Magazine article The Spectator

Taking It Lying Down

Magazine article The Spectator

Taking It Lying Down

Article excerpt

CELSIUS 7/7: HOW THE WEST'S POLICY OF APPEASEMENT HAS PROVOKED YET MORE FUNDAMENTALIST TERROR --AND WHAT HAS TO BE DONE NOW by Michael Gove Weidenfeld, £9.99, pp. 153, ISBN 0297851462 . £7.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655

WITHOUT ROOTS : THE WEST, RELATIVISM, CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM by Joseph Ratzinger and Marcello Pera Basic Books, £12.99, pp. 159, ISBN 0465006345 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655

Europe thinks 'that to achieve peace no price is too high: not appeasement, not massacres on its own soil, not even surrender to terrorists . . . Europe is impotent. A foul wind is blowing through [it] . . . the idea that we can afford to be lenient even with people who threaten us. . . This same wind blew through Munich in 1938. . . It could turn out to be the death rattle of a continent that no longer understands what principles to believe.' This is not Michael Gove but Marcello Pera, President of the Italian Senate. But in fact the views of the three authors fit remarkably well. Celsius 7/7 is centrally about the political response to Islamist terrorism. Pera discusses the relativism that undergirds so much of the thinking that responds to terrorist Islam. Ratzinger's contribution is a thoughtful history lesson about what European/American civilisation consists of, with some striking comments on the Spengler-Toynbee debate.

All three are pretty gloomy, and with good reason. I have never seen the arguments for a robust response to the threat spelt out so clearly and succinctly as in Gove's book. He points out, and pointed out long before others, that the threat is not foreign fighters but terrorists, 'born, nurtured and supported by Britain and its (welfare) institutions'. The threat is not and never has been a secret. Like the Nazis and the communists, the Islamist terrorists shouted their intentions to anyone who cared to listen. Best of all is his analysis of the role that the Israel issue has played in the debate about terrorism and Middle Eastern policy. He notes how bin Laden's plans to attack the USA were made in the Clinton years when Israel was negotiating with the Palestinians; how since 1948 Arab countries have kept Palestinians in refugee camps, used them for their own purposes and failed to help to construct their institutions. …

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