I do not know if I have fully understood the discourse dominant in the West at the moment, but in travelling around Europe and the United States over the last few weeks I have had the feeling that it (and by ’it’ I mean the mix of media comment, political statements and impromptu discussions in cafes and bars) has been attempting to lead me in a particular direction. The text that follows is therefore an attempt to clarify the content of this discourse; and to put it into historical perspective. It worries me, because it seems to underline some of the more sombre analyses of Europe 2020 with regards to the next two decades. Perhaps the impression I have is completely wrong; perhaps not. In any event, I want to share it with others – whether for reassurance, or that I may be better prepared for what lies ahead.
“The American action in Afghanistan provides the proof: the legitimate use of military force against terrorism is productive. The same has been proved only recently by the direct attacks by the Israeli government on the Palestinian Authority. Tomorrow, there will be little if any terrorism linked to Arab integration or Palestinian independence. The armies of the USA and Israel will overcome terrorist outbreaks while the police of other Western countries (and particularly the European police) will have used new legal mechanisms for limiting individual liberties so as to wipe out the possibility of further terrorist outbreaks in the West.
Finally, at the dawn of the 21st Century, we will be free from the menace of terrorism. This requires only the will to act vigorously, and of not being afraid to use our technological and military superiority (as well economic, to support our activities where necessary), all the while asserting our undeniable rights at home while increasing our military, police and special service spending.
And history is the proof of this. It is in the use of military force against its enemies, together with the requisite restriction of civil liberties implied in time of war, that Western civilisation has survived and prospered. It is the creation of special military tribunals, whose powers are exercised in the name of our basic rights and liberties while these same rights and liberties are denied anyone who is not of our citizenship but under the slightest suspicion, that we demonstrate the force of our values and convictions. This is because fundamental beliefs are things which are acceptable to put to one side in times of danger, so that we may survive stronger in the application of those beliefs – even more convinced in the universal and eternal nature of these beliefs when the danger has passed.
And the effectiveness of this approach is clearly evidenced in history. Faced with such a choice, a people, and still more a civilisation (and especially ours) must know how to react in order to survive and flourish. Failure to do this risks all credibility and leads to nothing more than death. We only have to look at recent history. Consider how, with the Soviet Union, the Nazis, the French Vichy or Italian fascists, we knew how to put into parenthesis the values of our civilisation in order to conduct wars against those countries who threatened our civilisation itself. Consider the success of the United Kingdom in India, the French in Algeria, the United States in Vietnam or the Russians in Chechen – all have applied policies of force in order to protect their basic interests. History is the proof of this.
And what of the claims that we are promoting terrorism through
– our support of corrupt regimes such as Saudi Arabia or Algeria – our economic policy of arming countries that do not look after their own people – our disregard of certain regimes (Saudi Arabia again) who embrace us with welcome arms while offering support to fanatical organisations – our refusal to take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seriously – our refusal to recognise that when people have nothing to lose, there is no victory over them – our refusal to create an international law that can judge terrorist crimes All of this is intellectual defeatist nonsense which weakens us and nourishes terrorists. At the end of the day useless procedures, such as Nuremburg for the Nazis or The Hague today for ex-Yugoslavia, do nothing to reconstruct a country or to re-educate a people – or to appease the families of victims or martyrs. In this century of CNN, of electronic surveillance, there is no need to embrace a long and arduous process which can only serve to assist terrorists an to diffuse their perverse ideas which can corrupt our youth
From now on, we have everything to lose. We need to pursue, arrest, imprison, bomb their villages, destroy their houses…. The West, with its values of democracy and the rights of man, is without pity on those who attack it.
And tomorrow, the programme will be one of constant vigilence against debilitating ideas that are harmful to the West. But we should not worry too much; the West will be saved by the memory of its people who will know that it requires only the will to use force in order to quieten dangerous fanatics who might threaten world order. They also know that it is better to put up with some restrictions to individual liberty, than risk seeing terrorists destroying their cities and countryside. Our technology and our wealth will enable us to construct this formidable Maginot line which will protect our values and mode of life.
Rather than signifying weakness, the destruction of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the extermination of AlQaida troops, as well the destruction tomorrow of the Palestinian Authority in the middle East, will not create a bed of new terrorists among the youth of these populations, badly educated and having nothing to lose – any more than it will destabilise the West and its values. On the contrary, it will teach fear and deference to our overwhelming power. It is only in this way that Israel will be able to assure itself of a durable presence in the Arab world; further, we will convince the Arab world of the superiority of our values which will become self-evident. After all, they are undeniably superior values, and of course we are rich while they are poor….”
Is this really the dominant discourse of today?
It is important to know because such a discourse will drive us ineluctably towards very grave problems.
Right from the start I have expressed clearly with regards to solidarity with the United States the necessity of precision and limitation as to the use of force against the proponents of 11th September.
However, what appears to be happening is long drawn out and appears to take the form of a ’will to Western power.
The reaction of Prime Minister Sharon in Israel appears to see direct action against Hamas as legitimising wholesale action without restraint; and the United States stands back and watches, while it uses the self same argument in Afghanistan. It is time for the EU to wake up, because with Poutine, Rumsfield and Sharon, the ’white’ world is starting to adopt a discourse that is extremely worrying – and doomed, as history proves.