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The Editorial

Showing our weaknesses

The West is beginning to show it is vulnerable.

And people like President Putin of Russia and extremist groups like Islamic State know it.

John Benton, Editor

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Recently the defence secretary Michael Fallon warned that Russia would test Nato’s resolve in the Ukraine and that it is likely that President Putin will soon seek to destabilise the Baltic States. The tactics are subtle. Nato’s Article 5 of mutual defence in the case of invasion is circumvented by Russia supporting dissident pro-Russian groups within a state.

Meanwhile Islamic State continues to carry out atrocities with the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya and the capture of around 200 Christians in Syria. Simultaneously, Britain is embarrassed by the number of British Muslims joining Islamic State, the publicity given to three teenaged girls from London who have travelled to Syria, and the identification of ‘Jihadi John’ as Mohammed Emwazi who went to the same London school as two others who have joined Islamic terror groups.


Part of the West’s weakness of course comes down to finance. The eurozone is in trouble, with Greece defaulting on its debts and other countries near the brink. Britain is doing better than others in moving towards balancing its books, but only by making huge and ongoing cuts in Government spending, including on our armed forces. In March, General Raymond Odierno, head of the US army, warned that the cuts jeopardise Britain’s ability to fight future campaigns. Reports say the British Army is to be reduced to 50,000 – just two thirds of the capacity of Old Trafford!

War is never popular. And one cannot help thinking that, with a General Election looming in May, the Government is more concerned to curry favour with the liberal anti-war media and the large audience they influence than to take the necessary steps to strengthen our defences. Liam Fox, a former defence secretary, has indicated that he finds the commitment to ring-fence overseas aid while cutting the defence budget difficult to swallow.

Political correctness

But the real weakness of the West comes back to the lack of moral certainty and the political correctness which has been spawned by secularism. The response of the media to the support that Islamic State finds among many young Muslims in Britain would be laughable if it was not so shocking. In a PC blame culture (the bread and butter of our media) you can’t ever blame minorities so you have to blame yourself. So everyone, from the school, to the police, to the passport control at Gatwick, to the airline, has been blamed for not stopping the girls who have gone to be jihadi brides. But there has been a studious avoidance of even asking the question as to whether or not there might possibly be something wrong with Islam itself, despite the fact that a BBC poll for Radio 4’s Today programme found that more than a quarter of British Muslims sympathise with the motives of the gunmen who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

The response of many evangelical leaders, I suspect, will be to ignore all this and to say ‘our job is just to get on with evangelism and planting churches’. And that goes along with navel-gazing parochial prayer meetings simply listing the congregation’s arthritis and latest domestic upset. But we need to take very seriously prayer for our Government, or the peace of our country and the freedom to evangelise will soon be gone. I fear that we behave as if we foolishly assume Western civilisation will last forever. Thankfully God is sovereign, but remember the West is not.