Greeting Kidnappings with a Stiff Upper Lip
Mark Steyn‘s latest column, on the Kenneth Bigley beheading, was pulled by his editors at the Telegraph for being too insensitive. He has published it, instead, on his website. He argues that the Blair government’s maudlin treatment of the Bigley case does not befit a great nation and only encourages more kidnappings. He notes, too, that Bigley was only nominally a British subject, anyway.
While Ken Bigley passed much of his life as a happy expat, his brother Paul appears to have gone a stage further and all but seceded. Night and day, he was on TV explaining to the world how the Bigley familyÃ¢€™s Middle East policy is wholly different from Her MajestyÃ¢€™s Government Ã¢€“ a Unilateral Declaration of Independence accepted de facto by Mr BlairÃ¢€™s ministry when it dispatched Jack Straw to Merseyside to present formally his condolences to the Bigleys, surely the most extraordinary flying visit ever undertaken by a British Foreign Secretary. For their pains, the government was informed by Paul Bigley that the Prime Minister had Ã¢€œblood on his handsÃ¢€. This seems an especially stupid and contemptible formulation when anyone with an Internet connection can see Ken BigleyÃ¢€™s blood and the hand itÃ¢€™s literally on holding up his head.
It reminded me of Robert Novak of The Chicago Sun-Times back in May, quoting Ã¢€œone senior official of a coalition partnerÃ¢€ calling for the firing of Donald Rumsfeld on the grounds that Ã¢€œthere must be a neck cut, and there is only one neck of choice.Ã¢€ At pretty much that exact moment in Iraq, Nick BergÃ¢€™s captors were cutting his head off – or, rather, feverishly hacking it off while raving Ã¢€œGod is great!Ã¢€ The difference between the participants in this war is that on one side robust formulations about Ã¢€œblood on his handsÃ¢€ and Ã¢€œcalls for the Defence SecretaryÃ¢€™s headÃ¢€ are clichÃƒ©d metaphors, and on the other they mean it.
Steyn also offers some rather cold advice:
If the FCO wants to issue advice in this area, thatÃ¢€™s the way to go: If youÃ¢€™re kidnapped, accept youÃ¢€™re unlikely to survive, say Ã¢€œIÃ¢€™ll show you how an Englishman diesÃ¢€, and wreck the video. If they want you to confess youÃ¢€™re a spy, make a little mischief: there are jihadi from Britain, Italy, France, Canada and other western nations all over Iraq Ã¢€“ so say yes, youÃ¢€™re an MI6 agent, and so are those Muslims from Tipton and Luton who recently joined the al-Qaeda cells in Samarra and Ramadi. As Churchill recommended in a less timorous Britain: You can always take one with you. If Mr Blair and other government officials were to make that plain, it would be, to use Mr BigleyÃ¢€™s word, Ã¢€œenoughÃ¢€. A war cannot be subordinate to the fate of any individual caught up in it.
And, if you donÃ¢€™t want to wind up in that situation, you need to pack heat and be prepared to resist at the point of abduction. I didnÃ¢€™t give much thought to decapitation when I was mooching round the Sunni Triangle last year, but my one rule was that I was determined not to get into a car with any of the locals and I was willing to shoot anyone who tried to force me. If youÃ¢€™re not, you shouldnÃ¢€™t be there.
It’s a rather heartless position but almost certainly correct. Given that the risk of kidnapping and beheading now seems a growing one, being taken alive is a grimmer prospect than going down fighting while taking a couple of the bastards with you.