Out for a pillion ride

Posted: Jul 20, 2005 12:00 AM

Britain's highly respected (until now) Chatham House, formerly known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, announced their considered judgment last week that Britain's alliance with the United States in Iraq contributed to the cause of the terrorist strike on London a fortnight ago. The report then went on to pronounce that the key problem in Britain for preventing terrorism is that the country is "riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war on terror."

 What a vile, lying, contemptuous assertion. For those unfamiliar with the term, a pillion is a padded, woman's passenger seat on a motorcycle driven traditionally by a man. The British are riding as a "pillion passenger"?

 Tell that to the Royal Scots Dragoons, The Black Watch Regiment, The Irish Guard, the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the 33rd Engineers Explosive Ordinance Disposal Regiment, the Royal Marines, The Special Air Service (special forces), the Staffordshire Regiment, The Royal Air Force, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, and the many other British military units fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pillion passengers? My horse's backside! (and it's even wider than my own).

 According to the British newspaper The Guardian, Chatham House is staffed by "leading academics and former civil servants. " For such as these to disparage the flower of British manhood, which may yet again be the savior of the nation -- as it has countless times through her history -- is shameful.

 These unworthy heirs to an England that "Never did, nor never shall, Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror," to an England that is "this royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, this earthly majesty, this seat of Mars," these unworthies, by their analysis and conclusions prove they have as little between their ears as they presumedly do between their legs.

 These hapless, hopeless "thinkers" are following in the foolish, timorous tradition of the European "neutrals" who were the object of Winston Churchill's wise but unheeded guidance back in January 1940.

 The Nazis had conquered Poland in the winter of 1939, and then paused to digest their meal. The French army and the British Expeditionary Force sat warily watching toward the East and waiting. It was the season of the Phony War, the Sitzkreig.

 Churchill, then only First Lord of the Admiralty (he became prime minister in May) gave a speech on Jan. 20 in which he impleaded to the neutral states (Norway, Holland, Belgium, Romania among others): "What would happen if all these neutral nations I have mentioned -- and some I have not mentioned -- were with one spontaneous impulse to do their duty in accordance with the Covenant of the League, and were to stand together with the British and French Empires against aggression and wrong? At present their plight is lamentable; and it will become much worse. They bow humbly and in fear to German threats of violence. …

 "Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured. But I fear -- I fear greatly -- the storm will not pass. It will rage and it will roar, ever more loudly, ever more widely. It will spread to the South; it will spread to the North. There is no chance of a speedy end except through united action."

 For the Chatham House experts -- and their legion of similarly mentally impaired co-thinkers in America and Europe -- they deduce from events that Britain would be safer waiting for the Americans to successfully suppress the Islamist insurgency worldwide. (Or, if the Americans fail, appeasing the insurgent passions).

 Of course it is true in any fight, those who first step up to confront the enemy are certain of being bloodied. That is the commonplace that the Chatham House worthies have brilliantly discovered.

 But the coward's calculation is also extremely risky. If he added his arms to the fight early, he risks being hurt, but he increases the chance that his side will survive the lethal enemy attack. By holding back his share of the common defense, he risks the enemy defeating each of its targets, in seriatim.

 In World War II, Holland and Belgium bet wrong. Had they joined the alliance in January, their stout defense -- backed up by properly positioned British and French troops might have held the line against the Germans in May 1940. That was certainly Churchill's hope.

 But does all this misty recollection of WWII have any relevance to today's danger? Of course, the operations of this war are as different from WWII's operations as one can conceive. And yet the principals are the same. Each European country that is not ferociously aggressive against the nests of Islamists in their midsts not only endanger themselves but provide another close base of operations from which their neighbors may be attacked.

 The danger is like an insinuating virus. The larger the contagion-free zone, the safer for every body.