Respect Coalition’s response (PDF) to the series of terrorist assaults Londoners have suffered in the past fortnight is politically naïve to say the least. That shouldn’t really surprise anyone. The ideas wouldn’t really be worth refuting but for the fact that their ‘logic’ still finds echoes elsewhere, notably but not exclusively, in the columns of the liberal press.

Here’s what the Coalition says should be our reply to Al Qaeda bombs in London:

“If we want to bring peace to the Middle East, if we want to avoid horrors like the London bombing it is essential that we bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan”

The reasoning goes like this: If you don’t want to be blown up on your way to work make sure you vote for a government whose foreign policy leaves the temporary leaders of failed states and tyrannies to do whatever they fancy whenever they want – up to and including ethnic cleansing, mass murder and aiming planes full of frightened passengers into workplaces in Western cities. In a nutshell: look away, what they do is none of our business; trying to prevent their actions will only ‘inflame’ them.

The real question is whether leaving the backers of those who bombed London in peace to hone their skills on the brown-skinned and the unfortunately placed is a valid political strategy? Would we buy peace in Britain or anywhere else by turning our backs and closing our eyes ?

Forget any moral duty we might owe to fellow human beings and concentrate on realpolitik and history provides a riposte to the political strategy proposed by the Respect Coalition:

“In 1933 the Oxford Student Union conducted a famous debate over whether it was moral for Britons to fight for king and country. The exquisite intellects of that leading university reviewed the many ways in which British colonialism exploited and oppressed the world. They cited the ways in which vengeful demands made of Germany in the wake of World War I had helped to kindle nationalism and fascism. They saw no moral difference between Western colonialism and world fascism. The Oxford Union ended that debate with this famous proclamation: “Resolved, that we will in no circumstances fight for king and country.”

The parallels between the thoughts of the appeasers of the 1930‘s and the sentiments on display in the Respect leaflet don’t need to be laboured. The Oxford Union debate was about whether something or nothing should be done about an external threat. The do-nothing crowd won the day then. The paragraph below is a good reason to make sure they don’t win the argument this time round.

“Von Ribbentrop sent back the good news to Germany’s new chancellor, Hitler: The West will not fight for its own survival. Its finest minds will justify a silent surrender.”

It’s just as well for everyone’s sake that Respect speak for few people other than the superannuated Trots and conspiracy theorists who open their wallets when new leaflets need to be printed.