Tony Abbott has a surprisingly nuanced view on Islamic militancy

Guildhall, City of London, March 2015 by DncnH

Some of you may still remember Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister who was turfed out by his old buddy Malcolm Turnbull in a brutal political coup back in September.

At the end of October, and presumably with a lighter schedule, Abbott spoke at the Second Annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture at the Guildhall in the City of London, the seat of the shady body that runs the capital’s financial borough.

Abbott’s brand of full-throttled conservatism has not won him many friends among lefties and liberals in Britain, but his speech to the conservative establishment was less severe than one might expect.

Admittedly the former prime minister did continue to defend his controversial migration policies, in particular his treatment of “boat people” which has reduced illegal migration but landed many in barbaric tropical prisons.

The general applicability of his strategy, which involved turning away all those attempting to come to Australia via improper channels, will also be questioned by many sympathetic to him given the scale of the migration crisis in Europe.

However his comments on the threat from Islamic militants were astute:

“Of course the overwhelming majority of Muslims don’t support terrorism. But many still think that death should be the punishment for apostasy [leaving the religion]. Of course the true meaning of Islam is a matter for Muslims to resolve, but everyone has a duty to support and protect those decent humane Muslims who accept cultural diversity.”

His prescription to combat Islamic State (which he referred to as Daesh, a word that many lefties prefer because it draws less attention to the Islamic nature of the group) will no doubt be more controversial:

“The United States and its allies, including Britain and Australia, have launched air strikes against this would-be terrorist empire. We’ve help to contain its advanced in Iraq but we haven’t defeated it, because it can’t be defeated without more effective local forces on the ground.”

He went on to add:

“As Margaret Thatcher so clearly understood over the Falklands, those that won’t use decisive force when needed end up being dictated to by those who will. Of course no American or British or Australian parent should face bereavement in a fight far away – but what is the alternative?

“Leaving anywhere, even Syria, to the collective determination of Russia, Iran and Daesh should be too horrible to contemplate. That’s why it’s a pity that the recent UN leaders week summit was solely about countering violent extremism, which everyone agrees involves working with Muslim communities, and not about dealing much more effectively with the Caliphate that’s now the most potent inspiration for it.”

Abbott may well be correct in some of his assessments. But it’s almost irrelevant given the lack of political will for another fight in the Middle East.

As for the prospect of a coherent European strategy to deal with the migration crisis – well, forget about it.

 Image Credit – Guildhall, City of London, March 2015 by DncnH

Jimmy Nicholls
Writes somewhat about British politics and associated matters. Contact

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