Etat islamique: Hitler a envahi l’enfer (Sympathy for the devil: isn’t it time to get our supposed Muslim allies to put boots on the ground ?)

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Pleased to meet you Hope you guess my name But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game … The Rolling Stones
Si Hitler envahissait l’enfer, je ferais au moins une allusion favorable au diable à la Chambre des communes. Churchill
Je vais vous parler ce soir, parce que nous venons d’arriver à l’un des tournants importants de la guerre. Le premier de ces brusques tournants critiques a été atteint il y a un an, lorsque la France est tombée, abattue, sous le coup de massue allemand, et que tout seuls nous avons dû faire face à l’ouragan. Le second, lorsque la Royal Air force a vaincu les assaillants barbares, et les a chassés de notre ciel, écartant ainsi l’invasion nazie de notre île, à une époque où nous étions encore mal préparés. Le troisième tournant critique fut le vote, par le président et le Congrès des Etats-Unis, de la loi prêt et bail (…). Voilà les trois premiers tournants. Nous arrivons au quatrième. Aujourd’hui, à quatre heures du matin, Hitler a attaqué et envahi la Russie (…). Les Allemands répètent ainsi, en beaucoup plus grand, le crime que nous leur avons déjà vu commettre, au mépris des engagements internationaux de tout ordre signés par eux et de la parole donnée, contre la Norvège, le Danemark, la Hollande et la Belgique, et que le complice d’Hitler, le chacal Mussol ini, a si fidèlement imité à l’égard de la Grèce. (…) Hitler est un monstre de méchanceté, dont la soif de sang et de rapine est insatiable. Non content d’avoir toute l’Europe sous sa botte, soit terrorisée soit réduite, sous des formes diverses, à une soumission abjecte, il lui faut maintenant poursuivre son oeuvre de boucher et ses ravages parmi les vastes multitudes de la Russie et de l’Asie. La terrible machine de guerre ne peut pas demeurer un instant inactive, sans quoi elle se rouillerait, ou tombe rait en morceaux (…) Il faut la nourrir, non seulement de sang mais d’essence. Voilà donc que ce petit voyou sanguinaire se trouve obligé de lancer ses armées mécanisées sur de nouveaux champs de tuerie, de pillage et de dévastation. Nul n’a été adversaire plus constant du communisme que je ne le suis moi-même depuis vingt-cinq ans. Je ne retire pas une seule des paroles que j’ai dites à ce sujet. Mais tout s’évanouit maintenant devant le spectacle qui s’offre à nos yeux. (…) Tout homme, tout Etat qui se bat contre la puissance nazie peut compter sur notre aide. Tout homme ou tout Etat qui marche avec Hitler est notre ennemi. Et cela s’applique non seulement aux Etats organisés, mais à tous les représentants de cette race abjecte des “collaborateurs” qui se font les instruments et les agents du régime nazi contre leurs propres citoyens et contre leur propre patrie. (…) Par conséquent, nous entendons donner à la Russie et au peuple russe toute l’aide que nous pourrons. Nous ferons appel à tous nos amis et à tous nos alliés du monde entier, en les invitant à faire de même, et à persévérer dans cette voie, comme nous le ferons aussi, fidèlement et sans défaillance, jusqu’au bout. Churchill (22 juin 1941)
Le comité dénonce plusieurs cas d’exécutions de masse de garçons, ainsi que des décapitations, des crucifixions et des ensevelissements d’enfants vivants. (…) les enfants de minorités ont été capturés dans nombre d’endroits, vendus sur des marchés avec sur eux des étiquettes portant des prix, ils ont été vendus comme esclaves. Rapport du Comité des droits de l’enfant aux Nations Unies
Contrary to much of the literature that depicts him first and foremost as a lifelong foe of communism, Winston Churchill was actually quite pragmatic regarding his opposition to various forms of totalitarianism, a worldview which explains his near-rabid anti-communism following the First World War and also his gradually softening change as he began to see fascist Nazi Germany as the greatest threat to a stable world order in the years before the Second World War. It is this pragmatism and a basic hostility to tyranny, then, that best explains Churchill’s approach to all forms of totalitarianism. Antoine Capet
La Jordanie pourchassera avec toutes ses forces l’organisation (EI) n’importe où. Tout membre de Daech (acronyme en arabe de l’EI) est une cible pour nous. Nous les pourchasserons et nous les éradiquerons (…) Nous sommes en première ligne, c’est notre bataille. (…) Toutes les cibles ont été détruites. Des camps d’entraînement et des dépôts d’armes et de munitions ont été touchés. Ces frappes ne sont que le début de notre vengeance pour le meurtre du pilote. (…) Il faut tenir compte de plusieurs facteurs, les opérations militaires en cours, garantir la sécurité dans la région en plus d’objectifs sur le long terme incluant la lutte contre l’idéologie de ce groupe. Nasser Joudeh 
If there’s one thing top Republicans know, it’s that America can’t defeat terrorism unless we call it by its real name. (…)There are several problems here. Even if one believed that calling the enemy “radical Islam” were a good idea, it would hardly explain how to defeat it. Yet the Republicans slamming Obama for his linguistic failures mostly stop there. After he chastised the President in Iowa for not saying “radical Islam,” Ted Cruz’s only policy suggestions were that Obama should have attended the anti-terror rally in Paris and that Americans who join ISIS should lose their citizenship. On Fox, Giuliani mentioned the Paris rally too, and then fell back on platitudes like “you know what you do with bullies? You go right in their face!” In reality, denouncing “radical Islam” offers little guidance for America’s actual policy dilemmas. In reality, denouncing “radical Islam” offers little guidance for America’s actual policy dilemmas. How does calling the enemy by its “real name” help determine whether the United States should take a harder or softer line toward the government in Baghdad? We need its help to retake central Iraq from ISIS, but its Shia sectarianism drives Sunnis into ISIS’ arms. Or how would this linguistic pivot help determine whether the best way to weaken ISIS in Syria is by backing Bashar Assad or seeking his ouster? After 9/11, hawks backed up their aggressive rhetoric with aggressive policies. At their behest, America invaded and occupied two Muslim countries. Today, by contrast, with land invasions effectively off the table, the rhetoric has become largely an end in itself. What Republicans are really declaring war on is “political correctness.” They’re sure that liberal sensitivities about Islam are hindering the moral clarity America needs to win. Just don’t ask them how. But it’s worse than that. Because far from providing the moral clarity Republicans demand, saying America is at war with « radical Islam » actually undermines it. How can a term provide clarity when it’s never clearly defined? If America is at war with « radical Islam, » does that include Saudi Arabia, a key US ally that for decades has both practiced and exported a radically illiberal Wahhabi creed? Does it include Iran, a semi-theocracy that has sponsored « radical Islamic » terror against the US but is our de facto ally against ISIS? Does it include Muslim Brotherhood parties like the one that briefly held power in Egypt, which run in democratic elections but want a government based on Islamic law? Listening to some GOP rhetoric, you might think the answer is yes. But to suggest the US is at « war » with key allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt strips the term of any real meaning. ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are actual organizations. Reasonable people can delineate where they begin and end, and thus craft specific strategies for fighting them. Good luck doing that with “radical Islam.” As so often happens in today’s GOP, the Republicans demanding a war against “radical Islam” are working off a false analogy with the Cold War. Since Ronald Reagan’s “moral clarity” against communism supposedly toppled the Soviet Union, America must now do the same with “radical Islam.” But, in fact, the United States was most successful when it did not see its enemy as “communism.” It was the belief that America must battle communism itself that led the Kennedy and Johnson administrations into a war against a communist regime in North Vietnam that posed no real threat to American security. The US fared far better when it limited its focus to one specific regime, the Soviet Union, and made alliances with other communist governments in order to weaken it. In the late 1940s, the Truman administration worked with communist Yugoslavia to undermine Soviet control of Eastern Europe. And under Richard Nixon, Washington cozied up to Beijing, which despite being even more ideologically zealous than Moscow, helped the US contain Soviet power. Reagan, for all his anti-communist rhetoric, maintained America’s de facto partnership with China because his real target was the USSR. Obviously, the United States need not be ideologically agnostic. American presidents should say they believe liberal democracy is morally superior to Islamic theocracy, just as it was preferable to fascism and communism. But that’s a far cry from declaring war on every regime based upon an -ism we don’t like. For much of the cold war, the United States battled the Soviet Union but not communist China. In the 1940s, the United States went to war against Germany, Italy and Japan but not fascist Spain. And today, the United States is at war with those “radical Muslim” organizations that actively seek to kill Americans while allying ourselves with other “radical Muslim” regimes that don’t. Why is that so hard for Ted Cruz to understand? Peter Beinart
The president has the right goal to degrade and destroy ISIL, but he doesn’t have the right strategy. An aerial campaign will not destroy them. You’re going to need boots on the ground not only in Iraq, but Syria. And there’s got to be some regional force formed with an American component, somewhere around 10,000, I think, American soldiers to align with the Arab armies in the region and go in to Syria and take back territory from ISIL. That is what will make it stop. (…) They won’t destroy ISIL. They do help in some regard. How do you dislodge ISIL from Syria? Iraq, you hope you can get the Kurds and the Iraqi security forces and the Anbar Sunni tribes to work together to defeat them in Western Anbar take back Mosul. But Syria is very complicated. You are going to need a regional force, Saudi, Turkey, the entire region, putting together an army with American people embedded, special forces, intel folks, forward air controllers to go in on the ground and not only dislodge them from Syria, but hold the territory. And you can’t do that until you deal with Assad. () Quite frankly, Syria and Iraq combined are the best platforms to launch an attack on United States I have seen since 9/11. So, every day that goes by, we have got more terrorist organizations with more capability to strike the homeland than any time since 9/11. You have got AQAP in Yemen. But ISIL’s presence in Syria and Iraq, they’re very rich. Foreign fighters flow with passports that can penetrate the United States and our Western allies. So, you will see a Paris on steroids here pretty soon if you don’t disrupt this organization and take the fight to them on the ground. And, again, you cannot successfully defeat ISIL on the ground in Syria with the Free Syrian Army and regional coalition of Arab nations until you deal with Assad, because he will kill anybody that comes in there that tries to defeat ISIL. Senator Lindsay Graham
No American boots on the ground, in my view. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have special ops forces and air controllers and that sort of thing to help with the air war. But we are going to have to find a way to put some boots on the ground. We might be able to find that in Iraq with the Iraqi army if we get them trained up. So far, it doesn’t look very promising. But (…) Syria is an entirely different matter. You can’t win this war just from the air. You can’t eject ISIS, you can’t destroy ISIS, eject them from territory just from the air. My idea would be to go to the Turks, 60-year allies of the United States, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They have a good army. It’s an army that will fight. They want to take down Assad. President Obama has said Assad must go. They want to destroy ISIS. We want to destroy ISIS. There’s a conversion of interests here. Why don’t we get together and we say, look, we will supply the air, the logistics and the intelligence, you put the boots on the ground, and go in there and do the job? And, in addition, get some of our Arab allies in the region to put boots on the ground as well, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan and the others. James Baker
On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Mr. Baker said ground troops are necessary but must come from Arab and Muslim allies, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. (…) I spoke to Mr. Baker at CBS before his appearance. He said the world is “coalescing,” and this is the time to move, with diplomacy and leadership. So, a multinational Arab and Muslim military force to fight ISIS on the ground. Is this the right way to go? Peggy Noonan
Le débat sur la terminologie à employer semble oiseux. Il s’agit bien d’une guerre et c’est d’ailleurs le terme utilisé par les djihadistes. Le problème est de savoir quelle sera la durée du conflit. En effet, la situation est peu banale : l’assise territoriale de Daesh semble se renforcer constamment. État atypique, le Califat s’enracine chaque jour davantage du simple fait que personne ne se trouve actuellement en mesure de le déloger. L’asymétrie favorise la sanctuarisation. Parallèlement, la mouvance terroriste que le Califat inspire à l’échelle mondiale persiste et s’amplifie, sans se structurer en réseau, ce qui complique considérablement le renseignement, la parade et l’éventuelle riposte. Territorialisation et déterritorialisation se combinent donc pour former un gigantesque casse-tête stratégique. La question de la violence djihadiste ne saurait être résolue par une réponse strictement militaire. D’ailleurs, si les frappes aériennes semblent avoir enrayé la progression de Daesh, elles ne paraissent pas avoir empêché sa consolidation dans les zones de peuplement arabe sunnite. Les sociétés arabo-musulmanes connaissent une crise profonde affectant toutes leurs dimensions. Leur stabilisation ne peut donc résulter que d’un processus politique, au sens noble du terme. C’est-à-dire le traitement de l’ensemble des maux qui affectent les habitants. Pour réussir, ce processus doit être le fait des populations elles-mêmes, mené à leur rythme et bénéficier, le cas échéant, de l’aide de la communauté internationale. Cela devrait être la leçon des échecs occidentaux en Afghanistan, en Irak et en Libye. Encore faut-il que les sociétés arabo-musulmanes forgent le contexte favorable pour que la frange de leurs élites disposée à conduire ces changements puisse agir efficacement. Patrice Gourdin

Attention: un diable peut en cacher un autre !

A l’heure où, devant la pusallinimité du Monde libre et d’abord de son prétendu chef à la Maison blanche …

Un Etat Islamique (pardon: Daech !) dont personne n’ose même évoquer le nom …

Pourrait avec quelque 40 000 fanatiques dont plus de 4 000 étrangers

Mais aussi d’anciens cadres de l’armée de Saddam et surtout la complicité de nos prétendus amis turcs, saoudiens ou qataris comme d’une rue arabe assoiffée de revanche …

Contrôler un territoire grand comme moitié de la France et quelque 15% du PIB irakien soit l’équivalent du budget militaire français …

Tenant sous sa coupe une population de quelque 10 millions d’habitants dont une ville dépassant le million de résidents …

Ne sait plus quoi inventer, entre décapitations publiques, bûchers humains et massacres d’enfants sur place et appels au meurtre chez nous, pour démontrer sa barbarie …

Et où aux Etats-Unis mêmes, l’on commence à se rendre compte de l’inefficacité du seul bombardement aérien …

Pendant que piquée au vif par l’incinération vive d’un de ses pilote, la Jordanie se voit contrainte d’annoncer sa volonté d’éradiquer les djihadistes …

Comment ne pas voir avec l’excellente analyse de Patrice Gourdin sur le site Diploweb …

Que rien ne pourra se faire sans le fait, élites comme populations, des sociétés arabo-musulmanes elles-mêmes ?

Mais aussi, comme le rappellent le sénateur américain Lindsay Graham ou l’ancien secrétaire d’Etat James Baker …

Qu’il serait peut-être temps de demander aux premiers intéressés de joindre leurs actes à la parole …

Et de mettre enfin vraiment au sol ces fameuses troupes dont tout le monde n’arrête pas de parler ?

Daesh restaure le Califat
Patrice Gourdin*
Diploweb
1er février 2015

Géopolitique de Daesh. La situation est peu banale : l’assise territoriale de Daesh semble se renforcer constamment. État atypique, le Califat s’enracine chaque jour davantage du simple fait que personne ne se trouve actuellement en mesure de le déloger. L’asymétrie favorise la sanctuarisation. Parallèlement, la mouvance terroriste que le Califat inspire à l’échelle mondiale persiste et s’amplifie, sans se structurer en réseau, ce qui complique considérablement le renseignement, la parade et l’éventuelle riposte. Territorialisation et déterritorialisation se combinent donc pour former un gigantesque casse-tête stratégique.

Solidement documenté, rédigé de façon maîtrisée, ce texte est appelé à faire référence.

TRÉS affaibli entre 2006 et 2010 par les forces américaines épaulées par les milices arabes sunnites antidjihadistes, l’État islamique en Irak, antenne locale d’Al Qaida, se revivifia à partir de 2011 dans la guerre civile syrienne. Engageant sur le champ de bataille ses combattants aguerris survivants, il remporta des succès qui lui procurèrent peu à peu les moyens de sa conquête : nouvelles recrues, armement et ressources financières. Cela sans attirer suffisamment l’attention de la communauté internationale qui fut donc prise au dépourvu par l’offensive lancée début 2014 dans le nord de l’Irak. En dépit de quelques revers, les forces de ce qui s’appelait depuis 2013 l’État islamique en Irak et au Levant opérèrent une progression foudroyante. Disposant d’un excellent réseau de renseignement, dotées de nombreux véhicules, appuyées par de l’artillerie et des chars sans pour autant perdre en souplesse, elles menèrent des offensives conventionnelles victorieuses, tout en poursuivant leurs actions de guérilla et leurs attentats terroristes [1]. Leur avancée leur permit de renforcer leurs effectifs par la libération de centaines de combattants emprisonnés en Irak et par le ralliement d’anciens cadres et soldats de l’armée de Saddam Hussein.

Forts de ces résultats, les djihadistes de l’organisation rebaptisée, en juin 2014, État islamique (Daesh) [2] ont entrepris de fonder un État territorial de part et d’autre de la frontière internationale séparant l’Irak et la Syrie. Prise de court, la communauté internationale a réagi de manière brouillonne et, pour le moment du moins, inefficace. Dénier à cette entité la qualité d’État ainsi que son appartenance à l’islam ne résout rien. Il semble paradoxal que les États en lutte contre le terrorisme islamiste soient surpris par cette entreprise. Agissant à l’échelle mondiale, comme Al Qaida et Daesh, ou localement, comme les taliban afghans et pakistanais, le Groupe islamique armé algérien des années 1990 ou Al Qaida au Maghreb islamique, son avatar contemporain, les shabab somaliens ou les Nigérians de Boko Haram, les radicaux de l’islam ambitionnent tous de conquérir un territoire sur lequel exercer le pouvoir. Les événements en cours en Irak et en Syrie offrent l’occasion d’examiner le projet et la stratégie des refondateurs du califat.

L’espace, les ressources et la population de plus de 200 000 km² (approximativement 170 000 km2 en Irak et 60 000 km2 en Syrie, soit environ un tiers de chacun de ces pays) se trouveraient sous l’influence ou le contrôle effectif sinon efficace de l’organisation. Celle-ci tente d’instaurer une variante d’État totalitaire se réclamant d’une conception religieuse et politique qui s’estime légitime parce qu’elle plonge ses racines dans l’islam des origines. Désireux d’échapper au cordon sanitaire qui pourrait l’asphyxier, le Califat reste relié au monde extérieur et cherche à étendre le combat au territoire de ses ennemis.

Patrice Gourdin, Docteur en histoire, professeur agrégé de l’Université
I. Conquérir le territoire d’un État viable

L’examen des cartes localisant les zones contrôlées ou influencées [3] par l’État islamique et leur juxtaposition avec les cartes physiques et économiques révèlent un projet rationnel [4]. Il s’agit d’un phénomène récurrent : depuis le début de l’Histoire, les hommes ou les groupes porteurs d’un projet politique ou politico-religieux cherchent à le réaliser sur un territoire. Autant que faire se peut, ce territoire doit leur conférer ressources et sécurité. Peut-être s’est-on trop focalisé, depuis la fin de la Guerre froide, sur la déterritorialisation prophétisée des rapports de force et sur la montée en puissance des organisations réticulaires. Al Qaida et Daesh poursuivent le même objectif : instaurer un État, c’est-à-dire une autorité régissant la population d’un territoire donné. Ce qui les oppose, hormis de possibles rivalités de personnes, c’est l’ordre des opérations. La première pose la défaite du monde occidental en préalable à la restauration de l’État islamique, le second – influencé par les thèses d’Abou Moussab al-Souri [5], l’auteur de l’Appel à la résistance islamique mondiale, paru en 2004 – fait de la refondation de ce dernier un prérequis à la domination mondiale de l’islam. Gilles Kepel a résumé la stratégie préconisée par al-Souri : « [les] attentats à caractère dispersé appartiennent à une première phase, qu’il nomme “guerre d’usure“, et dont le but est de déstabiliser l’ennemi. Une deuxième, celle de “l’équilibre“, voit les cellules attaquer systématiquement l’armée ou la police, en pourchasser et exécuter les chefs, s’emparer des zones qu’il est possible de libérer. Pendant la troisième, la “guerre de libération“, les cellules se basent sur les zones libérées pour conquérir le reste du territoire, tandis que, derrière les lignes ennemies, continuent assassinats et attentats qui achèvent de détruire le monde de l’impiété [6] ». La feuille de route suivie par l’État islamique depuis 2011 correspond à ce schéma.

L’espace contrôlé ou sous influence occupe une partie du Croissant fertile : des abords de l’axe vital Alep-Damas (Syrie) à l’ouest, aux environs de Bagdad (Irak) à l’est. Il recouvre environ deux tiers de la Mésopotamie antique, celle unifiée et organisée dans le premier empire babylonien (2000-1500 av. J.-C.). Ce qui compte parmi les premières constructions étatiques n’avait pu être édifié que grâce à la présence combinée de l’eau (fleuves Tigre et Euphrate avec leurs affluents) et de terres cultivables (irriguées ou non). Les cartes montrent l’emprise de Daesh sur une partie de ces espaces nourriciers : vallée de l’Euphrate de Jarabulus à Anah, puis (de façon discontinue) de Haditah à Falloudja ; vallée de la Khabour (affluent de l’Euphrate) et vallée du Tigre entre Rabia et l’amont de Samara. Bénéficiaires d’aménagements hydrauliques plus ou moins récents (Daesh exerce son emprise sur la plus grande partie des 56 000 km2 de terres irriguées en Syrie pour bonifier la Djézireh), ces régions produisent notamment du coton, de l’orge et du blé. Selon le ministère irakien de l’agriculture, Daesh aurait la mainmise sur 40% de la production agricole irakienne [7]. La Syrie assurait son autosuffisance alimentaire avant la guerre civile, mais il est difficile de savoir quelles sont aujourd’hui les disponibilités en nourriture dans les zones insurgées. La construction de barrages équipés assure une importante production d’électricité (Tichrin et Tabqa, en Syrie, Haditha en Irak). Les assauts répétés pour contrôler le barrage de Mossoul semblent liés à la nécessité d’assurer l’approvisionnement électrique de la population de cette très grande ville (entre 1 500 000 et 2 000 000 d’habitants avant les combats). Des stations d’épuration permettent aux habitants des villes de consommer une eau potable. Bref, Daesh tente de disposer des ressources et des équipements indispensables à la vie quotidienne des populations. Son emprise sur ces dernières en dépend partiellement. Un économiste a même comparé l’État islamique à un système de Ponzi : il ne tiendrait qu’au prix d’une extension territoriale continue [8]. Ceci explique en partie la poussée enregistrée récemment en direction de la Syrie “utile“ (axe Damas-Alep). Encore faut-il que les équipements demeurent en état de fonctionner et que les travaux agricoles se déroulent normalement, ce que l’état de guerre ne garantit pas. L’influence dans la partie désertique de la Syrie et du centre de l’Irak, milieu particulièrement difficile à contrôler, contribue à occulter une part des activités de Daesh. Mais les conditions de vie n’y favorisent pas la présence humaine et, dans cet espace, l’État islamique règne sur du vide.

Le Califat contrôle des gisements d’hydrocarbures : dans les provinces de Hassaké et surtout de Deir ez-Zor (avec deux raffineries de pétrole et une usine de liquéfaction de gaz) au nord-est de la Syrie (60% de la production syrienne [9]) ; les sites de Akkas, Husaybah (province d’Al-Anbar), Ajeel, Hamrin et Baiji, ainsi que les raffineries de pétrole de Baiji et de Tikrit (province de Salah Ad-Din) au nord-ouest de l’Irak (entre 10 et 20% de la production irakienne, selon les sources). La zone de peuplement arabe sunnite en Irak est pratiquement dépourvue de pétrole et la prise de contrôle de gisements en zone de peuplement kurde sonne aussi comme une revanche sur la géologie. Mais les Kurdes sont tenaces et n’abandonneront pas facilement les hydrocarbures, qui sont la principale source de financement de leur autonomie et de leur éventuelle indépendance. Grâce à des circuits de contrebande vers la Turquie cela assure des revenus substantiels : potentiellement de l’ordre de plusieurs centaines de millions de dollars par an, mais les chiffres les plus divers circulent, sans aucun fondement sérieux. Élément tout aussi important, ces ressources couvriraient les besoins énergétiques locaux et opérationnels de Daesh. Voici une des spécificités du Califat : pour la première fois, une organisation djihadiste contrôle un territoire à haute valeur économique. Mais soulignons le caractère potentiel de celle-ci. Les sites pétroliers et gaziers font l’objet de bombardements incessants de la part de la coalition internationale depuis l’automne 2014, précisément pour annihiler cette source de revenus. Aucun bilan de ces opérations n’est disponible, mais il semble que le flux acheminé ait diminué. Les installations ne peuvent être entretenues et réparées faute de pièces de rechange et les hydrocarbures sont écoulés à des prix très inférieurs aux cours officiels (réduits eux-mêmes de moitié depuis la fin de l’été 2014).

Daesh maîtrise le réseau des communications terrestres entre Alep et Ramadi ainsi qu’entre Falloudja et Mossoul. À quoi il faut ajouter le contrôle de Rutba, au cœur du désert, carrefour des pistes reliant la vallée de l’Euphrate à Amman ou à Damas. Voies de transport de marchandises licites, chemins de toutes les contrebandes, support de longs tronçons des oléoducs (en service ou non) reliant le Golfe Arabo-Persique et la mer Méditerranée, ces axes de communications représentent un atout considérable en temps de guerre et pourraient contribuer à la relance économique d’un Proche-Orient en paix. Là réside une autre particularité du Califat : il s’agit de la première entreprise djihadiste assurant son emprise durable sur un territoire à très haute valeur stratégique : au centre du plus important carrefour terrestre mondial (charnière Afrique-Asie-Europe). Les taliban n’ont jamais régné que sur l’aire pashtoune, zone isolée du monde depuis l’abandon des routes de la soie. Les shabab ne dominent qu’une frange d’un État failli et qui a perdu sa valeur stratégique, même s’il exerce une nuisance non négligeable comme havre de la piraterie (activité dont les djihadistes ne détiennent pas le monopole). Al Qaida dans la Péninsule Arabique demeure cantonné aux montagnes du sud du Yémen, en dépit d’opérations ponctuelles à l’extérieur. Al Qaida au Maghreb islamique est aux abois dans les rudes Aurès et n’a pu faire mieux que coloniser des zones de la bande saharo-sahélienne désertique ou semi-désertique, enclavée et réduite au transit des trafics divers. Boko Haram sévit dans la partie sahélienne, isolée, enclavée et la plus déshéritée du Nigéria.

Daesh possède une portion de la frontière commune (longue au total de 822 kilomètres) entre la Syrie et la Turquie, bénéficiant de plusieurs points de passage sur la section d’environ 200 kilomètres située entre Jarabulus (sur l’Euphrate) et Ras Al-Aïn (sur le Khabour). Cela présente deux avantages : d’une part, la garantie de la liberté de circulation pour assurer les trafics qui abondent les caisses du Califat (hydrocarbures, antiquités) et pourvoient en partie à l’approvisionnement des miliciens et des populations civiles. D’autre part, sont facilités l’arrivée de cadres civils indispensables au bon fonctionnement du Califat et le maintien du flux de combattants étrangers volontaires pour le djihad dont Daesh a besoin pour mener ses opérations – défensives ou offensives – sur les divers fronts ouverts. Le segment de frontière à sécuriser pour gêner les réseaux Daesh est nettement moins long que ce que prétend Ankara, ce qui alimente la suspicion de complicité avec les djihadistes.

Le territoire du Califat est un territoire en guerre, aux limites mouvantes, vidé de toute autorité légale, ravagé et extrêmement dangereux. Depuis l’invasion américaine de 2003, la partie arabe du nord-ouest de l’Irak n’a pas cessé de connaître des affrontements de plus ou moins grande ampleur. Au printemps 2011, le nord-est de la Syrie a basculé à son tour dans la violence armée (rebelles contre loyalistes, factions rebelles entre elles, djihadistes contre Kurdes, une partie de la coalition internationale contre les djihadistes). Cela relativise la normalité du fonctionnement de l’État fondé par al-Baghdadi et ses partisans.

II. Contrôler la population d’un État viable

L’assise territoriale d’un État n’a de valeur que si elle porte une population. Les stratèges de l’État islamique ont pris soin de conserver sous leur contrôle ou leur influence une part non négligeable des habitants, probablement entre huit et dix millions [10]. Main-d’œuvre, contribuables, bouclier humain, esclaves, cobayes pour une forme ressuscitée de gouvernance, adeptes, recrues, autant d’utilisations possibles de cet ensemble humain.

États de création récente, la Syrie et l’Irak englobent des populations hétérogènes, dont les composantes se trouvent le plus souvent réparties sur plusieurs pays. Les Arabes (89% de la population en Syrie, 75% en Irak) sont les plus nombreux. La région héberge depuis des siècles des populations non-arabes : Kurdes (8% de la population en Syrie, 20% en Irak) et Turcs (0,5% de la population en Syrie, 3% en Irak). Ces minorités ethniques sont en butte à de mauvais traitements. Mais ces pratiques, en particulier vis-à-vis des Kurdes, sont antérieures à l’emprise de Daesh.

La population est très largement de confession musulmane, mais partagée entre sunnites (70% de la population en Syrie, 35% en Irak) et chiites ou assimilés (19% de la population en Syrie en comptant les alaouites, 60% en Irak). Le Califat aspire à éliminer de sa population tous les éléments “impurs“. Il œuvre donc à l’éradication des tenants du chiisme sous toutes ses formes ainsi que des nombreuses minorités religieuses présentes depuis l’Antiquité : chrétiens (10% de la population en Syrie, 5% en Irak), yézidis et zoroastriens, notamment. Promis au massacre, au viol ou à l’esclavage, les membres de ces communautés ont fui en masse, ajoutant bien contre leur gré aux difficultés de la région.

Daesh s’intéresse avant tout aux Arabes de confession sunnite (majoritaires en Syrie, minoritaires en Irak). Parmi ceux-ci, un nombre non négligeable – mais impossible à évaluer avec précision – ont appelé de leurs vœux l’avènement de l’État islamique ou, du moins, ont observé une neutralité bienveillante à son égard. À l’origine, dans les cas irakien comme syrien, leurs motivations semblent avoir été plus politiques (lutte contre l’oppression, du clan al-Assad en Syrie et rejet de la politique sectaire pro-chiite de Nouri al-Maliki en Irak) que religieuses. D’autres Arabes sunnites, en revanche, ont fui et certains sont demeurés contre leur gré. Ces derniers subissent la radicalisation religieuse dans toute sa rigueur, mais restent pris au piège et ne semblent pas en mesure de s’opposer à la terreur djihadiste. D’autant que, selon une pratique totalitaire bien rôdée, Daesh infiltre l’ensemble de la société afin de la surveiller au plus près et de la réprimer, souvent de manière préventive. Il aurait identifié et recensé les avocats, les professeurs, les médecins et les ingénieurs, les contrôlerait étroitement et exercerait des pressions sur eux. Les juristes seraient même contraints à quitter le Califat car ils connaissent trop bien le droit et pourraient dénoncer les abus commis au nom de la charia ou du fait de son ignorance. L’organisation aurait également utilisé des cinquièmes colonnes pour préparer certaines de ses opérations militaires les plus audacieuses, comme la prise de Mossoul. Ces agents clandestins seraient également à l’œuvre dans les régions loyalistes pour détruire de l’intérieur la société, par exemple en contraignant ses cadres qualifiés à ne plus exercer leurs activités.

Ces populations comptent un grand nombre de jeunes (49% des Irakiens et 45% des Syriens sont âgés de 20 ans ou moins), inégalement éduqués (taux d’analphabétisme de 20 à plus de 30% de la population jeune dans la zone contrôlée en Syrie alors que la moyenne nationale est de 6%, entre 5% et 20% dans la zone contrôlée en Irak alors que la moyenne nationale est de 11%), mais victimes dans une proportion significative des défaillances de leurs dirigeants. Ces derniers n’ont ni su ni voulu consentir les efforts nécessaires pour assurer un emploi et, plus largement, une insertion sociale à l’ensemble de ces jeunes. Une partie d’entre eux, désœuvrés, sans perspectives, se trouvent disponibles pour les aventures les plus hasardeuses. D’autant plus que le niveau de vie de ces populations est des plus modestes : l’indice de développement humain-IDH classe la Syrie 120e (équivalent à celui de l’Afrique du Sud) et l’Irak 121e (proche de celui du Guyana ou du Viêt Nam) sur 187 pays évalués. Les zones contrôlées ou influencées par Daesh figurent parmi les plus déshéritées. Les plaines alluviales et les plateaux steppiques de la Djézireh, en dépit de l’irrigation et des hydrocarbures, constituent une région périphérique, en Syrie comme en Irak. Dans chaque camp en présence, l’engagement dans les forces armées, les unités paramilitaires ou les milices constitue un (le seul) moyen d’exister et/ou de nourrir les siens.

Faute d’États garantissant à l’ensemble des habitants le statut de citoyennes ou de citoyens libres et égaux en droits et en devoirs, la Syrie et l’Irak demeurent marqués par l’emprise des structures tribales sur la population. Loin d’être le symptôme d’un attachement archaïque à la tradition, il s’agit de pragmatisme. Les hommes se tournent vers les liens de solidarité traditionnels, les seuls qui leur assurent la sécurité, les moyens de vivre et d’avoir une existence sociale. Cette survivance sanctionne l’échec de l’instauration (en admettant qu’elle ait été tentée ou… que les tribus ne s’y soient pas opposées victorieusement) d’un État de droit. Parce qu’il s’agit d’intermédiaires indispensables, l’État islamique noue, avec des fortunes diverses, des relations avec les notables des principales tribus de sa zone d’opérations. En Irak, dans la province d’Al Anbar, il s’appuie sur un partie de la puissante confédération Dulaymi (très présente dans l’armée de Saddam Hussein avant 2003) et autour de Mossoul, il compte des partisans au sein de la branche al Djarba, sunnite, des Shammar. En Syrie, il est lié à une partie des Shammar al-Kursah et des Charabya. Mais la logique tribale est dominée par l’impératif de survie du groupe, ce qui rend les allégeances aléatoires car elles fluctuent au gré des intérêts et des rapports de force. La résistance de la tribu al-Sheitaat (provinces de Raqqa et de Deir ez-Zor) à l’État islamique tenait au moins en partie à la concurrence pour l’exploitation des champs de pétrole. Conjuguée à la règle fondamentale de la vengeance (intiqâm) contre tout outrage, la segmentation propre à ce type de société pose le problème des luttes intertribales. Celles-ci contribuent à empêcher toute unification durable des populations de la zone contrôlée et facilitent les manœuvres, comme l’utilisation des certaines tribus contre les djihadistes. Les massacres spectaculaire de plusieurs centaines de membres (parmi lesquels de nombreux civils) de la tribu al-Sheitaat (provinces de Raqqa et de Deir ez-Zor), en août 2014, et de la tribu Albou Nimr (province d’Al-Anbar), en novembre 2014, visaient, notamment, à imposer par la terreur une neutralité sinon une loyauté durables. Le cheik de la tribu al-Sheitaat, Rafaa Aakla al-Raju, avait appelé (en particulier sur une vidéo diffusée par YouTube) les tribus bédouines à se soulever contre l’État islamique. Cela révèle les limites de l’efficacité tant des liens personnels tissés par Daesh que du réseau de renseignement extrêmement dense que l’État islamique a organisé dans les zones arabes sunnites d’Irak et de Syrie. Ce dernier lui permet d’empêcher, y compris par des assassinats préventifs, la constitution d’une vaste coalition semblable au Réveil (Sahwa). Organisée par les Américains, à l’instigation du général David L. Petraeus, entre 2006 et 2010, elle avait pratiquement anéanti Al Qaida en Mésopotamie, la matrice de Daesh. Mais rien ne garantit à Daesh un soutien sincère et durable. En outre, la terreur ne dissuade que jusqu’à ce que le seuil de l’insupportable soit atteint. Et les pratiques extrêmement violentes et cruelles du Califat risquent de provoquer rapidement cette saturation. Encore faudra-t-il que les adversaires de Daesh soient capables de le savoir et d’en tirer parti.

L’État islamique se trouve confronté à un défi majeur où il joue en grande partie sa crédibilité et donc son avenir vis-à-vis des populations locales : sa capacité à assurer le fonctionnement normal d’une société. La logique d’un conflit asymétrique répond habituellement à la démarche inverse : paralyser ou bloquer tous les services qu’une population attend de ses dirigeants afin qu’elle se tourne vers les insurgés. Quelques témoignages récents [11] rapportent que le Califat, s’il fait régner la sécurité, s’avèrerait incapable de fournir en suffisance l’électricité, l’eau potable, l’alimentation de base, les médicaments et les soins médicaux dont ont besoin les hommes et les femmes qui se trouvent dans ses zones de domination ou d’influence. Cela s’expliquerait d’une part, par les dégâts résultant des combats, d’autre part, par le manque de main-d’œuvre qualifiée, en particulier des spécialistes de haut niveau (ingénieurs et médecins, notamment).

Daesh s’est emparé de plusieurs villes – notamment Raqqa, Falloudja et Tikrit -, de taille variable, toutes en zone de peuplement arabe sunnite, dont la plus grande est Mossoul. Compte tenu des difficultés d’administration et d’approvisionnement que semble rencontrer l’organisation, la raison de ces conquêtes serait d’abord stratégique. Les djihadistes se fondent dans la population qui se retrouve ainsi servir involontairement de bouclier humain contre les bombardements aériens. En outre, la reconquête de ces périmètres urbains nécessitera des effectifs et du matériel en quantité considérable et sera tout à la fois extrêmement meurtrière et destructrice. Les forces loyalistes de Syrie et d’Irak ne paraissent pas en état de mener de telles opérations, encore moins de vaincre. Quant à la coalition internationale, elle n’entend pas s’engager au sol. Par conséquent, le Califat peut, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, conforter ses positions urbaines. Nul doute que ses stratèges ont étudié avec soin les combats auxquels ils ont pris part dans les villes d’Irak depuis 2003 et de Syrie depuis 2011, ainsi que les pratiques du Hezbollah au Sud Liban et du Hamas à Gaza. Ces précédents n’augurent pas d’une déterritorialisation rapide de Daesh. La reconquête de Kobane par des Kurdes appuyés par l’aviation de la coalition internationale, le 26 janvier 2015, ne semble pas significative. L’État islamique, peut-être pris d’hybris à cause de ses victoires antérieures et certainement aveuglé par son idéologie, était tombé dans le piège de la bataille symbolique. Il usa ses forces pour un enjeu insignifiant sur le plan stratégique, mais transformé en enjeu politique majeur par la médiatisation de la résistance héroïque des milicien(ne)s kurdes. Daesh s’est révélé vulnérable et a sorti les marrons du feu au profit des nationalistes kurdes. Gageons que les leçons de cet échec seront tirées et que les stratèges du Califat ne reproduiront pas cette erreur-là.

III. S’appuyer sur une représentation géopolitique cohérente

Loin d’être une entreprise aberrante, la restauration du califat dans la région conquise ou sous influence, résulte d’un projet idéologique rigoureux et élaboré. En effet, tout s’inscrit dans la mémoire arabe, musulmane et sunnite, dans le but de susciter l’adhésion du plus grand nombre possible d’Arabes musulmans sunnites. À commencer par ceux dont le désir de revanche semble le plus intense : ceux d’Irak, dépossédés du pouvoir et humiliés par les chiites depuis 2003, et ceux de Syrie, chassés du pouvoir, discriminés et impitoyablement réprimés par certains clans alaouites depuis 1970.

Le chef suprême cultive la ressemblance avec le prophète Mahomet. Outre qu’il arbore une barbe fournie, il se couvre d’un turban et revêt un manteau réputés pareils à ceux que portait le fondateur de l’islam. Ces effets sont de couleur noire, celle du prophète, reprise par ceux qui se présentaient comme ses descendants légitimes : les souverains abbassides. Il s’attribue une filiation avec la tribu de la Mecque à laquelle appartenait Mahomet : les Quraysh. Les généalogies ne présentent pas toujours d’incontestables garanties d’authenticité, mais cette ascendance est indispensable car, selon la tradition musulmane [12], le califat ne peut être détenu que par l’un d’entre eux.

La proclamation du Califat, le 29 juin 2014, vise à réactiver la mémoire glorieuse de l’empire au temps de la dynastie abbasside. Dans la civilisation arabo-musulmane, ce geste revêt une importance en général mal comprise et/ou sous estimée en Occident. La définition d’Ibn Khaldûn (1332-1406), référence essentielle à ce sujet, permet de comprendre : le calife, écrit-il, est « le substitut du Législateur pour la garde de la religion et le gouvernement des affaires d’ici-bas sur un fondement religieux [13] ». Le calife ( khalifa ) est, littéralement, le “successeur“ du prophète Mahomet. Ce fut le titre adopté par celui qui, à sa suite, prit la tête de la communauté des croyants (oumma), son beau-père Abu Bakr (632-634). Il fut pérennisé par ‘Umar (634-644), autre beau-père de Mahomet, véritable bâtisseur du califat en tant que forme particulière d’autorité, à la fois politique et religieuse. Héritée des pratiques tribales de la péninsule arabique, la conception califale du pouvoir est, dans le meilleur des cas du moins, arbitrale et non despotique. Toutefois, elle peut déroger à cet idéal pour accomplir sa tâche prioritaire, qui est de garantir l’unité de l’oumma, d’en éviter la division (fitna). Afin d’écarter l’anarchie, chacun des membres de l’oumma doit, lors d’une cérémonie collective, prêter un serment d’allégeance personnelle (bay’a) au calife. Toute contestation est impitoyablement châtiée car considérée comme une rébellion contre l’État voulu par Dieu, une innovation (bid’a) déviante par rapport à un ordre qui doit demeurer immuable. La doctrine du pouvoir fixée sous les Abbassides rend obligatoire l’obéissance à l’égard de toute personne qui gouverne, sauf si celle-ci ordonne la désobéissance (ma’siya) à Dieu. Cette obligation équivaut à un devoir religieux. Calife, prétendant renouer le fil de l’histoire interrompue en 1258, Ibrahim ne pouvait donc que réclamer la bay’a dans les zones qu’il contrôle et c’est en toute “légitimité“ qu’il pratique une politique de terreur à l’encontre des tribus rebelles.

Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi veut signer la revanche de la communauté des Arabes sunnites sur une humiliation pluriséculaire. Il traduit la volonté de renouer avec la grandeur perdue.

Durant la période abbasside (750-1258), la réflexion politique fixa la doctrine du pouvoir califal et définit les fonctions principales du détenteur de celui-ci : préserver la religion telle que fixée par Mahomet et les premiers musulmans (salaf) ; protéger les territoires musulmans ; combattre pour la conversion des non-musulmans. Le supplice du dernier souverain abbasside, Al-Muta’sim, par les Mongols lors de la prise de Bagdad, en 1258, marqua la fin à la fois de la lignée califale et de la prépondérance politique et économique des Arabes sunnites dans l’empire. Le geste d’Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi veut signer la revanche de la communauté des Arabes sunnites sur une humiliation pluriséculaire. Il traduit la volonté de renouer avec la grandeur perdue. Il entend aussi et surtout marquer la renaissance de l’islam que ses adeptes considèrent comme le seul véritable : celui “restauré“ par les Abbassides après le dévoiement dont ceux-ci accusaient les Omeyyades de s’être rendus coupables. Cela le place, enfin, en position de force, au moins symbolique, face au chef d’Al Qaida, Ayman al-Zaouahiri : le calife impose sa primauté. Selon la pratique instaurée par les Abbassides, les décisions du calife ne peuvent être ni contredites, ni ignorées ni enfreintes sans que ses adversaires ne soient considérés comme des traîtres à l’islam. Encore faut-il que le calife dispose des moyens de faire respecter son autorité. Ce qui suppose préalablement la reconnaissance de sa légitimité, ce que, dans le cas d’Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi, n’ont fait ni Ayman al-Zaouahiri, ni aucune des autorités religieuses respectées par l’immense majorité des musulmans sunnites.

Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, dit Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi se fait désormais appeler calife Ibrahim. Certes, il s’agit de son vrai prénom et cela pourrait être une raison suffisante pour expliquer ce choix. Toutefois, ce prénom revêt également une très forte valeur symbolique dans la religion musulmane. Correspondant à l’Abraham des juifs et des chrétiens, Ibrahim compte parmi les prophètes reconnus par les musulmans. Ceux-ci le considèrent comme le père du monothéisme et comme le modèle du croyant, absolument soumis à Allah, comme en témoigne son acceptation du sacrifice d’Ismaël. La tradition musulmane lui attribue la construction du temple de la Ka’ba, à La Mecque. Certaines tribus arabes, parmi lesquelles les Quraysh, se proclament descendantes de son fils Ismaël. En effet, ce dernier vécut : alors qu’Ibrahim s’apprêtait à le sacrifier comme Allah le lui avait demandé pour éprouver sa foi, sur l’ordre de ce dernier, l’ange Jibril arrêta sa main et substitua un mouton à Ismaël. C’est ce que commémore l’Aïd el-Kebir.

Les djihadistes entendent également manifester leur rejet de la conception occidentale de l’État, celle de l’État-nation (construction d’un vouloir-vivre en commun forgé par une population hétérogène), devenue la norme internationale par le biais de l’expansion impériale des nations européennes au XIXe et dans la première moitié du XXe siècle.

La destruction spectaculaire d’un poste frontière entre la Syrie et l’Irak, le 26 juin 2014, affirme la volonté de rompre avec un ordre territorial imposé de l’extérieur. Le découpage du Proche-Orient résulte des accords Sykes-Picot, conclus secrètement par la France et la Grande-Bretagne en 1916, révisés à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, puis entérinés par la Société des Nations-SDN à San Remo en 1920. Ils consacraient le démantèlement de l’Empire ottoman et la domination de la région par les deux principales puissances occidentales d’alors [14]. Dans la mémoire collective arabe, donc bien au-delà des rangs de Daesh, ces frontières constituent la marque tangible de la trahison des promesses faites en 1916 (correspondance Hussein-McMahon reconnaissant l’existence de la nation arabe et acceptant le principe de la création d’un État arabe), du dépècement des territoires arabes et de la privation d’indépendance de leur population. Les djihadistes entendent également manifester leur rejet de la conception occidentale de l’État, celle de l’État-nation (construction d’un vouloir-vivre en commun forgé par une population hétérogène), devenue la norme internationale par le biais de l’expansion impériale des nations européennes au XIXe et dans la première moitié du XXe siècle. L’État islamique (dawla al-islâmiya) forgé sous les Abbassides dont se réclame le calife Ibrahim, regroupe une communauté homogène : les croyants d’une seule religion, l’islam, dans une seule composante, le salafisme djihadiste, et régie par une loi divine, la charia. Il récuse tout ordre politique, intérieur ou international, qui ne procède ni ne se fonde sur le divin. D’où l’inutilité des ergotages sur l’appellation de l’entité créée le 29 juin 2014. Daesh n’est pas un mouvement indépendantiste combattant en vue de sa reconnaissance juridique en tant qu’État-nation, il a instauré un Salafistan , un territoire où règnent de nouveau la Vérité révélée par Mahomet et la Loi qui en découle. Le calife Ibrahim entend en faire le noyau auquel s’agglomèreront toutes les terres d’islam, un ensemble transcendant les frontières et les appartenances tribales ou nationales, et une base à partir de laquelle la conversion du monde entier à l’islam sera menée à bien.

Prétendant à la qualité d’État, le Califat ajouta aux prérogatives régaliennes qu’il exerce de fait (sécurité, justice, défense) celle de battre monnaie. Le 13 novembre 2014, il présenta les pièces de monnaie qui auraient désormais seules cours sur son territoire : 1 et 5 dinars d’or, 1, 5 et 10 dirhams d’argent, 10 et 20 fills de cuivre. De la sorte, il renouait avec un autre héritage de l’islam originel. Les monnaies iraniennes et byzantines circulèrent jusqu’au règne du calife omeyyade Abd al-Malik (685-705). Celui-ci fit frapper les premières monnaies musulmanes : le dinar (or) et le dirham (argent). Le calife abbasside Al-Ma’mun (813-833) mit en circulation de nouvelles pièces qui fournirent le standard en usage durant plusieurs siècles. Outil économique et fiscal autant que vecteur idéologique (elle porte le nom du souverain et des citations du Coran qui expriment la politique menée par le calife), la monnaie est un instrument essentiel du pouvoir califal que Daesh a restauré. Le retour à un système monétaire métallique, outre la volonté d’affirmer l’existence d’un État et de renouer avec la grandeur des Abbassides, traduit un projet politique émancipateur vis-à-vis de l’ordre économique mondial. Daesh veut briser la domination des institutions financières internationales et américaines. Contrôlées, selon lui, par les chrétiens et les juifs, ce sont, à ses yeux, des instruments voués au pillage des ressources du monde arabe. Battre dinar et dirham est donc sensé libérer l’oumma et montrer aux peuples opprimés la voie à suivre pour se défaire de l’hégémonie occidentale.

S’inscrivant dans la durée, le Califat réorganise la société selon son projet totalitaire. Surveillés de près, les individus doivent tous œuvrer à la réalisation de l’utopie salafiste, faute de quoi ils sont éliminés sans état d’âme. L’administration est maintenue ou rétablie, non seulement pour assurer le fonctionnement normal des services publics, mais aussi pour instaurer et pérenniser l’ordre islamique. Certains auteurs évoquent une “djihadisation“ des esprits. L’action sociale fait l’objet d’une attention particulière, dans une évidente stratégie de séduction. La charia est appliquée dans toute sa rigueur. L’éducation est très étroitement contrôlée, les salafistes désirant endoctriner la jeune génération. Outre la séparation stricte des sexes, le nouveau pouvoir impose une modification complète des programmes. Trois séries de matières sont bannies : d’abord, celles contribuant à l’épanouissement personnel (arts plastiques, musique, sport), ensuite celles développant la réflexion personnelle et l’esprit critique (histoire, philosophie, sciences sociales), enfin celles délivrant une connaissance jugée non conforme au Coran (psychologie, théorie de l’évolution). La lutte contre les Kurdes contient une forte dose idéologique : ceux-ci militent (ou prétendent militer, afin de s’attirer les bonnes grâces de l ’Occident ?) pour un État laïque, “socialiste“ et respectueux des droits de la femme. Ils incarnent donc, aux yeux des salafistes djihadistes, un contre-modèle à détruire.

Bref, Daesh tente de matérialiser le rêve de résurrection de la grandeur perdue en 1258, lorsque les conquérants mongols mirent fin au dernier empire musulman dominé par les Arabes. Rien ne serait plus erroné que de sous-estimer la portée de cette entreprise. Cette nostalgie dépasse très largement les rangs des seuls adeptes de Daesh. Cela ne provoquera probablement pas la levée en masse attendue par ces derniers, mais à tout le moins une sympathie plus ou moins marquée d’une partie des populations arabes sunnites, pouvant évoluer dans certains cas vers un soutien plus ou moins actif.

Ceux qui rejoignent les terres du Califat affichent une détermination sans faille, celle des fanatiques. Au IXe siècle, une tradition apocalyptique naquit dans les rangs chiites : un Mahdi (un être “bien guidé“) accompagné d’une armée invincible viendrait préparer le Jugement Dernier. Au XIe siècle, les savants sunnites reprirent ces croyances afin d’entretenir la ferveur religieuse et de stimuler la fidélité politique des populations de l’empire abbasside. Daesh se réclame de cette eschatologie sunnite et enflamme ses partisans en les persuadant qu’ils sont les annonciateurs du Jugement d’Allah. Les djihadistes pensent que la fin du monde approche et qu’il faut séparer le camp du Bien de celui du Mal, celui de la religion révélée par Mahomet de toutes les autres. Cela impose une purification par la violence et une annihilation des impies, qui passe, en particulier, par la décapitation des ennemis (musulmans et non-musulmans) de l’islam qu’ils défendent, le seul véritable à leurs yeux. Cette pratique, couramment utilisée à l’encontre des animaux, participe de la déshumanisation de l’autre, commune à tous les totalitarismes. En outre, dans la tradition musulmane médiévale, la tête est le siège de l’âme. La victime voit donc son humanité niée dans ses dimensions tant physique que spirituelle. Une prophétie (hadith de Amaq [15]) assure que la bataille finale entre le Bien et le Mal, qui doit assurer la victoire des croyants sur les infidèles, se déroulera au nord du pays de Sham (la Syrie) en un lieu appelé tantôt Amaq, tantôt Dabiq, d’où le choix de ce nom pour le titre de la revue de propagande de Daesh [16]. Ces deux villages se situent entre Alep et la frontière turque [17].

Daesh développe une vision manichéenne du monde : il incarne le camp du Bien – réduit aux salafistes djihadistes qui se rallient à lui. Il se déclare en lutte contre le camp du Mal. Ce dernier regroupe le reste de l’humanité. D’abord, les “mécréants“ (kouffar), au premier rang desquels les athées, les juifs, les chrétiens et les musulmans chiites, mais auxquels s’ajoutent les adeptes de toutes les religions, y compris les musulmans sunnites ne partageant pas leur vision de l’islam. Ensuite, les “hypocrites“, soit tous les dirigeants arabes, corrompus par l’Occident. Enfin, les États-Unis et la Russie sont les ennemis étatiques principaux. La vision salafiste djihadiste du monde s’inscrit dans le droit fil de celle du nazisme – qui sédui(si)t une partie de l’opinion et des dirigeants arabes [18]-, puisqu’il y aurait un complot mondial antimusulman, ourdi par les Juifs, réels détenteurs du pouvoir à Washington et à Moscou.

IV. Provoquer une résonance mondiale

Comme les bolcheviks après la révolution d’octobre 1917, les chefs de l’État islamique redoutent par-dessus tout l’isolement. Le changement radical qu’ils veulent instaurer n’a de chance de survivre que s’il trouve des soutiens extérieurs. Par surcroît, le groupe poursuit des objectifs expansionnistes : contrôler le Moyen Orient, puis tous les pays musulmans et enfin imposer un califat mondial. Pour ces deux motifs, Daesh recrute activement des jeunes djihadistes sur l’ensemble de la planète. De plus, le Califat est un projet politique particulier : la réalisation d’une utopie susceptible de séduire des musulmans du monde entier puisqu’il s’agit d’édifier ici-bas une société régie par la Loi divine. Comme il y eut (a) un “rêve américain“, se dessine un “rêve islamique“, celui de la cité de Dieu sur la Terre. Ainsi pensent les familles qui, depuis les pays les plus divers, rejoignent le Califat : elles sont persuadées d’agir au mieux et, notamment, d’assurer le salut de leurs enfants [19]. Un État animé d’une idéologie universaliste a certes besoin de guerriers pour le défendre et l’étendre, mais son bon fonctionnement suppose qu’il dispose de cadres qualifiés dans tous les domaines. Daesh tente d’en recruter dans le monde entier. Toutefois, ce qui transpire des difficultés d’existence dans le Califat semble limiter les capacités de séduction.

L’une des spécificités de Daesh réside dans sa communication [20]. Très élaborée et très maîtrisée, elle vise tout à la fois à séduire de nouveaux adeptes, à entretenir l’ardeur des combattants, à drainer des financements, à démoraliser les adversaires et à défier le droit international qu’elle récuse. Elle se montre particulièrement prolixe : présente sur internet et les réseaux sociaux, elle diffuse des messages, une revue de propagande (Dabiq), des vidéos d’exécutions sanglantes et des films de propagande (comme Le Choc des épées) qu’elle réalise grâce à son propre organe de production audiovisuelle (Al-Furqân Media Production). Daesh exploite sans vergogne l’obscénité de la violence sanglante et fournit sans se soucier des conséquences les preuves tangibles de sa pratique du crime de guerre et du crime contre l’humanité. Ce que l’on a nommé un “djihad médiatique“ semble séduire puisqu’il contribuerait largement à alimenter le flux de combattants et de résidents qui rejoignent le territoire du Califat. Cette communication est de bien meilleure qualité technique et beaucoup plus manipulatrice que celle d’Al Qaida. Cette dernière occupe d’ailleurs une large place dans les polémiques diffusées par le forum qui relaie le discours de l’État islamique, Al-Minbar. Toutefois, le Califat ne dispose pas (encore ?) des moyens de mener une cyberguerre, notamment contre les États de la coalition qui le combat. La vague d’attaques de janvier 2015, pour médiatisée qu’elle ait été, ne reflétait pas une capacité de nuisance considérable : selon les spécialistes, tous les sites piratés présentaient la caractéristique d’être mal ou peu protégés.

Depuis la fin 2014, Daesh enregistre des ralliements hors de sa zone et a validé l’allégeance (bay’a) de plusieurs groupes : Ansar Bait al-Maqdis dans le Sinaï, Ansar Dawlat al-Islammiyya au Yémen, Majlis Shura Shabab al-Islam en Libye, Jund al- Khilafah fi Ard al-Jazaïr en Algérie, Ansar al-Tawheed en Inde, Jundallah au Pakistan, la Brigade de l’Islam dans le Khorosan en Afghanistan, Abou Sayyaf et les Combattants islamiques pour la liberté de Bangsamoro aux Philippines, une partie du Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid en Indonésie. On ignore le nombre de combattants de ces groupes, mais cela traduit à tout le moins un rayonnement de l’idéologie propre à l’État islamique dans l’ensemble de l’aire musulmane sunnite.

Or, les équilibres régionaux se trouvent menacés. Le destin de la Syrie revêt une importance particulière car le pays est un État-tampon essentiel, ce que révèle la complexité de la guerre civile devenue conflit régional indirect et lieu des rivalités pour l’influence mondiale. Il se trouve à l’intersection des poussées expansionnistes contradictoires des États sunnites (Égypte, Arabie Saoudite, Turquie) et chiites (Iran, Irak), au centre de la lutte entre Israël et les organisations musulmanes extrémistes, au cœur de la rivalité américano-russe. En outre, Daesh a identifié des points faibles dont la prise de contrôle fait ouvertement partie de ses plans : Liban, Jordanie, Sinaï et Arabie Saoudite.

L’Iran, aspirant à la puissance régionale, se trouve largement impliqué aux côtés des forces pro-gouvernementales en Syrie comme en Irak. Au-delà de la solidarité religieuse avec les chiites au pouvoir à Bagdad et avec les alaouites qui tentent de garder le contrôle de la Syrie, l’Iran est engagé dans un bras de fer avec l’Arabie Saoudite. Or, l’Irak et la Syrie sont ses deux principaux appuis. Ajoutons que Téhéran aurait tout à craindre d’un éclatement de l’Irak : l’affirmation d’une entité sunnite extrémiste à ses frontières pourrait déstabiliser sa propre minorité arabe sunnite (province frontalière du Khouzistan) et l’indépendance du Kurdistan réveiller l’irrédentisme de ses propres Kurdes.

Outre les financements privés qu’elle a autorisés par le passé (et dont rien ne garantit qu’ils ont réellement pris fin), l’Arabie Saoudite partage beaucoup avec Daesh : vision salafiste de l’islam, glorification du djihad et mêmes adversaires (les musulmans chiites, le clan al-Assad, le gouvernement chiite d’Irak, l’Iran et le Hezbollah libanais). L’inconvénient pour la dynastie des Saoud résulte du fait que la défense de l’islamisme, fut instrumentalisée par le fondateur du royaume (puis par ses successeurs), d’abord pour imposer son pouvoir à l’intérieur, ensuite pour contrer le nationalisme arabe à l’extérieur. À la suite de Ben Laden, les salafistes djihadistes dénoncent l’hypocrisie de la monarchie, coupable de ne pas respecter les principes salafistes, et proclament leur volonté de chasser ceux qu‘ils qualifient d’“usurpateurs“ pour prendre le contrôle des lieux saints de Médine et de La Mecque. C’est ce qu’a annoncé le calife Ibrahim durant l’été 2014. Or, le projet n’est pas aussi irréaliste qu’il y paraît. D’une part, le programme de Daesh ressemble beaucoup à celui affiché par les Saoud : un régime régi par la Loi divine et fondant sa légitimité sur la défense de la Foi. D’autre part, outre le mécontentement d’une partie de la population, les Saoud redoutent la mécanique des solidarités tribales : certaines tribus arabes de Jordanie, de Syrie et d’Irak proches de Daesh sont originaires de la péninsule arabique et entretiennent des liens avec les tribus peuplant encore aujourd’hui l’Arabie Saoudite. En dépit des frontières tracées à San Remo (1920), les solidarités et les complicités ont persisté, pour le meilleur et pour le pire. La rivalité de puissance avec l’Iran pousse Ryad à manipuler les appartenances communautaires, tout comme Téhéran, au Liban, en Syrie, en Irak, au Bahreïn et au Yémen. Elle n’intervient contre les forces du Califat qu’en Syrie, parce que c’est l’épicentre de Daesh, mais aussi parce qu’elle ne veut pas renforcer le régime chiite de Bagdad, allié de l’Iran.

La Turquie se préoccupe d’abord de sa stabilité intérieure, laquelle dépend en partie de la question kurde. Sa priorité est donc d’empêcher l’émergence d’une entité kurde indépendante, sur son sol comme chez ses voisins. Pareille au Pakistan prêt à tout pour neutraliser l’irrédentisme pashtoun, elle s’appuie sur n’importe quelle force pour briser les aspirations kurdes. Sa surveillance de la frontière avec la Syrie ne semble pas à la hauteur de la situation et, malgré ses dénégations, il paraît plus que probable qu’elle joue la carte des djihadistes contre les Kurdes [21]. Cette alliance objective sinon formelle (dénoncée par le vice-président américain, Joseph Biden, devant des étudiants de Harvard le 2 octobre 2014) explique en partie que le gouvernement turc n’autorise pas les avions de combat de la coalition internationale formée par les États-Unis à utiliser sa base d’Incirlik. Il est vrai que les actuels dirigeants élus du peuple turc puisent eux aussi aux sources du fondamentalisme musulman, même s’ils affirment en rejeter la variante extrémiste. Ankara aspire également à la puissance régionale. Elle estime, à tort ou à raison, que cela passe par le renversement de Bachar al-Assad en Syrie. Elle tente en vain d’en faire la priorité des États-Unis et de leurs alliés, ce qui contribue aussi à expliquer son refus de prêter la base d’Incirlik. Certains évoquent, enfin, un sentiment anti-Arabe assez répandu : pourquoi venir en aide à des gens qui se sont faits les complices des Occidentaux pour trahir l’Empire ottoman durant la Première Guerre mondiale ? Singulière conception pour un État membre de l’Alliance atlantique !

La Russie, bien que directement menacée par Daesh dans une vidéo en russe diffusée le 2 novembre 2014, minimise le danger, du moins dans l’immédiat. Obsédée par sa détestation de l’Occident et accaparée par les conséquences de son aventure ukrainienne, Moscou se borne à défendre ce qu’elle considère comme ses intérêts au Proche-Orient : l’alliance avec Bachar al-Assad en Syrie, avec l’Iran et avec le gouvernement irakien. Cela ne contribue en rien à la solution du conflit.

Une vaste coalition internationale tente d’épauler les forces irakiennes légalistes et les éléments de la résistance syrienne non contaminés par le salafisme djihadiste. Les États-Unis ont pris l’initiative de l’opération Inherent Resolve en septembre 2014. Plusieurs mois après le début des opérations, il semble bien que l’aveu de Barack Obama au début de l’été 2014 demeure d’actualité : Washington n’a pas vraiment de stratégie. Comment en irait-il autrement ? L’équipe dirigeante américaine elle-même est divisée, au point que le secrétaire à la Défense, Chuck Hagel, a été limogé sèchement en novembre 2014. Selon la presse américaine, il préconisait une action militaire aussi intense en Syrie qu’en Irak alors que les partisans d’une intervention essentiellement centrée sur l’Irak, bastion de Daesh, ont emporté l’adhésion du président. Outre un sentiment de culpabilité poussant à tenter de réparer la faute commise en Irak par son prédécesseur, qui fut incapable de réparer le chaos qu’il y avait semé, il semble que Barack Obama ait donné la priorité à deux impératifs : ne pas ajouter encore aux contentieux avec la Russie et ne pas mécontenter l’Iran, avec qui des négociations cruciales sur la prolifération nucléaire militaire sont en cours et dont l’intervention militaire au côté des forces irakiennes est indispensable. En effet, la coalition tire à hue et à dia car les pays qui la composent divergent sur les priorités et le rythme, mais tous se retrouvent sur un plus petit dénominateur commun : aucun ne veut engager de troupes au sol. Donc les Gardiens de la Révolution et autres combattants iraniens sont irremplaçables. L’issue de cette entreprise, fondée essentiellement sur l’emploi des forces aériennes, est incertaine. Tout repose, aujourd’hui, en dernière analyse, sur la réussite de l’attrition du territoire influencé ou contrôlé par Daesh.

Or, le Califat, parfaitement conscient de ce risque mortel, fait tout pour contrer la stratégie de la coalition internationale. Par le biais d’une communication agressive et racoleuse, il cherche à attirer le plus grand nombre possible de djihadistes (environ 20 000 fin janvier 2015 [22]) et de spécialistes civils venus de l’étranger. Le bon fonctionnement de ces flux suppose le contrôle d’une partie de la frontière turque (ce qui pose la question de la complicité objective de la Turquie avec Daesh, comme il a toujours existé une complicité objective entre le Pakistan et les talibans) et la persistance de facilités de déplacement sur l’ensemble de la planète (fruit de l’accélération et de l’amplification de la mondialisation intervenue après la fin de la Guerre froide), notamment dans l’espace de l’Union européenne. Démarche originale, Daesh diffuse de nombreuses vidéos montrant des militants de nationalités diverses afin de prouver qu’il n’y a pas d’exclusion vis-à-vis des musulmans non-Arabes, notamment ceux venus de l’Occident. Citadelle assiégée, Daesh tente également de porter le feu sur le territoire de l’ennemi. Ainsi a-t-il appelé à des actions de guerre sur le territoire de l’ensemble des États qui prennent part à la coalition qui le combat. Cela correspond à la stratégie préconisée par al-Souri, celle des petites cellules disséminées en territoire adverse, partageant la même idéologie, ayant reçu une formation pratique, agissant de manière autonome et au gré des opportunités. Selon lui, les actions spectaculaires type 11 septembre 2001 sont vouées à l’échec car elles requièrent une structure et une logistique importantes donc vulnérables, surtout depuis que l’adversaire est averti.

Une guerre de longue haleine ?

Le débat sur la terminologie à employer semble oiseux. Il s’agit bien d’une guerre et c’est d’ailleurs le terme utilisé par les djihadistes. Le problème est de savoir quelle sera la durée du conflit. En effet, la situation est peu banale : l’assise territoriale de Daesh semble se renforcer constamment. État atypique, le Califat s’enracine chaque jour davantage du simple fait que personne ne se trouve actuellement en mesure de le déloger. L’asymétrie favorise la sanctuarisation. Parallèlement, la mouvance terroriste que le Califat inspire à l’échelle mondiale persiste et s’amplifie, sans se structurer en réseau, ce qui complique considérablement le renseignement, la parade et l’éventuelle riposte. Territorialisation et déterritorialisation se combinent donc pour former un gigantesque casse-tête stratégique.

La question de la violence djihadiste ne saurait être résolue par une réponse strictement militaire. D’ailleurs, si les frappes aériennes semblent avoir enrayé la progression de Daesh, elles ne paraissent pas avoir empêché sa consolidation dans les zones de peuplement arabe sunnite. Les sociétés arabo-musulmanes connaissent une crise profonde affectant toutes leurs dimensions. Leur stabilisation ne peut donc résulter que d’un processus politique, au sens noble du terme. C’est-à-dire le traitement de l’ensemble des maux qui affectent les habitants. Pour réussir, ce processus doit être le fait des populations elles-mêmes, mené à leur rythme et bénéficier, le cas échéant, de l’aide de la communauté internationale. Cela devrait être la leçon des échecs occidentaux en Afghanistan, en Irak et en Libye. Encore faut-il que les sociétés arabo-musulmanes forgent le contexte favorable pour que la frange de leurs élites disposée à conduire ces changements puisse agir efficacement.

Références bibliographiques : Pierre Verluise (sous la direction de) Géopolitiques des terrorismes Diploweb.com, 24 janvier 2015 ISBN : 979-10-92676-01-3
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Docteur en histoire, professeur agrégé de l’Université, Patrice Gourdin enseigne les relations internationales et la géopolitique auprès des élèves-officiers de l’Ecole de l’Air. Membre du Conseil scientifique du Centre géopolitique auquel est adossé le Diploweb.com.

[1] . Laurent Touchard, « État islamique : naissance d’un monstre de guerre (#1) & (#2), Jeune Afrique, 24 et 26 septembre 2014.

[2] . Deux ouvrages utiles : . Patrick Cockburn, Le retour des djihadistes. Aux racines de l’État islamique, Paris, 2014, Équateurs ; . Thomas Flichy de la Neuville et Olivier Hanne, L’État islamique. Anatomie du nouveau Califat, Paris, 2014, Bernard Giovanangeli éditeur.

[3] . En particulier celles publiées par l’Institute for the Study of War (www.understandingwar.org), notamment : ISIS Sanctuary, January 15, 2015, iswiraq.blogspot.fr/2015/01/isis-sanctuary-map-january-15-2015.html, consultée le 16 janvier 2015.

[4] . Voir une synthèse d’octobre 2014 sur http://accelus.thomsonreuters.com/fr/ infographic/islamic-state-how-worlds-richest-terrorist-organization-funds-its-operations#, consultée le 13 janvier 2015.

[5] . Brynjar Lia, Architect of Global Jihad : The Life of Al Qaeda Strategist Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri, Columbia University Press, 2008.

[6] . Gilles Kepel, Terreur et martyre. Relever le défi de civilisation, Paris, 2008, Flammarion, pp. 190-191.

[7] . « Iraqi agriculture drops 40% under IS control », Al Monitor, January 20, 2015.

[8] . « Business of the Caliph », Zeit online, December 4, 2014.

[9] . Barthélémy Gaillard, « Pourquoi il est compliqué de combattre l’État islamique », europe1.fr, 8 septembre 2014.

[10] . Ces chiffres et ceux cités ci-après résultent d’estimations qui nous donnent un ordre de grandeur, en aucun cas une mesure exacte de la réalité.

[11] . Liz Sly, « The Islamic State is failing at being a state », The Washington Post, December 26 2014 ; Susannah George, « The Islamic State is waging war on technocrats », The Guardian, December 26 2014.

[12] . Dans le Sahîh de Muslim, un des deux recueils de hadith considérés comme les plus fiables : « L’autorité restera toujours dans la tribu de Quraysh ». Cité par Ibn Khaldûn, Muqaddima, III-24, traduction d’Abdesselam Cheddadi, Paris, 2002, Gallimard, p. 476.

[13] . Ibn Khaldûn, op. cit., p. 470. Il explique : « En effet, les hommes n’ont pas été créés uniquement en vue du monde d’ici-bas, qui n’est que jeu et vanité, puisque destiné à la mort et à l’anéantissement. […] Le but pour lequel ils ont été créés est leur religion, qui doit les conduire au bonheur dans l’autre monde. […] Aussi les lois religieuses sont-elles venues pour exhorter les hommes à suivre ce chemin dans tout ce qu’ils font, aussi bien en matière de culte que dans leurs relations avec leurs semblables. […] Le califat consiste à […] faire agir [les hommes] suivant une vision religieuse des intérêts de l’autre monde et des affaires de ce monde qui en dépendent. » (ibidem, pp. 469-470)

[14] . James Barr, A Line in the Sand. Britain, France and the Struggle for the Mastery of the Middle East, London, 2011, Simon & Schuster.

[15] . Dans le Sahîh de Muslim.

[16] . Michael W. S. Ryan , « Dabiq : What Islamic State’s New Magazine Tells Us about Their Strategic Direction, Recruitment Patterns and Guerrilla Doctrine », Terrorism Monitor, The Jamestown Foundation, August 1, 2014.

[17] . William McCants ; « ISIS Fantasies of an Apocalyptic Showdown in Northern Syria », blog Markaz, Brookings Institution, October 3, 2014.

[18] . Roger Faligot et Rémi Kauffer, Le Croissant et la croix gammée : Les Secrets de l’alliance entre l’Islam et le nazisme d’Hitler à nos jours, Paris, 1990, Albin Michel Martin Cüppers et Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Croissant fertile et croix gammée : Le Troisième Reich, les Arabes et la Palestine, Paris, 2009, Verdier.

[19] . Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, « Hoping to create a new society, the Islamic State recruits entire families », The Washington Post, December 24, 2014.

[20] . Thomas Flichy de la Neuville et Olivier Hanne, « État islamique, un cyber-terrorisme médiatique ? », École de Guerre, décembre 2014, http://www.chaire-cyber.fr/IMG/pdf/… _chaire_cyberdefense.pdf

[21] . Fehim Taştekin, « Turkish military says MIT shipped weapons to al-Qaeda », Al Monitor, January 15, 2015.

[22] . Chiffres de l’International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence : http://icsr.info/2015/01/foreign-fi…, consulté le 27 janvier 2015.
Citation / Quotation

Voir aussi:

Declarations
Recrimination Is Not a Plan
Islamic State has Washington paralyzed. Here’s a way forward.
Peggy Noonan
WSJ
Feb. 5, 2015

Everything’s frozen. When you ask, “What is the appropriate U.S. response to ISIS?” half the people in Washington answer: “ George W. Bush broke Iraq and ISIS was born in the rubble. There would be no ISIS if it weren’t for him.” The other half answer: “When Barack Obama withdrew from Iraq, ISIS was born in the vacuum. There would be no ISIS without him.”

These are charges, not answers, and they are getting us nowhere. Bitterness and begging the question are keeping us from focusing on what is. We’re frozen in what was.

There’s plenty to learn and conclude from the past. Great books have been and will be written about the mistakes, poor thinking and dishonesty that accompanied the 2003 invasion and the 2011 withdrawal. But at a certain point you have to unhitch yourself from your predispositions and resentments and face what is happening now.

The White House is paralyzed, the president among the coldest of the frozen. He erects straw men, focuses on what he will not do, refuses to “play Whac A Mole,” waxes on about reading a book about the pains of the deployed. He’s showing how sensitive, layered and alive to moral complexity he is instead of, you know, leading. At the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, he airily and from a great height explained to the audience that ISIS exists within a historical context that includes the Inquisition, slavery and Jim Crow. “People committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” Oh West, you big hypocrite. This is just the moment to dilate on Christendom’s sins, isn’t it? While Christians are being driven from the Mideast? He always says these things as if he’s the enlightened one facing the facts of the buried past instead of the cornered one defeated by complexity, hard calls and ambivalence.

He is lost. His policy is listlessness punctuated by occasional booms.

The public is agitated by the latest killing, of the Jordanian pilot burned alive. That murder may have changed some calculations. Jordan’s King Abdullah is said to have quoted Clint Eastwood during his recent Washington trip: “He mentioned ‘Unforgiven,’ ” a congressman said, without specifying which scene. Well, good.

Which returns us to the question of a plan, a way forward.

We know ISIS is increasingly hated by the civilized world, and by many nations in the Mideast. Each day that brings new word of their atrocities, not only to prisoners but to local, subjugated populations, adds to the anti-ISIS coalition. But we also know they will not be defeated or decisively set back from the air. They have to be removed from the areas they hold. They need to be fought with boots on the ground.

Whose boots?

Some wisdom on that from two veteran players in U.S. foreign policy, former Secretary of State James Baker and the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass.

On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Mr. Baker said ground troops are necessary but must come from Arab and Muslim allies, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. “My idea would be to go to the Turks, 60-year allies of the United States, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They have a good army. It’s an army that will fight. . . . They want to destroy ISIS. We want to destroy ISIS. There’s a convergence of interests here. Why don’t we get together and we say, look, we will supply the air, the logistics and the intelligence, you put the boots on the ground and go in there and do the job?”

I spoke to Mr. Baker at CBS before his appearance. He said the world is “coalescing,” and this is the time to move, with diplomacy and leadership.

So, a multinational Arab and Muslim military force to fight ISIS on the ground. Is this the right way to go?

Very much so, said Mr. Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations. ISIS, he told me this week, is “a network, a movement and an organization.” It poses a geopolitical, economic, and humanitarian threat to the world. It threatens Sunni regimes in the region—if it wins over their populations, “it turns every country into a potential failed state.”

ISIS “can disrupt oil-producing areas like Saudi Arabia. . . . It is inevitable that they will one day challenge the House of Saud” through terrorism or by attempting to rouse the population against it. “If you’re the Islamic State, you have to control the country that controls the two holiest sites in Islam,” Mecca and Medina, Mr. Haass added. America doesn’t worry about the threat to the oil supply because we are close to energy self-sufficiency, but “we are economically linked to the world, and much of the world is linked to Mideastern oil.”

Most famously, “any area controlled by ISIS is a humanitarian nightmare to Muslims not devout enough, to Shia, to Christians.”

There is the threat to American and Western security of returnees. “ISIS has the potential to produce graduates who come home, and to radicalize those who’ve never set foot in Syria. There is the returnee danger and the self-radicalization danger, as we saw recently in France.”

Right now what is important, Mr. Haass says, “is to break their momentum. The region and the world see them as gaining ground both literally and figuratively. This draws support from those around them. It’s important to break that, to allow those who are wavering to see that ISIS is not inevitable. If they are seen as inevitable it is self-fulfilling.”

What to do? Mr. Haass echoes Mr. Baker. “Attacking ISIS from the air is necessary but not sufficient. You need ground forces to seize areas ISIS holds. You need a ground partner.”

That partner should be “a multinational Arab-led expeditionary force—a force on the ground to take territory. It needs to be Arab and it needs to be Sunni, because you need to fight fire with fire.” It is crucial, he says, that Sunni Arab leaders demonstrate it is legitimate to stand up to ISIS.

Haass includes in a hypothetical force Jordan, the Saudis, the UAE, and “others—Egypt too. Even Turkey. . . . That’s what you need, politically as much as militarily. Unless that happens we don’t have a viable strategy.”

He agrees the U.S. should help with intelligence, training and special forces as well as air power. Also needed: “a digital strategy that stresses that ISIS’ behavior contravenes tenets of Islam and means misery for those they dominate.”

So—move to kill the Islamic State’s mystique. Give them a fight, make them the weak horse, and do everything to bring together the Sunni Arab world to do it.

Is this possible? Can it be done? Mr. Haass said it is “a long shot” but “not inconceivable.” Moreover, “it’s the conversation we should be having. We should make answering this question the priority.”

The U.S. would have to lead, push, press, promise and cajole. It would have to use diplomatic and financial muscle. But it would be doing so with allies increasingly alive to the threat ISIS constitutes not only to the world, but to them.

And it is a plan. Who has a better one?

Face the Nation Transcripts February 1, 2015: Graham, Durbin, Baker
(CBS News) — Below is a transcript from the February 1, 2015 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included: Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Dick Durbin, former Secretary of State James Baker, Holly Williams, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, James Brown, Peggy Noonan, Phil Musser, Stephanie Cutter, John Dickerson, Mark Leibovich and Joseph Califano.

NORAH O’DONNELL, HOST: I’m Norah O’Donnell.

And today on FACE THE NATION: The terror group ISIS strikes again, and a big development in campaign 2016 leaves Republicans dialing for dollars.

Japanese captive Kenji Goto appears to be the latest victim of ISIS. We will have a report from Northern Iraq.

And as Mitt Romney bows out of a third presidential run, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says he may be in. We will talk to him about that and the war on terror.

Then we will hear from the number two Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin and former Secretary of State James Baker.

(…)

Good morning. Bob Schieffer is off today.

We begin this morning with the grim news of another execution from the terror group ISIS.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams is in Kirkuk, Iraq, this morning.

HOLLY WILLIAMS, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The video released by ISIS does appear to show the beheading of Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist captured by the extremists late last year. That’s the assessment of the Japanese government.

ISIS had offered to release Goto in return for a failed female suicide bomber, who is on death row in Jordan. Now, the Jordanian government said it would release the woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, but only in exchange for one of its own citizens, a pilot who crashed in ISIS territory during a bombing raid back in December.

In the end, however, there was no prisoner swap, Kenji Goto is dead, and the fate of the Jordanian pilot is unknown. In the Syrian city of Kobani, though, ISIS was finally forced to retreat last week after more than 700 U.S.-led airstrikes and four months of brutal street fighting against Kurdish forces.

The battle for Kobani was a very public test of whether airstrikes would be effective against the militants. But here in the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday, ISIS launched a surprise offensive, killing a local commander and four of his men. The extremists were later beaten back, but their confidence in attacking a well-defended place like Kirkuk suggest ISIS still a very long way from defeat.

O’DONNELL: Joining me now by telephone from outside Amman, Jordan, is the foreign minister, Nasser Judeh.

Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for joining us.

NASSER JUDEH, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, Norah. O’DONNELL: Let me ask you, do you know if your pilot that is being held by ISIS is still alive?

JUDEH: Well, actually we don’t.

We have been asking publicly for proof of life and so far we have received none.

O’DONNELL: Are the Jordanians still willing to swap Sajida al- Rishawi — this is the failed female suicide bomber — even though ISIS has now executed this other Japanese journalist?

JUDEH: Well, there have been demands, certainly demands by our side as well, as you mentioned before and as I mentioned, for proof of life. We have said publicly that, if we do get proof of life — and this is before the tragic murder, cold-blooded murder of the Japanese journalist, Kenji, we have said that if there is proof of life and if our pilot is released, we are willing to release this woman.

But, like I said, so far, we have seen no proof of life which we have been asking for.

O’DONNELL: The foreign minister also told us that King Abdullah of Jordan will be traveling to Washington to meet with President Obama.

For more now on ISIS and a look at the 2016 presidential politics, we’re joined by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from Clemson, South Carolina.

Senator, thank you for joining us. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.

O’DONNELL: This is now the seventh public beheading of either a journalist or aide worker by ISIS. When is this going to stop?

GRAHAM: When they’re degraded and destroyed.

And the president has the right goal to degrade and destroy ISIL, he but doesn’t have the right strategy. An aerial campaign will not destroy them. You’re going to need boots on the ground not only in Iraq, but Syria. And there’s got to be some regional force formed with an American component, somewhere around 10,000, I think, American soldiers to align with the Arab armies in the region and go in to Syria and take back territory from ISIL. That is what will make it stop.

O’DONNELL: The Pentagon admitted just last week that ISIS still holds about 20,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq.

GRAHAM: Right.

O’DONNELL: That’s roughly twice the size of Massachusetts. There have been 2,000 airstrikes by American and coalition forces. There were just 34 this weekend. Are these airstrikes effective at all?

GRAHAM: They won’t destroy ISIL. They do help in some regard.

How do you dislodge ISIL from Syria? Iraq, you hope you can get the Kurds and the Iraqi security forces and the Anbar Sunni tribes to work together to defeat them in Western Anbar take back Mosul.

But Syria is very complicated. You are going to need a regional force, Saudi, Turkey, the entire region, putting together an army with American people embedded, special forces, intel folks, forward air controllers to go in on the ground and not only dislodge them from Syria, but hold the territory. And you can’t do that until you deal with Assad.

O’DONNELL: I think one of the most alarming things that I have read is that of these foreign fighters involved in Syria and Iraq, that some 4,000 of them have Western passports, which means they could travel to the United States without a visa.

GRAHAM: Right.

O’DONNELL: Are we watching them?

GRAHAM: We are.

But we’re being overwhelmed. Quite frankly, Syria and Iraq combined are the best platforms to launch an attack on United States I have seen since 9/11. So, every day that goes by, we have got more terrorist organizations with more capability to strike the homeland than any time since 9/11. You have got AQAP in Yemen. But ISIL’s presence in Syria and Iraq, they’re very rich. Foreign fighters flow with passports that can penetrate the United States and our Western allies. So, you will see a Paris on steroids here pretty soon if you don’t disrupt this organization and take the fight to them on the ground.

And, again, you cannot successfully defeat ISIL on the ground in Syria with the Free Syrian Army and regional coalition of Arab nations until you deal with Assad, because he will kill anybody that comes in there that tries to defeat ISIL.

(…)

O’DONNELL: Joining us now is James Baker. He was chief of staff to President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. He also served as Bush’s secretary of state.

(…)

O’DONNELL: I want to get your take on some foreign policy matters that are out that — first ISIS, because now we have seen this seventh public beheading on television, these videos

BAKER: Right.

O’DONNELL: You heard what I said to Senator Graham. We’re doing these airstrikes and yet ISIS appears to grow in strength.

BAKER: Yes.

Let me tell you, I agree with practically everything that Senator Graham said, in fact, I think probably everything he said.

O’DONNELL: But you don’t think Americans boots?

BAKER: No American boots on the ground, in my view.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have special ops forces and air controllers and that sort of thing to help with the air war. But we are going to have to find a way to put some boots on the ground. We might be able to find that in Iraq with the Iraqi army if we get them trained up. So far, it doesn’t look very promising.

But, as the senator pointed out, Syria is an entirely different matter. You can’t win this war just from the air. You can’t eject ISIS, you can’t destroy ISIS, eject them from territory just from the air.

My idea would be to go to the Turks, 60-year allies of the United States, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They have a good army. It’s an army that will fight. They want to take down Assad. President Obama has said Assad must go. They want to destroy ISIS. We want to destroy ISIS.

There’s a conversion of interests here. Why don’t we get together and we say, look, we will supply the air, the logistics and the intelligence, you put the boots on the ground, and go in there and do the job? And, in addition, get some of our Arab allies in the region to put boots on the ground as well, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan and the others.

O’DONNELL: Want to get your take also on Israel, the news that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ambassador arranged for Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress to Speaker Boehner and went around the White House. Is that a significant breach of protocol?

BAKER: Right.

Yes, it is.

O’DONNELL: How significant is it?

BAKER: Well, I don’t — I can’t remember an incident in which it’s been done.

Now, let me say this. The speaker of the House has every right in the world to invite whoever he wants to speak to the House. It’s a co-equal branch of government. But it’s best done, our foreign policy is best conducted when there’s at least cooperation between the legislative and the executive branches.

The executive — I’m a creature of the executive branch. The executive branch of government really has the primary power and responsibility and authority to conduct the nation’s foreign policy. It’s not in the Congress. It’s in the executive branch. So, our foreign policy benefits when there’s cooperation, and so does our — the problem — the issue of U.S.-Israeli relations.

O’DONNELL: Should they cancel the speech? Do you think it will backfire on Netanyahu?

BAKER: I think it might very well.

And I would point you to what happened back there when we were in office 25 years ago, when Prime Minister Shamir was having trouble managing the U.S. relationship — U.S.-Israel relationship.

Nothing is more important to the citizens of Israel than to know that their leadership is properly managing the relationship with their most important ally.

O’DONNELL: You think this may damage Netanyahu’s chances of reelection?

BAKER: Well, I don’t know whether it will or not. But I think it has the potential to backfire, just as it backfired on Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir back there in 1990 or 1991, when he was challenged by Yitzhak Rabin, and Rabin won, but primarily because Shamir was not seen to be able to manage the relationship with the United States properly.

O’DONNELL: There’s so much to talk to you about and so little time. But I do want to get your take on Saudi Arabia, because you were part of this historic delegation that went to the kingdom to meet the new king, King Salman.

So many secretaries of state, former national security advisers there. We now have one-quarter of the planet is Muslim.

BAKER: Right.

O’DONNELL: Sixty-two percent of them are under the age of 30.

BAKER: Right.

O’DONNELL: What role must Saudi Arabia and this new king play?

BAKER: Well, Saudi Arabia — the king of Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holy mosques. They occupy a special role in Islam.

Saudi Arabia today happens to be an island of stability. If you looked at that part of the world, countries on all sides of them are failed states now, Iraq, Syria, Yemen. Bahrain has got problems. Look at Libya. What we did in Libya was a terrible mistake. And it’s now totally — so, we’re going to be — we need the Saudis.

They have been historically a very fine ally of the United States. Are there things that they do that we disagree with? You bet your life. But they’re a very good ally. And they’re going to be critical in dealing with the problem you just pointed out.
Is America at War With Radical Islam?
Peter Beinart
The Atlantic

If there’s one thing top Republicans know, it’s that America can’t defeat terrorism unless we call it by its real name. “We are in a religious war with radical Islamists, » Lindsey Graham recently told Fox News. “When I hear the President of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we’re in a religious war, it really bothers me.” Rudy Giuliani agrees: “If we can’t use the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ we can’t get rid of them.” So does Ted Cruz. At the Iowa Freedom Summit in January he declared that, “You cannot fight and win a war on radical Islamic terrorism if you’re unwilling to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’”

There are several problems here. Even if one believed that calling the enemy “radical Islam” were a good idea, it would hardly explain how to defeat it. Yet the Republicans slamming Obama for his linguistic failures mostly stop there. After he chastised the President in Iowa for not saying “radical Islam,” Ted Cruz’s only policy suggestions were that Obama should have attended the anti-terror rally in Paris and that Americans who join ISIS should lose their citizenship. On Fox, Giuliani mentioned the Paris rally too, and then fell back on platitudes like “you know what you do with bullies? You go right in their face!”
Related Story

The Sophisticated Bigotry of Bobby Jindal

In reality, denouncing “radical Islam” offers little guidance for America’s actual policy dilemmas. How does calling the enemy by its “real name” help determine whether the United States should take a harder or softer line toward the government in Baghdad? We need its help to retake central Iraq from ISIS, but its Shia sectarianism drives Sunnis into ISIS’ arms. Or how would this linguistic pivot help determine whether the best way to weaken ISIS in Syria is by backing Bashar Assad or seeking his ouster?

After 9/11, hawks backed up their aggressive rhetoric with aggressive policies. At their behest, America invaded and occupied two Muslim countries. Today, by contrast, with land invasions effectively off the table, the rhetoric has become largely an end in itself. What Republicans are really declaring war on is “political correctness.” They’re sure that liberal sensitivities about Islam are hindering the moral clarity America needs to win. Just don’t ask them how.

But it’s worse than that. Because far from providing the moral clarity Republicans demand, saying America is at war with « radical Islam » actually undermines it. How can a term provide clarity when it’s never clearly defined? If America is at war with « radical Islam, » does that include Saudi Arabia, a key US ally that for decades has both practiced and exported a radically illiberal Wahhabi creed? Does it include Iran, a semi-theocracy that has sponsored « radical Islamic » terror against the US but is our de facto ally against ISIS? Does it include Muslim Brotherhood parties like the one that briefly held power in Egypt, which run in democratic elections but want a government based on Islamic law? Listening to some GOP rhetoric, you might think the answer is yes. But to suggest the US is at « war » with key allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt strips the term of any real meaning.

ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are actual organizations. Reasonable people can delineate where they begin and end, and thus craft specific strategies for fighting them. Good luck doing that with “radical Islam.”

As so often happens in today’s GOP, the Republicans demanding a war against “radical Islam” are working off a false analogy with the Cold War. Since Ronald Reagan’s “moral clarity” against communism supposedly toppled the Soviet Union, America must now do the same with “radical Islam.”

But, in fact, the United States was most successful when it did not see its enemy as “communism.” It was the belief that America must battle communism itself that led the Kennedy and Johnson administrations into a war against a communist regime in North Vietnam that posed no real threat to American security. The US fared far better when it limited its focus to one specific regime, the Soviet Union, and made alliances with other communist governments in order to weaken it. In the late 1940s, the Truman administration worked with communist Yugoslavia to undermine Soviet control of Eastern Europe. And under Richard Nixon, Washington cozied up to Beijing, which despite being even more ideologically zealous than Moscow, helped the US contain Soviet power. Reagan, for all his anti-communist rhetoric, maintained America’s de facto partnership with China because his real target was the USSR.

Obviously, the United States need not be ideologically agnostic. American presidents should say they believe liberal democracy is morally superior to Islamic theocracy, just as it was preferable to fascism and communism. But that’s a far cry from declaring war on every regime based upon an -ism we don’t like. For much of the cold war, the United States battled the Soviet Union but not communist China. In the 1940s, the United States went to war against Germany, Italy and Japan but not fascist Spain. And today, the United States is at war with those “radical Muslim” organizations that actively seek to kill Americans while allying ourselves with other “radical Muslim” regimes that don’t. Why is that so hard for Ted Cruz to understand?

Voir encore:

La Jordanie veut « éradiquer » les djihadistes après le meurtre de son pilote
L’Express/AFP

06/02/2015

Le chef de la diplomatie jordanienne affirme à CNN que les frappes aériennes ne sont que le début des représailles contre le groupe Etat islamique après l’assassinat de Maaz al-Kassasbeh.

La Jordanie veut frapper fort contre le groupe Etat islamique. Le chef de la diplomatie du pays, Nasser Joudeh, a affirmé à CNN que les frappes aériennes ne sont que le début de sa « vengeance » pour l’exécution de son pilote. Il promet « d’éradiquer » les djihadistes.

« La Jordanie pourchassera avec toutes ses forces l’organisation (EI) n’importe où », a déclaré Nasser Joudeh . « Tout membre de Daech (acronyme en arabe de l’EI) est une cible pour nous. Nous les pourchasserons et nous les éradiquerons (…) Nous sommes en première ligne, c’est notre bataille », a ajouté le ministre dont le pays participe aux frappes en Syrie contre l’EI dans le cadre de la coalition internationale dirigée par les Etats-Unis.

Il a affirmé que son pays avait tenté de sauver le pilote Maaz al-Kassasbeh, capturé en décembre par l’EI en Syrie après le crash de son avion, mais sans fournir d’autres détails.

Opération « Martyr Maaz »
L’armée jordanienne a annoncé que des dizaines d’avions de chasse avaient mené jeudi des frappes contre des bastions de l’EI, dans le cadre de l’opération « Martyr Maaz », du nom du pilote brûlé vif par l’EI. « Toutes les cibles ont été détruites. Des camps d’entraînement et des dépôts d’armes et de munitions ont été touchés ». Ces frappes « ne sont que le début de notre vengeance pour le meurtre du pilote », a encore assuré le ministre jordanien.

L’armée n’a pas précisé le lieu des frappes, mais elles ont habituellement lieu en Syrie voisine, pays en guerre depuis près de quatre ans où la montée en puissance de l’EI a éclipsé la rébellion syrienne contre le régime de Bachar al-Assad.

Alors qu’on lui demandait si la Jordanie était disposée à lancer une opération terrestre contre l’EI, Nasser Joudeh est resté évasif: « Il faut tenir compte de plusieurs facteurs, les opérations militaires en cours, garantir la sécurité dans la région en plus d’objectifs sur le long terme incluant la lutte contre l’idéologie de ce groupe ».

Des manifestations de solidarité avec la famille du pilote sont prévues vendredi en début d’après-midi à travers la Jordanie après la prière hebdomadaire.

 Voir enfin:

“The Creeds of the Devil”: Churchill between the Two Totalitarianisms, 1917-1945

Antoine Capet

Winston Churchill.org.
Abstract: Contrary to much of the literature that depicts him first and foremost as a lifelong foe of communism, Winston Churchill was actually quite pragmatic regarding his opposition to various forms of totalitarianism, a worldview which explains his near-rabid anti-communism following the First World War and also his gradually softening change as he began to see fascist Nazi Germany as the greatest threat to a stable world order in the years before the Second World War.  It is this pragmatism and a basic hostility to tyranny, then, that best explains Churchill’s approach to all forms of totalitarianism.

Antoine Capet, FRHistS, is Professor of British Studies at the University of Rouen (France).  He has edited a number of collections on Britain’s diplomatic and military policy in the 20th century, the latest being Britain, France and the Entente Cordiale since 1904 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). He has been Editor of the “Britain since 1914” section of the Royal Historical Society Bibliography since 2001 and he sits on the International Board of Twentieth Century British History.
Last March, I was invited to deliver a keynote lecture on “Churchill, Fascism and the Fascists” at the University of Lille (France),1 and when Dr Michael Kandiah2 asked if I were interested in giving a paper at the Cold War Conference which he was organizing,3 I immediately thought of “Churchill and Bolshevism”4 as the obverse of the same coin.5

The prevailing image of Churchill is that of the “bulldog,” relentlessly resisting and finally defeating the fascist dictators, including of course by their archetype Hitler.6 But David Carlton, who has devoted a monograph to the study of Churchill’s attitude to Soviet Communism7—or “Bolshevism” as it was better known before the Second World War—argues that Churchill’s real relentless struggle was against the Bolsheviks and Soviet Communists: a protracted one, in fact almost a lifelong task from the 1917 Revolution until his retirement from active politics, with the period from 1941 to 1945 not even constituting the lull which mainstream historians and biographers like to emphasise.

Carlton summed up the gist of his book in a paper which he gave at the Institute of Historical Research in January 2001 and published in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. Concluding the paper on a minute sent to Eden on 6 December 1953, in which Churchill addressed the Soviet threat in no uncertain terms, Carlton concludes:

These are not the words of a serious pioneer of détente. For with great certitude they depict the Soviets as unreformable creatures of tireless aggression. In fact they represent the convictions of the visceral anti-Soviet that Churchill had never ceased to be since the first days of the Bolshevik Revolution. In short, his anti-Nazi phase, for which ironically he will always be principally remembered, was for him something of a digression, however necessary, in his extraordinarily long career. Thus, once the Battle of Britain had been won and the Americans had entered the war, the struggle to defeat Germany became for him no more than a second-order crusade. For in his own eyes at least the contest with Soviet Bolshevism was what gave his political life the greatest continuity and meaning.8

In this, Carlton more or less follows the “revisionist” theories put forward by Clive Ponting in his highly critical—and highly controversial—1994 biography of Churchill.9 Carlton quotes at length from the animal and medical imagery used by Churchill against the Bolsheviks after 1917, as documented by Ponting. The revision in question bears on the conventional picture of Churchill given by “traditionalist historian[s].”10 Kinvig also indirectly indicts them when he writes in his Introduction: “Churchill’s Russian policy during the twenty-five months he spent at the War Office has received little attention from most of his biographers.” A note indeed gives full statistical details:

Roy Jenkins gave but seven paragraphs to [Russian policy] in the 900-odd pages of his major biography Churchill (2001); Geoffrey Best gave it five paragraphs in his 300-page reflective work A Study in Greatness (2001). John Keegan’s 170-page introductory biography Churchill (2002) and Richard Holmes’s 300-page work, In the Footsteps of Churchill (2005),11 each allot it a single paragraph.12

One favourite target is Roland Quinault, who suggested in 1991 that Churchill was not the hot-headed interventionist in post-revolutionary Russia which his critics denounced, since he considerably reduced the British military presence there when he was Secretary of State for War and Air in 1919.13 For his part, Kinvig refutes this thesis by emphasizing Churchill’s equivocation during his term of office:

Churchill claimed correctly that the key intervention decisions had been taken by the Cabinet and Supreme War Council before he came into office. There is no doubt, however, that he strove, and managed at times, to extend, revise or circumvent them.14

Sir Martin Gilbert and William Manchester are also specifically named among those who perpetuate the Churchill “mythology,” notably the argument that his increasing denunciations of Chamberlain’s refusal to initiate a rapprochement with the Soviet Union from 1938 showed a toning down of his former uncompromising anti-Bolshevik stance.15

Anyone who has read Churchill’s abundant pronouncements on Soviet Communism and relations with the USSR in the inter-war years knows that things are not as simple as that. Surely, an author like Geoffrey Best would be seen as a “traditionalist historian” by Carlton—yet Best adheres to the conception of Churchill as anti-Bolshevik hothead in the years following the First World War, pointing out that “no other person of highest political stature publicised and went on about his dislike of it [Bolshevism] as much as he did.” For Geoffrey Best, Churchill “became worked up and histrionic in much the same way as Edmund Burke had become worked up about the French Revolution.”

As evidence of these histrionics, Geoffrey Best adduces what Churchill wrote in The Aftermath, the fourth volume16 of The World Crisis, looking back in 1929 on the situation in Eastern Europe after the Russian Revolution:

[To the East of Poland] lay the huge mass of Russia—not a wounded Russia only, but a poisoned Russia, an infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia, a Russia of armed hordes not only smiting with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slew the bodies of men, and political doctrines which destroyed the health and even the souls of nations.17

In fact, Churchill was only “recycling” almost verbatim an article which contained the stark sub-headings “Shall the Red Flood of Bolshevism Swamp all Europe?” and “The Poison Peril from the East,” which he had published in The Evening News on 28 July 1920.18 Interestingly, this offensive language did not pass unnoticed, even in the Conservative press. Ronald Cohen, who also reproduces the text, notes that it “led to a critical article in The Times of the following day.”19 And this was not the end of the story: Churchill wrote to Lord Northcliffe to complain:

[I]n undertaking to do this, I did not expect to encounter the hostile criticism of the Times. I can quite understand that the Times might not agree with any particular phrase or argument….Criticism of policy is one thing. Criticism on the propriety of my writing an article for the Evening News is another. I confess I feel myself unfairly treated in this respect. No other morning paper that I have read has found it necessary to make any adverse comment, yet the leading paper in your group of papers goes out of its way to attack the propriety of my writing an article which I was strongly pressed to write by another paper in the same group.20

This exchange with Lord Northcliffe shows, if need be, that Churchill’s anti-Bolshevik “histrionics” did not necessarily ingratiate him with senior representatives of the British Right—and that Churchill took no notice of their reservations. It is probably impossible to say when the image of the “maverick” was born, but Churchill’s lone unrelenting anti-Bolshevik campaign in 1918-1919-1920 must have played a significant part in its creation.

*****

For a possible explanation, one should perhaps start with the trauma of the Bolshevik Revolution. “Bolshevism is not a policy; it is a disease,” Churchill said in the House of Commons on 29 May 1919, adding, “it is not a creed; it is a pestilence,”21 thus starting a long series of highly offensive medical metaphors in his attacks on the Bolsheviks. In June, he described them with the suggestion of mental illness as a “league of failures, the criminals, the morbid, the deranged and the distraught.”22 A variant was “the vampire which sucks the blood from his victims,” used in the House of Commons on 26 March.23 Later in the year, on 6 November, he took up again his extreme vocabulary of insidious epidemics in his description of Lenin’s journey back from Switzerland in the House of Commons:

Lenin was sent into Russia by the Germans in the same way that you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city, and it worked with amazing accuracy.24

Slightly modifying his choice of words, he took up the same idea in The Aftermath ten years later, remarking that the Germans “transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland into Russia.”25 Paul Addison also notes after Norman Rose26 that Churchill spoke of Bolshevism as a “cancer,” and a “horrible form of mental and moral disease.”27 With another version of what must have been his favourite description of Bolshevism in the 1920s, Churchill applied the phrase once again to Trotsky, baptised “The Ogre of Europe” in Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine (December 1929): “Like the cancer bacillus, he grew, he fed, he tortured, he slew in fulfilment of his nature.”28

Churchill was Minister of Munitions from 18 July 1917 to 9 January 1919. His perception of the “stab in the back” syndrome was not that of the German Left forcing defeat on an unvanquished army; it was that of the Bolsheviks betraying their Western allies by accepting a separate peace with the Central Powers (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 3 March 1918).

In a speech given at the Connaught Rooms on 11 April 1919, he arraigned them as traitors:

Every British and French soldier killed last year was really done to death by Lenin and Trotsky, not in fair war, but by the treacherous desertion of an ally without parallel in the history of the world.29

This was taking up in much stronger terms the regrets expressed when he spoke of the Russian withdrawal from the war in a speech at Bedford on 11 December 1917:

It is this melancholy event which has prolonged the war, that has robbed the French, the British and the Italian armies of the prize that was perhaps almost within their reach this summer; it is this event, and this event alone, that has exposed us to perils and sorrows and sufferings which we have not deserved, which we cannot avoid, but under which we shall not bend.30

Two of the things Churchill most hated were at work in this troubled period: betrayal and the break-up of the social order. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, famously added a more personal consideration: “His ducal blood revolted against the wholesale elimination of Grand Dukes in Russia.”31 In his diary, Sir George Riddell noted that Lloyd George had commented upon Churchill’s Connaught Rooms speech in no uncertain terms: “He has Bolshevism on the brain…he is mad for operations in Russia.”32 A few weeks earlier, on 17 February, using the same word “mad,” Lloyd George had personally wired Churchill to warn him against a “purely mad enterprise out of hatred of Bolshevik principles.”33

Still, as Secretary of State for War until 14 February 1921, Churchill embarked on a policy of eradication of what he called “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism” during an official luncheon at the Mansion House on 19 February 1919,34 a policy soon dubbed “Mr. Churchill’s Private War” by the press,35 though with some exaggeration, since Kinvig’s examination of the Parliamentary debates following Churchill’s presentation of the Army Estimates on 3 March show that some Members were equally ready to use abusive language against the Bolsheviks and enthusiastically supported him.36

The fact remains that Churchill’s assimilation of the Bolsheviks to animals became a constant in the inter-war years. Of the Russian revolutionaries a few months earlier, at his Dundee seat on 26 November 1918, during the General Election campaign, Churchill said:

Russia is being rapidly reduced by the Bolsheviks to an animal form of Barbarism….Civilization is being completely extinguished over gigantic areas, while the Bolsheviks hop and caper like troops of ferocious baboons amid the ruins of cities and the corpses of their victims.37

“Baboons” reappeared in a conversation with H.A.L. Fisher on 8 April 191938 and three days later, in the Connaught Rooms speech, he denounced “that foul combination of criminality and animalism which constitutes the Bolshevik regime.”39 The criminal/animal analogy was again used in “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe”:

He had raised the poor against the rich. He had raised the penniless against the poor. He had raised the criminal against the penniless….Nothing lower than the Communist criminal class could be found. In vain he turned his gaze upon the wild beasts. The apes could not appreciate his eloquence. He could not mobilize the wolves, whose numbers had so notably increased during his administration. So the criminals he had installed stood together, and put him outside.40

Churchill did not only use the imagery of wolves and baboons. In “Mass Effects in Modern Life” (1931), he rhetorically considered what other animal metaphors would be appropriate:

Sub-human goals and ideals are set before these Asiatic millions. The Beehive? No, for there must be no queen and honey, or at least no honey for others. In Soviet Russia we have a society which seeks to model itself upon the Ant. There is not one single social or economic principle or concept in the philosophy of the Russian Bolshevik which has not been realized, carried into action, and enshrined in immutable laws a million years ago by the White Ant.41

The allusion to “sub-human goals” and “these Asiatic millions”—also found in the Trotsky article, in which Churchill speaks of “a vast process of Asiatic liquefaction”42—naturally remind us of the worst excesses of Hitler’s “Aryan” vocabulary.

Indeed, at some stage, Churchill was very near to speaking, like the German Nazis a few years later, of Judaeo-Bolshevism. Not that Churchill was a rabid antisemite—on the contrary, it can be argued that he was a philosemite all his life43—but in a remarkable article entitled “Zionism versus Bolshevism,” published in 1920, he distinguished between the good Jews, the “National Jews” like those of Britain who were perfectly assimilated, or the Zionist Jews prepared to re-people their “home” in Palestine, and the evil “International Jews”:

Most, if not all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing.

The link between Jewry and Bolshevism—the Judaeo-Bolshevism of Hitler—is provided by the leadership of the Russian Revolution:

With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspira­tion and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders. Thus Tchitcherin, a pure Russian, is eclipsed by his nominal subordinate Litvinoff, and the influence of Russians like Bukharin or Lunacharski cannot be compared with the power of Trotsky, or of Zinovieff, the Dictator of the Red Citadel (Petrograd), or of Krassin or Radek—all Jews. In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing. And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extra­ordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses.

Even worse, the leadership of World Revolution as fomented by the Bolsheviks is also provided by these “International Jews”:

The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these coun­tries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.44

But Kinvig fails to notice the ambiguities in Churchill’s vocabulary when he wrote about the “International Jews”: when Kinvig argues that “there was no trace of anti-Semitism in Churchill’s make-up,” rightly adducing the example of his opposition to the pogroms and wholesale executions on the part of the White45 Russians,46 he seems to neglect Churchill’s notorious “Zionism versus Bolshevism” 1920 article. Conversely, Carlton has a case when he writes that the “extent to which Churchill “lost his balance” on the subject of the early Soviet Union is, then, too little recognised.”47

Churchill also seems to have “lost his balance” in his evaluation of the comparative demerits of Germany (from which it was widely considered that Prussian militarism had not been eradicated by the defeat of 1918) and Russia (now in the hands of the Bolsheviks). In a remarkable letter to Lloyd George, written on 24 March 1920, he notably wrote: “Since the armistice my policy w[oul]d have been ‘Peace with the German people, war on the Bolshevik tyranny.’ Willingly or unavoidably, you have followed something vy near the reverse.”48

This hypothetical policy may have been derived from his assessment of the two dangers—a sort of “first things first” line of conduct which we will have occasion to discuss later. Already, in the Connaught Rooms speech of 11 April 1919, Churchill compared the two threats—to the Soviets’ disadvantage:

Of all the tyrannies in history, the Bolshevist tyranny is the worst, the most destructive, and the most degrading. It is sheer humbug to pretend that it is not far worse than German militarism. [Its atrocities are] incomparably more hideous, on a larger scale, and more numerous than any for which the Kaiser is responsible.49

Considering the list of atrocities then attributed to the Germans during the Great War (the rape of Belgian nuns, etc.), this was no small accusation at the time. In fact, in the secrecy of the War Cabinet, he had adumbrated a reversal, if not of alliances, at least of the policy followed since the conclusion of the Entente Cordiale in the 1900s, on the eve of the 1918 Armistice, declaring that “[W]e might have to build up the German army, as it was important to get Germany on its legs again for fear of the spread of Bolshevism.”50

Whatever the scepticism which may be attached to the reliabilty of reminiscences published fifty years after the event, Lady Violet Bonham Carter, in conversation with Sir Martin Gilbert, said that Churchill had explained his policy to her in terms of “Kill the Bolshie, Kiss the Hun.”51 Coming as it did after the Armistice, this has the ring of truth. This is borne out by WSC’s slightly more careful words to Lloyd George in April 1919: “Feed Germany; fight Bolshevism; make Germany fight Bolshevism.”52

*****

It is only with the utmost reluctance that Churchill bowed to reality and accepted the Bolshevik take-over of Russia as accomplished fact in 1920. Kinvig also argues, with some plausibility, that “Churchill’s attention became increasingly diverted to Ireland, where the first IRA campaign was gathering intensity.”53 Initially, of course, the war against Bolshevism had not been a “cold” one but a “hot” one, with British troops aiding the White Russians to fight the Reds.54

Sir Martin Gilbert has given us a superbly documented account of “Mr. Churchill’s Private War” against Bolshevism—a war which he lost in the Cabinet as much as in Eastern Europe.55 But as Quinault pointedly reminds us, “Churchill was not personally responsible for the British military intervention in Russia, which was part of a collective Allied military strategy.”56 The fact remains that the British intervention gave rise to at least two unfortunate episodes in Churchill’s long career: his dubious phraseology over the “International Jews” and his imprudent prescription of gas as “the right medicine for the Bolshevist.” Kinvig in fact explains that the gas in question was not of a lethal nature, only temporarily incapacitating the enemy57—but of course the harm was done, and the phrase has stuck,58 much to Churchill’s disrepute.59

By the early 1920s it was clear that “there was something almost visceral about Churchill’s hatred,”60 and his reputation as the arch-enemy of “the enemies of the human race,” who “must be put down at any cost,”61 was therefore well established, and Ramsay MacDonald, the Leader, declared in connection with Churchill’s anti-Bolshevik campaigns, “If the Labour Party can’t fight this, it can fight nothing.”62

Technically, however, Churchill was still a Liberal. He only crossed the Floor of the House again in 1924, standing as an Independent Anti-Socialist candidate at a by-election in March, in which he was narrowly defeated by the official Conservative candidate, and as a Constitutionalist candidate at the October General Election, with official Conservative backing. He won the seat of Epping, which he kept until 1964. In November 1924, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative Government led by Baldwin. The following year he officially rejoined the Conservative Party.

In May 1926 he was at the forefront of the Government’s efforts to defeat the General Strike, notably editing the British Gazette, the official Government newspaper in the absence of the usual commercial newspapers. Churchill emerged from the episode with a reinforced reputation as the enemy of the working man, the more so as he initially opposed the distribution of welfare payments to the coalminers who continued with the strike until the autumn. He was presented as the extremist of the General Strike, not without justification.63

His image as a man of the authoritarian Right was made even worse by his disastrous public pronouncements following his trip to Rome in January 1927, when he met the Pope and Mussolini. In fact he had already expressed his admiration for Mussolini in January 1926, in a speech before Treasury officials :

Italy is a country which is prepared to face the realities of post-war reconstruction. It possesses a Government under the commanding leadership of Signor Mussolini which does not shrink from the logical consequences of economic facts and which has the courage to impose the financial remedies required to secure and to stabilise the national recovery.64

This is what we could call the “classic” defence of Fascism—its economic efficiency at a time when the democracies were at a loss to find a coherent economic policy. Oswald Mosley was to put it more concisely later when he repeated that he and his fellow British Fascists wanted to turn Parliament “from a talk-shop to a work-shop.” When Churchill praised Mussolini’s Italy for its economic realism, it was of course the British Chancellor of the Exchequer envying the Fascist dictator for the room for manoeuvre which the absence of an effective opposition gave him.

The offensive declarations of January 1927 were of a different nature, in that they clearly justified the introduction of Fascism as a bulwark against Bolshevism: “If I had been an Italian, I am sure I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”65

This argument was to be repeated ten years later, at the time of the Spanish Civil War, in a slightly different form—though the old assimilation with animals was not taken up: I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between Communism and Nazi-ism, I would choose Communism.66

But then one must introduce a capital factor into the equation. In all these cases, Churchill was talking from the point of view of the Italians, the Spanish and the Germans. Thanks to Britain’s superior institutions and traditions, summed up by the well-known popular phrase, “it could not happen here,” the British were fortunately protected from these impossible choices.

In his approval of the Italian Fascists” in January 1927, Churchill was careful to distance himself from any advocacy of replication in Britain, immediately adding: But in Great Britain we have not yet had to face this danger in the same form. We have our own particular method of doing things.67 Ten years later, in “The Ebbing Tide of Socialism,” published in July 1937, Churchill continued to argue that Britain was above these Continental errors:

So also have been reduced to impotence and ridicule the Nazi conceptions of Sir Oswald Mosley.68 He had built his hopes upon the Socialist or Communist menace, and in all probability he would have risen in opposition to it. But at the present time it does not exist. The failure of the red-hot men of the Left has involved a simultaneous failure of the white-hot men of the Right.69

This is of course an extremely interesting argument coming from a man of the Right, as Churchill then undoubtedly was. If we follow WSC, it is precisely because “the Socialist or Communist menace” was warded off in Britain that Fascism was unable to take root in the country. Closely following French affairs as he always did, he perfectly knew of the cries from the Fascist or crypto-Fascist ligues heard all over France at the time: “Plutôt Hitler que Blum” or the “clever” rhyming phrase (in French) “Plutôt Hitler que le Front populaire.”

The easy point which Churchill would then have been able to make was that it was thanks to men of the “moderate” Right, like him, that the “menace” had not materialised into anything serious. But Churchill being Churchill, he chose instead to attribute the merit to the democratic maturity of the British people:

The massive common sense of the only long-trained democracy—apart from the United States—has established a spacious and predominant middle zone within which the class adjustments of the nation can be fought out, and from which the extremists at both ends are excluded.70

More than that, in his Commons speech of 14 April 1937 he suggested that a self-respecting Briton would face death rather than accept “to choose between Communism and Nazism: I hope not to be called upon to survive in a world under a government of either of these dispensations.”

A third reason may perhaps be adduced for Churchill’s praise of Mussolini in the 1920s: it appeared that at a time when the affairs of Continental Europe continued to preoccupy Churchill, he was reassured that Britain could count on Italy as a reliable partner under his rule, contrary to what he had initially feared. “What a swine this Mussolini is,” he wrote to his wife on 5 September 1923 after Mussolini decided to occupy Fiume.71

Thus three elements were clear in Churchill’s attitude to the Fascists and Communists—the two faces of the same coin in his eyes—around 1931-32. He feared the Bolshevik threat far more than the Fascist threat. Founding his reasoning on Churchill’s speeches in Parliament, Quinault argues that “As late as 1931, Churchill still considered Soviet Russia the main threat to peace in Europe and the principal obstacle to disarmament.”72

If Fascism did not encroach upon British interests there was no reason in his eyes not to praise its perceived economic efficiency. Fascism was all very well for the Continentals, with their shaky and often recent adoption of democratic institutions; but Britain did not need it to ward off the Communist danger. Although there is evidence that the early British Fascists, Rotha Lintorn-Orman’s British Fascisti (founded in 1923) and the splinter-group created in 1924, the National Fascisti (later the British National Fascisti), had occasionally given a hand in breaking the General Strike, for instance in Liverpool, it was obvious that the strike would have failed even without their intervention.73

In the 1930s, there was a complex evolution of Churchill’s attitude on the first two points, even though he never varied in his absolute disdain for the home-made version of Fascism. This did not mean that he did not share the Fascists’ extreme views on the intellectual Left. As Paul Addison puts it, “in the early 1930s Churchill sounded reactionary about England,”74 and he quotes from a speech delivered on 24 April 1933 before the staunchly patriotic Royal Society of St. George. A more extensive excerpt makes the point even clearer:

The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength.

Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians. But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible Utopias?75

What made him change his approach—pace Carlton—was clearly the emergence of the radical National-Socialist movement in Germany.76 Even before he acceeded to the Chancellorship of Germany on 30 January 1933, Churchill “viewed the rise of Hitler with disquiet,” as Wrigley mildly puts it.77

In Rome in January 1927, Churchill had met Mussolini twice, in informal or semi-formal circumstances, at a ball and after a dinner at the British Embassy. The same scenario of informality almost repeated itself for the only occasion which he ever had of meeting Hitler, in September 1932. Churchill had been traveling to Germany, notably to Blenheim78 where his famous ancestor the Duke of Marlborough had defeated the French-led coalition in 1704. He was staying in Munich before going back to England, in a hotel which Hitler also frequently patronised, and he was approached by a very cheerful Herr Hanfstaengl who befriended him, saying that he could easily arrange a meeting with Hitler, whom he knew well and who he felt sure would be very glad to see him. We know this because Churchill recounted the episode in the first volume of his War Memoirs, The Gathering Storm, and Hanfstaengl confirmed it to the letter in his own memoirs. Writing immediately after the Second World War, this is how Churchill describes his state of mind in the late summer of 1932 :

I had no national prejudices against Hitler at this time. I knew little of his doctrine or record and nothing of his character. I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side. He had a perfect right to be a patriotic German if he chose. I always wanted England, Germany and France to be friends.79

This is all the more plausible as Churchill had not lost his crusading spirit against Bolshevism. In November 1931, when the fifth and final volume of his narrative of the First World War, The World Crisis, was published, he dedicated it to “Our Faithful Allies and Comrades in the Russian Imperial Armies” because it dealt with The Eastern Front.80 We can agree in retrospect with John Young’s opinion:

Where the USSR was concerned Churchill’s realism led him to accept, by the 1930s, that it would exist for some time and was an essential component in any anti-German balance of power.81

But the real question is when exactly “by the 1930s” Churchill came to realise that—to invert Carlton’s phrase—the Bolshevik peril was now of “second order” compared with the Nazi menace? There is probably no answer, if only because there was a long period of uncertainty over Hitler’s capacity for starting another war. Churchill never doubted Hitler’s evil nature, just as he never doubted Stalin’s—but it took some time before it became certain that the Nazi danger was the worser of the two.

In a speech before the House of Commons on 11 July 1932, Churchill had described Hitler as “the moving impulse behind the German Government.” He “may be more than that very soon,”82 he percipiently added—it must be remembered that Hitler’s party, the NSDAP, received just over 37 percent of the popular vote in the Reichstag elections of 31 July 1932. So a meeting would have made sense.

But then Churchill mentioned to Hanfstaengl Hitler’s attitude to the Jews. It is not clear whether this was a deliberate provocation or an incidental remark in their conversation. According to Hanfstaengl,83 Churchill’s exact words were “Tell your boss from me that anti-Semitism may be a good starter, but it is a bad sticker.”84

The result was decisive: the proposed meeting was called off. “Thus Hitler lost his only chance of meeting me,” Churchill concludes in his memoirs. “Later on, when he was all-powerful, I was to receive several invitations from him. But by that time a lot had happened, and I excused myself.”85

Hanfstaengl makes it clear that there was in fact mutual suspicion, a distrust on both sides which gradually turned into absolute hatred and it is impossible to know whether Hitler was later shown the secret memorandum which one of the Counsellors at the German Embassy in London had sent to his Foreign Ministry, reporting a conversation with Churchill on 18 October 1930, over a year therefore before Hitler became Chancellor:

Hitler had admittedly declared that he had no intention of waging a war of aggression; he, Churchill, however, was convinced that Hitler or his followers would seize the first available opportunity to resort to armed force.86

This secret memorandum also contains evidence that Churchill had read at least passages from Mein Kampf, published in Germany in 1925-1926, privately translated for his own edification, because in the conversation he alluded to a cynical remark by Hitler, “the great masses of the people … will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one,” which did not even figure in the official English translation published in 1933.87

The private Foreign Office translation88 of the expurgated passage, later forwarded to Churchill, read: “if one tells big lies, people will always believe a part” and “something always remains of the most impudent lies.”89

There is also indirect evidence that Churchill immediately understood the significance of Hitler’s incitements to racial and national hatred long before their aborted meeting. In an article entitled “Shall We All commit Suicide?” published in September 1924 in Pall Mall Magazine and reprinted in Thoughts and Adventures in 1932, Churchill assumed the role of the prophet of doom which was to gradually estrange him from his fellow-citizens, who did not want to hear his apocalyptic predictions. It was not a welcome warning when he wrote, “Let it not be thought for a moment that the danger of another explosion in Europe is passed.” There were two reasons for that. For one, Russia bemoaned the loss of “her Baltic Provinces.” But there was worse:

From one end of Germany to the other an intense hatred of France unites the whole population. The enormous contingents of German youth growing to military manhood year by year are inspired by the fiercest sentiments, and the soul of Germany smoulders with dreams of a War of Liberation or Revenge. These ideas are restrained at the present moment only by physical impotence.

Now, even though Hitler as such is not named as such, it is permissible to see him as the archetype of aggressive man in the most blood-curdling passage in Churchill’s article—and if the readers of Pall Mall did not all perceive the allusion in 1924, it is most likely that those of 1932 did, when they read the reprinted piece in Thoughts and Adventures:

Death stands at attention, obedient, expectant, ready to serve, ready to shear away the peoples en masse; ready, if called on, to pulverise, without hope of repair, what is left of civilisation. He awaits only the word of command, He awaits it from a frail, bewildered being, long his victim, now—for one occasion only—his Master.90

Considering all this, why Churchill wrote a long portrait, “The Truth about Hitler” (published in November 1935 in The Strand Magazine, and reprinted in 1937 in Great Contemporaries as “Hitler and his Choice”) remains one of the more puzzling aspects of this complex relationship-by- proxy. In any case it is a typical exercise in damning with faint praise. The German Foreign Ministry lodged an official complaint, and the magazine was banned in Germany.91

The gist of the article is that the “former Austrian house-painter,” the “Austrian-born corporal,” had by 1935 “succeeded in restoring Germany to the most powerful position in Europe.” Before Hitler, “Germany lay prostrate at the feet of the Allies,” Churchill argued. “He may yet see the day when what is left of Europe will be prostrate at the feet of Germany.”

The great question was whether what Churchill called “the mellowing influences of success” would eventually make Hitler “a gentler figure in a happier age.” The article was not well balanced, because Churchill obviously devoted far more space to the discussion of the negative and pessimistic arguments, notably the idea that if past behaviour was anything to go by, there was serious cause for worry.

Churchill bore down on Hitler’s relentless persecution of the German Jews, “a community numbered by hundred of thousands” and on the arrest of all opponents, including “Trade Unionists and the liberal intelligentsia,” with “an attack upon the historical basis of Christianity.” In a forceful image, he linked this repression to the military effort: ‘side by side with the training grounds of the new armies and the great aerodromes, the concentration camps pock-mark the German soil.”

One remarkable aspect of his argument is that Churchill indicts Hitler for proscribing “socialists and communists of every hue.”92 Carlton curiously glosses over this imbalance and interprets the language of the text as showing a partiality towards Hitler which Churchill had never shown towards the Bolsheviks.93 But overall Churchill’s article makes it clear that by 1935 his visceral anti-Communism was relegated to the background in the face of the mounting danger from Nazi Germany. Given the choice between Godless Communism and Godless Nazism,94 he found the latter the most obnoxious.

This does not mean that he now rejected Fascist Italy. On the contrary, by a curious twist in the reasoning, largely founded on considerations of British defence priorities, Churchill courted Mussolini more assiduously than ever after Hitler’s accession to the Chancellorship.

One of the most important sources for our subject is the impassioned speech which Churchill delivered at the 25th anniversary meeting of the Anti-Socialist and Anti-Communist Union, on 17 February 1933, less than three weeks after Hitler came to power—the context is obviously of capital importance. There is of course a great deal of irony in Churchill addressing this organisation, because it had been founded as the Anti-Socialist Union in 1908 precisely to fight the welfare measures which Lloyd George was drafting with the help of Churchill, then at the height of his anti-Conservative “progressive” phase.95 Though adopting a militant Anti-Communist position, as the postwar addition to its name indicated, it clearly distanced itself from British Fascist groups—indeed these Fascist groups were now much more attractive for people with far-right inclinations. But it is a measure of Churchill’s evolution that he was now its guest speaker.

The speech contains the first public allusions to another perceived menace: militarist Japan. Context is again all-important: Japan had attacked Manchuria on 18 September 1931 and proclaimed the “independence” of the puppet state of Manchukuo on 15 September 1932. When the League of Nations expressed a protest, Japan withdrew from it immediately, on 24 February 1933. Also, only a week before Churchill’s speech, on 9 February, the Oxford Union had passed the extraordinary resolution that “This House refuses in any circumstances to fight for King and Country.”

Starting with a denunciation of the “abject, squalid, shameless avowal” of the Oxford students, Churchill offered a bleak panorama of the world situation, which dictated British rearmament, not pacifism. The first passage of that vast survey must have displeased his audience, since many members probably shared the common belief among the Right that Nazi Germany was the best bulwark against Soviet contagion. When thinking of the Oxford Union resolution, he argued,

I think of Germany, with its splendid clear-eyed youth marching forward on all the roads of the Reich singing their ancient songs, demanding to be conscripted into the army; eagerly seeking the most terrible weapons of war; burning to suffer and die for their fatherland.

It was obvious here that Churchill did not primarily have the Soviet Union in mind as the potential target of Germany’s “splendid clear-eyed youth.” This is what made him differ so sharply with the Appeasers and the activists of the British Right and extreme Right: he never believed that the supporters of German Nazism could be the objective allies of British Conservatives against Bolshevism. This is all the more remarkable as he shared their belief—at least in 1933, at the time of his speech—in the Far East:

I must say something to you which is very unfashionable. I am going to say one word of sympathy for Japan… I hope we should try in England to understand a little the position of Japan, an ancient state with the highest sense of national honour, and patriotism and with a teeming population and a remarkable energy. On the one side they see the dark menace of Soviet Russia. On the other the chaos of China, four or five provinces of which are actually now being tortured under Communist rule.

As if this did not make it sufficiently evident that he judged the militarist and Fascist Right on the merits of the case, he had most surprising words of praise to pour on Italy “with her ardent Fascisti, her renowned Chief, and stern sense of national duty,” and even more so on Mussolini, whom he saw as “the Roman genius…the greatest lawgiver among living men.”96

In his biography of Churchill, Roy Jenkins calls this “an altogether unfortunate speech”97: admittedly, with the benefit of hindsight, knowing that Japan was to associate with Germany in the Anti-Comintern Pact three years later, with Italy soon joining them—eventually forming the so-called “Axis.” Churchill’s partiality towards Japan and Italy now seems little founded, and cannot be explained by his desire to please his audience, since he knew that he was probably affronting most of them with his uncompromising rejection of Nazism; but that did not stop him.

So we have to go back to psychological explanations founded on the complexity of Churchill’s personality. No doubt he was a man of principle—but like all virtuous men, only up to a point. He was an opportunist in the sense that he always chose what was the lesser of two evils in his eyes. Here his guiding principle seems to have been no less than the preservation of civilisation. For him, this meant first and foremost the liberal values of Western culture—as most cherished in England. Churchill was “Liberal” in the economic sense—he wrote in a letter sent shortly before he became Chancellor of the Exchequer that “the existing capitalist system is the foundation of civilisation”98—but perhaps even more so in the democratic sense.

The lesser of the two evils approach is illustrated by his speech to the Commons on 7 February 1934 :

We…are left exposed to a mortal thrust, and are deprived of that old sense of security and independence upon which the civilization99 of our island has been built.100

It was clear to him that with Hitler now the unchallenged Leader of Germany, the foundations of British and Western civilisation—and therefore of all civilisation in his eyes, as he was to say four years later in so many words101—were mortally threatened.

The lesser evil was therefore to accept to have some truck with those whom he then perceived as lesser Fascists and Militarists—the Italians and Japanese—the better to ward off the only truly dangerous menace, Nazi Germany, intent on enslaving the “rotten plutocracies.” There was nothing new in this priority. As early as February 1919, Churchill had expressed before the Cabinet his fear of “a great combination from Yokohama to Cologne in hostility to France, Britain and America.”102 He had expressed this fear with special reference to the possible spreading of Bolshevism; but he reactivated it in the 1930s with the spectre of a Nazified Europe.

It is not easy to determine when Churchill lost his illusions about continued Japanese goodwill or at least neutrality. In a speech to the House of Commons on 31 May 1935, he laconically alluded to the potential danger of a rapprochement between Germany and Japan:

There is the question of the relations between Germany and Japan. It seems to me that that is a matter which must be in the thoughts of everyone who attempts to make an appreciation of the foreign situation.103

Extant published sources, however, include a disabused letter to his wife dated 17 January 1936, in which he wrote that “One must consider these two predatory military dictatorship nations, Germany and Japan, as working in accord,”104 and an important article, “Germany and Japan,” following their signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact, published in November 1936 and reprinted in Step by Step (1939).

This article is important because in it Churchill stresses (pace Carlton again) that all forms of anti-Communism are not virtuous—something of course which he would never have admitted fifteen years before:

Communism in Japan as in Germany is held fast in the grip of a highly efficient, all-pervading police force, eagerly waiting to smite the smallest manifestation. Yet these two great powers in opposite quarters of the globe use the pretext of their fears of Communism to proclaim an association the purpose of which, and the consequences of which, can only be the furtherance of their national designs.105

But unfortunately, one has to take the complexity of Churchill’s character into account. His position of advocating a strict neutrality during the Spanish Civil War—a neutrality which in fact favoured the Fascist camp—showed that he still believed that the Right, even the extreme Right, had a duty to fight what he saw as Communist infiltration:

[I]t seems certain that a majority of Spaniards are on the rebel side.106 Four and a half millions of them voted only last spring107 for the various Conservative parties of the Right and Centre against four and a quarter millions who voted for the parties of the Left. One must suppose that those people who were then opposed to constitutional Socialism, are to-day all the more hostile to the Communist, Anarchist and Syndicalist forces which are now openly warring for absolute dominance in Spain.108

Not disguising his continued anti-Communism, Churchill had written a fortnight before:

All the national and martial forces in Spain have been profoundly stirred by the rise of Italy under Mussolini to Imperial power in the Mediterranean. Italian methods are a guide. Italian achievements are a spur. Shall Spain, the greatest empire in the world when Italy was a mere bunch of disunited petty princedoms, now sink into the equalitarian squalor of a Communist State, or shall it resume its place among the great Powers of the world?109

Likewise, Churchill adopted a benevolent attitude towards the Fascist dictatorship in Portugal established by Salazar in 1932, probably this time for strategic considerations, since, contrary to Spain, the threat of a Communist takeover seemed remote.110 Salazar had two invaluable assets: his lack of aggressiveness111 and the possession of the Azores, a capital position to hold in any battle for the Atlantic. Churchill had remained obsessed by the devastation wreaked by the U-boat war in 1914-18, and there is little doubt that strategic considerations entered into his complacent treatment of Salazar, who indeed delivered his side of the bargain by allowing Britain to occupy the Azores for the duration of the war—somewhat belatedly in October 1943—after the Germans had been driven from North Africa and decisively beaten by the Soviets in the gigantic tank battle at Kursk.

There is no reason to believe that Churchill entertained any illusions towards Salazar, and even less that he had any empathy for him and his régime. Simply, Churchill evidently believed that he had played a good trick on Hitler by turning the tables on him, with a Fascist dictator indirectly participating in the British struggle against the U-boats. Churchill never let slip a chance to outwit his opponents, but in his speech to the House of Commons announcing this splendid diplomatic victory on 12 October 1943, Churchill had another reason to rejoice: the deal with Salazar was naturally presented as a deal with “Britain’s oldest ally,” as Portugal was always presented.

Churchill could not resist to enter into the historical minutiae which he enjoyed so much, starting his speech with a carefully-crafted theatrical effect:

I have an announcement to make to the House arising out of the Treaty signed between this country and Portugal in the year 1373 between His Majesty King Edward III and King Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor of Portugal….This engagement has lasted now for over [sic] 600 years, and is without parallel in world history. I have now to announce its latest application.112

Historical considerations also probably dictated Churchill’s attitude to Franco, though in an indirect way, once the rebellious general had become the Caudillo of Spain—the continued existence of the historical anomaly of Gibraltar was now entirely dependent on his goodwill, or rather on his avoidance of a formal military alliance with Germany and Italy. It was clear that the Rock could not be long defended against a combined attack of German, Italian and Spanish forces.

It is now known that the British secret services, with Churchill’s approval, “bought” a number of Spanish generals and high officials. In exchange for British gold, they were expected to use their influence to persuade Franco and his associates to remain neutral.113 Churchill also encouraged the Spanish authorities in the belief that if they remained neutral towards Britain—that is, of course, if they left Gibraltar alone—the British Government would find no objection to their acquisition of territory in Morocco to the detriment of the French. He had no qualms explaining his position to Lord Halifax in September 1940:

I do not mind if the Spaniards go into French Morocco. The letters exchanged with de Gaulle do not commit us to any exact restoration of the territories of France, and the attitude of the Vichy Government towards us and towards him has undoubtedly justified a harder feeling towards France than existed at the time of her collapse.114

We have discussed elsewhere115 the highly complicated relations between the British Government and the Vichy régime after June 1940. It is clear that Churchill never saw in Pétain the bulwark against Bolshevism which he pretended to be—but he hoped that he could somehow be useful against the Germans. In his memoirs, Churchill published a passage of a remarkable memorandum sent to his Cabinet colleagues on 14 November 1940, in which it is clear that he distinguishes between his contempt of Pétain and Vichy, and the British Government’s interest in refusing to break with them:

Pétain has always been an anti-British defeatist, and is now a dotard. The idea that we can build on such men is vain. They may, however, be forced by rising opinion in France and by German severities to change their line in our favour. Certainly we should have contacts with them.116

As we now know, these hopes were unfounded. Just as the gamble that Mussolini would remain neutral if carefully nursed by British diplomacy proved wrong in the event, Pétain did not hesitate to order French troops in North Africa to shoot at the Anglo-American “invaders” in November 1942.

But in 1936, in the first months of the Spanish Civil War, he continued to make scathing comments upon “the evangelists of the Third International”—in an article published on the occasion of the Moscow Trials, in which by the way he made the point that the victims “were nearly all Jews,”117 as if he now saw those “International Jews” whom he formally denounced in a favourable light—and in one devoted to “The Communist Schism” between Stalinists and Trostkyists, in which he took up the religious metaphor:

What Rome is to Catholics, Moscow is to the Communists of every country: with the important difference that whereas devout Catholics contribute to the centre of their faith, it is Moscow which distributes money to its adherents in foreign lands….On the other hand, the Trostkyites, now almost entirely cut off from the Moscow finance, are emerging as a separate force. Even in the Spanish welter we discern their appearance as the P.O.U.M., a sect achieving the quintessence of fœtidity, and surpassing all others in hate.118

Sometimes, silence speaks volumes : In Arms and the Covenant, a selection of speeches published in June 1938,119 Churchill denounces German rearmament and British appeasement in every page—but there is not a single word on the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1938, when the book appeared, it would have been impolitic to remind the reading public of Churchill’s pronouncements on “the evangelists of the Third International” at the time of the Spanish Civil War.

By contrast, Step by Step , whose Preface was written almost exactly one year later120, contains both anti-Soviet writings (like “The Communist Schism” quoted above) and his most recent advocacy of at least a tacit alliance with the USSR, “The Russian Counterpoise,” published in May 1939, in which he openly said that “a definite association between Poland and Russia becomes indispensable.” One can of course notice that he speaks of Russia, not the Soviet Union—but for the Poles, “eternal Russia” was of course no more reassuring than the Soviet Union. That this policy should be considered as the lesser of the two evils is made quite explicit:

These are days when acts of faith must be performed by Governments and peoples who are striving to resist the spread of Nazidom….This is no time to dawdle. Peace may yet be saved by the assembly of superior forces against aggression. Grave risks have to be run by all the anti-Nazi countries if war is to be prevented.121

By including both his more reticent and his (reluctantly) “realistic” writings, did Churchill not want to show his public, notably on the Right, that in the spring of 1939, even an arch-enemy of Communism like himself had to come round to the idea of an alliance with the Soviet Union? By suggesting that he did not pursue this evolution wholeheartedly, he increased its exemplary value for those who continued to nurture violently anti-Communist sentiments.122

Thus in 1945-46, when he resumed his anti-Communist crusade in the context of the “Cold War,” he was able to claim that he had always remained consistent at least deep in his heart, even if reason pleaded in favour of an alliance with the Soviets in the months preceding the outbreak of war in 1939—and even more so after Germany’s attack on Russia in June 1941.

Indeed, even Churchill’s magnificently combative speech on the BBC on the day of that surprise attack was balanced in such a way that he did not appear as an enthusiastic convert of Communism. He was careful not to use the word “Bolshevik” and its derivatives, now only part of the vocabulary of Hitler and the various quisling régimes in Occupied Europe, but to speak of Russia: “At four o”clock this morning Hitler attacked and invaded Russia… [at a pinch “Soviet Russia”]: We have offered the Government of Soviet Russia any technical or economic assistance which is in our power” [avoiding “the Soviet Union” or “USSR].” And there were of course the carefully-chosen sentences which justified his past and present conduct—but also preserved the future, though it is impossible to know whether, as Carlton suggests, he was already thinking about it:

No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism than I have for the last twenty-five years. I will unsay no word that I have spoken about it. But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding. The past with its crimes, its follies and its tragedies, flashes away.123

*****

What are we to conclude from all this? The first reflection that springs to mind is the diversity of the situations. Ironically, the first Fascist dictator, whose rise to power Churchill largely approved in the name of the containment of Bolshevism in the 1920s, was the first to fall. “The keystone of the Fascist arch has crumbled,” Churchill declared in the House of Commons, after the Fascist Grand Council repudiated Mussolini on 25 July 1943.124

But things were not as simple as that. Admittedly, the Vichy puppets also crumbled when their German masters were no longer in a position to impose their presence. But Churchill’s attitude in the spring of 1945, when it was the turn of the German version of Fascism to crumble, has always remained veiled in ambiguity. His constant belief in “the lesser of two evils” led him to toy with the idea of using at least some of the German armed forces as a countervailing power against the irresistible Red Army. In his superbly researched book on The Second World War, David Reynolds demonstrates how Churchill kept silent in his memoirs about the secret plans which he ordered for “Operation Unthinkable”—a surprise Anglo-American attack on the Soviet Union with the help of ten German divisions to be launched on 1 July 1945. The existence of these plans at the former Public Record Office, now called British National Archives, was only made official in 1998.125

Although the report mentioned that it would take some time before German troops could be used, it did not say whether the delay was due to the necessary phase of “denazification”: It is estimated that 10 German divisions might be reformed and re-equipped in the early stages. These could not, however, in any event be available by 1st July.126

As it turned out, nazified or de-nazified German forces were not used—but it is significant that Churchill did not baulk at the thought of employing them in yet another anti-Soviet campaign.

On the other hand, since it did not mean confronting the Soviets militarily, he allowed the Portuguese and Spanish dictators to die a natural death—which took some time, since Salazar only died in 1970 and Franco in 1975, respectively five and ten years after Churchill’s own death.

The reason is not far to see. David Reynolds once more points out how Churchill left out from The Second World War a minute to the Cabinet dated 10 November 1944 in which he wrote, taking up once again his medical vocabulary of 1918-20: “should the communists become masters of Spain we must expect the infection to spread very fast both through Italy and France.”127

In 1945 Churchill had evidently not forgotten his earlier fear of “the foul baboonery of Bolshevism.” Given the choice between the authoritarian extreme Left and the authoritarian extreme Right, it was clear that he remained faithful to his phrase of 1937, “I hope not to be called upon to survive in a world under a government of either of these dispensations,” and that he believed that the dictatorships of Portugal and Spain, contrary to the totalitarian régimes of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, were no threat to British freedom.

Still, there is no substantial evidence to contradict Quinault’s view that Churchill “initially opposed the Bolsheviks, but once they had won the civil war Churchill sought a settlement with them in the interests of international stability.”128 Broadly speaking, if we take his anti-Bolshevik language between the wars as a discourse for internal consumption, his “Cold War rhetoric” was precisely that—behind the offensive language,129 behind the “war of words,” Churchill had become reconciled to the continued existence of Soviet Russia—as opposed to that of Nazi Germany. For Churchill, Hitler not Stalin was the real “warmonger” in the late 1930s. Nevertheless, Kinvig is right when he says:

The language in which he chose publicly to denounce the Russian regime was eloquent of the depth of his detestation and more than rivalled that which he directed at his adversaries in the Second World War.130

One may approve or denounce Churchill’s eminently pragmatic position towards the various forms of the extreme Right and extreme Left. But one cannot deny his remarkable consistency if one accepts that his constant overriding aim was the preservation of “bourgeois” liberties—the key, in his eyes, to the survival of civilisation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (Sources quoted)
Books by Winston S. Churchill

The World Crisis, 6 vols., (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1923-31. Abridged Edition, London : Penguin, 2007). Volumes quoted here: vol. IV, The Aftermath (1929); vol. V, The Eastern Front (1931).

Thoughts and Adventures (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1932; revised edition (London: Odhams, 1947); new annotated edition, James W. Muller, editor, with contributions by Paul H. Courtenay & Alana L. Barton (Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 2009).

Great Contemporaries (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1937; revised and extended edition,1938: subsequent revised editions (London: Macmillan, 1942, London: Odhams, 1947).

Arms and the Covenant: Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill, compiled by Randolph S. Churchill (London: G.G. Harrap & Co., 1938).

Step By Step: Speeches 1936-1939 (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1939; new edition (London: Odhams, 1947).

Into Battle: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill [1938-1940], compiled by Charles Eade (London: Cassell, 1941).

The Unrelenting Struggle: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill [1940-1941], compiled by Charles Eade (London: Cassell, 1942).

Onwards to Victory: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill, 1943, compiled by Charles Eade (London: Cassell, 1944).

The Second World War, 6 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948-1954). Vol. 1, The Gathering Storm (1948); vol. 2, Their Finest Hour (1949).

The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, edited by Michael Wolff, 4 vols. (London: Library of Imperial History, 1975). Vol. 1, Churchill and War; vol.2: Churchill and Politics; vol.4: Churchill at Large.

Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963, edited by Robert Rhodes James, 8 vols. (New York: Bowker, 1974). Vol. IV, 1922-1928; vol.V, 1928-1935.

Articles by Winston S. Churchill

“Zionism versus Bolshevism.” Illustrated Sunday Herald, 8 February 1920. Reprinted in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill (see below), IV: 26-31.

“Shall we All commit Suicide?” Pall Mall Magazine, 24 September 1924. Reprinted in Thoughts and Adventures.

“Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine, December 1929; Reprinted in Cosmopolitan, March 1930 and Great Contemporaries.

“Mass Effects in Modern Life.” The Strand Magazine, May 1931. Reprinted in Thoughts and Adventures.

“The Spanish Tragedy.” Evening Standard, 10 August 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.

“Keep out of Spain.” Evening Standard, 21 August 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.

“Enemies to the Left.” Evening Standard, 4 September 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.

“The Communist Schism.” Evening Standard, 16 October 1936. Reprinted in Step By Step.

“Germany and Japan.” Evening Standard, 27 November 1936. Reprinted in Step by Step.

“The Creeds of the Devil.” The Sunday Chronicle, 27 June 1937. Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, vol.2: Churchill and Politics.

“The Russian Counterpoise.” Daily Telegraph (4 May 1939). Reprinted in Step by Step.

Works by Other Authors

Addison, Paul. Churchill on the Home Front (London : Jonathan Cape, 1992; reprinted with a new preface by the author (London: Pimlico, 1993).

Paul Addison. Churchill : The Unexpected Hero (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Geoffrey Best. Churchill: A Study in Greatness (London: Hambledon, 2001; London: Penguin, 2002). See my review on http://www.cercles.com/review/r8/best.html

David Carlton. Churchill and the Soviet Union (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000).

David Carlton. “Churchill and the Two ‘Evil Empires.’” Churchill in the Twenty-first Century: A Conference held at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 11-13 January 2001. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th Series 11 (2001): 331-352.

Ronald I. Cohen. Bibliography of the Works by Sir Winston Churchill, 3 vols. (London & New York: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006).

Anthony Eden (Lord Avon). The Eden Memoirs, vol. I1, Facing the Dictators (London: Cassel, 1962).

Martin Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill (London: Heinemann, 1976-88); Vol. 4, 1917-1922; vol. 5, Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939; vol. 6: Finest Hour, 1939-1941; Companion to vol. 4, Part 1.

Roy Jenkins. Churchill. (London: Macmillan, 2001; London: Pan Books, 2002).

Clifford Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia (London: Hambledon, 2006).

Richard M. Langworth, editor. Churchill by Himself: The Life, Times and Opinions of Winston Churchill in His Own Words (London: Ebury Press, 2008).

David Lloyd George. The Truth about the Peace Treaties, 2 vols. (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938).

William Manchester. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, 2 vols. (London: Michael Joseph, 1983, 1988). Vol. 1, Visions of Glory 1874-1932; vol. 2, The Caged Lion 1932-1940.

Charles L. Mowat, Britain Between the Wars 1918-1940 (London: Methuen, 1955; London: University Paperbacks, 1968).

Henry Pelling. Winston Churchill (London: Macmillan, 1974; new edition with new introduction (Ware, Dorset: Wordsworth, 1999).

Roland Quinault, “Churchill and Russia.” War & Society 9-1 (May 1991): 99-120.

David Reynolds. In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (London: Allen Lane, 2004). See Paul Addison’s review on

http://www.cercles.com/review/r24/reynolds.htm

Norman Rose. Churchill: An Unruly Life (London: Simon & Schuster, 1994); Churchill: Unruly Giant (New York: Free Press, 1995).

Denis Smyth. “«Les chevaliers de Saint-George» : la Grande-Bretagne et la corruption des généraux espagnols (1940-1942).” Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains 162 (April 1991): 29-54.

Mary Soames, editor. Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill. (London: Doubleday, 1998).

Chris Wrigley. Winston Churchill: A Biographical Companion (Oxford: ABC-Clio, 2002). See my review on http://www.cercles.com/review/r14/wrigley.htm

Young, John W. “Churchill and the East-West Détente.” Churchill in the Twenty-first Century: A Conference held at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 11-13 January 2001. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th Series 11 (2001): 373-392.

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1 “The radical rights in France and Britain in the 20th century: comparisons, transfers, crossed perspectives / Les droites radicales en France et en Grande-Bretagne au XXe siècle : comparaisons, transferts, regards croisés.” Université Charles-de-Gaulle Lille III, 20-21 March 2009.
2 The author also wants to express his gratitude to Simon Baker, Assistant Project Editor, Royal Historical Society British and Irish History Bibliographies, Institute of Historical Research, London, and two mainstays of the Churchill Centre, James R. Lancaster and Richard M. Langworth, for their invaluable help in locating and checking the original sources and supplying other essential material for many points in the following discussion.
3 “Britain and the Cold War.” 23rd CCBH Annual Conference, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London, 22-25 June 2009.
4 The actual title of the short paper given at the CCBH Conference was “Revisiting the archaeology of the Cold War: “The foul baboonery of Bolshevism” as fought by Churchill, 1917-1941.” The present article merges and expands the arguments put forward at Lille and London.
5 As suggested for instance by Churchill’s own phrase, “The Creeds of the Devil” (see below, note 72) and such titles as David Carlton’s “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” .” Referring to an even earlier period, Roland Quinault speaks of Churchill’s “joint opposition to “Kaiserism” and “Bolshevism” .” (“Churchill and Russia”: 102-103).
6 Many people tend to make a distinction between the Fascists and the Nazis, but most of our German colleagues generally prefer to speak of “the Fascists” as a blanket term and we will follow their practice here.
7 Carlton, David. Churchill and the Soviet Union. Manchester: University Press, 2000.
8 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 351.
9 Ponting, Clive. Winston Churchill. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994.
10 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 333.
11 See my review on http://www.cercles.com/review/r23/holmes.htm
12 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: xiv and Note 1, p. 335
13 Quinault argued that Churchill had a “persistent belief that Russia was a major and essential element in the international community” (“Churchill and Russia”: 99).
14 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 322.
15 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 333, 336.
16 Volume Three: 1916-1918 was in fact in two parts—hence the common confusion, since The Aftermath is sometimes described as the fifth volume of The World Crisis. To make the confusion even worse, Best calls The Aftermath the “conclusion” of The World Crisis, possibly because of Churchill’s indication in the Preface, “This volume completes the task I undertook nearly ten years ago of making a contemporary contribution to the history of the Great War.” In fact, he was to publish a final volume in 1931, The Eastern Front (The Unknown War in the United States).
17 Best. A Study in Greatness: 96. Churchill’s text is in The Aftermath, Chapter XIII, “The Miracle of the Vistula,” pp. 262-263.
18 “POLAND: / The Choice that Germany May Have to Face / Shall the Red Flood of Bolshevism Swamp All Europe? / Poland—Lynch-pin of Peace / The Poison Peril from the East.” The (very minor) differences seem to consist in a different location of the second “only,” in the plural for ‘souls” and in the use of tenses: “[To the East of Poland] lay the huge mass of Russia—not a wounded Russia only, but a poisoned Russia, an infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia; a Russia of armed hordes smiting not only with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by the swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slay the bodies of men, and political doc­trines which destroy the health and even the soul of nations.” The Evening News, 28 July 1920. Reprinted in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, vol. I: 235.
19 Cohen. Bibliography of the Works by Sir Winston Churchill, vol. II: 1328-1329.
20 Ibid.
21 “Army Estimates (Russia).” A speech in the House of Commons on 29 May 1919. Complete Speeches, vol.3: 2798. Thirty years later, in the House of Commons on 3 September 1939, Churchill took up the word pestilence and declared: “We are fighting to save the whole world from the pestilence of Nazi tyranny and in defence of all that is most sacred to man.” Churchill. Into Battle : 128a.
22 Weekly Dispatch (22 June 1919). In Ponting. Winston Churchill, p. 229.
23 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 270. Kinvig notes that “Churchill was denouncing the Bolsheviks in the most dehumanising language.” Churchill’s Crusade: 321.
24 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 355.
25 Churchill. The Aftermath: 76.
26 Rose. Churchill: An Unruly Life: 146.
27 Addison. Churchill: The unexpected Hero: 93.
28 Churchill. “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” (Great Contemporaries, 1947 ed.: 154).
29 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 278.
30 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 219.
31 Different sources and variants are given in the Churchill literature. Pelling has established that it comes from The Truth about the Peace Treaties, p. 325. (Pelling. Winston Churchill. [1999]: 258). For a discussion of his “ducal blood” as a source for his anti-Bolshevism, see Best, A Study in Greatness: 97.
32 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 164.
33 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 104. Further extracts from the telegram are given in Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 251-252.
34 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 257.
35 See cartoon on the remarkable British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent:

http://opal.kent.ac.uk/cartoonx-cgi/ccc.py?mode=single&start=61&search=secretaries
36 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 153.
37 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 227.
38 Sir Martin Gilbert gives two versions (which are not contradictory). In the Official Biography, he writes that Fisher noted the phrase in his diary: “After conquering all the huns—tigers of the world—I will not submit to be beaten by the baboons!” (Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 275-276). In the Companion, he reproduces slightly different words, from a letter by Fisher to his wife on the same day: “I had a long talk with Winston to-day. He is very anti-Bolshevik: “After having defeated all the tigers & lions I don”t like to be beaten by baboons” .” Companion to Vol. 4, Part 1: 609.
39 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. IV: 1917-1922: 278.
40 Churchill. “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” (Great Contemporaries, 1947 ed.: 152).
41 Churchill. “Mass Effects in Modern Life.” (Thoughts and Adventures, 1947 ed.: 195).
42 Churchill. “Trotsky: The Ogre of Europe.” (Great Contemporaries, 1947 ed.: 157).
43 See my review of Michael Makovsky. Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism And Statecraft (Yale University Press, 2007) on the Cercles site: http://www.cercles.com/review/r35/makovsky.html
44 Churchill. “Zionism versus Bolshevism.” Reprinted in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill. Vol.4: Churchill at Large: 26-31, passim.
45 The official language seems to have been “the National Russians.” See Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 250.
46 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 321.
47 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” “: 334.
48 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 384.
49 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 278. Also Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” ”: 333, quoting The Times, 12 April 1919.
50 10 november 1918. Carlton. Churchill and the Soviet Union: 5.
51 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 277-278.
52 Letter to Lloyd George, 9 April 1919. Gilbert. Companion to Vol. IV, Part 1: 613.
53 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 325.
54 For a full account of the military operations, see Ullman, Richard H. Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917-1921. 3 vol. Princeton: University Press, 1961-72.
55 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 219-442.
56 Quinault. “Churchill and Russia”: 103.
57 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 128-129 and 183.
58 Eighty years later, the Imperial War Museum Review (now defunct) contained an article with that very same title: Jones, Simon. “ “The right medicine for the Bolshevist”: British air-dropped chemical weapons in north Russia, 1919.” Imperial War Museum Review 12 (1999): 78-88.
59 One could draw an analogy with the contemporary “Iraq accusation” or “uncivilised tribes accusation,” which is discussed on the Churchill Centre site. See 4) on

http://www.winstonchurchill.org/images/pdfs/spectator_article.pdf
60 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 85.
61 In a letter dated 15 February 1919, Philip Kerr wrote to Lloyd George after meeting Churchill, notably telling him: “He is perfectly logical in his policy, because he declares that the Bolsheviks are the enemies of the human race and must be put down at any cost.” Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. IV: 1917-1922: 246.
62 Pelling, Winston Churchill (1999): 257.
63 Addison. Churchill on the Home Front, 1900-1955: 264.
64 “Italian Debt Settlement (Signing).” A speech at the Treasury, London, on 27 January 1926. Reprinted in Winston S. Churchill : His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. Vol.IV: 1922-1928: 3824.
65 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 226.
66 Speech in the House of Commons, 14 April 1937. Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 409.
67 “Anglo-Italian Relations.” A press statement in Rome on 20 January 1927. Reprinted in Winston S. Churchill : His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. Vol.IV: 1922-1928: 4126.
68 In Langworth’s substantial volume of Churchill quotations, Churchill by Himself, Mosley is mentioned only once, in 1920: “I can well understand the Hon. Member speaking for practice, which he badly needs.. This would tend to suggest that Churchill saw Mosley as a negligible opponent, not worth attacking in his speeches and writings.
69 Churchill and the British authorities were no longer sure of the lasting character of that failure in the panic atmosphere of May-June 1940, when Mosley was seen as a high security risk.

Churchill of course never believed in the principle “no freedom for the enemies of freedom,” adopted by the Bolsheviks among others. The memo which he sent to the Home Secretary on 22 December 1940 over Mosley’s internment shows his embarrassment at having had to follow that policy: “Naturally I feel distressed at having to be responsible for action so utterly at variance with all the fundamental principles of British liberty, habeas corpus, and the like. The public danger justifies the action taken, but that danger is now receding.” Mosley was interned under Regulation 18B from 23 May 1940 until November 1943—by then the danger of German invasion had become nil.

In the light of the Guantanamo controversy, Churchill’s preoccupation in the same memo over Mosley’s conditions of detention makes fascinating reading—and reflects on his innate sense of what concurs to the dignity of man (e.g. “Does a bath every week mean a hot bath, and would it be very wrong to allow a bath every day?”). See Their Finest Hour: Appendix A, p. 703.

Sir Oswald Mosley makes no mention of Churchill’s personal role in detaining or releasing him in his memoirs (My Life. London: Nelson, 1968). He only quotes the passage in the memo where Churchill says “In the case of Mosley and his wife there is much pressure from the Left, in the case of Pandit Nehru from the Right.”
70 “The Ebbing Tide of Socialism.” Evening Standard (9 July 1937). Reprinted in Step by Step (1947 ed.: 135).
71 Soames. Speaking for Themselves: 275.
72 Quinault. “Churchill and Russia”: 106.
73 Mowat. Britain Between the Wars 1918-1940. (1968): 294.
74 Addison. Churchill on the Home Front: 315
75 Winston S. Churchill : His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963. Vol.V: 1928-1935: 5268.
76 In common with most of his contemporaries, Churchill variously said and wrote Nazism or Nazi-ism when using the abbreviation. The spelling found in the sources and records will be kept here.
77 Wrigley. Winston Churchill: A Biographical Companion: 218.
78 Blindheim in German, in Bavaria.
79 Churchill. The Gathering Storm: 83.
80 Churchill. The World Crisis—The Eastern Front: Dedication.
81 Young. “Churchill and the East-West détente”: 374.
82 Speech in the House of Commons, 11 July 1932. Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 29.
83 Hanfstaengl, Ernst. Hitler: The Missing Years. In collaboration with Brian Connell. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1957.
84 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 448.
85 Churchill. The Gathering Storm: 84.
86 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 407.
87 Manchester. Visions of Glory: 874-875.
88 For a full discussion of the National Government members” supposed reluctance to see the publication of a full and faithful version of Hitler’s book, see Stone, Dan. “ “The Mein Kampf Ramp”: Emily Overend Lorimer and Hitler Translations in Britain.” German History 26:4 (2008): 504-519.
89 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 738.
90 Churchill. ‘shall we All commit Suicide?” Thoughts and Adventures (1947 ed.): 187, 188.
91 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 680.
92 Churchill. “Hitler and his Choice.” Reprinted in Great Contemporaries (1937): 261-269 passim. (Odhams, 1947: 203-210 passim). Whatever conclusions may be drawn from this, the photograph of Hitler is curiously different in the two editions. In 1937 he is smiling.
93 Carlton. “Churchill and the two “Evil Empires” ”: 336
94 See his very seductive comparison between the two in “The Creeds of the Devil” (The Sunday Chronicle, 27 June, 1937), notably: “There are two strange facts about these non-God religions. The first is their extraordinary resemblance to one another. Nazism and Communism imagine themselves as exact opposites. They are at each other’s throats wherever they exist all over the world. They actually breed each other; for the reaction against Communism is Nazism, and beneath Nazism or Fascism Communism stirs convulsively. Yet they are similar in all essentials. First of all, their simplicity is remarkable. You leave out God and put in the Devil; you leave out love and put in hate; and everything thereafter works quite straightforwardly and logically. They are, in fact, as alike as two peas. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are two quite distinctive personalities compared to these two rival religions.”
95 Cf. The People’s Rights. By the Right Hon. W.S. Churchill, President of the Board of Trade. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1909.
96 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 456-457.
97 Jenkins. Churchill (2002): 469.
98 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939: 73.
99 The sources sometimes have “civilisation,” sometimes “civilization.” The original spelling is kept here in the quotations.
100 Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 112
101 “We should lay aside every hindrance and endeavour by uniting the whole force and spirit of our people to raise again a great British nation standing up before all the world; for such a nation, rising in its ancient vigour, can even at this hour save civilization.” Speech in the House of Commons, 24 March 1938. Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 466.
102 Cabinet Papers. 13 February 1919. In Pelling. Winston Churchill (1999): 258.
103 Reprinted in Arms and the Covenant: 236.
104 Soames. Speaking for Themselves: 411.
105 Churchill. “Germany and Japan.” Reprinted in Step By Step (1947 ed.): 71-72.
106 I.e. the Francoist side.
107 The article was published on 21 August 1936.
108 Churchill. “Keep out of Spain.” Evening Standard (21 August 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 42-43.
109 Churchill. “The Spanish Tragedy.” Evening Standard (10 August 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 40.
110 This may explain why Franco features repeatedly in Churchill’s published speeches and writings of the 1930s, as opposed to Salazar, who is never mentioned.
111 “Well-informed at all points that were of concern to him, Stalin was prudent but not slow. Seldom raising his voice, a good listener, prone to doodling, he was the quietest dictator I have ever known, with the exception of Dr. Salazar.” Eden. The Eden Memoirs. Vol. I : Facing the Dictators: 153.
112 Churchill. Onwards to Victory: 235.
113 The story is notably recounted in Smyth. “ « Les chevaliers de Saint-George » : la Grande-Bretagne et la corruption des généraux espagnols (1940-1942).”
114 Gilbert. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. VI: Finest Hour, 1939-1941: 816
115 During the Lille Conference of March 2009, whose Proceedings are under way.
116 Churchill. Their Finest Hour: 527
117 “Enemies to the Left.” Evening Standard (4 September 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 49, 48.
118 “The Communist Schism.” Evening Standard (16 October 1936). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 58, 60.
119 The Preface is dated 28 May 1938.
120 21 May 1939. The book was published on 27 June 1939.
121 “The Russian Counterpoise.” Daily Telegraph (4 May 1939). Reprinted in Step By Step (1947): 344.
122 In Winston S. Churchill. Vol.V: Prophet of Truth, 1922-1939, Sir Martin Gilbert gives a revealing list, drawn by Lord Halifax following Churchill’s article, of the obstacles to an alliance with Russia (p. 1068). He also neatly documents Churchill’s private and public pleas in favour of a revival of the pre-1914 alliance between Britain, France and Russia (e.g. pp. 1073 & 1088).
123 “The Fourth Climacteric: A Broadcast Address on the German Invasion of Russia, June 22, 1941.” Churchill. The Unrelenting Struggle: 178, 179.
124 Churchill. “Mussolini’s Downfall.” A speech to the House of Commons, July 27, 1943. Onwards to Victory: 142.
125 A scan is available on http://www.history.neu.edu/PRO2/

It was left to a Russian historian to provide the first scholarly article on this “revelation.” Rzeševskij, Oleg. ‘sekretnye voennye plany U. Xercillja protiv SSSR v mae 1945 g.” [W. Churchill’s secret war plans against the USSR in May 1945] Novaja i novejšaja storia 3 (1999): 98-123. « Operation Unthinkable: “Russia: Threat to Western Civilization,” » British War Cabinet, Joint Planning Staff [Draft and Final Reports: 22 May, 8 June, and 11 July 1945], Public Record Office, CAB 120/691/109040 / 001: p.10.
127 Reynolds. In Command of History: 463.
128 Quinault. “Churchill and Russia”: 115.
129 Kinvig speaks of his “extravagant language” and of his “extreme language.” Churchill’s Crusade: xiii and 85.
130 Kinvig. Churchill’s Crusade: 85.

Voir enfin:

« The Fourth Climacteric »

Germany’s Invasion of Russia: Broadcast, London, 22 June 1941

« The Fourth Climacteric »

I have taken occasion to speak to you to-night because we have reached one of the climacterics of the war. The first of these intense turning-points was a year ago when France fell prostrate under the German hammer, and when we had to face the storm alone. The second was when the Royal Air Force beat the Hun raiders out of the daylight air, and thus warded off the Nazi invasion of our island while we were still ill-armed and ill-prepared. The third turning-point was when the President and Congress of the United States passed the Lease-and-Lend enactment, devoting nearly 2,000 millions sterling of the wealth of the New World to help us to defend our liberties and their own. Those were the three climacterics.

The fourth is now upon us.

At four o’clock this morning Hitler attacked and invaded Russia. All his usual formalities of perfidy were observed with scrupulous technique. A non-aggression treaty had been solemnly signed and was in force between the two countries. No complaint had been made by Germany of its non-fulfilment. Under its cloak of false confidence, the German armies drew up in immense strength along a line which stretches from the White Sea to the Black Sea; and their air fleets and armoured divisions slowly and methodically took their stations. Then, suddenly without declaration of war, without even an ultimatum, German bombs rained down from the air upon the Russian cities, the German troops violated the frontiers; and an hour later the German Ambassador, who till the night before was lavishing his assurances of friendship, almost of alliance, upon the Russians, called upon the Russian Foreign Minister to tell him that a state of war existed between Germany and Russia.

Thus was repeated on a far larger scale the same kind of outrage against every form of signed compact and international faith which we have witnessed in Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium, and which Hitler’s accomplice and jackal Mussolini so faithfully imitated in the case of Greece.

All this was no surprise to me. In fact I gave clear and precise warnings to Stalin of what was coming. I gave him warning as I have given warning to others before. I can only hope that this warning did not fall unheeded. All we know at present is that the Russian people are defending their native soil and that their leaders have called upon them to resist to the utmost.

Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder. Not content with having all Europe under his heel, or else terrorized into various forms of abject submission, he must now carry his work of butchery and desolation among the vast multitudes of Russia and of Asia. The terrible military machine, which we and the rest of the civilized world so foolishly, so supinely, so insensately allowed the Nazi gangsters to build up year by year from almost nothing, cannot stand idle lest it rust or fall to pieces. It must be in continual motion, grinding up human lives and trampling down the homes and the rights of hundreds of millions of men. Moreover it must be fed, not only with flesh but with oil.

So now this bloodthirsty guttersnipe must launch his mechanized armies upon new fields of slaughter, pillage and devastation. Poor as are the Russian peasants, workmen and soldiers, he must steal from them their daily bread; he must devour their harvests; he must rob them of the oil which drives their ploughs; and thus produce a famine without example in human history. And even the carnage and ruin which his victory, should he gain it – he has not gained it yet – will bring upon the Russian people, will itself be only a stepping-stone to the attempt to plunge the four or five hundred millions who live in China, and the three hundred and fifty millions who live in India, into that bottomless pit of human degradation over which the diabolic emblem of the Swastika flaunts itself. It is not too much to say here this summer evening that the lives and happiness of a thousand million additional people are now menaced with brutal Nazi violence. That is enough to make us hold our breath. But presently I shall show you something else that lies behind, and something that touches very nearly the life of Britain and of the United States.

The Nazi régime is indistinguishable from the worst features of Communism. It is devoid of all theme and principle except appetite and racial domination. It excels all forms of human wickedness in the efficiency of its cruelty and ferocious aggression. No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism than I have for the last twenty-five years. I will unsay no word that I have spoken about it. But all this fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding. The past with its crimes, its follies and its tragedies, flashes away. I see the Russian soldiers standing on the threshold of their native land, guarding the fields which their fathers have tilled from time immemorial. I see them guarding their homes where mothers and wives pray – ah yes, for there are times when all pray – for the safety of their loved ones, the return of the breadwinner, of their champion, of their protector. I see the ten thousand villages of Russia, where the means of existence was wrung so hardly from the soil, but where there are still primordial human joys, where maidens laugh and children play. I see advancing upon all this in hideous onslaught the Nazi war machine, with its clanking, heel-clicking, dandified Prussian officers, its crafty expert agents fresh from the cowing and tying-down of a dozen countries. I see also the dull, drilled, docile, brutish masses of the Hun soldiery plodding on like a swarm of crawling locusts. I see the German bombers and fighters in the sky, still smarting from many a British whipping, delighted to find what they believe is an easier and a safer prey.

Behind all this glare, behind all this storm, I see that small group of villainous men who plan, organize and launch this cataract of horrors upon mankind. And then my mind goes back across the years to the days when the Russian armies were our allies against the same deadly foe; when they fought with so much valour and constancy, and helped to gain a victory from all share in which, alas, they were – through no fault of ours – utterly cut off. I have lived through all this, and you will pardon me if I express my feelings and the stir of old memories. But now I have to declare the decision of His Majesty’s Government – and I feel sure it is a decision in which the great Dominions will, in due course, concur – for we must speak out now at once, without a day’s delay. I have to make the declaration, but can you doubt what our policy will be? We have but one aim and one single, irrevocable purpose. We are resolved to destroy Hitler and every vestige of the Nazi r?gime. From this nothing will turn us – nothing. We will never parley, we will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang. We shall fight him by land, we shall fight him by sea, we shall fight him in the air, until with God’s help we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberated its peoples from his yoke. Any man or state who fights on against Nazidom will have our aid. Any man or state who marches with Hitler is our foe. This applies not only to organized states but to all representatives of that vile race of quislings who make themselves the tools and agents of the Nazi régime against their fellow-countrymen and the lands of their birth. They – these quislings – like the Nazi leaders themselves, if not disposed of by their fellow-countrymen, which would save trouble, will be delivered by us on the morrow of victory to the justice of the Allied tribunals. That is our policy and that is our declaration. It follows, therefore, that we shall give whatever help we can to Russia and the Russian people. We shall appeal to all our friends and allies in every part of the world to take the same course and pursue it, as we shall, faithfully and steadfastly to the end.

We have offered the Government of Soviet Russia any technical or economic assistance which is in our power, and which is likely to be of service to them. We shall bomb Germany by day as well as by night in ever-increasing measure, casting upon them month by month a heavier discharge of bombs, and making the German people taste and gulp each month a sharper dose of the miseries they have showered upon mankind. It is noteworthy that only yesterday the Royal Air Force, fighting inland over French territory, cut down with very small loss to themselves 28 of the Hun fighting machines in the air above the French soil they have invaded, defiled and profess to hold. But this is only a beginning. From now forward the main expansion of our Air Force proceeds with gathering speed. In another six months the weight of the help we are receiving from the United States in war materials of all kinds, and especially in heavy bombers, will begin to tell.

This is no class war, but a war in which the whole British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations is engaged without distinction of race, creed or party. It is not for me to speak of the action of the United States, but this I will say: if Hitler imagines that his attack on Soviet Russia will cause the slightest division of aims or slackening of effort in the great Democracies who are resolved upon his doom, he is woefully mistaken. On the contrary, we shall be fortified and encouraged in our efforts to rescue mankind from his tyranny. We shall be strengthened and not weakened in determination and in resources.

This is no time to moralize on the follies of countries and governments which have allowed themselves to be struck down one by one, when by united action they could have saved themselves and saved the world from this catastrophe. But when I spoke a few minutes ago of Hitler’s blood-lust and the hateful appetites which have impelled or lured him on his Russian adventure, I said there was one deeper motive behind his outrage. He wishes to destroy the Russian power because he hopes that if he succeeds in this, he will be able to bring back the main strength of his army and air force from the East and hurl it upon this Island, which he knows he must conquer or suffer the penalty of his crimes. His invasion of Russia is no more than a prelude to an attempted invasion of the British Isles. He hopes, no doubt, that all this may be accomplished before the winter comes, and that he can overwhelm Great Britain before the fleet and air power of the United States may intervene. He hopes that he may once again repeat, upon a greater scale than ever before, that process of destroying his enemies one by one, by which he has so long thrived and prospered, and that then the scene will be clear for the final act, without which all his conquests would be in vain – namely, the subjugation of the Western Hemisphere to his will and to his system.

The Russian danger is therefore our danger, and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for his hearth and home is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe. Let us learn the lessons already taught by such cruel experience. Let us redouble our exertions, and strike with united strength while life and power remain.

3 commentaires pour Etat islamique: Hitler a envahi l’enfer (Sympathy for the devil: isn’t it time to get our supposed Muslim allies to put boots on the ground ?)

  1. […] qu’entre la Syrie et l’Irak mais aussi de l’Afrique sahélienne au Mahgreb, les djihadistes imposent leur barbarie à des millions de personnes […]

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  2. jcdurbant dit :

    Voir aussi:

    Though the strict Islamic dogma of ISIS appears at odds with the secular rule of Saddam, the Iraqi government had actually been moving toward a form of religious rule since just after the first Iraq War in the early 1990s, according to the Post.

    Iraq under Saddam had begun cutting off the hands of thieves and beheading women accused of prostitution. Saddam’s forces also ruled by intimidation, as does ISIS.

    « Former Baathist officers recall friends who suddenly stopped drinking, started praying, and embraced the deeply conservative form of Islam known as Salafism in the years preceding the U.S. invasion, » the Post reported.

    Some of those officers had joined the U.S.-backed Awakening movement and fought al-Qaida in Iraq, which preceded ISIS. But after American troops were withdrawn, along with support for Awakening fighters, many joined ISIS …

    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/saddam-hussein-isis-leadership/2015/04/05/id/636539/#ixzz3WUSCpmXe

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