On today’s YourPlatform Peter Hitchens has catalogued the way successive British and other governments have appeased terrorists:`
"The best defence against terrorism is the knowledge – in the head of the potential terrorist – that his actions will fail to change the policy of the government against whom he fights, and that it will all be for nothing. Terrorism is the force that it is because, in contrast to their rhetoric about "evil killers", the leaders of the law-governed nations have been all too ready to treat with terrorists and their sponsors, and to encourage them to believe that outrages lead eventually to concessions. In which case, of course, the concessions will lead to outrages, as they do. The IRA’s motto was always ‘Our day will come’. And it did, at Easter 1998 to the shame and disgrace of all who supported the Belfast agreement."
The quotation is spot on. What I cannot get from Peter Hitchens’ analysis, however, is any insight into how he would deal with a terrorist state like Iran. The leader in this week’s Spectator notes the ways in which Iran sponsors terrorism across the globe:
"Iran, the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, is the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East. It is a fact that the regime is the paymaster of — among many others — the Lebanese Shiite militants of Hezbollah (which Iran helped to found in the 1980s), the Palestinian terrorist group and now government, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and many of the barbaric terrorists who are murdering innocent Muslims every day in Iraq in an effort to destroy its first glimpse of freedom. The spectre of nuclear-armed terrorists is not one that bears contemplating."
The Spectator speculates about Iran’s ambitions:
"Not content with financing and encouraging the world’s worst terrorists, and doing its best to destabilise Iraq, the Iranian regime is also developing an intercontinental missile, the Shahab-3, with an 800-mile range that could hit Israel — all at a time when rabid anti-Semitism is being encouraged in the Iranian media and Holocaust denial is propagated by the Iranian government. Armed with nuclear weapons, Iran would also be much more likely to try to grab control of the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial trading route for oil and gas."
What is the west going to do about Iran? Jack Straw – whose regular visits to Tehran over recent years have achieved nothing – wants the military option off the table. Liam Fox and 60% of Tory members disagree and think that military action must remain an option. Much of Britain’s liberal-left establishment invest much more of their energies in worrying about George W Bush than about the prospect of the Iranian president getting hold of the nuclear weapons with which he could "wipe Israel off the face of the earth". Including Israel within NATO seems the least that Europe and North America could do.
Mr Straw’s faith in the UN is not reassuring. Ask the people of Rwanda and Darfur and Srebrenica and the Congo about the failures of this ultimate institution-of-political-convenience. The only hope for diplomacy is if it is backed up by the threat of military action – "whoever wishes for peace, let him prepare for war". It is urgent that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knows that we are serious about stopping him from holding the world to ransom with nuclear weapons. The Robb-Silberman report informed us that US intelligence in Iran is wholly inadequate. Whilst the diplomacy goes on our governments urgently need to improve intelligence about the location of Iranian nuclear sites.
David Cameron is worried about the long-term threat to our planet posed by alleged global warming. The much more imminent threat from Iran should really be keeping him awake at night.