Peter Hitchens — Mail on Sunday April 9, 2017
Now we have definitely moved from being a post-war world to being a pre-war world. Madness and folly are loose again.
Consider first that early on Friday morning the United States Navy launched 59 cruise missiles on behalf of Al Qaeda.
If this is not bad enough for you, note that the President of the United States did not even bother to pretend that he was seeking United Nations cover for what he did.
Note next that in the same week our Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a duty visit to pay homage to the medieval despots of Saudi Arabia, who kindly buy our warplanes and bombs, and are currently using them to savage effect in Yemen.
And President Trump was playing host at the White House to the head of Egypt’s military junta, General el-Sisi, whose security forces undoubtedly massacred at least 600 protesters (probably many more) in the streets of Cairo in August 2013.
And then mark that the pretext for this bizarre rocket attack was an unproven claim that President Assad of Syria had used poison gas. Yes, unproven. The brutality of Sisi and the Saudis is beyond doubt. They didn’t use gas, but our leaders’ outrage at Assad’s alleged gas attack looks a little contrived if they keep such company.
Also what happened to the rules of evidence? Many people have written, spoken – and now acted – as if the charge was proven. Why the hurry?
Now, Mr Assad is not a nice person. I have been writing rude things about his bloodstained and wicked regime for years. But he is not insane.
He knows that the use of poison gas is the one thing that will make the USA intervene against him. They have said so. He is currently winning his war against Islamist fanatics, with conventional weapons.
He had even finally got the USA to stop demanding his dismissal. Five days before the alleged attack – five days! – America’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, announced: ‘Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.’
So why would he do such a thing, and throw away all his victories in a few minutes? It makes no sense of any kind. As you ponder this, can I explain something about the place where the gas attack is said to have happened?
No independent Western journalist could go there. He or she would be killed or kidnapped within hours. Any report which comes from that region is filtered through people who you never see in the film that does get out. I have met men like them on my travels. I would not want to offend them. These are the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, alias the Al-Nusra Front, alias Al Qaeda, the Syrian ‘opposition’ which we in the West have been supporting for several years.
Yes, that’s right, the people we have been helping are not Liberal Democrats or Girl Guides or Quakers. No, they are the same movement which destroyed Manhattan’s Twin Towers.
The only big difference between them and Islamic State is that we drop bombs on Islamic State. And we drop bombs on behalf of Al-Nusra/Al Qaeda. I’ve noted here before how these people have publicly kidnapped, killed and even sunk their teeth into the entrails of dead enemies.
But in this case, another small detail may make you wonder about what you are being told. In some reports of the alleged atrocity, a supposed ‘British doctor’, Shajul Islam, was quoted or shown on the spot, described as a ‘volunteer treating victims in hospital’.
Actually, he shouldn’t really be called a British doctor. He was struck off the British medical register for ‘misconduct’ in March 2016. The General Medical Council won’t say why.
And in 2012 Shajul Islam was charged with terror offences in a British court. He was accused of imprisoning John Cantlie, a British photographer, and a Dutchman, Jeroen Oerlemans.
Both men were held by a militant group in Syria and both were wounded when they tried to escape. Shajul Islam, it was alleged, was among their captors. Shajul Islam’s trial collapsed in 2013, when it was revealed that Mr Cantlie had been abducted once again, and could not give evidence.
Mr Oerlemans refused to give evidence for fear that it would further endanger Mr Cantlie.
Mr Oerlemans has since been killed in Libya.
So the supposedly benevolent medical man at the scene of the alleged atrocity turns out to be a struck-off doctor who was once put on trial for kidnapping. Does this change your view at all?
It takes a couple of minutes to find this out if you look. But only one major Western news outlet, The Times, has put two and two together. Why is that?
It’s for the same reason that we are in this mess. We wish to fool ourselves and are good at it.
The once-wealthy and powerful West is falling to bits. It is bankrupt and increasingly at the mercy of people who have begun to demand something in return for their trade and their loans.
It is all very sordid, and bodes ill for the future, but I would mind it less if we admitted what we were doing, rather than pretending these wretched events were some sort of noble act.