Drain the swamp: the Cold War on Islamic terror
In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron responded to Lee Rigby’s brutal murder by jihadis in London by vowing the “drain the swamp” of violent Islam. He told the Commons:
“…it is not simply enough to target and go after violent extremists after they’ve become violent. We have to drain the swamp in which they inhabit.”
The phrase was heard in 2001. Back then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters in the Pentagon:
The best way to get at the terrorist networks is to “drain the swamp they live in,” Rumsfeld said, referring to action against countries that harbor terrorist activities…
“The people who committed these acts are clearly determined to try to force the United States of America and our values to withdraw from the world or to respond by curtailing our freedoms,” he said. “If we do that the terrorists will have won.”
Basically, Americans have a choice, Rumsfeld explained. They can change the way they live, which the secretary called unacceptable, or America can change the way the terrorists live. We have chosen the latter. We intend to put them on the defensive,” Rumsfeld said. “This requires a distinctly different approach from any war that we have fought before.”
How well did that go?
Noam Chomsky wrote in 2002:
Twenty years ago, the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Yehoshaphat Harkabi, also a leading Arabist, made a point that still holds true. “To offer an honourable solution to the Palestinians respecting their right to self-determination: that is the solution of the problem of terrorism,” he said. “When the swamp disappears, there will be no more mosquitoes.”…
If we insist on creating more swamps, there will be more mosquitoes, with awesome capacity for destruction.
If we devote our resources to draining the swamps, addressing the roots of the “campaigns of hatred”, we can not only reduce the threats we face but also live up to ideals that we profess and that are not beyond reach if we choose to take them seriously.
Now after the murders in Tunisia, Rachel Sylvester revisits the phrase:
Just as Tony Blair declared after 7/7 that the “rules of the game have changed” so the iron has entered Mr Cameron’s soul — but there is a critical difference. Whereas the former Labour prime minister let rip with a raft of draconian new laws designed to prevent future attacks, including the proposed 90-day detention without trial of terrorist suspects, the current Conservative one is embarking on a battle of ideas…
With Mr Cameron promising a “full spectrum response”, any crocodile-shooting measures — such as the so-called “snooper’s charter” — will be matched by a concerted swamp-draining exercise. Extremists could be banned from appearing on the airwaves and speaking at universities. Public bodies will refuse to engage with any group that condones what the prime minister calls “the Islamist extremist narrative”.
So much for not changing our way of life and the freedoms the UK hold dear. Free speech, that most precious of things, is the first thing to go.
Although the Home Office will co-ordinate the counter-extremism strategy, all departments will be expected to contribute. The Department for Education is today sending out guidance to all primary and secondary schools, making clear that radicalisation is now a “safeguarding issue” that should be treated as seriously as child exploitation.
Pupils must be taught how to resist grooming by Islamist extremists in the same way as they are advised how to avoid making themselves vulnerable to paedophiles. This comes on top of the requirement to promote “British values” in schools.
And nothing is more British than telling children they are never more than 6-feet away from a paedophile.
If this is a battle of cultures, it’s more a Cold War than jihad.
Melanie Phillips writes in the Times:
It is not for us non-Muslims to say which interpretation is the true Islam. Our task is instead not just to destroy those carrying out these terrible deeds but also to defeat the beliefs that motivate them. We need to see this rather like the struggle against Soviet communism: a battle of ideas within the Islamic world.
For that battle is now under way. There are brave and isolated Muslims who understand they need to reform their religion. We should be giving them every encouragement and holding our breath that they succeed. For this menace can only be defeated if the Muslim world reforms itself.
Instead, every time someone says that Islam is a religion of peace, the reformers’ legs are kicked from underneath them. For if there is nothing wrong with Islam, it follows there is no need to reform it…
The weakness of the West is not so much military as civilisational. Both Sunni and Shia Islamists understand this very well. Who can be surprised, therefore, that they exult with every atrocity as they watch liberalism consume itself from within.
George Eaton writes:
The most politically notable section of his statement came when Cameron declared that “we must be stronger at standing up for our values” and “must be more intolerant of intolerance – taking on anyone whose views condone the extremist narrative or create the conditions for it to flourish”. It is language that will hearten those such as Michael Gove, who have long argued that the government needs to “drain the swamp” that leads non-violent Islamists towards jihadism and not wait for “the crocodiles to reach the boat” (the cause of his fierce disagreement with Theresa May last year). Cameron has resurrected the themes of his 2011 Munich speech, which attacked the “doctrine of state multiculturalism” and vowed to challenge groups that “push an extremist agenda”.
So. Let’s drain teh swamp. And remember: ‘When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.’