I spent a largely unremarkable holiday in Tunisia back in the 80’s. It was so unremarkable I can’t remember whether I was in Sousse or not. It was very hot and, in the time-honoured phrase of the heinous Western Imperialist, the locals were friendly. I saw an advert for holidays in Tunisia just the other day. As it happens I had no particular desire to go back; I am not so keen on the heat, that’s all, though I would quite like to see some historical sites. But I thought to myself: even if I did, no way would I go. My reasons were instinctive, but now I have cause to examine them it would come down to this. Much of North and Sub Saharan Africa and large parts of the Near and Middle East (however you define them) are in a violent melt down. Tunisia is a nascent democracy surrounded by very dangerous places, and although I was not aware until analysis of the latest events, I am not surprised to hear that it has its own cadre of ISIS supporting radicals. It just seemed to me that it would be a potentially dangerous place to be.
In that sense I could be accused of acceding to the terrorists’ agenda, of allowing them to win. I would probably plead guilty to that charge; although I would prefer to say that I would merely be being prudent. The chance of me being gunned down or paraded in an orange jump suit before the world’s media before having my head sawn off would be very small, I know; but as I write this the bodies of people who are guilty of no more than wanting a holiday in the sun are being counted and identified. It was a wicked act, a cowardly act, and a heinous crime. I also feel for the people of Tunisia, who will suffer too now, as their vital tourist industry probably contracts, if not goes into melt down. And so jobs are lost, poverty ensues. Poverty and despair feed violence and extremism and hate, and so the cycle goes on. A good day’s work, then, for the terrorists.
When I started writing for our Landlady I borrowed the name Gildas from a historical figure, Gildas the Monk, who lived sometime in the 500’s AD. It was partly an accidental thing, but there was a degree of serendipity about it, because he chronicled what he (rightly) believed to be a failure of moral and political leadership amongst the elite of the Roman-British of the day, and was witnessing the collapse of that society before aggressive invaders, particularly the Saxons. In my darker moments I suppose I can see certain parallels today.
Here is how I see it. This is what our politicians won’t say because they either don’t understand it or they dare not or wont for expedient reasons. After millennia of conflict Europe has not only achieved a sophisticated, elegant civilisation in terms of art, culture, science, law and politics, but also a degree of peace and stability. That civilisation faces two threats. One is the global Jihadist movement of which ISIS is just one fanatical offspring. It is intellectually dishonest to hand out the “this has nothing to do with Islam banner” every time we get one of these atrocious events. Just because many Muslims don’t behave in this way does not mean that there is not a strain of Islamic thought which is supremacist, violent in the extreme, cruel to the point of obsession with torture and death, and to a degree racist in the extreme. As IS’s chief propagandist is quoted as saying in the papers yesterday in a message to its adherents: “Muslims! Embark and hasten forward to jihad! Oh Holy warriors, rush and go make Ramadan a month of calamities for infidels”. As it happens, those infidels appear to include Shia Muslims, whom the fundamentalist Sunni regard as heretics.
This movement is not going to stop unless it is destroyed, or we are destroyed. The fight will be brought to us whether we want it or not. It is the Terminator of religious dogma; you cannot reason with it, you cannot bargain with it, and it absolutely will not stop.
The second major threat is uncontrolled and massive migration. I am not talking about people getting work permits and coming to do skilled jobs. I am talking about seismic shifts in population, and when these have happened in history they have always swept away the recipient civilisation. One of the crucial factors in bringing down the Roman Empire was the migration of tribes such as the Vandals, the Visigoths and other lesser known such as the Subei, who in turn were seeking to get away from the migration of the brutal Huns. In the end the infrastructure collapsed, and the new arrivals did what all such house-guests do; they sacked Rome.
At the moment, thousands are arriving in Greece, Italy and also Malta. Amongst them are people who are fleeing terrible regimes. I would bet that amongst them are also those who adhere to the IS creed, too. But the real problem is the numbers. There is a debate about the degree to which they are asylum seekers or economic migrants. To a degree, this is immaterial. There are not tens of thousands of people in North and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Near and Middle East who would, probably perfectly understandably, want to flee the dangerous and un-civilised conditions of their present lives; there are tens of millions. With unrestricted migration there will come all the things the people know about, but the politically correct denigrate people for saying: crime, overstretched housing, chaos, and the breakdown of civil society. These threats are real, and I do not know what the answer is to them. If there is an answer, I don’t trust our lords and masters to come up with ones, or implement them. That might involve being seen to get their hands dirty, and that is not something politicians like to be seen doing.
I will give you one brief example of how the Establishment has viewed what I regard as being in the modern jargon, “existential threats” to the security of the nation. The famous Law Lord, Lord Hoffmann (a patron of Amnesty International) once had to deal with the issue of whether Al-Qaeda terrorism amounted to a “War on the UK”. He said that the threat of terrorism to Britain did not constitute a ‘war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation’. He further held that it was insufficient merely to produce evidence of a credible plot to commit terrorist outrages since that did not meet the need to show that the threat of terrorism constituted a public emergency threatening the life of the nation.
According to Lord Hoffmann: “The Armada threatened to destroy the life of the nation, not by loss of life in battle, but by subjecting English institutions to the rule of Spain and the Inquisition. The same was true of the threat posed to the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany in the Second World War. This country, more than any other in the world, has an unbroken history of living for centuries under institutions and in accordance with values which show a recognisable continuity … I am willing to accept that credible evidence of such plots exists. The events of 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington and 11 March 2003 in Madrid make it entirely likely that the threat of similar atrocities in the United Kingdom is a real one …This is a nation which has been tested in adversity, which has survived physical destruction and catastrophic loss of life. I do not underestimate the ability of fanatical groups of terrorists to kill and destroy, but they do not threaten the life of the nation. Whether we would survive Hitler hung in the balance, but there is no doubt that we shall survive Al‑Qaeda. The Spanish people have not said that what happened in Madrid, hideous crime as it was, threatened the life of their nation. Their legendary pride would not allow it. Terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government or our existence as a civil community”
Brilliant fool. I fear dark days ahead.
Gildas the Monk