Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, March 18, 2004

Despite the predictable capitulation of Spain's new socialist President, the bombs in Madrid did not change the fundamentals of the war against terror.

Sure, the armed jihadis will be encouraged, but do you really think that their productivity is dictated by anything but the resources available to them for mounting attacks, and the success of the targets' defensive measures.

Already people claiming to speak for al Quaeda are trying to manipulate European politics:

A group claiming to have links with Al Qaeda says it is calling a truce in its Spanish operations to see if the new Spanish government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, a pan-Arab newspaper said.

There is a simple limit to this politicking. The current al Quaeda position is that Spain should once again become an Islamic fiefdom. This is not likely to become a platform that wins elections in Spain.

Are these fanatics capable of limiting their demands to make political gains? Are they willing to stop murdering civilians? You have to answer both questions positively to see them as a political force.

The two key figures in the war on terror, President Bush and Tony Blair, are still odds-on to be re-elected to office. Should their opponents be elected they have nowhere else to go. To abandon Iraq would focus attention on the fact that the victims of such a policy would be the people of Iraq themselves, that is, those whose interests the left claims to have at heart.

Unlike the left, the electorates can read the intentions of the Islamists clearly. The terrorists are not on the higher moral ground. They are in the gutter, but very well armed.

If you want any evidence for the weight of that last point, steel yourself, swallow some Immodium, and look at the front page of today's Henny Herald.

There are up to 5000 followers of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia and radical Islamic schools there are producing even more recruits to the cause of violent extremism, the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has warned.

The corrupt Indonesian courts are about to free Bashir the Duck, the leader of that lot. You don't need to be a Henny journalist to understand Bashir's message. Submit to Sharia or die.

Downer's estimate of the strength of Islamism in Indonesia is surprisingly low.

According to the official German news agency, Deutsche Welle, there are between 30 000 and 50 000 Islamists in Germany. Somewhere between 3 000 and 5 000 of them are willing to commit violence to promote their version of Islam.

Do you think the German electorate hasn't noticed these people, who think the culture of Beethoven, Bach, Durer, Luther, Goethe etc is the work of the devil and should be destroyed?

This is the limit for the capitulationist left. It is also the challenge to both sides of politics.

We have to deal with these populations of Islamists at home and abroad. Iraq was one of the easiest cases. Just look at Australia's apparent impotence in the face of Hilaly and his supporters, and multiply by ten for Spain, France, Italy, Britain, etc.

Now add Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

The left is on the edge of long-term political irrelevance. They either Pilgerise themselves or become querulous copies of the conservatives.