Douglas Carswell

23 MAR 2016

The West lacks the leadership to tackle Islamist terror

And so it goes on. Another horrific atrocity. What is so shocking is that perhaps it isn't so shocking anymore. It is 15 years since the 9/11 attacks woke the West up to Islamist terror. We have suffered these attacks time and again for a decade and a half. What are we doing about it?

In response to the attack on the Twin Towers, Blair and Bush intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq, and tried to encourage democracy. It is very fashionable to sneer and deride them for that now. But who's got a better plan? Other than holding hands and making trite statements, what are our current leaders actually going to do?

The problem with the middle-of-the-road, managerialist, technocrats who govern the West today is that all they do is tweak the status quo. We need fundamental change at so many levels to deal with so many new challenges, but Western policymakers aren't up to the job.

For too long, Western diplomats have cosied up to states that are frankly frenemies: countries that pose as friends, but are really enemies. For decades, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States have exported money and radicalism to the West – and we have done nothing to stop it. Now we are paying the price.

Last week, EU foreign policy involved giving Turkey billions of euros and visa-free access to Europe in return for the promise that they might stop one or two boats. The West is in an incredibly weak position.

When I heard the news from Brussels yesterday, I thought the same thing as I did after the bombings in Paris and the attack on the airliner over Ukraine: what would Reagan and Thatcher have done? What would Churchill and Attlee have done? Where are the leaders of their calibre now?

The threat of radical Islam can be met, but only with a major shift in public policy and real leadership.

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