At the end of a column that is very well worth reading throughout, Peter Hitchens writes:
What a pity that Alexander ‘Boris’ Johnson, a man of great historical knowledge, blessed with a sense of proportion, has become a Russophobic warmonger madly suggesting that we start a conflict with Moscow in Syria.
Mr Johnson knows perfectly well that fighting Islamist fanatics in densely populated cities is hard, especially when they hold the population hostage, as the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra is doing in east Aleppo now.
The West and its allies had similar difficulties last Christmas in Ramadi, where the RAF (among other forces) dropped bombs in and around that city to defeat ISIS.
I suppose it’s possible that no civilians died, but I somehow doubt it.
The difference is that, unlike their close cousins in the Al Nusra front in Aleppo, the Islamic State fanatics in Ramadi don’t have access to a slick PR operation in the West, skilled at producing emotive, perfectly composed atrocity pictures of wounded children, and in manipulating Western news organisations who (for the most part) have no actual staff reporters or photographers on the scene.
So almost all the things you hear about east Aleppo are one-sided, carefully controlled propaganda, not news.
One way of dealing with one-sided propaganda is to check it against the stuff put out by the other side.
In a rare moment of balance, the BBC recently transmitted this, from Fares al-Shehabi, who represents Aleppo in Syria’s ‘People’s Council’. He said:
‘More than half of the city is occupied by Islamists, many of them foreigners…
‘Just go and check for yourself who is ruling eastern Aleppo, who is really issuing the laws there, it’s Islamic courts, it’s exactly like Kandahar and Kabul before the coalition intervened to get rid of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, it’s exactly the same thing, they don’t have any democracy, they don’t have any civil rule, they only have people with long beards with fundamentalist ideology running the show, and a lot of foreigners.’
If this is even partly true, what on earth are we doing rushing to the aid of these hairy-faced fanatics and infiltrators?
Or are we, as we did so regrettably in Libya, once again backing the worse against the bad?
I am happy to help Mr Johnson on this, and respectfully remind him that my team beat his when we clashed on University Challenge.
He’s not the only know-all in London.