Alex Massie

Spook chief’s craven surrender to voices of appeasement? Which means, of course, that he’s speaking sense.

Text settings

I'm not quite sure why Marty Peretz seems so invested in the idea that many New Republic readers believe, as he puts it, "that the notion of an Al Qaeda threat to the West is a hokey fantasy of the Bushies". Perhaps Mr Peretz's blog has a cadre of leftist readers who rarely crop up at TNR's other blogs or on the magazine's letters page.

Anyway, Peretz then says that everyone should pay attention to what the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, had to say recently. If you don't believe me, Marty says, perhaps you'll believe him:

The Post quotes Evans: "Terrorist attacks we have seen against the U.K. are  not simply random plots by disparate and fragmented groups....The majority  of these attacks, successful or otherwise, have taken place because Al Qaeda has a clear determination to mount terrorist attacks against the  United Kingdom." This "deliberate campaign" against Britain is the "most immediate and acute peacetime threat" to the nation in a century.

But this doesn't say what Marty Peretz seems to think it says. The key word in this quotation is "peacetime".

However much it sticks in some folks' craw, we're not "At War" whatever that might mean or look like these days. Neither British nor American society - to say nothing of our respective economies - is on anything like a war footing. And thank god for that. To say that terrorism is a policing and intelligence problem is not the same as denying the existence of any threat. But it is a more measured and, frankly, saner approach than vein-popping paranoia and visions of the apocalypse.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleInternationalterrorism