Karl du Fresne on the left’s unwillingness to confront evil

Karl du Fresne calls out the left over their?unwillingness to confront evil.

It’s hard to think of a more challenging conundrum than the one posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

Labour leader Andrew Little was right last week to describe Isis as evil. It’s a word seldom heard these days because it implies a moral judgment, and moral judgments are unfashionable. But “evil” is the only way to describe men who coldly behead their captives, and then amp up the shock factor by burning one alive.

There is an element of gleeful sadism in their barbarism. Last week they pushed a gay man from the top of a tall building – reportedly the fourth such execution for homosexuality.

As with their other atrocities, they posted pictures and video online, a gesture that was part boast, part taunt. In doing so, they were saying to the world: “Look what we’re capable of. There is no limit to what we will do.

“Norms of civilised behaviour don’t apply to us. In fact we hold the civilised world in contempt. You know, and we know, that you are too weak and divided to stop us.”

And these were merely the more flamboyant examples of Isis’ depravity – the ones calculated to get our attention and fill us with fear, horror and anger.

Almost unnoticed in the background, Isis is proceeding with its grand plan to establish an Islamic caliphate, which means systematically slaughtering or enslaving anyone who stands in its way. No-one, then, can dispute that Isis is evil. The conundrum is what the rest of the world should do about it.

I wish there was a pat answer, but Isis presents a unique challenge because it stands apart from all norms of combat or diplomacy.

It has no regard for human lives, including its own members. It acknowledges no rules, it has no interest in negotiation and its adherents – who seem to include a significant number of thugs with criminal records – are said to be happy to die for their cause because it will ensure entry into paradise. How do you fight such an enemy?

Yet doing nothing is not an option. Either we believe civilised values are worth defending and that vulnerable people deserve protection from mass murderers, or we don’t. And if we do, we can’t just whistle nonchalantly while looking the other way and pretending it isn’t happening.

Strong word in the parliament and some ranty comments on television won;t help those being enslaved by ISIS terrorists. Nor will platitudes like seeking discourse or suggesting we need to reason with their neighbouring countries and those funding terrorism. The left’s solutions are quaint…yet Chamberlain-esque in their design. Appeasement has never worked, ever.

The West has lost its appetite for combat because of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Isis is counting on America and its allies having no stomach for a fight, and so far it has been proved right. The military response has been half-hearted.

In effect, Isis is testing the moral resolve of the civilised world. I just hope we won’t fail the test as we did in in Rwanda and Srebrenica.

This is not like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the objectives were hazy (or in the case of Iraq, tragically misconceived). Isis is not some shadowy terrorist entity; it’s a functioning army, operating in plain sight.

That doesn’t make it easy to defeat, but neither is it an excuse to do nothing.

Unfortunately Andrew Little, while condemning Isis as evil, doesn’t think it’s our business to stop them.

It’s interesting that where Isis is concerned, the Left sharply deviates from its tradition of siding with the weak and vulnerable.

The Islamic State, it insists, is not our problem, no matter how many innocents die.

I suspect the Left is unable to see past its antipathy towards America and can’t bring itself to support any initiative in which America plays a leading role. Its ideological blinkers blind it to the fact that on this occasion, America is on the side of the angels.

Most reprehensible of all is the craven argument that we should avoid antagonising Isis for fear that some deranged jihadist will strike at us in revenge.

That’s moral cowardice of the lowest order.

Prime Minister John Key is right to highlight the inconsistency in the Left’s stance, and I applaud him for saying that New Zealand will not look the other way.

It’s rare for Key to commit himself so emphatically, and commendable for him to do so on one of the pressing moral issues of our time.

We should hold him to it.

Andrew Little clearly hasn’t looked at the history of the Labour party, to a time where their leaders weren’t so timid.

It was after all a Labour Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage who led us into World War Two, to help stop a great evil that was plaguing a far away land. Labour nor this country shirked our responsibilities back then to confront and defeat evil. Peter Fraser was also a wartime Prime Minister after Savage died and likewise a Labour Prime Minister.

Little also forgets it was Helen Clark that committed troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to again confront the evils of Saddam Hussein, a man who gasses whole villages and persecuted minorities, and the Taliban and their particular form of Islamic evil.

Labour used to be principled, now they just look like apologists for Islamic terrorism.

 

– Fairfax

 

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