Saturday, 11 October 2014

This House Would Not Police The World, by David Lindsay

This speech was delivered to the Durham Union Society on 10th October 2014 by David Lindsay, Editor of The Lanchester Review:

Thank you, Mr President. There is nothing that a Chadsman likes more than a warm hand on his entrance.

A few months ago, as I meandered back to my humble abode from the nearby hostelry and turned on my email machine, I found, nestling among the other unsolicited filth, the following:

“Dear David, Please could you come and second This House would not police the world, 10th October? We’ve tried everyone. Freshers’ Debate, so take your pick. Feel a little fresher every day. Cheers, Joe.”

Well, I do not understand why the Freshers’ Debate is tonight rather than having been last Friday.

It seems that it was moved in order to make way for the upstart Durham Student Union’s Freshers’ Ball, at which a member of the University’s staff seems to have assaulted a reveller. What was this Professor Green doing at the Freshers’ Ball, I should very much like to know?

But when a College Brother calls, then it is like the bat signal shining out from The Bailey, or, as I think of it, Friends With Benefits Street.

So I have dragged on my only ever dinner suit. Oh, yes, I have made the effort. You can no doubt see that a struggle has taken place. And here I am. Not exactly for the first time.

You play everywhere twice, once on the way up and once again on the way back down. So it’s good to be back.

Back where I was Custodian, so good luck to the candidates for that, from about this time in 1998 until about this time in 1999.

Back to where, although my record could have beaten by now, I made more speeches from the floor of this House than anyone else in the history of this Union, going all the way back to 1842.

And back to where, like at least one other person here this evening, I am a twice-failed Presidential candidate.

Tonight, I intend to show you why.

David Cameron and most of the House of Commons, including Mr [Kevan] Jones, sentenced Alan Henning to death. That sentence has been carried out.

If we find public beheading so objectionable, then why are we at war alongside, and on behalf of, Saudi Arabia, where that practice is routine?

Saudi Arabia, which, with Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and with conspicuously absent Kuwait is up to its eyes in both the ideological and the material support of IS, or whatever it is called this week.

As, of course, is our closest ally, Turkey, the government of which The Economist charmingly describes as “mildly Islamist”.

We have been here before. Pakistan has been playing both sides of the street throughout our latest involvement in Afghanistan, which has proved as successful as any and all of our previous such involvements.

Now, to put things at their very, very politest, Turkey is also playing both sides of the street. It obviously has no sympathy with Kurdish separatism (I don’t have awfully much myself), and it no less obviously regards IS as preferable to Assad.

Why would it not? How could it not? Like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates, it created IS, and, like them, it regards the Alawite Assad dynasty as infidel. Not merely heretics, like the Shia, although would be bad enough. Infidel.

It is even more terrifying than it is in the case of Pakistan that Turkey is also, as used to be said of Prussia, not a country with an army, but an army with a country.

Last year, David Cameron wanted to take this country to war in support of IS. He was prevented from doing so by the much-maligned figures of Vladimir Putin and Ed Miliband. Mr Jones voted the right way on that occasion, and all credit to him for that.

But Mr [James] Bloodworth was writing articles on his website, holder of the line though it is against payday loans and TTIP but even so, calling for an International Brigade after the manner of the Spanish Civil War. He got it.

When Jihadi John set out for Syria, he was only doing what David Cameron wanted to send Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to do, and what Mr Bloodworth was inciting people like him to do of their own accord, despite the fact that that was and is a criminal offence.

There is no Third Force in Syria. There never has been. There never will be. Anyone who thinks that elderly émigrés sipping coffee in Paris amount to a row of beans, coffee or otherwise, in Syria needs to get out of not even the student union that this venerable House is not, but the primary school playground.

The same is true is of those who are now scrabbling about for some “Third Force” of Sunni “moderates” in Iraq. In fact, we all know who those would be, if they existed at all. They used to run Iraq, until we policed them out.

If IS really is now the great enemy, then we are not in any sense allied to those who are already in the field against it: Syria and Iran, which for all their faults more than bear comparison with Saudi Arabia or Qatar; the Iraqi Army, which we have already managed to bomb by mistake; Hezbollah and its Christian and other (including Sunni) allies, so that prayers are now offered for them as “the brothers in the South” in the Catholic and Orthodox churches of Lebanon; and, yes, the Peshmerga, although we must not be soppy about the likes of the PKK.

Only the alliances with pluralist, Anglophile and almost democratic Bahrain and Jordan stand in any kind of mitigation, and that assumes that Jordan and Bahrain, like the rest of the Sunni states, are actually doing anything, despite the fact that the Saudi Air Force, in particular, is enormous, mirroring Turkey’s largest Army in NATO other than that of the United States.

That Emirati female fighter pilot turned out to be a photo call, and in any case her family has denounced her and expressed its support for IS.

As one of Mr Jones’s colleagues, Barry Gardiner, put it during the Commons debate, we are not the poodle of the Americans, but the poodle of the last theocratic absolute monarchies on the planet.

It is no wonder that even the Foreign Secretary at the time of our last incursion in Iraq was present, and clearly on television, yet abstained. He is, dare I say it, as consummate a Labour machine politician as even Mr Jones, a man called Jack Straw.

Funnily enough, he shares a surname and a number of facial features with and the founder and eminence of Left Foot Forward.
We have gone to war in Iraq three times in as many decades. Every Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher has either taken us in there or pulled us out.

That is almost every Prime Minister of my lifetime, which cannot be much less than half-over. It is more than every Prime Minister of most of your lifetimes.
Our purported policing of the world took out the bulwark against everything that has been unleashed there, whether the sectarian Shia regime that has emerged, or the reaction against it in the form of IS.

Saddam Hussein would probably have been dead by now, anyway. If he were still alive, then he would be 84.

We could have been dealing with what succeeded him within the Ba’athist tradition, which is far from perfect, but which is an awful lot better than the alternatives, as we now see.
Our perceived need to police the world took us to the brink of making the same mistake in Syria.

It caused us, with the compliance of the non-Opposition in that event, to do something very similar in Libya, with absolutely catastrophic results that are still being played out.

Of even our apparently good interventions, what good can be said?

The frankly non-Labour Tony Blair could not see the connection between welfare and security, so we left no healthcare system or alleviation of poverty in Sierra Leone, which now, however unwittingly, threatens our security, for how else can imperilling the very lives of our people be described?

Kosovo is a cesspit of heroin-trafficking, people-trafficking and eye-watering corruption under an ideology combining Islamism, vicious ethnic nationalism, and the Albanian Maoism of the late Enver Hoxha.

Speaking of Maoists, for what did we supposedly “fail” to intervene in Rwanda 20 years ago? If anything, there were really two genocides in Rwanda.

Yet Bill Clinton and Tony Blair continue to besport themselves with Paul Kagame, a leading perpetrator of one of those genocides. The Opposition would castigate us for our “failure” to intervene in its support.
And now, they are eyeing up Ukraine.

A generation ago, their cultivation of assorted wearers of the black shirt in tribute to their fathers and grandfathers destroyed a rather Anglophile multinational state in which historically Christian and historically Muslim areas and communities were bound together by workers’ self-management and by the eschewal of the global military power blocs.

In its place, they created a magnet for jihadi on a scale not seen until their more recent police operations. At the centre of it all was the original Islamofascist, Alija Izetbegovic, the first President of Bosnia-Herzegovina, an SS recruitment sergeant turned Wahhabi rabble-rouser.

Today, they seek to repeat the trick.

They know that their favoured elements in Ukraine are wholly unacceptable to the south and east of that cobbled together unit of Soviet administrative convenience that merely happened to be in place when the Soviet Union collapsed.

And good for them, in the south and the east. Svoboda are neo-Fascists. Pravy Sektor, now the de facto police force on the streets of Kiev, are neo-Nazis.

The coup was characterised by the prominent display of the picture of Stepan Bandera, who promised to “lay the severed heads of the Jews at the feet of our Leader, Adolf Hitler.”

He made no small progress towards that end. The regime supported by the Opposition is in explicit continuity with his. The swastika is now seen at football matches.

As for those Soviet monuments that are being torn down, they are war memorials.

If they had been glorifications of the gulag, then they would have come down 20 or more years ago. They are being demolished because the side that is now in charge took the other side in the Second World War.

They have stood until now for the reason that there are still streets in Britain named after Stalin, and a London local authority continues to maintain a Soviet war memorial with an annual wreath-laying ceremony.

Does the Member of Parliament for North Durham wish to go around Stanley demolishing Marx Street and Lenin Terrace?

Bring us back, in conclusion, to the present emergency.

In their adolescent opposition to any alliance with Iran, or with Assad’s Syria, or with Hezbollah, or therefore with that last’s Christian, Sunni and other allies, where would the Opposition have been during the Second World War?

Their lack of any such scruple about Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the Emirates, and Kuwait if it could be bothered to turn up, suggest an answer even worse than the obvious.

The difference is that by the time that we fought the Second World War, we had to fight it. For whatever reason, our own country was under attack.

We do not have to police the Middle East. We do not have to police the world.

You are at university now. You are not in school. Even if the Opposition refuses to do so, you can, you must, and I trust that you will grow up, and support this motion.

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