What shall we make of David Cameron? What can we learn from his little speech in Ankara? What does it tell us about his mental makeup, his grasp of history, his powers of understanding, his ability to make sense of things, his hierarchy of values, his appreciation and knowledge of the country of which he is now, almost accidentally, the Prime Minister, his experience of men and events, his everything?
Let’s start with how the speech itself starts:
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for that very warm welcome. I can tell from your enthusiasm and the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs that I met outside this incredible building that there is an enormous spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurialism and industry and business and trade here in Turkey, and that is one of the reasons that I want our two countries to build this incredibly strong relationship that I will be speaking about this morning.
I have come to Ankara to establish a new partnership between Britain and Turkey. I think this is a vital strategic relationship for our country. As Prime Minister, I first visited our two largest European Union partners, then Afghanistan, then North America and now, I come to Turkey. People ask me, ‘Why Turkey?’ and, ‘Why so soon?’ Well, I can tell you why: because Turkey is vital for our economy, vital for our security and vital for our politics and our diplomacy.
Let me explain. First, our economy.
So: The Economy.
That’s really the main point of Cameron’s speech. It is that Great Britain wants economic ties, wants to make money, from the Turkish market. That’s it. And he comes not as the representative of a country that is equal to, much less conceivably superior to, that of the country and regime he is visiting, but as a supplicant, kowtowing rhetorically to Erdogan.
For David Cameron has very little sense of statecraft as being about something other than markets or money. He is not a leader of Great Britain, but the current C.E.O., and his disturbingly youthful face – and that of his able assistant Mr. Clegg – remind one not of farseeing Churchill scanning the London sky with binoculars, or good old Macmillan on the links, or even of pipe-puffing Harold Wilson, but of public school boys who have sown their wild oats previously, but are now having a slightly more sedate yet still excellent adventure, something like the old stories about “Tom and Jerry in London.”
He is the apotheosis of modern with-it politicians, who do not have much knowledge of their own, or other people’s histories, and who seem to have been born yesterday and proud of it. The most telling remark that David Cameron has ever made is that about 1940. That was the most important year, save possibly for 1215 or 1066, in British history. It was the year that, with the Nazis having overrun the Continent, and the United States not yet in the war, Great Britain stood alone. Some may remember the famous Low cartoon of that day: “Very well, then. Alone.” But David Cameron spoke a few weeks ago about the United States fighting fiercely in 1940 – in other words, he could not even remember that in that year the British were alone and trying to persuade the Americans to enter the war, until the bombs at Pearl Harbor made such persuasion unnecessary. Some may call it a mere slip, the oral equivalent of a typographical error. They are being too kind.
David Cameron, like his Tweedle-twin Clegg, has the soft expression that one too often sees in American highschool yearbooks, the expression of people who have not known adversity, are not schooled in the ways and wiles of other peoples who are possibly wiser and less trusting and less innocent. The impression one has is of a permanent naÃ¯f.
And what does David Cameron know about what he talks about Islam, when he courts Turkey, or rather courts those who now rule Turkey, and whose good will he thinks he needs? There have been so many eviscerating articles that one hardly knows what to add. When he tells Erdogan, and tells the world, that he, David Cameron, knows what the “real Islam” is, and that the “real Islam” has nothing to do with what those whom Bush and Blair used to describe as those who “had hijacked a great religion,” he offers no evidence. He invites ridicule, and ridicule has accepted the invitation, and has moved in to 10 Downing Street, I think for quite a long stay, perhaps for as long as David Cameron the ephebe continues to discharge, as best he can, the responsibilities of rule from there.
We all know – even those who do not visit this site know – that whatever else may be said, no one can say that those who conduct violent Jihad are acting in a way of which Muhammad, the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil, would not approve. We all know that the doctrine of Jihad refers not — as Karen Armstrong and John Brennan, two peas in the same laughter-causing pod, would have it — primarily to some “interior struggle” to be “good Muslims.” Rather, it refers to the “struggle” that must go on, permanently, between Believer and Unbeliever, between those who are Muslims and those who are Infidels. For a state of permanent hostility or war must exist between the two, and Muslims must use whatever instruments of Jihad are available and effective – which may, but need not, include terrorism and qitaal. In early Islam, however, before such things as the Money Weapon and propaganda and demographic conquest without any need for military conquest were developed, terrorism (“strike terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers”) and qitaal were the only instruments available. Now there are so many other ways to conquer the enemy’s lands from within.
Cameron did not appear to realize that he had damaged the cause of the best people in Turkey, the secularists, the ones who more or less share the same intellectual and moral universe as does Western man, and who are being subject to every form of persecution and harassment that the sinister Erdogan regime and its henchmen think they can get away with, including trumped-up charges which, for all I know, will be followed by Show Trials in the grand tradition of Andrey Vishinsky, in Moscow, circa 1938. He seems to think there is this place called “Turkey” which is to be thought of only in terms of its current, Kemalism-undoing rulers, when it is entirely possible that that regime has come to the end of what it can do, and now must draw back. And even so, it has so alarmed the secularists, and so alarmed, too, the Alevis who do not like the way the regime has heartened Sunni Muslims to take a more aggressive stance toward them, that they may help vote Erdogan out at the next election. And a Turkish regime run by secularists will not forget the craven nonsense that David Cameron uttered, which only helps Erdogan and his party to present themselves, like those who rule in the Islamic Republic of Iran but in a minor key, as winning over the Infidels, as forcing them to come to terms with them.
David Cameron, on the basis of no known knowledge of Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, but only on the basis of some bullet-riddled Executive Summary prepared for him by some Deputy Assistant Underling For Pious Nonsense, someone seconded from the Foreign Office to the Circumlocution Office and at last, sent to the Office of the Prime Minister, said not something like this but actually this:
They [those in the West who are worried about the ideology of Islam, and therefore worried about the adherents and spreaders of that ideology in the West] see no difference between real Islam and the distorted version of the extremists. They think the values of Islam can never be compatible with the values of other religions, societies or cultures.
Now among those doubters, those naysayers, those “right wing” or “extreme right wing” impugners of wonderful Islam, which David Cameron has been studying for years and any minute now will produce those verses that prove that Islam is as he says, are such people as Wafa Sultan, Magdi Allam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Ibn Warraq, Afshin Elian, and many others. And among those doubters and skeptics and worriers, too, one can find, among many others, Alexis De Tocqueville and John Quincy Adams. One can even find former Prime Ministers of Great Britain. There was Gladstone – he was the last Prime Minister to speak at length about the Turks, when he wrote and agitated about the Bulgarian Wars. Does Mr. Cameron know what Gladstone said about the Turks, in pre-Ataturk period of their existence? And does he care? And then there was one other Prime Minister who wrote memorably not about the Turks, but about the votaries of Islam. That was Winston Churchill, the man whose bust was removed by Obama from the White House and returned to the Embassy of Great Britain, for reasons that have yet to be explained, and whose memory, apparently, has been largely effaced from the mental hard-drive of young David Cameron.
Let’s just put that by-now well-known statement here, so that David Cameron can find it, and read it, and think about it:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property — either as a child, a wife, or a concubine — must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science — the science against which it had vainly struggled — the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.
But, David Cameron may splutter, things are different now. Islam has changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born, and so on and so bloody forth. Or he might simply ignore what Churchill had to say, or tell us “what the hell did that old fuddy-duddy know about anything? He knew nothing. He didn’t have the education I did.” True. Winston Churchill did not have the “education” that David Cameron did.
Nowhere in the speech of David Cameron was there any sense of Europe, or of the West. He surely knew, but did not care, that the French and the Germans would be furious at his remarks about Turkey’s admission to the. E.U., an admission which he not only said should take place, but that he, David Cameron, would personally “fight” for. And one wonders if even now he realizes how many European governments, and how many people in Europe, horrified at the prospect of Turkey entering the E.U., have decided that they cannot count on the British government, under the two callow philo-Islamic Tweedle twins, Cameron and Clegg, and certainly cannot count on the Obama Administration, which like the one before it thinks that Turkey’s admission to the E.U. would be a swell idea. Americans, if they have no special personal ties to Europe, even at the level of a vacation house in France or Italy, seem blandly indifferent to the menace to the survival of Europe as Europe of the large and growing Islamic presence in Western Europe, what that presence means now, and what it will mean, if not vigilantly diminished, in the future.
There was talk about the economy.
And there was talk about “security.” Apparently David Cameron is under the mistaken impression that Turkey is a valued and loyal member of NATO. It might once have been that, or might once have had its uses, but that was during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was, in Turkish eyes, merely Russia, the hereditary enemy of Turkey, and thus to be opposed. When 5,400 Turkish troops took part in the Korean conflict, and Turkey was amply rewarded, too amply, by membership in NATO, that did not mean that Turkey was now a member of the West. And what’s more, those troops were under the command of secular officers, and sent by a secular government, and the North Koreans and Chinese were not Muslims, so could be fought without any second thoughts. Successive Turkish governments, or rather the Turkish military, have cooperated with the Americans, who were allowed then the base at Incirlik. But to the great surprise of many in the Bush Administration who completely misunderstood the power and tug of Islamic solidarity, the Turks did not allow a fourth division to enter Iraq from the north, from Turkey, that might, just possibly, have made things in that north quite different early on.
Does David Cameron not know about the Turkish political figures who compared American troops in Iraq – unfavorably – to the Nazis? Does he not know of the popularity of “Valley of the Wolves,” of that Der-Stuermer-like movie, about Americanazis stormtrooping their way through Iraq, and about a Jewish doctor, a regular Mengele, who harvests the organs of murdered Iraqis for re-sale to his clients in Los Angeles, New York, and Tel Aviv? Wikipedia tells us that “the Wall Street Journal characterized it as ‘a cross between ‘American Psycho’ in uniform and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, while Turkey’s parliamentary speaker Bulent Arinc described it as ‘absolutely magnificent.'”
Has he noticed that his host, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been spending a lot of time in Arab countries lately, and also with the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for whom he has attempted to run diplomatic interference with the West, and whose “right” to acquire nuclear weapons he wholeheartedly supports? Does he not know that Erdgoan has turned to the Muslim lands not because he feels that “Europe is rejecting him” but because even if, or perhaps especially if, Turkey were admitted to the E.U., he would do so, and help Muslims outside of Turkey to use Turkey’s membership in the E.U. to the advantage of Islam, and of Muslims, worldwide? Does David Cameron know — have those who tell him what they think he should know about Turkey in three, or perhaps four, pages, told him? — that Erdogan has talked of granting Turkish citizenship to Muslims outside of Turkey? Were that to be the policy, were Turkey to be – as various Muslim leaders including the occasionally truth-telling Qaddafy have suggested – a stalking horse or rather a Trojan Horse for Muslims inside Europe (that was what Qaddafy called it), there might be no way to stop not only millions of Turks from moving freely about the cabin of the E.U., but of millions or tens of millions of other Muslims, now “Turkish citizens,” perhaps some of them paying the government of Turkey for the privilege of doing the same, of becoming “citizens of an E.U. member” entitled to move and live anywhere in any of the constituent member-states of the E.U.
Has David Cameron been made aware that the Erdogan regime, the one that hosted him, the one that now rules in Turkey, was deeply implicated in the publicity stunt directed by the I.H.H., a group that Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the French terrorism expert and former magistrate, has linked directly to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups such as Hamas? The Mavi Marmara incident was a set-up to pressure Israel to abandon its nautical checkpoint designed to keep out weapons and those goods that have a dual-use as war materiel. No, Cameron didn’t know that? Why not?
One has an awful feeling about David Cameron that, as a thoroughly callow and shallow product of the most up-to-date blackberry-and-computer world, he’s not much of a reader of history. Oh, you’ll tell me, didn’t he study PPE, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, at Oxford, and didn’t he get a First? Well, if at this point you still can be impressed with those of presumably high degree, you haven’t been spending enough time with the “well-educated” who are churned out at Harvard, Yale, and similar places, and you fail to imagine the dons, and the circumstances, that would allow Old Etonian Mr. Cameron to smirk-swagger his way through Oxford, and the kind of examinations that demand not thought but regurgitation, a simulacrum of thought. And even if we were to concede – I don’t – that at one point David Cameron was capable of taking in things, and capable of thinking about them, that was three decades ago. What has he thought for us lately?
Cameron has no idea that an “Idea of Europe” exists. He does not understand Islam, as many have already said. If asked, he could not adduce textual evidence for his assertion that the “real Islam” has nothing to do with those people the Obama administration likes to call “violent extremists.” There is not a single passage from the Qur’an, not a single story in the Hadith, not a single detail from the life of Muhammad, the Model of Conduct for all time, that is made up by those who are propagandists, or members of, Al Qaeda. The texts are on their side. Some Muslims choose not to act upon those texts, out of ignorance of Islam, or more often out of the human desire to simply get on with their lives. This is combined in the West with the prudent decision that now is not yet the time to rock the boat or to show too obviously what Islam is all about, and that it would be better to conduct Jihad slowly by other means. All this is, writ large, a little like the quarrel over tactics and timing, but not on ultimate goals, that separate the Fast Jihadists of Hamas, who are most impatient, from the Slow Jihadists of Fatah, who realize that the war against Israel must for now continue to be conducted through such means as diplomatic pressure, unceasing propaganda, economic boycotts, and whatever else comes to hand short of outright warfare on the battlefield, at least as long as Israel has not yet been pushed back to the 1949 Armistice Lines, which will make going-in-for-the-kill much more immediately attractive an option.
What does matter to David Cameron is money, trade, the great business of buying and selling. That would be understandable if he were merely the head of the British Board of Trade, akin to the head of the American Chamber of Commerce, visiting Turkey to drum up more trade. But he is not that. He is the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and his country is part of the West, and the West is now threatened by the large-scale and growing presence of Muslims within that very West. David Cameron, instead of discreetly avoiding the topic, took it right on – took it right on, and came down firmly, boldly, uncompromisingly, on the side of the Muslims. He will fight for Turkey’s admission to the E. U. He will ignore the fact that Turkey is now ruled by the most Muslim and, therefore, the most anti-Infidel, anti-Western, government, since the days of Abdul Hamid. He knows nothing of the “real Islam” whose spirit and letter he so self-assuredly, and baselessly, invokes. He offers not one shred of evidence to show that what every decent Western scholar – from Schacht and Snouck Hurgoronje to Jeffrey and Dufourcq – understood about Islam, he acts as if Wafa Sultan and Magdi Allam and Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali had not provided ample and convincing testimony, as defectors from the Army of Islam, as to what it is all about. He instead is merely a Commercial traveler, unpacking his wares, making his pitch, a Podsnap who wants to know nothing at all about those who interest him for one reason and one reason only: they are to be his customers. That’s what counts.
For David Cameron there is no West, there is no Europe with a distinct history, and achievements in every sphere that could not have been achieved in any place where Islam dominated — in art, in science, in literature, in music, in the development of the idea of the individual and the solicitousness for the rights of individuals.
He doesn’t care. He’s unpacking his wares. That’s the great business of British living, according to the Minister of the Board of Trade, masquerading as Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, this New Man, this homo purely economicus who is now, and alas, for a few years to come, the head of a country without which the West cannot be said to exist.
In his remarks about “real Islam,” and about his determination to “fight for Turkey’s admission to the E.U.,” and in his snarling viciousness — not for the first time — about Israel, Cameron managed to antagonize people all over Europe who are terrified of Turkey’s admission to the E.U. He managed to promote Erdogan and thus antagonize Turkish secularists who must wonder what got into him. He managed to signal that his understanding of the war — the Jihad– being waged against Israel, and Israel’s attempts to defend itself against an unceasing onslaught, was abysmal. (It is not the Gazan Arabs, but the Jews of Israel who are under a worldwide and without-end siege, by Arabs and Muslims who follow their lead, conducted through all possible means, to weaken the state before going in for the kill.) It was, in a sense, a Trifecta in reverse: he said everything wrong, he did everything wrong. His tone was wrong, his content was wrong. He’s the wedding-cake groom, or the eager salesman in the blue suit which, even if bought bespoke at great expense, looks as cheesy as the worst 7th Avenue knockoff.
So in the chanceries of France and Germany and Italy, in the banana-skin-lined corridors of power in the Pentagon and the State Department, and in Great Britain itself, those who know what’s what will not exactly ignore him, but having now taken his measure, and taken as well the measure, or rather the remarkably similar measurements (just look at their identical suits, ties, shirts, expressions, minds) of his nearly identical twin, the apologist for all that is not Western, Mr. Clegg, Tweedledee to his Tweedledum (and this allows us to think of them both as the Tweedle Twins), we all learn to hold him at a distance and in contempt, and work around him, around both of the Tweedle Twins.
That’s the way it’s going to have to be, apparently — unless the Conservatives can figure out a way to remove this embarrassment. So be it.