Magazine article The Spectator

Phoney War

Magazine article The Spectator

Phoney War

Article excerpt

Sir: I was sorry to see that Con Coughlin ('Agent Brown's new plan to smash terror', 26 January) has now joined the likes of poor William Shawcross on the pottier side of paranoia in asserting that the occasional acts of Islamist terrorism in the United Kingdom over recent years mean that 'we are a nation at war'. Coughlin even justifies George W. Bush's now stale rhetoric about 'the war on terror', and reckons that Gordon Brown 'is not a man who fits easily or naturally into the role of a wartime leader'.

All this goes to demonstrate a dangerous loss of proportion. The last time the United Kingdom was engaged in a real war in defence of her sovereign independence was in 1939-1945, and the enemy then was not a scattering of bedsit plotters with homemade bombs, but the formidable armed forces of Nazi Germany. Islamist outrages such as those in London in 2005, however appalling in themselves and their impact on victims and their families, simply cannot be compared to the 1940-1941 'Blitz' on London and other British cities, or the 1944-1945 bombardment by flying bombs and V-2 rockets. …

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