Category Archives: ISIS

When #LoveWins is not enough.

Many years ago, when political slogans first became fashion accessories, Brother Ivo used to occasionally wear a badge bearing the slogan ” Wearing badges is not enough”.

The badge was lost somewhere along the way, and probably would not be worn now in any event, yet its recollected message was a useful reminder as images have emerged in the media, following the dreadful murders in Orlando.

Nobody can can blame those who have been lighting candles, holding vigils, and joining hands in Great Compton Street singing ” Bridge over troubled water” ; we instinctively want to do something, to show solidarity with the bereaved, and to reassure ourselves that we shall overcome.

Yet wearing badges is not enough. Hashtags do not cut much ice in the councils of Daesche, and the sad individuals trawling the internet to feed their homophobia or misogyny will view all this as confirmation of our moral weakness and national cultural degeneracy.

Terrorism is not new. Russian anarchists took to it in the 19th century, so did Irish Republicans. The tactic of the suicide bomber was developed, not in the Middle East, but by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. Yet the present virulent strain began when a couple of thousand fighters were marauding around Iraq with little more than heavy machine guns mounted on pick up trucks, as the leader of the free world dismissed them as the ” JV (Junior Varsity) Team”.

The ISIS phenomenon was allowed to grow, when a decisive response by a more experienced or resolute US President might have prevented them from capturing vast military resource and, crucially, over a billion dollars in cash which has been used to swiftly mount a social media operation to outreach to the second generation immigrants in first world countries, who seem especially susceptible to their encouragement to actions such as we have seen in Paris, Brussels and Orlando.

The old adage ” nothing succeeds like success” applies in this field and it is worth reminding ourselves that the ” glamour” of the Waffen SS attracted recruits from France Holland Norway and Sweden. Even a few British prisoners of war joined them. There is something horribly attractive to young men in such gross and violent organisations, yet the converse is also true. Failure is not a great spur to recruitment. Young people especially, disassociate from it.

It is with this in mind, that Brother Ivo sadly concludes that the destruction of all semblance of ” Islamic State” is essential,: until it is, it will continue to function as a focus for Muslim youth when it wants to demonstrate its rebellion.

This sounds shocking. Many want to choose different “enemies”, less frightening ones. So the Orlando killings are blamed on the National Rifle Association, Donald Trump, Christian cake makers and those who disturb student sensitivities with challenges to their complacencies.

Yet one does not have to spend long considering the attitudes of militant Islam to start joining the dots between the extremist pulpit and the smell of cordite.

Though many kindly tolerant people find it deeply uncomfortable to associate their decent Muslim friends and neighbours with what -in other contexts -would be called ” hate speech”, it is unquestionably true that anyone looking for theological texts to justify the destruction of gay people, will not find the Koran lacking in such material.

We in the Christian Churches are struggling with a a handful of texts in our Bible as we try to be inclusive. Ours are less trenchant than those confronting moderate Muslims. Those seeking to read the Koran in a more ” gay friendly” fashion have infinitely more problems. One does not hear of “shared conversations” in UK Mosques; if they occur, it would not be safe to publicise them. Once that might have been conceivable; not anymore.

A recent international survey of attitudes to LGBT lifestyles shows that the Islamic world is resolutely hostile, with the percentage spectrum ranging from the high 70’s to 99%. Even in the UK 52% of Muslims believe it should still be illegal. In at least 10 Islamic countries there is a death penalty for gay behaviour.

Unless addressed, it must surely be the case that a growth of Islamic identity and population within the UK must have a potential for a cultural collision with the gay-friendly zeitgeist within the UK.

In parts of a London and other cities, we are seeing the defacement of public advertisements depicting females with less than Islamic modesty. The New Mayor of London is banning certain images from Transport for London for reasons couched in feminist terms yet congruent with Islamist attitude.

The likelihood is that “Culture Wars” may get worse before it gets better.

So how are we to head this off?

The !eft of politics in particular has been keen to attract support from sectional interests; they have not wanted LGBT people or Muslims to feel excluded from mainstream society. That sounds reasonable enough. It is an admirable aspiration. Yet what will be required of all sections of society if that is to be achieved? What if they are not interested, but inflexibly prefer to assert their religious and cultural rectitude?

Defeating Islamic State whilst holding the confidence of the UK Muslim population and simultaneously advancing gay rights, looks an increasingly difficult trick to pull off.

Wearing badges is not enough.

 

Conversations with Islamic friends

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Brother Ivo has been blessed with a highly textured life.

He has broken bread with Ministers of State and Ministers of religion. He has enjoyed the company of soldiers and peace activists, judges and murderers (of which more another time), artists and hippies, punks and businessmen.

It is that experience and enjoyment of humanity in so many forms which inspires him to try to write from different perspectives in a quest to be “interesting”.

On the evening of a terrible day when Parisian cartoonists have been foully murdered by Islamic terrorists, Brother Ivo reflects upon two very different Muslims he has known and shares those recollections before outlining some questions which he thinks we need to ask our Muslim friends, before reflecting how we need to conduct ourselves in troubled times.

In the mid-1980’s Brother Ivo had a friend, an elderly gentleman who had sought asylum in the UK as a political dissident from the military regime in Pakistan. He was related to opponents of that regime and flown to the UK with little preparation. He told two stories about how he had been brought to faith.

Once, when destitute and fearful, alone in a small rented room, he had given up on life, having been pretty secular, and had simply prayed to God that he had certain material needs and that if God wanted him to believe, the satisfaction of those rudimentary requirements would be a good starting point. It seemed a pretty poor start to a spiritual relationship but it apparently worked.

The next day he discovered that a neighbour had left a box outside the door with a note explaining that here were some basic goods he thought he needed. Unpacking the box he was amazed to discover that e verything on his list was there. His prayer having been thereby answered, he resolved to deliver his side of the bargain and to explore faith.

Flying to the UK with no plans about meeting immigration requirements, he again prayed for entry whilst on the plane, and somewhat against his expectation he was  admitted as a  political refugee.

He was a good citizen. He worked, was scrupulously polite, kindly and law abiding and so when the Salmon Rushdie story was all over the newspapers in the 1980’s  Brother Ivo invited him to speak at his church,  where he talked of his faith in simple and sincere terms charming everyone, until he was asked about the Satanic Verses.

At that point he surprised everyone by saying calmly and deliberately that if Mr Rushdie were present with us then, he would feel duty bound to throw himself at him and attempt to throttle him with his bare hands. It seemed all very odd awkward and improbable, and very un-Anglican too, but we prayed together and that was that.

We remained friends.

He gave Brother Ivo a small book he had written on the subject of political Islam which seemed to be the dreams of an elderly idealist ; it spoke of the recreation of the Middle Eastern Caliphate which seemed a highly unlikely prospect at the time. He even invited Brother Ivo to receive his hospitality in the tribal homelands,  when the politics of Pakistan changed, but that was not then practical which in retrospect was a shame..

The gentleman went on to become the first speaker of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.

Brother Ivo’s next friend could not have been more different. A rather stylish artistic teacher who disappeared for a couple of years and re-emerged as a another “Salmon Rushdie” figure,  having won literary prizes for writing best-selling “magic realism ” books which were highly un-Islamic but internationally acclaimed. He had to publish under a pseudo name for fear of joining Mr Rushdie on the the Fatwa, not least because he had become a practicing Roman Catholic and was thus apostate.

Brother Ivo sponsored him to UK citizenship. The only other person Brother Ivo so sponsored was an East African Muslim with whom he worked in equal partnership. Readers may accordingly safely assume that Brother Ivo is no            “Islamophobe”.

Those of us who can point to a backstory of interfaith friendship and tolerance in these days of tension between Islam and western values have a particular duty to lead the discussion and ask honest questions on days like today.

Sadly this is often not done.

There is much tip toeing around sensitivities, especially within our Churches,  which too easily assume upon little scholarship that because we worship “One God” from an Abrahamic heritage, we share more values than perhaps we do.

Christians complain of religious illiteracy, and yet demonstrate much of our own, when well meaning clerics speak as if there is nothing much between Christians and the followers of the Islamic State that a few choruses of Kum By Ya cannot sort out.

In truth our faiths are very different and honest dialogue needs to dig deep with those willing to do so. How many are, is problematic.

Modern Christians, whether Liberal or “Bible based”, are happy interrogating the text of their Bible. The one group may see itself impelled by the Holy Spirit to find fresh expressions of the truth,  the other may be more strict in interpretation but is not greatly offended by seeking internally cross referenced validations. We have different translations of the Bible texts and it is possible to discuss how language has changed; nuances of translation are matters of interest not outrage

Such dialogue is less welcome throughout the Muslim community. One’s duty is not to explore but to submit. There is scholarship, but it is much more closely aligned to an assertion of an immutable, directly revealed text , and that immutability has been preserved at the cost of suppressing certain texts where difference was found. Whereas textual nuance might be the occasion for fascinated exploration by western theologians, there is no such liberty afforded the Islamic scholar.

Islam has a greater rigidity of thought than Christianity.

The God of Islam is not close to His People, authority permeates the faith. In addition to the direct words of God as taught to Mohammed  (albeit in fragmentary episodes) there are traditions about their prophet whose life is asserted to be the model for all good Muslims.

It is in this that so much of our inter faith dialogue will run into difficulty.

The modern view of Jesus for the Christian is suffused with Christ’s compassion to the errant and the inconsistent. (That is not a criticism).

Brother Ivo’s “Muslim convert to Catholicism” friend found that most attractive and an important contrast to his former faith; he  rejoiced that Jesus deflected the penalty of the Law in the case of the woman taken in adultery. He  recognised the awe inspiring generosity towards the thief on the cross. He would have identified that Jesus never killed or condemned anyone and neither did his Disciples or early followers. The closer one gets to the historic Jesus the greater the love and forgiveness. The power of Jesus example lies not in earthly success or conquest but rather in a lack of temporal power  in the example –  the incarnation. “This is what God is truly like”

In contrast Brother Ivo’s Islamist friend would have had no difficulty in asserting a number of illiberal principles based upon the deeds of his Prophet.

Mohammed personally condemned adulterers to death. He carried a sword         ( which Brother Ivo has seen) and used it in political earthly conquest. He massacred the  Jews of Qurayzah, and distributed their womenfolk to his followers. He expelled Jews and Christians from the Arabian peninsular and  taxed those in other conquered lands who would not convert. He ordered the murder of Abu ‘Afak and ‘Asma bint Marwan who mocked him in poetry.

One does not have to reflect long upon the contrasting lives of Jesus and Mohammed to see that reconciling an image of God between to the two traditions may not be as easy as many may  think,

Far from being totally un-Islamic, any objectively minded person can see that those who say they only seek to emulate their Prophet’s actions are not without justificatory material.

Brother Ivo has no doubt that whoever killed the journalists of Charlie Hebdo will be well able to cite episodes in the life of their Prophet to explain and justify their actions. His life is asserted to be the personification of that to which a Muslim should aspire. Brother Ivo’s old friend would have been kindness itself in almost every action in his life, yet he would have been impelled not to deny the Islamic integrity of the Parisian murderers.

The writer friend was very different. Eccentric in many ways, he had a much lighter approach to life, always blessing the compassionate and wholly at odds with  the zealot.

Writing tonight with anxiety as to how we can keep the peace with our many kindly Muslim friends who live lives of honesty and integrity without applauding violence, Brother Ivo offers hope in the words of his friend Salim who used to say –

“Whenever bad things happen in the world, people always say – look at that – that’s human nature, look how terrible it is is: but when you think of all the temptations , the opportunity to do evil, I always ask – why are so many people so good, and so kind and considerate – they don’t have to be”.

That is the text we need to hold onto tonight.

Islam has so many excuses for bad behaviour, and our Christian heritage is scarcely much better, yet somehow, most Muslims don’t behave like that, and Christians have largely given up on the persecution of others so all is not hopeless in the world. Thanks be to God.

How we deal with those who pose a direct risk to the innocent is a problem for another time.

For now let us grieve with the sorrowful, give thanks for the solidarity of people who want to live freely and peaceably together and resolve to open dialogues with our Muslim neighbours to discover how they manage to overcome their historic difficulties, how they pick their way through the theology to reach conclusions diametrically opposed to the violent Islamsist with their literal appeal to texts whist keeping within a theology that does not easily take to innovation in thought.

Whilst we are about it, we might ask similar questions of ourselves

 

What is the uniquely British contribution towards Jihad?

The terrible events in the Middle East and the appalling behaviour of the “Islamic State” terrorists rightly occupy our thoughts of late.

Brother Ivo would like to write on other things but this seems to be the priority for the time being.

When Brother Ivo wrote on this site recently he quoted the US General who stated that the only way to end this kind of militancy is by lethal force. It is a shocking conclusion, but this country had to take a similar approach when confronted with the evils of Nazism in the last century. We ought to have learned from that experience that delay only postpones the hard decisions; it does not avoid them.

There could be no compromise with the advocates of the “Final Solution” then, and there can be none with the theological absolutists of the Islamic State now.

We are currently asking ourselves why so many British Muslim youngsters have found themselves caught up with this evil movement. It is not an easy or comfortable question to answer, and we need to reflect that not all of the answers can be laid at the feet of the Muslim community. these are children of 21st century Britain too.

We may remind ourselves that these young people  have been exposed to all the benefits of modern secular values and multicultural education; very few of them fit the liberal model that such extremism comes out of poverty, lack of hope or lack of career prospects. Some have dropped out of hard won places in good universities to become agents of inhumanity.

“How did this happen?’ we inevitably ask.

One answer, rarely considered in the public debate so far is to be found within the doctrine of Original Sin. we humans are fallen and flawed and prone to such disorder.

Many suggest that the actions of these terrorists speak of the evils of faith, and yet what is plain to the more orthodox, is that the crimes come from two aspects of Man’s flawed nature identified in Genesis.

First, when Man confidently regards himself as having the knowledge of good and evil he feels empowered to act with impunity.

The Jihadist “knows he is right” and is utterly confident that he is doing the will of God. This is the plain old sin of Pride, which sits at the heart of all the other sins.

When we see ourselves as confidently able to know the will of God, we soon seek equality of judgement with God , and submission to him, easily elides into submission to us , his faithful perfect followers.

Second, such self confidence is potentiated by power, not least by military success. Every win, every concession, every fear engendered in one’s enemy, reaffirms the first proposition.

Such power and self-affirmation is very attractive to the young.

We  also need to remind ourselves that War is very exciting and attractive to a younger generation brought up on interactive violent video games or at least – it is when you are winning, which you always do on the gaming console.

Every victory boast can now be amplified through the media of social media. It is quick and easy to present a triumphant image to the whole world and that too can be very appealing.

You acquire a dark celebrity – Look at me –  Jihadis’ got talent.

Our mainstream society tends to have a muted attitude to war, born of a close remembrance of the sacrifices of the last century, but we should remind ourselves that war is inherently glamorous. Someone once sad that trying to take the glamour out of war is like trying to remove sex from the appeal of the Rolling Stones.

Some say that confronting Islamists recruits more. Brother Ivo rejects that idea.Nothing would see the recruiting lines shrink faster amongst would be Jihadis than swift comprehensive defeat and failure. Paradoxically the longer we wait the less merciful we are.

As we begin to ask why the UK seems to have delivered more than its quota of Islamic extremists, we might need to consider the special ingredients which our own youth culture contributes to the perversion of the young.

In the UK, young people have been encouraged to to feel themselves different, and to a degree morally superior to their forebears. This is why the “old morality” has been supplanted by  “political correctness”. It is the moral Golden Calf of the secularists own invention. Even if you have rejected secular values, the racism and hypocrisy meme is easily subsumed into the Islamist narrative and the self justification.

In our commercial pandering to the youth market, we encourage all young people to separate themselves out as a special interest group. That is a distinctive contribution; traditional Muslim families had strict control over their young, yet our “follow your dream” culture has loosened that important generational social control.

We  engendered the cult of the outsider, the lionisation of the transgressive; it started long ago with Marlon Brando and James Dean, it continues with every performer promoting their their rejecting “edginess” through images of drugs, promiscuity, or violence.

Young Muslims cannot join some “rebellions” and so become attracted to one of their own. When you add western narcissism to hard line Islamic theology it is really not that surprising that you see a head cut off and boasted about on You Tube.

These youngsters are pursuing a dystopian future . It is like an Islamic Clockwork Orange.

There may thus be a distinctive British cultural component to the process that has seen British Muslims committing atrocity in the middle east

Yet, before we conclude that there is something uniquely Muslim about a  violent response to an enhanced sense of self pride or perceived rejection, try showing “disrespect” in parts of our inner cities late on a Saturday night.

To identify this as part of the problem is not a great step towards solving it. Changing it is a huge piece of work.

It may, however, make us appreciate that the Jihadi problem it is just part of a wider societal problem, and we may need to reflect carefully before casting  the first stone towards our Muslin neighbours even if, between us, we have disinhibited some of their young people from doing just that.

 

A first response to the Bishop of Leeds debate

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This last weekend saw a senior Church of England Bishop asking searching questions of the Prime Minister.

Though it was widely reported a a “bitter attack” on the Government, The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines was swift to deny this on his blog. He is not afraid of controversy and is surely to be congratulated for his overall commitment to engagement with the wider world. He says he seeks a debate on complex issues and asks the initiating questions..

Those who have followed his writings, heard him on the radio, or seen him speak, will know that he probably resides politically to the Left of Centre ( he originates in Liverpool ) but he is nothing if not measured and intelligent in his examination of complex issues and always accords honest opposition with respect and an interest in finding what truths may reside in a contrary opinion.

That is important, because if the story were simply ” Leftist Bishop bashes Tories” the issue would not last long, whereas Bishop Nick’s questions, asked with the support of the equally serious Archbishop Justin, are likely to reverberate for some time.

This post is an early to that the debate

Much of the attention on the letter centres upon the later questions posed, where he issues a direct challenge to the Government to be active on behalf of the persecuted Christians of the Middle East and he will be supported in this not only across many churches, but by a significant majority of the wider population, many of whom wonders why the likes of Abu Qutada and Abu Hamsa seem to get a better roll of the Human Rights dice than our Christian brothers and sisters.

It is not this which struck Brother Ivo as the most radical question posed on behalf of the Anglican Church however.

It was his first lengthy question which appears to represent the most significant long term challenge to this and other Governments, and indeed the wider zeitgeist.

His first point bears repeating.

” It appears that, in common with the United States and other partners, the UK is responding to events in a reactive way, and it is difficult to discern the strategic intentions behind this approach. Please can you tell me what is the overall strategy that holds together the UK Government’s response to both the humanitarian situation and what IS is actually doing in Syria and Iraq? Behind this question is the serious concern that we do not seem to have a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamist extremism as it is developing across the globe. Islamic State, Boko Haram and other groups represent particular manifestations of a global phenomenon, and it is not clear what our broader global strategy is – particularly insofar as the military, political, economic and humanitarian demands interconnect. The Church internationally must be a primary partner in addressing this complexity.”

Brother Ivo offers his own endorsement of that question.

It has its scriptural foundation.

St Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”

Bishop Nick begins his criticism with the US President. He is right to do so. Whilst this crisis unfolds the ” leader of the free world” who was presented with a Nobel a Peace Prize after 11 days in office , is on a two week golfing holiday at Martha’s Vineyard. The story is unfolding even as we begin our thinking. Events are moving on an hourly basis: the apparent absence of leadership has been deeply worrying.

It is hard to better Mark Steyne’s devastating critique of the man who came from nowhere.

“For the last half-century, Obama has simply had to be. Just being Obama was enough to waft him onwards and upwards: He was the Harvard Law Review president who never published a word, the community organizer who never organized a thing, the state legislator who voted present. And then one day came the day when it wasn’t enough simply to be. For the first time in his life, he had to do. And it turns out he can’t.”

Obama campaigned to end the American presence in Iraq. In office he delivered on that promise, ostensibly on the basis that agreement on the ” status of forces ” could not be agreed. Without such an agreement, US forces might be at risk of prosecution by Iraq civil authorities. One ought to recall that the USA maintained troops in Germany and Japan for over 50 years after the Second World War.

President Obama delegated that negotiation to the hapless Joe Biden who neither secured the necessary result, nor suggested some of the other functional solutions. Elsewhere in the Middle East collateral agreements permit troops to remain. Residual US forces and advisors could have been designated as diplomats by simple letter, and that would have enabled forces to remain.

The President – and our Prime Minister – “wanted out”. The Christians, and other minorities are suffering as a direct result of that decision.

At the very least, our Prime Minister should now be urging the President to “do his job”; we may wish that David Cameron had greater individual power or that the UN or EU could become swiftly resolute, but that is an idealistic fantasy. The only swift intervention that can come, will be as a result of resolute action by the US. They are the world’s policeman, and must be engaged though they need to be supported by the UK and probably France.

What should our military strategy comprise?

This is hard for a Christian Bishop to articulate but it may need to be embraced, given the intransigent evil of the enemy, Bishop Nick calls for a debate; in Brother Ivo’s judgement it may take him, like Peter, to a place of violence where he does not wish to go.

Former US Army Vice Chief of Staff General Jack Keane seems to be on the same page as Bishop Nick when he described ISIS as “the most significant threat to the Middle East” and said that the United States is doing virtually nothing to stop them.”

He goes further, and speaks with a bluntness one cannot expect of a Bishop, though the discussion called for, almost certainly leads to this conclusion.

” The way you deal with them is you kill them, and that is the only way that they understand, is force. You have to apply force to deal with it,” (sic)

“We need a strategy to deal with it. We have none, and the fact is, the strategy should not just be the killing aspect of it.”

Keane also offered advice beyond military matters . “We know what banks they’re using. We actually know the names of their seven portfolio managers. We should target the barks and target the managers. We should separate the groups that are supporting them politically,” Keane elaborated.

This seems a powerful contribution to the Bishops debate.

There seems to be little alternative available.

We have seen the gruesome evidence of what ISIS do to “the other”.

Remarkably, western public opinion finds it hard to believe what Islamists are quite happy to tell us plainly.

Some of this comes not only from ISIS but also Hamas; de-coupling the two has been a mistake; they are cast from the same metal. In addressing the growing theat from Islamist extremism, Bishop Nick references ISIS and Boko Haram, but not Hamas. That is a mistaken omission.

They have warned us that ” The Al-Qassam Brigades love death more than you love life.”

The Hamas Charter spells out many other things plainly. It bears examination. It tells us about this well established part of the Muslim Brotherhood franchise and by implication their even more extreme colleagues,

TheHamas Charter tells us

Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences
[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: “Allah is the all-powerful, but most people are not aware.”

That makes clear that negotiation is no part of their thinking.

Article Eight: The Slogan of the Hamas
Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.

This confirms what we see on the ground. We are not seeing rogue action but rather a clear ideological programme.

Set in the midst of such a violent volatile and intransigent region we should be slow to condemn and undermine Israel, the only established functional liberal plural democracy in the Middle East.

Iraq, however, is a now a weak but fledgling democracy. It has had successful elections and has peacefully seen its Prime Minister step down and replaced by an opponent, because he had lost his mandate. That is an enormously significant development. The peaceful Constitutional passing of power is a fundamental feature of democracy – and anathema to the jihadis.

Returning to Iraq after the error of premature exit is vital. Supporting countries that share or incline towards our values is vital ; that includes Israel and perhaps Kurdistan. Political perfection is a luxury we – and more importantly the people on the ground – cannot afford.

We also need to win the argument in this country, not least o explain why Israel is our friend, not Hamas, and we need to remind our population that the Iraq War happened for good reason. It was not a George W Bush vanity project but the culmination of a coherent policy that began with Bill Clinton who, speaking of the Saddam threat in 1998 said

“The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Government -government ready to live in peace with its neighbours, a government that respects the rights of its people.

Heavy as they are, the costs if action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike at his neighbours. He will strike at his neighbours. He will make war on his own people, and mark my words he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them and he will use them”

What part of Bill Clinton’s strategy then does not apply to ISIS and its Iranian backers, and friends in Hamad Hezbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood?

Yet the former strategy, rejected by Obama and so many of the western progressives, had an equally positive side articulated by George W Bush.

” The Middle East was the centre of a global ideological struggle. On one side were decent people who wanted to live with dignity and peace. On the other side were extremists who sought to impose their radical views through violence and intimidation. They exploited conditions of hopelessness and repression to recruit and spread their ideology. The best way to to protect our countries in the long runways to counter their dark vision with a more compelling vision.

That alternative was freedom. People who could choose their leaders at the ballot box would be less likely to turn to violence. Young people growing up with hope in the future would not search for meaning in the ideology of terror. Once liberty took root in one society, it could spread to others.”

What is wrong with that analysis in the context of Bishop Nick’s questions?

Bishop Nick calls for a debate and a strategy. There used to be one.

Overnight we see that President Obama has again authorised military air strikes. He may be returning to his predecessors approach which is not an easy or comfortable strategy but neither was that which confronted the Third Reich.

Periodically we have to recognise the presence of evil and the need to contest it. ISIS and its allies have not made identification of evil difficult. We need leaders who are ready to protect the innocent, support our friends, and to confront the pernicious ideology of Islamism in all its manifestations.

An early and destructive response to the ISIS forces is important for our own impressionable youngsters. The young need to re-learn that freedom has to be defended and can be costly. Young Muslims need to have the glamorous attraction of Jihadi success removed; disgrace and failure is a powerful disincentive to recruitment.

It seems to Brother Ivo that what we need is not a reinventing of the wheel but turning our back on the lax and lazy notion that western intervention in the area caused all the problems and that peace and goodwill will break out if only we remain inactive.