Harry Reid may think the US has lost the war in Iraq, but according to a committee of British MPs the UK has lost the entire War on Terror (although, as you’ll see, we can’t call it that anymore). That’s certainly the impression you’ll get if you read the Foreign Affairs Committee’s report Global Security: The Middle East. It’s effectively one long document of surrender to Islamic extremism. The MPs responsible might as well meet Osama bin Laden, Sheikh Nasrallah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the deck of a battleship and make it official.
The report is part crawling apology to extremism and part multi-cultural reconciliation fantasy, sprinkled with liberal (in every sense of the word) doses of anti-Americanism and Israel-bashing. You can read the whole thing if you have the time, but the conclusions, for what they're worth, are here.
Of the many gems of ignorance, selective omission and outright denial contained in the report, perhaps the most highly polished is the committee’s claim that, contrary to the conventional wisdom in Washington and Bagdhad, the current Surge in Iraq is doomed to fail. “It is too early to provide a definitive assessment of the US 'surge', but it does not look likely to succeed,” the MPs say.
And the witnesses interviewed by the committee are, of course, supremely well-qualified to report on the current situation in Iraq. They comprise several academics, a smattering of Foreign Office diplomacy fetishists and Kim Howells, one of Labour’s leading left-wingers and critics of Israel. Scanning the list, I was surprised not to see the name of Dr Happy Golucky, emeritus professor of Wishful Thinking at the University of Cloud Cuckoo Land. To the best of my knowledge, none of the witnesses has visited Iraq recently, and most have never been there. No representatives of the US government or military were invited to appear before the committee, although the MPs may well have held an uncredited conference call with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
Moving on to Israel and the Palestinians, the committee criticises the approach of the UK and US (those nit-picking demands to 'renounce terror'!), and calls on former British PM and new Middle East envoy Tony Blair to “urgently consider” engaging with Hamas. This, of course, is the same Hamas who seized power after killing hundreds of its opponents, who have vowed to destroy Israel and whose thugs, reports AP:
“clubbed and slammed rifle butts into opponents staging a rare protest Monday, seizing the cameras of journalists covering the event and raiding media offices to prevent news footage from getting out”.
If the committee is suggesting that Mr Blair needs to talk to Hamas, then in fairness it should also advise him to take a parachute to the discussions, just in case he tells Hamas something they don’t want to hear during a meeting on one of the upper floors of the Gaza City Four Seasons.
The committee also “welcomes” the role of Hamas in the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston. It probably hasn’t read Melanie Phillips’ recent article, in which she explains in detail how the whole affair was basically a Hamas public relations stunt in which the BBC enthusiastically acquiesced.
Turning to last year’s Lebanon war, the committee makes superficial criticisms of both sides before singling out Israel for special attention, saying that elements of its military action in Lebanon were “indiscriminate and disproportionate.” This presumably, is as opposed to those highly- discriminating, GPS-guided Katyusha rockets that Hezbollah aimed exclusively at Israeli military installations with such unwavering precision.
The report goes on: “We conclude that both arms smuggling to Hezbollah and Israeli overflights into sovereign Lebanese territory threaten to undermine and embarrass the Government of Lebanon, as well as the UNIFIL forces operating in the south.” Of course, if the UNIFIL forces weren’t utterly incapable of preventing the smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah, and of stopping Hezbollah from reinforcing fighting positions in preparation for the next assault on Israel, then the Israelis wouldn’t have to carry out overflights.
The MPs also say the UK government's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon last summer has “done significant damage to the UK's reputation in much of the world”. Damage in the eyes of the UN and the ‘international community’, perhaps, but not in the eyes of rational observers, who know that the best way to stop Hezbollah meddling in the affairs of Lebanon, and attacking Israel, is for Israel to destroy it as a fighting force, which we now know it was within days of doing.
The committee goes on to call for contacts with the Syrian government to be resumed, just a few paragraphs after calling for “those who assassinated Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri” – in other words the Syrian government – to be “brought to justice”.
You’re probably getting the idea by now.
Moving on to Iran, the committee says: “We conclude that it is vital that the UK and the international community engage constructively and coherently with Iran on these difficult issues.” This has to be worth a go – after all Ahmadinejad and the mullahs are nothing if not constructive and coherent. This committee doesn’t elaborate on this point, but not to worry – they're going to produce a separate report on the matter.
Talking in general terms about UK diplomacy in the region, the MPs conclude that: “the use by Ministers of phrases such as 'war on terror' and 'arc of extremism' is unhelpful, and that such oversimplifications may lead to dangerous policy implications. We agree with the Minister for the Middle East (Howells) that these phrases cause unnecessary resentment”. What phrases shall we use instead? ‘Initiative to prevent occasional and completely out of character acts of mass murder’ perhaps? ‘Crescent of enlightenment’?
If you sat Mahatma Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and John Lennon around a campfire and got them stoned they couldn’t have produced a document less grounded in reality. Platitudes and cart-before-the horse logic abound, and at every turn the committee’s conclusions are the same: everyone’s equally to blame (but Israel more equally than others), there are no really bad people here (except perhaps the Israelis), and if we just sit down and talk then everything can be sorted out.
It’s too much to hope that new British PM Gordon Brown will treat this report with the contempt it deserves, but if he’s foolish enough to pay lip service to it, and the collection of cross-party political pygmies who produced it, then it will demonstrate beyond doubt that he lacks the courage and single-mindedness of his predecessor, and is ready to desert our American and Israeli allies and abandon the millions of people in the Middle East who yearn to be freed from tyranny and terror.