Now Putin reshuffles Trump’s staff

One wonders if the West is getting finlandised. For those of you too young to know, or too old to remember this term, it refers to the USSR’s post-war relationship with Finland.

The country managed to retain her nominal independence, but nominal was the operative word. The Soviets effectively controlled Finland’s government, planting their agents into key posts and exercising veto powers over state appointments.

While still technically part of the West, Finland had to do Russia’s bidding in her foreign and trade policy, while refraining from joining any anti-Soviet alliances, such as Nato.

Now one gets a distinct impression that Col. Putin is seeking a similar arrangement with other Western countries, emphatically including the USA.

The poison spreading from the Kremlin has already infected the Trump administration, in my view incurably. This, regardless of whether or not the president himself is directly implicated in questionable, possibly illegal, dealings with Putin’s kleptofascist junta.

Since no prima facie evidence of any such involvement has been presented, the good tradition of Western legality demands that Trump be considered innocent. However, this side of a court of law, one is allowed to speculate, and no disbelief needs to be suspended to realise that, even if Trump isn’t guilty, he’s as good as.

Why else has he densely surrounded himself with those whose links with a hostile power range from inappropriate to criminal? Why else has he refrained from uttering a single word against Putin, while singing his numerous praises? Why else hasn’t he introduced tougher sanctions on Russia after her attempts to subvert the American electoral process came to light?

Once again, even assuming that Trump himself is squeaky clean, he’s in the very least guilty of a criminally negligent personnel policy. This has already turned him into a lame duck president, unable to push any of his flagship policies through Congress – this in spite of his party having a majority in both Houses.

Meanwhile, things are going from bad to worse. Three of Trump’s closest advisers, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn have had to resign in disgrace. Secretary of State Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions are under suspicion, for the same reason.

And yesterday Mike Dubke, the White House PR chief, had to resign under a cloud painted the colours of the Russian flag. The same cloud is hanging over the heads of Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus, press secretary Sean Spicer and, above all, Trump’s éminence grise and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Kushner had a hush-hush meeting with Sergei Gorkov, a career KGB officer seconded, along with many of his colleagues, to the Russian financial industry. (Gorkov personifies yet another reason I admire Putin so much: the good colonel has managed to create history’s unique government, formed by a fusion of secret police and organised crime.)

Allegedly the purpose of the friendly get-together was to establish a secret communication link bypassing official government channels. What it was in reality is anyone’s guess, but even the alleged purpose, if proved, ought to suffice for a summary sacking or worse.

And even Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, is about to be subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee after his refusal to supply records of his own contacts with Putin’s jolly friends.

At this rate Trump is soon going to run out of staff. How long before he also runs out of friends on the Hill and in the Republican National Committee?

At some point, Republicans will figure out that Trump is a liability and that, compared to him, Nixon was a valuable asset even at the height of Watergate. They’ll then realise that keeping Trump on may make the party unelectable for a generation, which would be a tragedy for the country, the world and – most important to that lot – their own careers.

Are Trump’s own antennae beginning to twitch? His line of work requires no deep intellect, but it does place a premium on a finely attuned self-preservation instinct. Leaving quietly and of his own accord may be his best bet, avoiding an explosive scandal complete with impeachment if not a criminal charge.

For the time being, he could leave with his head held high, proud of the invaluable service he rendered his country: keeping Hillary out of the White House. Yet that exit door may be slammed shut at any moment.

As to Col. Putin, he does what the KGB, whatever it’s called at the time, has always done: creating troubled waters all over the world, undermining the West’s unity, whipping up pro-Kremlin propaganda, subverting everything subvertable, compromising everything compromisable, employing every old trick from the repertoire of the cloak-and-dagger arts and quite a few new ones, such as electronic sabotage.

The difference is that these days it’s not the KGB that serves the government, but vice versa. The KGB is the government, which is made clear even by that sinister organisation’s presence in Russia’s ruling elite: 80 per cent of it have backgrounds similar to Gorkov’s.

Those who say that Putin’s Russia presents a much greater danger than the Islamic State are absolutely right. As are those who lament that the West seems incapable of confronting this threat with intelligence and courage.

The graves of academe

As a lifelong champion of progress, I’m happy to see that the concept of the university has advanced since the time that ox-like lad Tommaso from Aquino left his monastery at Monte Cassino.

He travelled to Paris to study with Albertus Magnus at the University of Paris, where his time was utterly wasted on such useless and anachronistic subjects as philosophy, theology, poetry, music, maths and astronomy.

If Thomas Aquinas lived today, he could go to Oxford University instead, where his time would be more profitably spent on taking compulsory courses in black or Asian history.

These courses have been made mandatory after protests under the banners of the ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ campaign resounded through the university halls.

This is one of those questions that, if posed, can only be answered with two words, of which the second one is ‘off’ (pronounced ‘orf’ in the good Oxford tradition).

For such questions are asked solely for the purpose of rabble-rousing, not to elicit a civilised, informative answer. If that weren’t the case, one could explain to the rabble-rousers that Asian people have made a negligible contribution to our civilisation, and black people next to none.

One could argue that some of the formative influences on Western thought were exerted by people like Augustine and Tertullian, who weren’t exactly white. But they are worth studying not because of their skin colour, but because they indeed exerted a formative influence on Western thought.

An Oxford spokesman has commented on the progress achieved in the syllabus, but not the way I would have done. I would have said that the faculty and administration have succumbed to mob rule, thereby proving yet again that university education no longer means anything.

The spokesman said something different: “We are always open to academically sound suggestions for augmenting our curriculum.” But of course. However, the question does remain whether or not a study of the dreams Martin Luther King had represents an academically sound subject.

As a lifelong champion of progress, I can only answer in the affirmative. As someone who still retains some residual sanity I have to answer with two words, of which the second one is ‘off’ – however it’s pronounced.

Forgetting for a moment my championship of progress, I’d suggest that someone with a keen interest in Martin Luther King’s dreams or Mahatma Gandhi’s bathing habits should by all means pursue such interests. I could even a recommend a book or two on those subjects.

Realising that most of today’s students may not be into extracurricular reading, I’d even suggest that an optional course on minor sub-cultures might be made available. But making such courses compulsory is too much even for someone with my unwavering devotion to progress.

At a weak moment I may even suggest that universities ought to be places for acquiring higher learning, not venting baser emotions. What should matter isn’t the racial composition of the student body, faculty or subjects studied but pursuit of academic excellence.

When a university becomes a battleground for ideological warfare, it first stops being a university and then the worst possible ideology wins. I dare suggest that mine is the truly colour-blind approach to such matters.

Our former PM Dave disagrees – or rather did so when he was still in office. Then he was aghast that Oxford only took on 27 black students in 2014. That line of thought is echoed by today’s second-year student Billy Nuttall, who’s horrified that fewer than 10 students at Magdalen College are from ethnic minorities.

Note that Dave knows that precise numbers work best, while Billy doesn’t. How many is “fewer than 10”? One? Four? Nine?

To any sane person it wouldn’t matter, but then no sane person would give two flying bucks about the number of off-white students. Such a hypothetical, and increasingly mythical, individual would only care that university places should be taken by the most qualified aspirants.

I’m absolutely certain that no university in Britain would reject a black student who’s more qualified than a competing white candidate. Hence what Dave & Billy desire is rejecting white candidates in favour of less qualified black ones. This strikes me as a tad unjust – not to mention injurious to the very purpose of the university.

But then I remember my love of progress and bemoan the fact that Oxford, with its obdurate adherence to traditional academic subjects, still lags behind other Anglophone universities.

For example, you could if you wish take a course in ‘The Lesbian Phallus’ at the Occidental College, LA (Critical Theory, Social Justice Dept.). And Queen’s, Belfast, offers ‘How to Train in the Jedi Way’.

Not to be outdone, Georgetown University counters with ‘Philosophy and Star Trek’. You can pursue ‘Harry Potter Studies’ at Durham or ‘The Life and Times of Robin Hood’ at the type-cast Nottingham University.

Alfred University, NYC, can contribute to your intellectual growth by offering ‘Maple Syrup Making’, and Glasgow proudly lists a post-graduate course on ‘The History of Lace Knitting in Shetland’.

The lifelong champion of progress in me rejoices. The hopelessly outdated retrograde doffs his hat in mournful reverence. Academe, RIP.

Happy Ramadan to our Muslim friends

I hope you join Mrs May and me in wishing all Muslims who haven’t yet strapped explosives to their bodies a peaceful celebration of their peaceful festival.

And anyway, no matter how many Muslims strap explosives to their bodies and then detonate them in the middle of crowds, nothing will shake my – and Mrs May’s – belief in the peaceful nature of Islam.

In case you haven’t yet been forced to take compulsory lessons in basic Islam, I don’t mind enlightening you that Ramadan celebrates the peaceful revelations God (aka Allah) vouchsafed to the peaceful prophet Mohammed, who had hitherto been robbing caravans – all very peacefully of course.

In particular, all peaceful Muslims celebrate such peaceful revelations as these, all 300-odd of them:

‘Slay them [unbelievers] wherever ye find them…’ (2:91)

‘We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.’ (3:151)

‘Take them [unbelievers] and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.’ (4:91)

‘The unbelievers are an open enemy to you.’ (4:101)

‘As for thief, both male and female, cut off their hands.’ (5:38)

‘Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends…’ (5:51)

‘Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush’ (9:5)

‘Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.’ (4:74)

‘…If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them…’ (4:89)

Such peaceful verses are indeed worth celebrating, unless you happen to be a Christian, a Jew, an unbeliever, a renegade or in general not a Muslim.

If you do belong to any of these objectionable groups, you don’t have to celebrate Ramadan. But you do have to shut up if you find that Allah’s revelations to the Prophet weren’t entirely peaceful.

Citing facts or scriptural details is completely useless, I hope you realise this. There are things that soar infinitely higher than facts, such as the theologised belief in multi-culti rectitude.

Mrs May realises this, and more power to her elbow. We need people at the helm who forgo parochial interests, such as the thousands of years of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and extend warm greetings to those who crave our death.

After all, didn’t Jesus himself say “That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”? Of course he did.

Translating this commandment into the language of our progressive politics, it means that we a) admit all Muslims who wish to come here, for whatever purpose, including blowing us up, b) recognise that their culture is different from ours, and possibly better than it, c) guarantee that no matter how many Englishmen are blown to kingdom come to the sound of ‘Allahu Akbar!’, we shall draw no connection with the religion of peace and, most important, d) join Mrs May in wishing all Muslims, from moderate to jihadist, a peaceful Ramadan.

So here’s to you, my Muslim friends… oops, you don’t drink, do you? Never mind. Just try not to detonate any nail bombs for a while, if you possibly can restrain yourselves. I know it’s hard, but…

Adam Smith he ain’t

Far be it from me to suggest that a statesman must be an intellectual or even a serious political thinker.

For example, the only British PM who could be so described was George Canning, and he only served in that capacity for four months before his death in 1827.

Yet that doesn’t mean Britain hasn’t had any effective statesmen since then. It’s just that the age of philosopher kings so dear to Plato’s heart has passed – if indeed it ever existed.

The USA, being originally an ideological contrivance, had to be founded by educated ideologues. And, while my admiration for the Founders isn’t limitless, as thinkers they inhabited a different planet from the residence of subsequent presidents.

For example, when John Adams was ambassador to France, he was asked to join the debate between the Federalists and the Republicans. In response, over the next fortnight he produced an 800-page book that’s still a standard text of political science.

Donald Trump straddles the other extreme. He wouldn’t be capable of even reading such a book in a fortnight, never mind writing one. Now while for a US president to be an intellectual isn’t necessary and may even be undesirable, the other extreme, being a complete ignoramus, isn’t helpful and may even be dangerous.

This, I’m afraid, is Trump’s problem. That’s why he constantly swings from sound to pathetic, with everything in between. Witness his first presidential tour of foreign lands, which Trump himself described with his characteristic modesty and Mussolini-like grimaces as “a home run”.

I’m ready to applaud Trump’s reference to ‘Islamic’, as opposed to a PC ‘Islamist’ terrorism, along with his pointed refusal to tout the two-state solution on his visit to Israel. Yet my applause would be heartier if at the same time Trump hadn’t undertaken to supply $100 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, known sponsor of terrorism.

His lack of enthusiasm for the Paris Accord and the whole global warming rubbish is welcome, especially since it infuriated Frau Merkel, which is always a good thing. Trump’s attack on “bad, very bad” Germany was also not without foundation, although I’d be tempted to mention that the EU is by its nature a protectionist bloc.

However, Trump’s specific complaints about Germany revealed economic ignorance astounding in a graduate of Wharton. He must have played truant during those seminars on free trade.

Witness this remark about the “bad, very bad” Germans: “See the millions of cars they are selling in the US? Terrible. We will stop this.”

Merkel objected that this lamentable situation was “partially due to the high quality” of German cars and that a change in policy wouldn’t make people “buy more Cadillacs”. It pains me to say so, but she was absolutely right.

People don’t buy American cars because they aren’t very good: 10 of the 13 “cars to avoid at all costs” on the Forbes list are US-made. While those turnpike cruisers can just about pass muster on those endlessly empty motorways out West, they’re no good for crowded, winding European roads.

Europeans don’t mind driving Asian imports, and the Asians flood Europe with their cars despite the EU’s restrictive practices. Those Americans who can afford it would also rather drive a BMW than a Chevy.

The way to “stop this” is for Detroit to start making better cars, not for Trump to slap tariffs on German vehicles. When American products, such as those made in Silicon Valley, are good enough, Europeans are happy to buy them.

The US motor industry is a basket case, and a few years ago it took vast government bailouts to keep it afloat. Protectionism won’t improve the situation, quite the opposite.

Those Wharton students who weren’t playing truant must have been taught that any policy that hurts the consumer will hurt the whole consumer economy. Does Trump think that slapping, say, a 10 per cent tariff on Audis will make Americans buy Chryslers instead?

It won’t. They’ll bite the bullet and cough up an extra five thousand for the better machine. Hence they’ll have five thousand less to spend on more competitive American products, such as those made in Silicon Valley. Jobs thereby protected in Detroit will be lost in Palo Alto, reducing the overall competitiveness of US industry.

Protectionism causes untold damage by mollycoddling domestic production behind a wall of near-monopoly. That anyone should deem this necessary can only mean that domestic production was ineffective to begin with.

Yet when its incompetence is artificially protected from better rivals, it’ll have little incentive to get its act together. Quality will go down, prices will go up, funds will be channelled into the least – and away from the most – productive areas.

This is the ABC of economics, taught by every serious economist, from Adam Smith to David Ricardo to Milton Friedman. Thus, for example, Smith:

“To give the monopoly of the home-market to the produce of domestic industry… must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation. If the produce of domestic can be brought there as cheap as that of foreign industry, the regulation is evidently useless. If it cannot, it must generally be hurtful.”

Trump’s thinking on such matters is shockingly primitive, in line with the old bumper sticker “Buy a foreign car, put 10 Americans out of work”.

Unfortunately, his intellectual failings are married to the character traits of a vulgar, overconfident parvenu. If Trump possessed Ronald Reagan’s diffident charm and common sense, his ignorance of every political discipline wouldn’t matter very much.

Alas, he shows the effrontery of an autodidact, or rather a nondidact. I just hope he’ll be able to learn on the job before causing major damage.

Living argument against democracy

Comrade Corbyn is just five points below Mrs May in the latest polls. That means he could realistically become PM on 8 June, which would be the greatest electoral catastrophe this country has ever suffered.

That’s the beauty of one-man-one-vote franchise: vital political decisions are made by people least qualified to make them.

The polls effectively show that almost 40 per cent of Her Majesty’s subjects don’t feel like remaining Her Majesty’s subjects. They’d rather live in a communist republic, if preferably without the concentration camps.

They must believe that the government should be the country’s only economically active body. The rest of the economy must be either nationalised or put under tight state control.

They must feel that our public spending must be increased in line with taxation becoming well-nigh confiscatory.

They must be convinced that, rather than having some people who are better off than others, all must be equally poor – except for the government functionaries.

They must yearn nostalgically for the time Britain was more or less run by the unions: grease monkeys acting as éminences grises.

They must feel that we need more of the same policies that have destroyed our education and healthcare.

They must believe that, rather than admitting too many immigrants, we’re admitting too few – especially those who detest everything that makes Britain British.

They must share Corbyn’s love for the IRA and Hezbollah, along with his hatred for the Jews.

They must wish to get rid of our nuclear deterrent, leaving us at the mercy of any foreign aggressor, especially one that has nuclear weapons.

A third of the electorate must hope that jihadists will have a free hand – that’s the percentage of those who trust Corbyn to make the right decisions to keep Britain safe from terrorism. This, although he has consistently voted against every anti-terrorist measure to come up for vote, 59 of them.

They must crave to be governed by a man who proudly cites Marx and Trotsky as his inspirations – and acts accordingly.

Then again, they may not think any of those things. They very well may be too stupid or too thoroughly corrupted to be capable of any thought worthy of the name. It’s entirely possible that their swing in the polls was caused by a kneejerk reaction to something in the Tory manifesto.

Please realise the enormity of the situation: if their knee jerks in the same direction again, we may have a vicious, degenerate communist at 10 Downing Street, working studiously to destroy the country as best he can.

Whoever has decided that important decisions should be arrived at by a simple show of hands has a lot to answer for. If you take two statements, majority is always right, and majority is never right, then the second is much closer to the truth.

Surely everyone must see that there’s something wrong with a political system that unfailingly throws up vacuous nonentities at best and the likes of Corbyn at worst? Have we been so thoroughly brainwashed that we get up and salute whenever Democracy (always implicitly capitalised) is run up the pole?

The average Intelligence Quotient in Britain is under 100 and, if they measured the quotient of political knowledge and understanding, it would be way below that – all the way down to the level of mental retardation. And yet we trust the average voter to determine our present, our future, our life.

If we must, by all means do let’s have a democratic element in the government mix. But making this element predominant or, even worse, exclusive is sheer madness.

No business of more than three employees will ever establish major policies by majority decision. Yet we somehow think that a method that would fail in running a car-repair shop could succeed in running a country of 60-odd million. This isn’t just counterintuitive. It’s mad – demonstrably so.

This line of thought often runs into an ignorant and vulgar objection, along the lines of there being no reasonable alternative to this democracy run riot. Inevitably the Churchill quip is cited: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

This one-liner from the master of the genre is widely quoted not so much for its wit as for its intrinsic truth. Alas, wit can often obscure truth. Churchill came closer to the truth when suggesting that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Though both a staunch monarchist and a committed parliamentarian, Churchill clearly didn’t believe he was living a double life. To him there was no contradiction in a strong monarchy being balanced by an elected lower house, with the hereditary upper chamber making sure the balance didn’t tip too much to either side.

This is what Churchill meant by democracy – not the present free-for-all Walpurgisnacht, with the bland electing the bland. Hence it’s disingenuous to use his quote when defending a system that may well raise Corbyn to the top.

Shall we still praise democracy if people vote themselves into slavery? This is unlikely to happen on 8 June. But the very fact that it may happen is the strongest argument against what Tocqueville called ‘the tyranny of the majority”.

Ban drugs, stop terrorism

That’s the conclusion one is supposed to reach reading some experts. Instead of acknowledging the real cause of Islamic terrorism, which is Islam, they peddle spurious explanations that do nothing but obfuscate the issue.

Commentators range from medically ignorant (e.g. Peter Hitchens, who knows next to nothing about psychiatry) to quite learned (e.g. Dr Max Pemberton, who knows quite a lot). Yet both types are equally wrong.

Towards the end of his long and learned article (Potheads: is marijuana a factor in jihadi murders?) Dr Pemberton inadvertently wrote 18 words that invalidated the previous 2,000: “Of course, I am not suggesting cannabis use can turn someone into a suicide bomber or a terrorist.”

Good. So what is he suggesting? That immoderate use of cannabis may have undesirable psychiatric effects? But everybody knows this, and some of us have even observed it in our friends or, in my case, colleagues.

That one sentence appears after a protracted explanation of how smoking pot can make a person psychotic. Since 1,000 words are supposed to be worse than one picture, the article features 12 of them, all of Muslim terrorists known to be cannabis users.

Does this mean there’s a causal effect? But Dr Pemberton himself says there isn’t, albeit towards the end of the piece.

It’s just that those 18 words were written by an honest man protecting his intellectual integrity. The rest of the article came from a propagandist wishing to leave us with a virtual explanation – in the hope that we’ll then desist from probing any further to reach the real explanation: Islam.

This virtual explanation confuses cause and effect. These Muslims don’t become mass murderers because they smoke weed. Muslim recruiters choose them for such missions because they fit a certain psychological profile, one of whose features may be cannabis use.

Suppose for the sake of argument that you wished to recruit a youngster willing to blow himself up in a crowd of people. What sort of a person would you look for? An intelligent, stable, well-adjusted individual?

A bookish young teetotaller pondering the influence Avicenna and Averroes exerted on European scholasticism? A bluestocking devoting her life to investigating symbolism in poems by Hafiz and Omar Khayyam? Or an alcoholic, drug-addled dropout like Abedi? Quite.

A terrorist’s unwinding habits would only matter if he were indeed a loner acting entirely of his own accord. If it could be shown that a significant proportion of such criminals smoked cannabis, then this information would be of interest.

But murderers like Abedi aren’t independently acting individuals. They are part of a worldwide conspiratorial network using them as delivery systems, or personified bombs if you’d rather.

Their function is no different from that of a suitcase hiding an airliner bomb or a rifle firing at a crowd. That’s why Dr Pemberton’s learned discourse is as irrelevant as he himself tacitly acknowledges.

It’s also possible that aspiring suicide bombers start taking drugs to overcome fear, which has to be dreadful. A well-balanced individual won’t blow himself up if he doesn’t have to – lust for life will prove too strong. For him to go on a suicide mission he has to be appropriately stimulated, and chemicals provide a useful boost to Muslim brainwashing.

Drugs have been used as such stimulants since time immemorial, to serve causes good or bad. For example, a pill called ‘West Coast Turnaround’ improves the efficiency of long-distance transportation in the United States by allegedly enabling a driver to go coast to coast and then immediately turn around and go all the way back.

A similar concoction (probably crystal meth, which has since acquired much street cred) kept Falklands pilots flying more numerous sorties than was prudent, which wasn’t the first time in history that the martial utility of drugs came into play.

Remember, for instance, the Viking berserks who gave rise to a good English word by munching magic mushrooms before battle, the Saracens who went on cannabis-inspired suicide missions behind the Crusaders’ lines, or the Soviet soldiers in penalty battalions who under the influence of pure ethanol would charge tanks with bayonets.

But none of those people did what they did because they used drugs. They used drugs to remove inhibitions, to make it easier for them to do what they wanted or had to do.

Ascribing suicide bombings to drugs betokens a deliberate refusal to face the real reasons, because doing so would eventually lead to taking intelligent, courageous action – or at least reaching intelligent, courageous conclusions. Our culture of multi-culti probity makes this impossible.

Dr Pemberton presents scientific, and Peter Hitchens emotive, arguments against legalising marijuana, and I for one agree with them – but not in this context. Ban cannabis or any other poison, and this won’t eliminate the poison of Islamic propaganda flooding the brains of young Muslims.

Not recognising this is disingenuous and not particularly clever. Worse still, it does untold harm to the cause of anti-terrorism. Correct action can only result from correct thought, which linking terrorism with drugs isn’t. Far from it.

Sure enough, it’s a Muslim

Yesterday, when the suicide bomber’s identity hadn’t yet been confirmed, I got it in one. Yet I can’t feel smug about my prescience: everybody knew it.

Salman Abedi was indeed a Muslim, British, a fanatic ManU supporter. Unfortunately, the football club wasn’t the only thing he was a fanatic supporter of.

The question is how this evil man found himself in a position to perpetrate his evil deed. This started with his father, a Libyan refugee who, having found Col. Gaddafi insufficiently Muslim, emigrated to Manchester where he sired two sons.

Then in 2011 he went back to fight Gaddafi on the side of those he considered adequately devout. Later these men got to be known as the Islamic State. Meanwhile his offspring were growing up in the part of Manchester known to the police as the IS recruiting grounds.

Salman Abedi demonstrably and his brother probably were indeed recruited, a mission whose success is testified to by the bomb that sprayed nails, nuts and bolts at a crowd of youngsters.

What has already acquired a slang name ‘dockyard confetti’ was sprayed over a crowd attending a concert by some pop singer called Ariana Grande, which The Mail finds significant: “The grim answer may lie in the fact that with her revealing stage outfits, her stockings, pink bunny ears and unabashed sexual confidence, 23-year-old Miss Grande is a symbol of everything Islamists hate.”

By the sound of her, Miss Grande is a symbol of everything I hate too. Yet I don’t strap explosives to my body to affirm my aesthetic preferences.

The paper makes the carnage sound almost like a form of musical criticism, whereas in fact it’s obvious that Abedi simply chose the biggest crowd he could find on that day. If a string quartet could attract a similar turnout, he would have struck at the Bridgewater Hall.

The papers are also filled with expressions of outrage, sorrow and condolences, all perfectly appropriate. Much less so are laments that a free society can do nothing to prevent such crimes.

These are accompanied by calculations supposed to prove the point. There are 3,500 known jihadists in Britain. At least 400 of them are battle-hardened veterans of Middle Eastern wars. These are known jihadists, not all of them.

By how much should we multiply this number to arrive at the real one? Every survey shows that at least 20 per cent of British Muslims sympathise with Islamic terrorism. That’s a million possible jihadists.

Do you know how many of them are under constant surveillance? Just seven. And you know why? Because it takes at least 20 officers to keep an eye on just one suspect round the clock. Multiply 20 by 3,500 or even 400 (never mind a million), and the sheer impossibility of this task becomes evident.

And surely we can’t act against those people preventively? That would be a violation of their civil liberties. Can’t have that.

Yes we can, and I can explain why in just four words: WE. ARE. AT. WAR.

No country in history has ever applied the same civil-liberties standards at wartime as at peacetime. Britain certainly hasn’t, as all those thousands of German refugees interred on the Isle of Man for the duration of the Second World War could testify.

Some of them were Jews already tortured in Nazi camps, yet Churchill’s order was unequivocal: “Collar the lot.” The country was at war.

As we are now – with one salient difference. When bombs were delivered by Luftwaffe pilots, everyone knew there was a war on. When bombs are delivered by ManU fans, this is presented as some sort of unavoidable force majeure, like a hurricane.

Islam has been at war with the West for 1,400 years. Even as the Hundred Years’ War didn’t feature a hundred years of continuous fighting, Islam’s war on us has had periods of flaring up and quieting down. But it has never stopped.

Islam is at one of its impassioned peaks now, which is partly something for which we have Messrs Bush and Blair to thank. But this mea culpa doesn’t change the fact that Islam is waging war on the West generally and Britain specifically.

Britain is ruled by laws, but none of them supersedes the law of self-preservation. Islam is at war with us, which means we’re at war with Islam. Not with terrorists, extremists or – as Peter Hitchens believes – alienated loners on marijuana. We’re at war with Islam, just like 77 years ago we were at war not with German pilots but with Germany.

Once we’ve acknowledged this fact, made even more factual by Abedi, legal objections to curtailing the jihadists’ civil liberties somehow begin to vanish, while specific measures begin to suggest themselves.

The 3,000 known jihadists (of whom Abedi was one) mustn’t be allowed to roam our streets. How they’re removed is a technical matter best left to experts. It could be internment, deportation, imprisonment, electronic tagging as a minimum. Personally, I wouldn’t even object to tactics perfected by the SAS. Whatever works.

The jihadist recruiters shouldn’t be allowed to poison young minds in Britain. Since they mostly operate through mosques, action must be taken against those.

Any of the 1,750 (!) mosques in which a single jihadist word has ever been uttered must be summarily shut down and ideally razed. Any imam or mullah who has ever uttered such a word must be treated as a traitor (if British) or as an enemy alien (if not).

The practice of Sharia law in Britain must be banned, along with such visible manifestations of Islam as the hijab. All Muslim immigration must be summarily stopped. Anyone who has taken part in Middle Eastern fighting must be barred from entry into Britain, regardless of the passport he carries.

If a terrorist act is committed, all members of the terrorist’s family must be regarded as culpable and dealt with appropriately. If a terrorist can be traced back to a foreign country, it must be punished: economically, diplomatically and, if needed, militarily.

In short, all Muslims must be treated as potential enemies.

Such blanket measures would have collateral damage but, as the French say, à la guerre comme à la guerre. The Germans suffered indiscriminately because their ruling ideology was at war with Britain. Muslims must suffer indiscriminately too, because their ruling ideology is at war with Britain.

So which of these or similar measures will be taken to ensure the safety of HM’s subjects? In broad strokes, none. Instead our leaders will compete with one another in delivering stern speeches with references to the spirit of the Blitz.

But during the Blitz the British didn’t just display indomitable spirit. They also bombed Berlin.

Massacre, Manchester, Muslims

The third element of this alliteration hasn’t yet been confirmed. But, taking a wild stab in the dark, one may suggest that no confirmation is necessary.

The Islamic modus operandi is unmistakable: a suicide bomber detonating an explosive device in the middle of a crowd. Fifty-nine injured, 22 dead. So far.

Only pious adherents of what our presidents and prime ministers idiotically call a religion of peace indulge in such peccadillos these days. Because their religion of peace orders them to do so.

Over 300 verses in the Koran explicitly call for murdering infidels, specifically Christians and Jews. That’s sheer ingratitude if you ask me. For it’s from their religions that Mohammed purloined various scraps he then stitched together into his patchwork quilt of a cult.

The explosions in Manchester provide a nice accompaniment to the worldwide cheers for the great deal the White House wheeler-dealer has signed in Saudi Arabia. He then went on to Israel and told the Israelis and the Palestinian murderers to do their own deal, of the peace variety. Splendid idea. Why didn’t they think of it?

This was done with all the appropriate props from central casting, including a yarmulke and a deeply spiritual expression sported at the Wailing Wall. I’m sure most Israelis – and most of us – would rather the president dispensed with the histrionics and instead stopped supplying billions’ worth of arms to the Muslims.

Iran is the current bogeyman, as if the Koran is worshipped by the Shiites only, as if only Iran trains, arms, finances and encourages murderers. Everybody, even including the cosmically ignorant president, knows that the Saudis are responsible for supporting global terrorism at least as much as the Iranians.

It was no accident that most of the chaps who flew those planes into the World Trade Centre were Saudis. They were after all sponsored by an organisation created and run by a Saudi, Osama bin Laden.

Nor is it a well-kept secret that many of the hundreds of Saudi princes are directly involved – so many that it’s almost certain that the Saudi government at least acquiesces in terrorism, more likely directly runs it.

Mr Trump is gloating. He has sold billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to a country that’s guaranteed to transfer millions of dollars’ worth of them to terrorists. But that part of the deal is no big deal – as long as the Saudis pretend they don’t support terrorism and we pretend we believe them.

As Mr Trump would no doubt say in his inimitably elegant manner, “Money talks, bulls**t walks.” He has lived his whole life by these wise words, so he isn’t going to do an about-face at age 70.

When the president returns to Washington, he’ll get a media equivalent of a Roman triumph, with headlines instead of rolling chariots and ratings instead of laurel wreaths. No doubt he’ll continue to extoll the virtues of the Arabs as opposed to the Iranians. No doubt he’ll have neither the brains nor the courage to put the blame for mass murder where it belongs: the Koran and the appalling cult using it as its scripture.

Expect more lying litanies about murderers being alienated loners high on drugs and low on the self-preservation instinct. They may shout “Allahu Akbar!”, but they don’t really mean it the way it sounds.

One wonders if the same criminal drivel will be spouted when a nuclear device goes off in the middle of a Western city, as it certainly will sooner or later. Will Islam still remain a religion of peace if a few orders of magnitude are added to the number of victims?

Possibly. Probably. Definitely. The stupidity and cowardice of our leaders neatly dovetail with our own totemistic cult, that of political correctness. All religions and all cultures are equally respectable, aren’t they? They have their culture, we have ours, who’s to say ours is better?

Our cultures are indeed different. The followers of ours flock to pop concerts. The followers of theirs blow themselves up together with a gaggle of teenagers at a pop concert. Ours is lamentable, theirs is criminal: big difference.

Since moral equivalence is a voguish buzz phrase, one could suggest that selling arms to Muslims of any kind is morally equivalent to selling arms to Hitler during the big war. But few of our rulers are capable of realising this. And none of those few perspicacious individuals has the courage to do anything about it.

I hope Mr Trump’s pride in his business acumen is in no way diminished by the sight of those mangled bodies. A few more irrefutable statements along the lines of peace good, war bad – and Bob’s your uncle. The slate is wiped clean of blood.

Manchester victims of yet another Muslim atrocity, RIP.

With Alpha, there’s no omega

The Alpha Course is making inroads into the heart of Western Christianity, the Catholic Church. This reminds us that, though the Church can resist any outside pressure, it’s vulnerable to heretical subversion.

That should worry not only Christians but also those I call Christianists: unbelievers who nonetheless acknowledge the irreplaceable utility of the Church as a social adhesive.

I have problems with that point of view. As atheists (or agnostics: a distinction without a difference), they have to believe that Christian doctrine is false. In that case, it’s both illogical and ahistorical to believe that a successful society can be built on that foundation.

Christianity is only useful if it is, or at least is commonly believed to be, true. Otherwise any social edifice using a falsehood as its foundation will be very rickety indeed. The whole structure will come down soon enough, and I shan’t bore you with a litany of historical examples testifying to that effect.

Yet that’s a different argument. For even those who see Christianity as merely a social or cultural institution have a vested interest in its continuing good health.

Contrary to a widespread belief, I don’t think rampant atheism threatens Christianity all that much. It doubtless causes numerical attrition, but as the first 12 apostles show, the truth isn’t a numbers game.

Atheism gnaws at the periphery of the faith without jeopardising its doctrinal core. This can only suffer serious damage from heresies – such as the Alpha Course. Now what makes it heretical?

Most people assume that a heresy puts forth a wrong proposition, or at least one that contradicts the orthodoxy altogether. That’s not quite true. In fact, most heresies aren’t wrong in their main belief.

Where they err is in trying to assign an unduly universal significance to that one idea, passing a part for the whole. This inevitably puts too much weight at one end of the seesaw, destroying the balance.

For example, it’s not wrong to assert that Christ is God, as Docetism did, and neither is it wrong to say he is a man, as Arianism did. It’s heretical, however, to deny the balance of the two, the dialectical yes-no-yes synthesis without which Christendom would not have come about.

Proposing a partial thesis as the essence of absolute truth makes any synthesis impossible. There is nothing to synthesise. The ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ aren’t resolved, they only tear each other apart. The balance no longer works, and religion is divided into mutually exclusive aspects.

The business of heretical, sectarian reason is choosing the fragments it finds attractive. On the other hand, the business of orthodox, catholic reason has always consisted in preserving all the pieces in their wholeness.

This is what the Alpha Course doesn’t do, and our antennae should start twitching before we even get down to the specifics. As is often the case, the style says practically all.

The original Alpha-men wrote: “We believe it is possible to learn about the Christian faith and have a lot of fun at the same time.” This is sheer vulgarity, a sin not mentioned among the cardinal seven, but potentially just as deadly.

Did the apostles have fun learning Christianity? Or teaching it? Not unless they suffered from extreme forms of masochism: they were scourged, stoned, imprisoned, chained, humiliated, and eventually all but one were martyred. Some fun.

Vulgarity naturally segues from form into content. Faith, teaches the Course, is a man’s decision. You decide to have it, and presto! – the Holy Spirit descends. And there I was, thinking it’s God who chooses a man, not vice versa.

One almost doesn’t have to delve any deeper, but do let’s look at a few other things. The Course is charismatic, which by itself makes it not only heretical but downright pagan. It encourages laughing uncontrollably, shaking, dancing, gyrating, screaming incoherently and speaking in tongues.

This glossolalial gloom is supposed to communicate the descent of the Holy Spirit, which hypostasis the Course grossly overemphasises to the detriment of the other two. “How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?” is the principal question the Course is supposed to answer.

Why, by adlibbing an epileptic fit of course, there’s no other way. That’s how one feels the presence of the Spirit. But, if Christ is to be believed, it’s the truth that makes one free, not the feeling.

And the Course is rather sketchy on the subject of the truth. Specifically, while talking about love as being inherent to God, the Alpha-men say next to nothing about God’s wrath and last judgement.

Please, sir, what did Jesus mean when he said: “I came not to send peace, but a sword”? No answer.

They’re particularly weak on the nature of sin, which they define as doing something wrong. Original sin passes by them altogether, leaving the pupil wondering why Christ had to die in the first place. To teach his followers not to live what the Course calls “messed-up lives”?

The Course displays every classic feature of a heresy. It’s fragmentary, in that the Trinitarian God is mentioned only in passing, with an undue emphasis placed on the Holy Spirit alone. It’s unsound on doctrine, making it possible for a pupil to leave the Course without any clear understanding of God, Christ, the Cross, judgement and sin. And it’s ecumenical in the vulgar, PR sense – trying to put bums on pews, not to find common doctrinal ground for various confessions.

One expects that sort of thing from Protestantism, which by its very nature encourages sectarianism – witness its current 30,000 denominations. But the Catholic Church was supposed to be the last bastion of orthodoxy, in the West at least.

Well, if it is, the walls are beginning to crumble. Alpha leads to only one omega: destruction.

Labour certain to win on 8 June

Theresa May’s manifesto has caused gasps of delight in the conservative press, such as it is these days. The air is thick with adjectives like ‘honest’, ‘cautious yet bold’, ‘grown up’, ‘moral’ and even ‘Christian’.

Yet if our pundits took the trouble to get to the bottom of their enthusiasm, they’d realise that it’s mostly caused by the ABC of politics: Anything But Corbyn.

To some extent I share this apophatic approach to politics. I too have my eyes clouded with red mist whenever I picture Comrade Corbyn at 10 Downing Street.

However, I retain enough eyesight to see that Mrs May’s manifesto is pure Labour, albeit not of the strident variety favoured by Comrade Corbyn. Mayism isn’t Maoism – but neither is it conservatism.

Stripped of its sloganeering designed to purloin and pervert Christian morality, socialism is all about increasing state control over the individual. All types of socialism share this desideratum, and they only differ in the methods they choose to achieve it.

Mrs May is in the mainstream of non-violent European socialism, charting a course separate from sanguinary totalitarianism. But her course is parallel rather than perpendicular to Comrade Corbyn’s.

This starts with her style, which, as Georges-Louis Buffon said, is the man himself (or the woman herself, as it happens). She grossly overuses the phrase ‘ordinary working people’, which is the mainstream socialist for ‘the proletariat’.

The underlying assumption is that, say, a factory foreman working seven-hour shifts and then trotting ‘down the pub’ belongs to that saintly group, as distinct from a lawyer, a doctor or a businessman routinely putting in 90-hour weeks.

A businessman may actually build the factory in which the aforementioned foreman works, and yet to Mrs May it’s the latter and not the former who deserves special consideration. This is good demagoguery but bad economics. And it has nothing to do with conservatism.

Her proposed tax-and-spend policies are a case in point.

When the state begins to impose wage and price controls, tyranny wafts through the air. One doesn’t have to possess the olfactory sense of a wine taster to smell socialism in Mrs May’s planned cap on energy bills, especially when a rise in the national living wage is part of the bouquet.

Her decision to put off the elimination of the deficit until 2025 means she doesn’t even consider the remote possibility that this may ever be accomplished. In political terms, eight years from now means never.

Moreover, a balanced budget has to be achieved incrementally. If Mrs May were serious about this, she’d announce a massive reduction in public spending – now. Yet she’s announcing something quite different: a massive increase in spending, specifically in the number of billions thrown into the bottomless pit of the NHS.

At the same time she scraps her predecessor’s pledge not to increase income tax, VAT and national insurance ‘contributions’. Scrapping the pledge to reduce taxes means a guarantee to increase them, which is a Labour-punitive, not Conservative-sensible, measure: as Arthur Laffer explained, higher tax rates spell lower, not higher, public revenues.

All this comes under the umbrella of her economic philosophy: “We do not believe in untrammelled free markets.” Like most general statements, this may mean any number of things, from reasonable to appalling. It depends on how much ‘trammelling’ Mrs May envisages, and what kind.

A free market is an arena for a game with winners and losers. However, a civilised society shouldn’t allow people to lose too badly: even an out-and-out loser deserves a shelter and a bowl of soup simply because he’s created in the image and likeness of God (Mrs May is a vicar’s daughter after all).

Whether or not this goal is best achieved through the state’s good offices is debatable. I’d prefer to see private charities taking up the slack, although recent experience shows that the bigger such charities are, the more they operate like the state: serving not so much their supposed beneficiaries as themselves.

Still, people shouldn’t die of hunger, cold or neglect. If it takes some minimum ‘trammelling’ to achieve that, we ought to accept it stoically.

Also, the market game, like any other, should be played by the rules. This requires the presence of a referee, and only the state can play that role. Hence I wouldn’t object to ‘trammelling’ that precludes cartels, monopolies and price fixing. Because these take ‘free’ out of ‘market’ and thus hurt the consumer, such ‘trammelling’ would benefit markets the same way as pollarding benefits trees.

However, Mrs May’s proposed policies show that her take on trammelling involves the state acting in the capacity of active player, not merely referee. This goes against the amply proven conservative principle first enunciated by Edmund Burke: “the moment that government appears at market, the principles of the market will be subverted.”

This type of subversion is pure Labour, and it’s certain to have adverse consequences not only internally but also in our Brexit negotiations. For Mrs May seems likely to increase corporate tax as part of her trammelling exercise.

This is exactly the opposite of what she should be doing if she really means to leave the EU on beneficial terms, or indeed at all.

It’s not only the inner logic of that wicked contrivance but indeed its stated intent that Britain should be punished for her temerity pour encourager les autres, as Jean-Claude Junk would say, now he has no use for English.

Yet Britain isn’t a schoolboy meekly accepting six of the best. We can fight back by counteracting any trade restrictions to be imposed by Junk and his jolly friends.

The best weapon at our disposal is to make doing business with and in Britain cheaper and easier. That surely means reducing rather than increasing corporate taxes, along with the number and severity of regulations.

When one gets down to it, Mrs May’s manifesto appears to be a cynical attempt to appeal to traditional Labour voters, ensuring thereby a large and lasting Tory majority.

Alas, the only thing that really appeals to traditional Labour voters is traditional Labour policies – and, even more important, traditional Labour philosophies.

This is what Mrs May has served up, thereby guaranteeing a Labour victory on 8 June. That this particular branch of the Labour Party paints itself blue rather than red is a purely chromatic difference.