Britain is now fighting a war it dares not name. The recent failed car bomb attacks on a London nightclub and Glasgow airport demonstrated once again that Britain is a principal target for al-Qaeda. But even now, the British response is dangerously confused.Phillips concludes by warning that Britain faces grave peril:
After eight people in the medical profession were arrested over these attacks, there was widespread shock that those who cure should also want to kill. This naive and ahistorical reaction demonstrated yet again the extraordinary state of denial about the Islamist jihad. After all, Osama bin Laden's sidekick, Ayman al-Zawahri, is a doctor. So are other Islamist terrorists, including Mahmoud Zahar, the Hamas strongman in Gaza.
But because the deeply empirical British do not understand how religious fanaticism twists the human mind, they tell themselves that Islamic terrorism must be driven by rational grievances such as deprivation, "Islamophobia" or British foreign policy.
Many continue to believe that Britain is a target because of its involvement in Iraq. While the war is undoubtedly used to whip up hysteria in the Muslim world, the irrationality of believing that it is the cause of Islamic terror is clearly demonstrated by the fact that British Muslims who have been jailed for terrorist offenses were recruited even before 9/11. Al-Qaeda is also heavily engaged in places such as Indonesia or Africa, which have no connection to Iraq or the Middle East.
In Britain, all these grievance excuses are wearing very thin, thanks to the recent emergence of former jihadists who have renounced their extremism.
Ed Husain, in his book The Islamist, and another former radical, Hassan Butt, have made the case that the doctrines to which they once subscribed are rooted in nothing other than a fanatical desire to Islamize the world.
But while these courageous people are telling Britain that, far from being motivated by despair, Islamist terrorists kill as an act of religious exultation, the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, has banned his ministers from using the word "Muslim" — and presumably "Islamic" or "Islamist" — in connection with the terrorist crisis. He has also put an end to the phrase "war on terror...."
Brown's failure of nerve is being reflected in the USA, too.
Despite President Bush's aggressive rhetoric about the "war on terror," he has in fact fluctuated wildly over identifying religious fanaticism as the central driver of the problem. After 9/11, he said "Islam is peace." And although for a period he started referring to "Islamic extremism" and even "Islamo-fascism," he recently sounded a full retreat when he appointed an American special envoy to the deeply Islamist and anti-western Organization of the Islamic Conference. With such an instinct on both sides of the Atlantic to appease Islamist fanaticism, the "war on terror" becomes an empty sound bite as the West advertises its weakness to the enemy.
Britain has never been in a more dangerous position — not just because of terrorism but because, faced with an enemy whose platform is the decadence and weakness of the West, it is going out of its way to prove the terrorists right.I hope her message gets a good hearing on both sides of the Atlantic.