Friday, October 28, 2005

If only, some argue


I said in a  comment on Belgravia Dispatch that the views of David Cameron on the Iraq war, as in many other areas, are not well-defined. In this, I was reflecting a view that has been widely propagated. Michael Portillo has written

He is a political professional with years of backroom experience of politics at the highest level. Over many years he has written speeches and briefs to defend the indefensible. It is not easy for such a person to know what he really believes.

 However, I was being unfair. In the same edition of the Sunday Times, there was this (which was also quoted the previous day by David Aaronovitch): 

Two months ago he told the Foreign Policy Centre — a London think tank bristling with Labour luminaries (patron: T Blair) — that before the war he had had concerns about the scale of what was being attempted, but he now believed Britain shared a responsibility “to promote change, reform and liberalisation” in the Middle East.

He went on: “Just as there were figures in the 1930s who misunderstood the totalitarian wickedness of Nazism and argued that Hitler had a rational set of limited political demands, so there are people today who try to explain jihadist violence with reference to a limited set of political goals.

“If only, some argue, we withdrew from Iraq, or Israel made massive concessions, then we would assuage jihadist anger. That argument . . . is as limited as the belief in the 1930s that, by allowing Germany to remilitarise the Rhineland or take over the Sudetenland, we would satisfy Nazi ambitions. A willingness to cede ground and duck confrontation is interpreted as fatal weakness.”
Update: Chris Brooke has this post about how Cameron's views have, well, evolved.

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