War and human rights

A quote from the Sunday Telegraph the other day:

'The problem in the UK and Europe is fundamental,' says Andrew McCarthy, an American federal prosecutor. '(The problem) is that you haven't recognised that you are at war.You continue to treat Islamic terrorism as if it were a problem of law enforcement. It is not. You are not dealing with criminals. You're dealing with an enemy who is at war with you, and who wants to destroy your society.'

People who complain about Guantanamo Bay – especially pontificating New Labour politicians sticking their noses into other peoples' business – would do well to take this point on board. Personally I would much rather the Guantanamo detainees were charged and tried properly, but in the current circumstances of a ruthless war against enemies with no regard for any kind of legal principles, it's obvious that they are too valuable as a source of intelligence to be risked at the hands of 'human rights' lawyers. For example, it turns out one of the July bombers in London was known to a Guantanamo detainee – if someone had had managed to show his photo to the detainee before July, many lives might have been saved. In war-time you sometimes have to do things you wouldn't consider in peace-time – we did it in the war against Hitler; now we need to do it in this war against an equal moral evil. Hopefully the institutions of liberal democracy can keep some kind of check on things – after all, in any Muslim state there would be no fuss about a place like Guantanamo, because (a) no-one would know about it and (b) if they did, they wouldn't dare criticise.

But sadly, a large proportion of our liberal, chattering classes will never realise we're at war until a terrorist actually shoves his beard in their face and detonates his bomb! So as usual we have to fight with one hand behind our back. No sane person likes, or wants, war, but as George Orwell so memorably said, 'Sometimes war is the lesser evil'.


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