British shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn stood up against his own party and spoke for launching airstrikes against ISIS in Syria last week. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn opposed the airstrikes during a heated debate in the House of Commons last week. Mr. Benn then took the floor and engaged in a bout of oratory rarely seen today in government. He spelled out the case for fighting ISIS in a way that was logical yet colorful. It started as a slow crescendo and ended in a forte of sanity seldom displayed in politics today.
The crux of his argument is made at 12:00. L. Gordon Crovitz penned these observations in his weekly Wall Street Journal column:
“So the question for each of us—and for our national security—is this,” said Mr. Benn. “Given that we know what they are doing, can we really stand aside and refuse to act fully in our self-defense against those who are planning these attacks? Can we really leave to others the responsibility for defending our national security when it is our responsibility?”
Mr. Benn specifically addressed his Labour colleagues who refuse to speak clearly about the enemy:
“We are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated.”
Members of Parliament broke decorum to applaud Mr. Benn. His straight talk was especially notable because his father, Tony Benn, was an antiwar politician. The left-leaning Guardian called the speech “verbal shock and awe.” The right-leaning Daily Telegraph said: “Hilary Benn didn’t just look like the leader of the opposition. He looked like the Prime Minister.” Immediately after parliamentary approval, the Royal Air Force launched bombing raids against ISIS.
Labeling ISIS as “fascist” contrasts with Democrats in the U.S. tying themselves into politically correct knots to avoid naming the enemy. President Obama still refuses to include “Islam” in the same breath as “terrorism.” In response to a question during last month’s Democratic presidential debate, the candidates all refused to say the U.S. is at war with “radical Islam.” Mrs. Clinton demurred by calling the term “not particularly helpful.”
Kim Ghattas, a BBC correspondent and Beirut native, writes in the current issue of Foreign Policy, “It’s ironic that while U.S. officials and Democratic politicians refuse to say ‘radical Islam,’ these very words, in fact, are commonly used in Arabic across the Middle East: Islam mutatarrif. When I asked a handful of friends in Beirut—Muslim and non-Muslim alike—what they thought of Democrats refusing to use those two words to describe what drives militant groups like the so-called Islamic State, they seemed puzzled by the apparent obfuscation.”.... Rest of column