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America and Britain could save Iraq’s Christians – it’s just they don’t care

20 June 2014

11:03 AM

20 June 2014

11:03 AM

The Syro-Iraq war, as the firestorm should probably now be called, rages on, with the sword of Damocles hanging over us in Britain. Some 400 British Muslims are fighting with ISIS – only 150 fewer than the number of Muslims in the whole British Army – and we can be pretty sure of blowback when they return home. Afterwards I imagine we’ll have the politicians lecturing us about how this has nothing to do with Islam and then those bizarre ‘one London’ style posters will appear all over the capital; and 90 per cent of the media coverage will be on the danger of Islamophobia – cue footage of football hooligans waving flags.

I agree that this has nothing to do with religion in the sense that sectarian wars are not about theology so much as identity and tribe. The Sunnis are fighting for their tribe, the Shia for theirs, and the Kurds likewise. The only people who practise non-discriminatory altruism are the Christian, or ex-Christian, western powers, who make zero effort to help the Middle East’s Christians – who are therefore being driven to extinction. That’s why altruism always has to be discriminatory, for as it says in the Bible: If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?

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As I argued in my little book on the subject, Britain and America have done nothing to help the region’s religious minorities, and indeed have worsened their plight. Britain’s betrayal of Christians in Iraq – whose grandfathers fought alongside us in two wars – is one of the most shameful episodes of our recent history, perhaps the greatest since the betrayal of Poland in 1944; the difference being that there was arguably nothing we could do to help Poland, while there’s quite a fair bit we (by which I mean Britain and the US) could do in Iraq. The Christian stronghold in that country is centred on the Nineveh Plains, just outside Mosul, where villagers are currently awaiting the arrival of the Sunni extremists – the same group, remember, who carried out the appalling October 31, 2010 Baghdad church massacre.

Not far away is the territory of the Kurds, our allies, who now look likely to achieve independence from Iraq, and with considerably more territory than they previously had. With the help of the Kurds we could protect Iraq’s minorities concentrated in that region, a region of breathtaking religious and cultural diversity – it’s just that no one in the American or British governments cares.

It seems probable that Iraq and Syria will break-up, as Daniel Hannan suggests; although in principle I agree with his argument, it seems unlikely that such change would not have huge ramifications elsewhere, perhaps triggering violence all the way from Lebanon to Pakistan. Small, homogenous, cohesive nation-states are the most effective means to deliver wealthy, peaceful and liberal societies, but the path is usually horrendous, as Europe’s history shows. For those groups without defensible territory to become a nation-state, there is no future. If we are to have any sort of Middle East policy, and I’m not sure we should, then surely it should be aimed at protecting the defenceless Christians, rather than taking sides between the awful Saudi regime and the even more ghastly Iranian one?

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Show comments
  • thomaswells

    Obama could bring them to the USA. We have no border.

  • jon

    1960-70’s ONLY White countries opened to mass non-White immigration.
    1970’s-2050’s ONLY White countries forced to assimilate with non-Whites.
    2050’s ONLY White countries made minority White.

  • Adrian Wainer

    It is Britain’s obligation as a Christian country to try to help Christians.

  • Damaris Tighe

    The latest news is that ISIS is now applying the jizya in Mosul – this is a poll tax levied on the ‘people of the book’ only (ie Jews & Christians) as mandated by sharia. It is of course protection money, as payment of the jizya secures ‘tolerance’ by the muslims authorities.

  • andy_gill

    In a laughable display of political correctness, the Presbyterian Church in the USA just voted to divest from companies doing business in Israel.

    Meanwhile, they seem perfectly happy to continue investing in Islamic countries where their co-religionists are being persecuted. I’d be really ashamed to be a Presbytarian.

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    Altruism, like tolerance, is surely a person-person thing but it only happens in the right spirit, I think. I don’t think it can really happen from the person-international level in spite of the internet. Though lots of people may try to make a living flogging popular ideas about tolerance and altruism, I don’t think it’s out of any real charitable generosity. But that’s just what I think.

    Jesus (also in the Bible) tells us He’s with us even when as few as two persons pray together (never mind the sect or the church,the job, the politics or even the religion, I daresay). That’s what Christ said about Christianity; love one another. It’s personal and very small really, unlike some of the outward signs of so-called faith from yesteryear that we’re lumbered with.

    It’d be wrong to set Christianity or any other true religion up as a sect. I also think it’s wrong for powers at the international or even national level to tell the world that people must either ” tolerate” one another, or else be protected from one another.. that’s just setting the conditions for more wall building.

  • Sean Lamb

    I don’t doubt Daniel Hannan thinks himself as daring and adventurous intellect, but I think you will find this exact scenario was predicted in June 2013, on the comments section of the Spectator
    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/alex-massie/2013/06/the-worst-argument-yet-for-intervening-in-syria-if-we-dont-other-countries-will-snigger-at-britain/
    “I notice that Al Nusrah has merged with Al Qaeda in Iraq to form the
    Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham. So maybe what Cameron and Obama are
    angling for (or rather the people who pull their strings) is an AQ-Sunni
    state based around Central and Eastern Syria and Anbar province/Western
    Iraq, a rump Alawite, Shiite, Christian enclave on the coast, a rump
    Iraq running from Baghdad down to Basra which will be mainly Shiite. A
    Kurdish state comprising Kurdish Syria and Iraq and which will
    eventually peel away eastern Turkey. With a nice little squabble over
    who gets Mosul. Since the borders of Iraq and Syria and eventually
    Turkey will be totally redrawn no one can claim to be the successor
    state of Syria,

    This should be able to be achieved with no more
    than 500 000 deaths tops. It is all Sykes-Picot’s fault, you see.
    Anyway this is going to run and run.”

    My only query with Mr Hannan’s map is that the Sunni interior state will need to border Israel – I think Deraa province is largely in the hands of the rebels anyway. This is the only way Israel can argue that Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights has lapsed, since only then the successor state will be unambiguously not Syria.

  • Bonkim

    Get real Mr West. Tens of thousands of Muslims of various colours are getting slaughtered by friends of the Mid-Eastern Christians. What is happening in the region is not unlike the carnage of the 30 year war in Europe. Following that people began to realize the folly of religion and sectarianism – and the new age of enquiry and exploration, separation of religion and state.

    The Christians in Muslim lands had always led a precarious existence, and also prospered by siding with the winning sides – mainly blood-thirsty Dictators like Assad and Saddam. they had a good innings, prospered in trade and even participated in government, many emigrated.

    I think you have a short-sighted view and all those shouting Lord Lord are not true Christians particularly those that team up with the war-criminals of the region.

    • RobertC

      “The Christians in Muslim lands had always led a precarious existence”

      They were relatively OK until about 600 AD.

      • Bonkim

        Not many Muslim lands about 600A.D – not many Christian lands and Christians either particularly in Europe although the Roman Empire was beginning to be re-branded a Christian Empire by followers of an Asian cult called Christianity. Everyone led a precarious existence at the time, always fearing some ruler or the other will enslave you or take your possessions or you will be converted forcibly to the new cult by your local rler.

        • Kennybhoy

          Actually forcible conversion was all but unheard of in archaic times.

          • Bonkim

            Check how Christianity spread – Christianity of the dark and Middle-Ages was a political religion – and acted similar to the Taliban, eliminating those outside the Church. It was spread largely by conquests (Holy Roman Empire), and many Bishops were killed off by the locals as the Church was in cahoot with invading Kings, etc. Once their Ruler adopted the new religion, the subjects (mostly illiterate) just went along. The nobles although bickering with each other and the King at times saw the economic advantage of belonging to the Royal religion. England – no different – look up history of Church interference in affairs of the State. the Spanish Inquisition – little different from what ISIS is doing now in Iraq. The Spanish Church eliminated the vestiges of Islam – and all others ruthlessly not only in Spain/Portugal but also in the New World where the Spanish were the first to go and plunder, in Asia – India, China, South East Asia, Africa. The Arabs and Portuguese were the original slavers before English Privateers took over the trade. The Catholic Church destroyed Temples and Mosques in many parts of the world (Goa India for example) to build their edifices – little different from the Islamic invaders.

            The Crusaders plundered, raped and killed off indiscriminately through Christian lands on their journey to the holy lands. Constantinopole was sacked by returning Crusaders. Christian Kingdoms on the way frequently levied tolls on Crusaders or held Kings and Princes on ransom – e.g Richard the Lion Hearted. The Crusades was good business or Europe and the Church of Rome.

            History has a habit of repeating itself.

            • Coleridge1

              Evidently, the Catholic Church and the Crusades didn’t go far enough when it came to Islam.

              • Bonkim

                Lost the battle.

        • RobertC

          wiki: “According to Islamic tradition, during one such occasion while he was in contemplation, the archangel Gabriel appeared before him in the year 610 CE”

          So not many muslim lands at all!

          Fearing some ruler isn’t quite as precarious as being conquered and being struck on the neck or raped, as an act of war.

          • Bonkim

            Christianity evolved after the Grand convention of Nicea in the 5th century and started taking roots following conversion of the Roman Emperor. Much of early Islam is from Christian and Jewish traditions – only got sharpened and bigoted as Muslims conquered central and South Asia – The Great Khans of Central Asia (the Superpower of the dark and early Middle Ages) were nominally Muslim – more a political conversion.

        • RobertC

          wiki: “According to Islamic tradition, during one such occasion while he was in contemplation, the archangel Gabriel appeared before him in the year 610 CE”

          So not many muslim lands at all!

          Fearing some ruler isn’t quite as precarious as being conquered and being struck on the neck or raped, as an act of war.

        • Coleridge1

          Many UK Moslems side with drug gang criminals and partake in paedophilia. maybe we should start persecuting them?

          • Bonkim

            Britain has capable police and legal system to check any criminal behaviour – the vast majority of paedophiles in the UK are not Muslims.

            • Coleridge1

              Possibly but they do pray to a ‘prophet’ that married 6 year old Ayesha and porked her at 9. Does that make the adders and abettors?

              • Bonkim

                No different in England at the time – girls were betrothed at 7 and married at puberty. Muhammad lived in 600AD and the laws/customs and practices were quite different – the only law in England was Church Law at the time and don’t compare today’s laws about age of consent, marriage, etc, all from recent decades.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      You have a fascist-sighted view, lad.

      • Bonkim

        very fascist old boy – beware!

    • Kennybhoy

      I don’t entirely agree, but well argued…

    • Coleridge1

      So the Copts in Egypt, the Christians persecuted in apartheid Pakistan, the Christians being slaughtered in Iraq and Syria all had it coming because they supposedly ‘sided with (Muslim) war-criminals.’ May I ask if you happen to be the product of some twisted Madrassa in racist apartheid Pakistan?

      • Bonkim

        You will have to check that out.

  • andagain

    It may be that the Kurds can save Iraqs Christians. But if so, they can do it whether we want them to or not. And if they don’t want to, there is not much we can do about it.

    We don’t really have a lot of power over there. I would have thought that was pretty obvious by now.

    • Bonkim

      Sound Logic.

  • Michael Smith

    Most of the Christian areas already are under Kurdish control. A month ago I was at Mar Mattai monastery, just north of Mosul, and no trouble there. Some Christian towns SE of Mosul were in the handover zone where there were both Iraqi Army and Peshmerga checkpoints, but I expect the Kurds will have taken over there now. The Christian towns in Kurdish territory effectively run their own local militias, as do the Yezidis, even if nominally under KRG control. They certainly don’t go in for ‘non-discriminatory altruism’, by the way. They are quite happy to admit that although they rub along well with the Kurds, any Muslim family trying to set up home in a Christian town would be killed.

    • Sean Lamb

      “They are quite happy to admit that although they rub along well with the
      Kurds, any Muslim family trying to set up home in a Christian town
      would be killed.”

      Really? Precisely how many people told you that – if I may channel the Iron Lady here:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3fFCucvf40

      • Bonkim

        Check who killed who in Shabra and Shatila Refugee Camps.

        • Sean Lamb

          Yes, well, fascinating as it is to watch you stumble your way through a Reader’s Digest version of the History of the Middle East, my incredulity was not that Christians could kill, but rather than they would so casually and explicitly say they would. In all my time in the Middle East I never heard anyone of any religion or ethnicity say anything like that.

          I can, however, reveal my own anecdotal investigation of the plight of Christians in Northern Iraq. I had gone there in 2004 to check out the HRW report on Goreme and thought I would make some rather feeble inquiries as to the situation of Chaldean christians in Mengish, the nearby urban centre. As it happens I could go anywhere in Mengish or Goreme without being accompanied by the Mengish chief of police (who as it happened came from Goreme). It is rather pointless asking Chaldeans if they feel persecuted in the company of the chief of police, but for the record the religious leaders there assured me that there was no problems in Mengish and everyone got a long splendidly.

          I can however confidently state the HRW report on Goreme is a load of twaddle. They claim the Iraqi army flattened the village, but the destroyed “houses” were simply a few piles of cinder blocks that gave no appearance of every being lived but looked like that had been quickly erected to be knocked down. Interspersed were dozens of traditional mud brick dwellings that looked like they had been there since the crusades which the Iraqi army had mysteriously spared. Amongst other absurd fantasies HRW claimed the Iraqis had filled in the village well with cement to prevent anyone ever returning, but bang in the middle of the village was a pristine mountain stream and there never ever been a well.
          At the end of the tour the chief of police asked me nervously if I was going to write a report to HRW. I assured him I wouldn’t – a very easy promise to make as I don’t suppose they had been fooled by the charade in the first place and I wasn’t going to waste my time pointing out to them what they already knew.

          • Bonkim

            No comments – lost track of what we are discussing. You don’t have to declare you will embark on genocide – those who do just get on with it like Assad in Syria or Rajapaksha in Sri Lanka or the Phalangists in Lebanon..

        • Coleridge1

          It was Maronite Christians who were retaliating for the mass murder of thousands of Maronite men, women and children in Damur by Sunni Moslems, Palestinian Sunnis and the Syrian army.

          • Bonkim

            And now the same lot are supporting Assad in Syria?

    • Bonkim

      Quite right – Christian militias behave no different – the Lebanese civil war was between the Fascist Christian Phalangists and the Hezbollah, and the Israelis allowed the massacres in the Refugee camps – all this is how Mid-East politics operate. kill or be killed – no angels there.

    • trevor artingstoll

      And why not? Must innocents be murdered in the name of drooling superstition? Haven’t you heard,”God is dead.”?

  • Damaris Tighe

    Sorry to be a bore & a pedant Ed, but that quote ‘if I am not for myself who will be for me’ is not from the Bible but from Rabbi Akiva. It’s a good one though, glad you used it.

  • TrulyDisqusted

    Send in Justin Welby and Desmond Tutu. That’ll show them…

    Or perhaps a faith that won’t stand up for itself, deserves no quarter.

    • RobertC

      Rowan Williams would be no great loss to Britain.

  • JDale

    OK Ed I’ll bite. Why should only save Christians? Does no-one from a different cult to you deserve saving?

    • The original Mr. X

      Nowhere did he say or imply that we should only save Christians; although it is worth point out that Christians are more vulnerable, and hence more in need of saving, because there are no Christian-majority countries nearby where they could flee to.

      • Bonkim

        Are you suggesting the Vatican open up its doors and offer sanctuary to the Mid-Eastern Christians?

  • Makroon

    That is not a blog-post Mr West, it’s an incoherent rant.

  • TRAV1S

    Don’t beat yourself over the head. The Middle East is a show case for failed leftist ideology, Pan-Arab-Nationalism, Arab-Socialism etc. Nothing will be done, because the bulk of the MSM aka BBC hates Christians, so there goes any sort of lobbying power out the window. The Beeb will be too busy trying to blame Imperialism, rather than their own leftist ideology. The Beeb still thinks the PLO runs the Palestinians.

    • Kaine

      Pan-Arabism and similar secular movements didn’t so much ‘fail’ as were deliberately destroyed for fear they would ally with the Soviet Union, threaten Western petrochemical interests or challenge the status quo in Israel/Palestine.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …because Lord knows, there’s nothing all those people in that huge region ever wanted to do but join hands and sing khumbayah, or equivalent, and be one big peaceful happy Pan-Arabic family, emphasis on the peaceful of course. It’s a shame that evil outsiders had to break that up.

        • dado_trunking

          Let’s get this right once and for all then shall we.
          Joining hands and singing kumbaya was never your concern but now 300 odd ‘British’ jihadists curiously are?
          Is that what your voices are telling you in your head?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …is that what your army of sockpuppets are telling you, lad?

            • dado_trunking

              are you drunk, lad?
              kumbaya concerns you not but 300 jihadists now do?
              you know exactly what that means.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …are there enough spirits in the world to intoxicate your army of sockpuppets, lad?

                • dado_trunking

                  are you snacked out of your brain?
                  kumbaya bothers you not yet 300 jihadists suddenly do?
                  you know exactly what I am saying.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …do any of your sockpuppet army have a brain, lad?

          • RobertC

            They are no problem, if they stay there.

            • dado_trunking

              Why? Why do people who fight in Syria bother us here? There is zero connection.

              I might as well make the case I made earlier, this one is more real than yours:
              as I stated before, we have had decades of ‘British’ jihadists in Britain. For decades. Ginger jihadists.
              The town of Canary Wharf and the city of Manchester hugely benefited from their way of teaching us how to better ourselves. We did. Both conurbations have not looked back since. So it is all good.

      • Damaris Tighe

        The same mentality supported the mujahadeen against the soviets in Afghanistan. That went well didn’t it? I saw some photos of Afghan women in Kabul taken in the 1970s – they were wearing jeans & mini-skirts.

        • Kaine

          And in Egypt, and Iran and Lebanon same story.

          • MirthaTidville

            and Iraq until Saddam was toppled

        • Kennybhoy

          The USSR posed an existential threat to us.The jihadis, per se, pose no such threat. They are carrion rather than predators.

      • global city

        or so goes the self flagellating narrative of western wankoffs masquerading as academics.

        • Kaine

          Er, no, so says the history. I could believe that a pan-Arab state was an existential threat to the industrial West and it’s destruction was a necessary act. After all, why should a bunch of despots have a stranglehold on liberal democracies because of an accident of geology? The facts themselves are the West worked to destroy these regimes, both overtly and covertly. Whether you consider this a good thing or not is another matter.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …because Lord knows, there’s nothing all those people in that huge region ever wanted to do but join hands and sing khumbayah, or equivalent, and be one big peaceful happy Pan-Arabic family, emphasis on the peaceful of course. It’s a shame that evil outsiders had to break that up.

  • Pedant’s Pedant

    ” …as it says in the Bible: If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?”
    Would you care to give us chapter and verse?
    Wasn’t it Hillel who said that?

  • HookesLaw

    Mr West becomes even more hysterical. You would have hardly thought it possible.

    • Tom Allalone

      Try Googling “Iraq Christians”. Or check how far their numbers have declined in the last ten years. In your world drawing attention to massacres and crucifixions is hysteria. You are beneath contempt

    • Kennybhoy

      Cunnus!

  • Pootles

    It’s becoming increasingly hard to comment on the Speccie site – why ? My post included ‘Sharia’ and ‘Zionists’ – is that why?

    • Holly

      I did reply to you, but got zapped by ‘moderators’.
      Kinda proves my point in my original comment.

      • Pootles

        It’s a bit bizarre. I didn’t use any offensive terms, or abuse, and I tried to re-post with *s in spellings of different religions, but that didn’t work either.

        • zanzamander

          I have also found my comments, especially the ones critical of Islam, even though they do not insult anyone or contain abusive language, is now getting regularly deleted.

          I have noticed this has also started happening on the Telegraph as well.

          I think days of censorship are well and truly upon us. Of any media outlet, I’d have expected Spectator to be the that would never bow to religious fundamentalists – but I guess I was wrong. Islam is sacred.

          • trace9

            There was a Silly Muslim
            Who thought to start a War
            He said; Let’s Fight,
            & Fight & FIGHT!
            Or what’re we fighting For?

          • TrulyDisqusted

            REPORT TO ROOM 101 IMMEDIATELY FOR RE EDUCATION

          • Damaris Tighe

            I think the writers moderate the comments for their own articles. Some seem to be less censorious than others. I’ve read plenty of very critical comments about Islam over the past two weeks following other speccie articles.

  • Mr Grumpy

    Daniel Hannan’s partition plan includes a statelet for the Alawi. He doesn’t even mention the Christians.

    • Makroon

      So, Hannan, the gobby little attention seeker and EU baiter, is now a middle-east expert and wannabe Sykes-Picot, is he ?

      • zanzamander

        I pointed out on his blog that it was strange that the Kurish State he had carved out of Syria and Iraq stopped at Turkey’s border, despite the fact that Kurds are the largest minority in Turkey and have had their own problems inside Turkey.

        He deleted by comment. Turkey is very close to his heart.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          He seems to be a grubby little global citizen, yes.

  • Martin Adamson

    It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they do not want to confront the murderous nature of contemporary Islam. Once you realise that there are a large and growing number of people in the world whose supreme purpose in life is conquest, murder and rapine then the whole edifice of the contemporary post Imperial liberal ideology collapses like a block of flats built on marshland by speculative Chinese builders. Political correctness turns out to be the modern Moloch, an angry god that demands frequent and copious human sacrifices to placate itself.

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