Jeremy Corbyn will suggest today that British foreign policy causes Islamist terror attacks here at home. Certainly, it would be absurd to claim that there was no connection at all between western military action in Iraq and Afghanistan and 7/7, or 21/7, or the attempted terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport in the same year, 2007.
But is is worth pausing at the start, as the Labour leader seeks to get ahead of his critics, to ask what our foreign policy is now, rather than what it was ten years ago. We have withdrawn our soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. We have no boots on the ground in Syria. Indeed, the Government has spent a lot of time and trouble trying to persuade Russia to ditch Assad, the mortal enemy of Islamists like Salman Abedi, the perpetrator of the Manchester atrocity. Mention of Abedi takes us to Libya, the country from which his Islamist father fled in 1992 to escape Gaddafi before Britain gave him and his family asylum. A decade or so later, David Cameron’s Government played an indispensable part in the overthrow of the dictator who that father hated.
The main Islamist force against which our armed forces are engaged in military action today is ISIS, the terror group which is attempting to form a pre-modern state in Iraq and Syria, complete with bans on music at parties, the teaching of evolution in schools, and the display of photographs in shop windows and women appearing in public – all complemented by forced conversions, the murder of prisoners of war, religious cleansing, floggings, rapes, stonings, the throwing of people from tall buildings, beheadings, crucifixions, burnings-alive and the use of children as suicide bombers. All this is expended on Alawites, Yazidis, Druze, Christians, Shia Muslims and indeed anyone ISIS disapproves of, including very many of their fellow Sunni Muslims.
A moment’s thought will confirm that there is no foreign policy Britain could introduce that could possibly appease the likes of Abedi. We are damned if we intervene, and damned if we don’t. If we intervene, we are accused of imperialism and wars for oil. If we don’t, we are accused of indifference to the plight and slaughter of Muslims. Either way, we lose.
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