Monday, April 16, 2007

Understanding comprehension

Do politicians ever listen to themselves? Do you think they actually know what they are saying - or why they are saying it?

Judging by Sky's report on International Development Secretary (why do we want or need an International Development Secretary?), Hilary Benn's intended speech today it is easy to reach the conclusion that they neither think about what they are saying or understand it.

Britain has decided to ban the term 'War on Terror' - sparking fears of a major row with the US.

The International Development Secretary will say the phrase has strengthened militant groups by giving them a shared identity.

Yeah, right! Like the thing uppermost on the mind of a terrorist is establishing a "shared identity". What strengthens militant groups is abject capitulation as a reaction to terrorist violence or even the threat of terrorist violence - like in Spain a few years back when a carefully timed mass murder changed the course of an election.

But it's typical of liberal progressives like Mr Benn to weigh up all the evidence and come to the most errant conclusion. It probably has something to do with years exposed to highly educated people with degrees in "social science" who have spent lifetimes trying to understand what it is that makes people do the things that they do - and having done so, then ignore the obvious.

Mr Benn will say in his speech: "In the UK, we do not use the phrase 'War on Terror' because we can't win by military means alone, and because this isn't us against one organised enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives.

For Mr Benn's benefit - no war can be won by military means alone. What is needed above all else in any war is a willingness on the part of governments to win and to then speak and act with that goal in mind. That willingness needs to be replicated through all strands of government and permeate through the media and institutions to the people. Jingoism may not necessarily win a war, but nothing ensures defeat like defeatism.

He's also wrong to claim that the terrorists do not have a clear - or shared - identity. They do - it's just that Mr Benn is too culturally sensitive to say it. The one thing they have in common is that they are muslim. Mr Benn may not like to admit that, but that is the reality of the situation. The fear of Mr Benn and the liberal progressives is that admitting that the enemy we face is Islamic in nature is tantamount to suggesting that all muslims are terrorists. Of course they aren't and that is not what is being said by admitting that the vast majority of terrorists are muslim - but it does reveal that these groups share a common thread. And a common objective to - although it has to be said that the objective isn't particularly coherent.

On the matter of coherence, Mr Benn reveals a moment of enlightenment when he says ....

"What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others without dialogue, without debate, through violence."

Er - that's about right, except they are not "individual" values, but the values which are enshrined and shared by a number of legitimate nation states, by millions of people and which our own governments have made many concessions on in our own nations. In the very next sentence, Benn reveals his sheer ignorance.

"And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength."

Part of something bigger? Give me strength! These people believe they have God on their side. They believe they are in the spearhead of a movement totalling some one and a half billion people. What could be bigger than that!?! They believe that their actions will bring about the destruction of Satan and guarantee them eternal life in paradise - and Mr Benn thinks that they get their "strength" from fairly meaningless terminology?

They gain their strength from their faith - and by every small victory. Every little propaganda piece, every little anti-western snippet, every little concession - which we think is minor and just "reporting the facts", but it all adds up to them. That is what gives them strength far more than any term used to describe them.

Finally, to prove my point that politicians do not think about what they are saying - having told us that "these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others without dialogue, without debate, through violence" Sky then tells us that ......

Mr Benn will also urge world leaders to open dialogue with potential enemies rather than use military force.

Right. And what should they say?

We surrender?

1 comment:

xoggoth said...

I don't like the expression either. When people focus on terrorism they gain the impression that if we can just defeat that our problems are over.

I consider that Islam itself is the real threat and would prefer we focused more on that. Even if we get no more suicide bombers in the UK it will not stop those seeking to impose Shariah law on the rest of us by political means.