Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Memo to the Interior Minister

Dear Minister,

Following the latest Islamic-inspired atrocity, you asked for a list of security policy options.

Let us start with the obvious: there are no good security policy options.

Suppose we have twenty million Muslims in Europe with relatively free movement, and suppose only one in a thousand (0.1%) presents a risk of active violence, then that's still twenty thousand very dangerous young men (yes, they do seem to be mostly young men).
  1. In some cases we know who they are, but more often than not, we don't.
  2. Even if we're suspicious, at present we don't have powers to detain them.
  3. The population of 'bad guys' is subject to continual immigration churn.
Here are your options:

1. Deport all the Muslims and reinstate border controls

There are historical precedents: expulsion of the Jews in the Middle-Ages, Stalin's population transfers in the first half of the twentieth century.

Still, so much hardship would be caused to the 99.9% of non-terrorist Muslims that public opinion would never support such a policy. Plus it seems logistically impossible - where would they go?

2. Intern all the bad guys we know about

Illegal at present but perhaps that could be fixed. It would remove some of the potential bad guys but recall we know only a fraction of the potential perpetrators. Plus various Middle-East organisations such as ISIS could always infiltrate clean skins.

There's the injustice factor too. Just because we think someone's potentially bad, doesn't mean we're right. Think Guantanamo Bay.

And remember the old adage: remove one, create one. These guys are big into 'never forgive, never forget'.

3. Guard the schools, churches, synagogues, sports stadiums, ...

Yes, there's the problem. Too many targets, not enough guards, and the bad guys just choose a category we didn't get around to guarding. You can't stop the car driven into a random crowd.

4. Vastly increased spy and surveillance network

The population has been brought up on civil liberties scares but this, at least, has some potential. With considerably more resources poured into informer networks, plus more CCTV and surveillance automation we can massively up our 'prevented in advance' statistics. But some will always get through, and you will not get credit for the potential atrocities we were able to prevent.

5. Stop bombing Middle-East Muslims

It's been a political dogma that terrorist attacks in our country are completely decoupled from our own armed actions in Muslim countries. But you know that's rubbish.

If we stop offensive actions and leave the Middle-East to stew in its own Cauldron of Hell, then arguably we become less visible as a target. However, even if we call it a day, other European countries would need to as well. Whatever our problems in seeing ourselves as a 'United Europe', our Muslim attackers don't really differentiate amongst the 'Crusader nations'.

In any event, if we stopped dropping bombs on them the pace of their attacks on us would undoubtedly slacken but they would hardly cease, since our whole culture is an abomination to them. So this option is by no means a panacea.

The alternative is the old Roman one: go in with overwhelming force and annihilate them. This would work against state-sponsored terrorism, but unfortunately turning the desert sands to glass works less well against religious zealotry.

We would caution against following the Trump line on that one.

5. Just Keep Calm and Carry On

Yes, Minister. We are well aware that this is your de facto policy and that you see no alternative. You were even unwise enough to say so in public.

You have privately stated many times that Islamic terrorism does not pose an existential threat to our country and you are surely correct in this.

It does, however, pose an existential threat to your continuing in office - arguably of equal importance in your thinking.


In conclusion, and taking everything in the present conjuncture into account, we would recommend option 4: a massive increase in resources to the security services and a transition to a much more authoritarian role for the state.

If you would be so kind as to take the political flak, Minister, we'll get right on with spending the money.

Yours in confidence.

The Joint Security Committee.

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