Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn deserves some credit for resisting the most common response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.
After all, it was perfectly natural, if not entirely rational, as news reports of the slaughter filtered through on Friday night, to channel one’s anger and horror into demands for retribution. At midnight on Friday, “Bomb them back into the stone age!” felt almost like a Carringtonesque foreign policy.
But not Corbynesque. His official statement, as you would expect of the Leader of the Opposition, expressed sympathy and sorrow. If he was seething with fury at the jihadist fascists who carried out these dreadful attacks, if he was biting his tongue to prevent himself demanding a full-scale military effort to wipe ISIS off the map, then he managed to hide it well.
But of course such thoughts never entered his mind. To his supporters within his own party, this does him credit.
To the broader public, however, to those of us who felt – and still feel – murderous rage at what happened to our fellow Europeans a short skip across the English Channel, Corbyn’s suggestion of a political settlement in Syria leaves us scratching our heads in bewilderment.
We were equally bewildered on Friday morning, as the good news about the “evaporation” of infamous oxygen thief Mohammed Emwazi broke. The inappropriately nicknamed “Jihadi John” was put out of our misery by a US Air Force strike on an ISIS camp in Syria. Only Corbyn stood apart from the general celebrations by insisting it would have been preferable if Emwazi had been arrested and put on trial.
He was correct, in the same way that it would have been better if Hitler had been arrested before he got the chance to blow his own brains out. But, as with Emwazi, that was hardly a realistic option.
As with that one individual case, so with the larger issue of a long-term settlement in Syria: better to negotiate a lasting settlement than start another war.
A commendable, perhaps even admirable, notion. But how?
Does Corbyn perhaps think an agreement can be reached between chemical weapons user and mass murderer President Assad and his Islamist, rapist, beheading opponents in ISIS? Given the appalling depths of depravity to which both sides have sunk in the last three years, could any agreement between them, even if it were achievable, ever be seen as acceptable by the civilized (as opposed to the Syrian) world?
Corbyn is not a stupid man, so he understands perfectly that a negotiated settlement isn’t going to happen without military intervention (and perhaps not even then). Yet he is steadfastly against such intervention and therefore must persist with his fantasy that negotiation is always the preferred option.
There were similar demands in the aftermath of 9/11, when the existence of Islamism first exploded into the public consciousness. Why try to defeat Al Quaeda? Why not negotiate with them?
Well, let me see… Islamism demands the establishment of a worldwide Islamic state, or caliphate, based on Sharia law, under which women, homosexuals, Jews and every non-Muslim would be (if they were lucky) second class citizens or (if they were Jewish or gay) publicly executed. Among Al Quaeda’s manifesto promises are the destruction of Israel and the military defeat and subjugation of America and its allies.
Okay, so, what are your starting points for negotiation? Imprisonment of homosexuals, rather than death? The destruction of Israel within its pre-1967 borders, rather than its current ones?
You cannot negotiate with militant Islamism and to claim otherwise is to indulge in a dishonest diversion strategy.
Corbyn’s contempt for western foreign policy and his instinctive support for the Soviet Union’s successor state has led him to the absurd position where he will always side with President Putin (and therefore with Assad) rather than with the west. And his “friendship” with hateful Islamist organisations, both British and Middle Eastern, means he will always find excuses not to act against Islamism, wherever it is.
In June, Corbyn’s Director of Media and Strategy, Seamus Milne wrote that “terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder.
No, Seamus, it’s not. Terrorism is executing innocent civilians in the streets of Paris. Terrorism is the mass rape and beheadings of innocents in Syria. Terrorism is the thing that forces us all to take sides. Terrorism is what should make us angry. Terrorism is what should make us want to take action.
Is Corbyn angry yet? More to the point, with whom is he angry?
This article was originally published by the Daily Telegraph.