Winston S. Churchill III maintains that Islamic fundamentalism is as destructive as the malevolent “isms” of the 20th century: Nazism, Communism and Facism. In a speech on Feb. 10 at the John Locke Foundation’s anniversary dinner, the grandson of Winston Churchill urged the West to stay the course in the fight against extremist Islam.
Here is the text of his speech:
It is both an honor and a pleasure to be your guest here tonight and to have the privilege of addressing the John Locke Foundation. First and foremost, may I congratulate you for honouring the memory of John Locke, who was very much involved in the establishment of the Governments of the Carolinas and who, most important of all, was one of the great philosophers of the English-speaking world.
Locke’s message — the vital importance of resisting authoritarianism — is as relevant to the strife-torn times of the world in which we live, as it was in the strife-torn times of the 17th Century. Authoritarianism constantly rears its ugly head, even within our own societies on both sides of the Atlantic, in so many guises and disguises, and in every field, be it religion, government or the military.
At its most extreme, authoritarianism is exemplified by the isms of the 20th Century — Communism, Fascism and Nazism. The Fascists and Nazis were responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million human beings, while more than 50 million are estimated to have been murdered by Stalin and the Russian Communists, while Mao-Tse-Tung and the Chinese Communists are believed to have accounted for some 80 million.
But today a new challenge — another ism — confronts us, and that is the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism. Extremist Islam has declared war on the rest of the world, as evidenced by their ruthless attacks across the globe — overwhelmingly targeted at innocent civilians. Beside the outrage of 9/11, the bombings in Madrid, in Bali, in London and, most recently, in Jordan come to mind.
Those who have declared jihad against the West, and Western values, such as freedom of speech, are doing all in their power to mobilize against us the large Muslim communities living in our midst. In North America, there are an estimated six million Muslims in the USA, plus a further three-quarter million in Canada; while in the European Union, they number an estimated 20 million, including nearly 2 million in Britain. Unlike most other categories of migrant, the Muslims are reluctant to assimilate and, all too often, wish to pursue their own agenda.
Unbelievably, Washington is urging Europe to admit Turkey to the EU. Were that to happen, the Muslim population of Europe would skyrocket to 100 million — an act, in my view, of consummate folly. Already Judeo-Christian Europe is under siege from a tidal wave of Islamic immigration. The admission of Turkey would hasten its demise. While I have a great regard for the Turks, the only democracy in the Muslim world and stalwart members of NATO, I am firmly opposed to their admission to the EU. I would accord them most-favoured nation status, but not the right to settle in Western Europe and become EU citizens.
The scale of the problem confronting Europe today is epitomized by France, which has a Muslim community of some 6 million, or 10 percent of its population. But, if you take the population aged 20 and below, the figure rockets to 30 percent, such is the birthrate of the immigrant communities. In other words, within one further generation, France will be a Muslim country — a truly horrifying prospect.
At the same time it is vital that, in our pursuit of the men and women of terror — we do all we can, not to alienate these large Muslim communities already established among us. For, without the active support of the Muslim communities, we shall never excise this deadly cancer in our midst.
Intriguingly, the dangers of extremist Islam were foreseen by Winston Churchill all of 85 years ago, as I discovered to my amazement, while compiling my most recent book NEVER GIVE IN! The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches.
Churchill is, of course, well-known for his gift of prescience and, specifically, for being the first to warn of the menace of Hitler and Nazism as early as 1932, and of the Soviet threat in his famous Iron Curtain speech in 1946 in Fulton, Mo. But how many know that he also warned the world of the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism? I certainly did not!
On 14 June 1921, hard on the heels of the Cairo Conference, at which he had presided over the re-shaping of the Middle East, including the creation of modern day Iraq, he warned the House of Commons:
A large number of [Saudi Arabia’s King] Bin Saud’s followers belong to the Wahabi sect, a form of Mohammedanism which bears, roughly speaking, the same relationship to orthodox Islam as the most militant form of Calvinism would have borne to Rome in the fiercest times of [Europe’s] religious wars.
The Wahabis profess a life of exceeding austerity, and what they practice themselves they rigorously enforce on others. They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahabi villages for simply appearing in the streets.
It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette and, as for the crime of alcohol, the most energetic supporter of the temperance cause in this country falls far behind them. Austere, intolerant, well-armed, and blood-thirsty, in their own regions the Wahabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina…
In Churchill’s day, of course, the viciousness and cruelty of the Wahabis was confined to the Saudi Arabia peninsula, and their atrocities were directed exclusively against their fellow Muslims, whom they held to be heretics for not adhering to the Wahabi creed — but not anymore.
Today the combination of the oil wealth of Saudi Arabia and the supine weakness of the Saudi royal family which — as the price for not having their own behavior subjected to scrutiny and public criticism by these austere, extremist clerics — has bank-rolled the Wahabi fundamentalist movement, and given these fanatical zealots a global reach to their vicious creed of hatred and extremism.
The consequence has been that the Wahabis have been able to export their exceptionally intolerant brand of Islamic fundamentalism from Mauritania and Morocco on Africa’s Atlantic shores, through more than two dozen countries including Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, to as far afield as the Philippines and East Timor in the Pacific. This is the stark challenge that today confronts the Western world and I fear it will be with us, not just for a matter of years, but perhaps even for generations.
Just in the past two weeks the temperature in the Middle East has risen markedly with three significant developments. First, we have seen the wild and furious reaction, whipped up by firebrand clerics throughout the Islamic world, to the publication some five months ago in a Danish newspaper of a cartoon depicting the prophet with a smoking bomb in his turban, as tattered suicide bombers were being greeted at the Muslim pearly gates by a gate-keeper shooing them away and shouting: “Get lost! We’ve run out of Virgins!” The fury that this mild piece of satire engendered, epitomizes the clash of civilizations that is the key factor confronting us today.
Secondly, the stunning election victory in the Palestinian elections of Hamas — a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel — provided a rude shock to those in Washington who naively imagined that democracy would provide the answer to the problems of the Middle East. For many within the Beltway, free elections have been an article of faith, even though it was in a free election that Hitler first came to power, before establishing his Nazi dictatorship.
Such is the anger of the Moslem world against the West, inflamed by extremist clerics and fanned by the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia television networks, that truly democratic and free elections would result in the election of fundamentalist governments throughout the Muslim world. It is a frightening fact, that in 50 Muslim countries countless millions of Muslims tell pollsters that they regard Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as more trustworthy than President Bush.
The third and by far the most serious development, is the decision of the Iranian government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to remove the U.N. seals from its nuclear research facilities. He it is who not only denies the Holocaust ever happened, but who declares that Israel is a “tumor” that should be “wiped off the map”! Some Western analysts state that the Iranian president doesn’t really mean what he says. There were, of course, many who said just that of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and we saw the result.
Having reported events — including two wars — in the Middle East over the past 45 years, I think I know the Israelis well enough to say that Israel is not about to wait to find out whether or not the Iranian president means what he says. In 1981 Israel took decisive steps to take out Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear facility with a long-range air strike. I do not see how she can fail to do the same in the case of the even greater threat posed to Israel by a nuclear-armed Iran.
This time it will not be so easy, as the mullahs have dispersed their nuclear facilities across 16 sites and built them deep underground, making them far more difficult to attack. But with 500 ‘bunker-busting’ bombs from the U.S. and precision-guidance technology they will certainly make a mess of the place. The whole Muslim world will be enflamed with outrage and Iran’s reaction may well be to deploy 100,000 guerrilla fighters to Iraq to fight the Americans and British — not a happy thought.
But even before these developments, siren voices could already be heard on Capitol Hill, raising the cry: “Bring the Boys home.” I tell you: Nothing could be more disastrous than if, at this juncture, the United States were to cut and run. It would, at a stroke, undermine those forces of moderation we are seeking to establish in power, betray our troops as they fight a difficult, but necessary, battle, and break faith with those of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives to establish a free Iraq.
Gravest of all, we should be handing a victory of gigantic proportions to our sworn enemies. Let no one imagine that by pulling out of Iraq, the threat will simply evaporate. On the contrary, it will redouble, it will come closer to home and our enemies will have established in Iraq the very base that, by our defeat of the Taliban, we have denied them in Afghanistan. We shall see a desperately weakened United States, with its armed forces undermined and demoralized, increasingly at the mercy of our terrorist enemies.
Precipitate withdrawal is the counsel of defeatism and cowardice, which, if it holds sway, will immeasurably increase the dangers that today confront, not just America, but the entire Western world. It is something for which we shall pay a terrible price in the years ahead. When great nations go to war — and they should do so only as a last resort — they must expect to suffer grievous losses and must commit to war with an unconquerable resolve to secure victory.
In Iraq the United States has lost some 2,200 men and women, Britain just over 100. Compare that to the first day of the Battle of the Somme — 1 July 1916 — when the British Army in a single day, nay, before breakfast, lost 55,000 men killed, wounded or missing in action. Did we talk of quitting?
What has happened to the mighty United States? Is it going soft? Are the elected representatives of the American people ready to surrender to those who threaten their homeland — indeed their civilian population — with death and destruction? I pray that they are not, and I call to mind the words of my grandfather, addressing the Canadian Parliament on New Year’s Day 1941, in which — referring to the British nation dwelling around the globe, but it applies equally to our American cousins today — when he declared:
We are a tough and hardy people! We have not travelled across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains & across the prairies, because we’re made of sugar candy!
In conclusion, I would remind you — and especially the legislators on Capitol Hill — of Winston Churchill’s words to the House of Commons on becoming prime minister in May 1940, which applies every bit as much to the situation that confronts us today.
You ask: What is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror. However long or hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.
Provided we have the courage to stay the course, I am convinced that we can, in the end, prevail. Any alternative is too terrible to contemplate. There are no quick, easy solutions; on the contrary it will be a long, hard slog. But more leadership is needed from on high and, above all, more guts and determination if we are to see this through to victory.
Let us fight the good fight — and let us fight it together! How pleased my grandfather would be to know that — 40 years on from his death — the Anglo-American alliance is still strong and that British and American soldiers stand shoulder-to-shoulder in Iraq and in Afghanistan, confronting the peril of the hour! Long may we stand together! God bless America!