West needs to remember we are part of the West
I was a bit taken aback by Security Minister Lord West comments this morning about Gaza fueling terrorism.
Of course he is right that foreign policy can drive radicalisation, but that doesn't mean you should temper your foreign policy to avoid upsetting radical Islamists, any more than you should shape your immigration policy to appease the BNP.
Reacting to bits of UK foreign policy you don't like - or in this case bits of Israel's policies you don't like - by wanting to blow yourself and innocent people up, rather than by making some placards or writing to your MP or voting Liberal Democrat - suggests a degree of alienation and indeed pathological nuttiness that isn't going to be satisfied by slight changes to foreign policy.
It isn't foreign policy or Iraq or Palestine that are the ideological root grievances of Al-Qaeda and its copycat organisations - those are just "transitional demands" that help recruit people - the root grievance of the people doing the recruiting is with the existence of liberal democracies and the way of life they nurture - just as it wasn't the rather reasonable sounding "peace, bread and land" that Lenin actually wanted - what he sought was the overthrow of the existing society and that set of issues/grievances was a neat way of conning some cannon fodder into the arms of the Bolshevik cadres.
Which brings me to the bit of what Lord West said that I had real trouble with - his statement that "in the mind of people making hate, there is a linkage between the US, Israel and the UK" - as though that linkage doesn't exist and should be disowned.
I think that's appeasing the terrorists. There is a linkage between the US and the UK - they are our main military and political ally. And there may not be a formal alliance or treaty between Israel and the UK but there is a profound "linkage" - Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. People there live in a way that is broadly similar to the UK in terms of civic life, freedom and the way society and the economy function. It is home to many thousands of former and current UK citizens. Because it is a liberal democracy with cultural links and contributions to the West its enemies are the same as our enemies - global Islamist terrorism and Iran's attempts to build a nuclear arsenal and the ballistic missile technology to deliver it.
We may deplore some of the tactics used by the IDF in Gaza, or disagree with the actual decision of Israel to use force, but the fight it is in is the same fight Lord West is conducting as Security Minister - against terror wielded in the name of a perverted interpretation of religion - whether it is by suicide bombers on tubes in London, or in restaurants in Tel Aviv, or by random rocket attacks, or by Presidents threatening to wipe out with nuclear weapons a nearby state for having the temerity to have a majority Jewish population.
Trying to distance ourselves from other democracies won't appease potential terrorists. It will make us look like the cowardly, decadent and self-interested people they think we are, and lead them to believe that we are so ashamed of our own values and way-of-life that we won't defend them.