"Remember the passion and zeal with which David Cameron launched his air strikes on Colonel Gaddafi in 2011, and the drive which he pursued the case for an attack on President Assad two years later? I want to know to what has happened to his passion and zeal following the murder of British holidaymakers on a Tunisian beach.
Listening to the Prime Minister on the Today programme yesterday at times you would have been forgiven for thinking he was the British Ambassador to the Islamic State, trying to express his disapproval of its actions but bending over backwards to avoid offending their leaders. Where was the promise to hunt them down and kill them, as he made to Gaddafi four years ago?
In spite of admitting that IS presents an 'existential threat' to the West, the best Cameron could say was that Britain was in the battle against extremism 'for the long haul.' In other words, we will carry on with the half-hearted air strikes against IS in Iraq but that is about it. He did mention the deployment of British forces, but only to fly the bodies of the British victims home from Tunisia.
Time and again he kept telling us that IS’s creed is a 'perversion of Islam,' as if some random terror group had picked up a dog-eared copy of the Koran in a second-hand bookshop and decided it would make a good excuse for violence. IS, of course, is just the latest manifestation of Islamic fundamentalism which has swept the Middle East since the Iranian revolution 36 years ago.
At least yesterday Prime Minister didn’t repeat the remark he made to an audience of British Muslims at Downing Street last year: 'These people in Iraq and Syria doing these appalling things, they have nothing to do with the great religion of Islam'...
We are never going to defeat Islamic extremism unless we first recognise what it is. When IS post videos of themselves reading Koranic verses before beheading their victims as infidel it is pretty clear that their crimes have quite a lot to do with Islam. IS’s murders are the extreme conclusion of a thought process which began with fundamentalists in Iran and elsewhere starting to take passages in the Koran literally...
David Cameron admits that IS is an existential threat to the West. Why, then, has foreign policy utterly failed to come up with a coherent response to Islamic fundamentalism? Over the past 20 years we have gone to war against one power which has threatened us: al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But we have also expended a lot of military effort, and sacrificed our forces’ lives, overthrowing regimes which were of no threat to us at all. Worse than that, we have overthrown regimes which, however rotten they were, had been keeping the Islamic fundamentalists at bay.
Saddam Hussein’s 'weapons of mass destruction' turned out to be a cruel hoax. There was nothing imaginary, though, about the religious maniacs who took advantage of the power vacuum in his wake.
It was the same with Colonel Gaddafi. By 2011 he was no longer a threat to the West. Yet the fundamentalists whom he had suppressed but who have risen in place of his regime very much are a danger to us. In both cases, Iraq and Libya, British forces were used in direct contradiction to our national interest.
If we were going to intervene there had to be a pretty good plan as to how we would deal with fundamentalist factions. But there was, as we quickly learned, no such thing.
The situation in Libya is even more desperate than in Iraq. The West armed rebels in the belief they were the good guys fighting the bad guy. MI6 has estimated, there are a million tonnes of weaponry in Libya, more than is held by the entire British army and much of it in the hands people we would least like to have it. We don’t yet know where the Tunisian killer obtained his Kalashnikov, but it is a fair guess that it was a weapon kicking around in lawless, post-Gaddafi Libya.
David Cameron seems reluctant to face up to possibility that the destabilised condition of Libya is partly of his own making. Worse, he came close to repeating the mistake Syria, where topping of Assad would have cleared the way for an even swifter rise of IS.
It is time Mr Cameron stopped telling us what a wonderful peaceful religion Islam is and tackled the problem of its extremist arm.
It wouldn’t be a bad start if British foreign policy was targeted on direct threats to Britain, rather than regimes which, however horrible they may be, were at least helping to suppress the religious extremists."
Ross Clark, another for the patriotic notebook.