The Times – 8 July 2016
Apart from believing what we were told by Tony Blair about weapons of mass destruction intelligence in 2003, many of us felt that removing a brutal dictator might lead to the emergence of democracy in post-Saddam Iraq. Events quickly proved us wrong: what we achieved instead was simply the re-emergence of visceral mutual hatreds, stretching back a thousand years, between rival strands of the Islamic faith and compounded by traditional tribal differences. This did not prevent the same error being made in respect of Gaddafi, richly though he deserved his fate, and repeated attempts to convince ourselves of a “moderate” third way in Syria between ruthless secular dictatorship and fanatical Islamist extremism.
It is time to accept that societies are unready for democracy while their politics remain indissolubly linked with totalitarian religious supremacism. There is nothing racialist about this observation: only a few hundred years ago, religious wars devastated Europe and here, in England, heretics were treated just as barbarously as they are in the Middle East today.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA