Corbyn is right: the war on terror isn’t working – but we should also drain the swamp

Corbyn - War on Terror speech

Amid predictable fake outrage from his Conservative opponents, Jeremy Corbyn – no friend of H&D! – has dared to tell the truth.  As election campaigning resumed today (following several days hiatus due to the terrorist bombing of a Manchester concert hall) the Labour leader said: “We must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.”

It seems likely that the Manchester atrocity was carried out by a suicide bomber of Libyan origin, linked to that country’s version of Islamic State. If so, then it emanates from a truly Orwellian swamp. British governments once allied themselves with the earlier local version of IS – the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – in terrorist and assassination plots against that country’s former dictator Col. Gaddafi.

Then under Tony Blair we changed tack, and delivered our former Islamist allies to Libyan torturers collaborating in a worldwide ‘war on terror’.  Sir Mark Allen (former MI6 counterterrorism director) might still face criminal charges over his role in the kidnapping and torture of LIFG leader Abdul Hakim Belhaj, though the relevant ministers including Jack Straw have typically dodged their responsibility.

In 2011 under David Cameron there was another policy lurch: Libya’s Islamists (or at least some of them) became our allies again in the campaign to oust Gaddafi.  And now in the resultant post-Gaddafi chaos they are back to being the enemy.

David Shayler - Libya plot

All this would be mad enough: what makes it really crazy is that among the 57 varieties of alien immigrant thronging British cities are a large community of Libyans with personal and family ties to these very characters who were sometimes our allies, while at other times consigned to the torture chamber.

Foreign and defence policy has never had much space for morality.  One response to the slaughter of British children in Manchester (the opposite of Corbyn’s policy) might be to carry out a reciprocal slaughter in Libya, targeting the extended families and support networks of IS.

But – setting moral questions entirely aside – H&D readers should recognise that such a policy (whether aiming at deterrence or merely revenge) requires precisely targeted and pitiless brutality. In their prime the likes of Gaddafi or Syria’s Hafez al-Assad were capable of that – hence their regimes survived.  Does anyone really believe that Britain has the will (let alone the local knowledge) to follow such a policy to its logical conclusion, to take whatever the terrorists throw back at us and throw back more of the same, until eventually we supposedly crush them?

It’s not going to happen.

Aftermath of the IRA's Manchester bomb in 1996. This bomb's materials were supplied by Col. Gaddafi, sworn enemy of this week's Manchester terrorists.

Aftermath of the IRA’s Manchester bomb in 1996. This bomb’s materials were supplied by Col. Gaddafi, sworn enemy of this week’s Manchester terrorists.

So we are left with the logic of Corbyn’s alternative. Some form of new deal with the Islamic world. We can only hope this would be less hypocritical then the deal with an earlier generation of bombers who targeted Manchester.  Among this week’s many tragic ironies is that the bomb that devastated Manchester city centre in 1996, planted just a few yards away from the scene of this week’s carnage, was the work of IRA godfathers armed by Col. Gaddafi, the bitter enemy of this week’s suicide bomber and his family.

No one was ever charged over that 1996 Manchester bombing – except a journalist and a police officer who dared to name the main suspect, the IRA’s Declan McCann (then of Crossmaglen, Co Armagh). McCann was spared arrest for political reasons and has since moved south to Castleblayney, Co Monaghan: he owns a property empire with his brother John. His IRA commanders went on to form part of Northern Ireland’s government and shake hands with the Queen.

 

Corbyn of course has his own dishonourable record of IRA apologetics. And though his approach to today’s failed war on terror makes sense, there’s one aspect that Corbyn and his ilk will never admit. Alongside a reassessment of foreign policy must come a draining of the multi-ethnic swamp. We should return the teeming non-British masses of our towns and cities back to their countries of origin.

UPDATE: On tonight’s Channel 4 News, Theresa May’s Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon fell into a well-laid journalistic trap when he condemned what he thought were Jeremy Corbyn’s words about the war on terror, only to find they were the words of his senior Cabinet colleague, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson!  A more sympathetic journalist in The Spectator had earlier today offered the Tories some wise strategic advice on how to handle this issue: they failed to take it – and as another Spectator columnist Rod Liddle puts it, this is turning into the worst Tory election campaign on record.

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