There is much more.
The rescue of Norman Kember from the hands of the Swords of Righteousness Brigade in Baghdad was a ray of light in these most savage and dangerous times.
For once, the grim video pictures of Mr Kember in captivity did not result in the tragedy everyone was dreading. After the appalling murder of the American Tom Fox, one of his three fellow hostages, the worst had seemed inevitable.
So relief was all the greater when Mr Kember and his two fellow survivors were rescued by coalition soldiers. But their liberation was soured when at first they conspicuously failed to thank their military rescuers. Indeed the group to which they belonged, Christian Peacemaker Teams, initially avoided using the term ‘rescued’ at all, speaking merely of their having been ‘safely released.’
This, of course, was simply untrue. Far from being ‘released’, the hostages were rescued after a three-month operation involving coalition forces, the SAS, the Joint Communications Headquarters at Cheltenham, MI5 and MI6, with both soldiers and ordinary Iraqis taking huge risks in the mission.
With steam coming out of the ears of the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson, and a PR disaster thus looming, Mr Kember finally managed to utter a few grudging words of thanks to his military rescuers when he arrived back in Britain, while the Peacemakers belatedly thanked ‘the soldiers who risked their lives’.
Their curmudgeonly behaviour has so far been put down to ingratitude on the part of naïve Christian pacifists. But this is to ignore far more troubling undercurrents in their thinking.
Mr Kember himself may well be guilty of no more than naivety and eccentricity. But the impression of the Peacemakers as committed to even-handed pacifism and abhorrence of all violence is deeply misleading.
For their mission is to awake the world not to the evils of all violence but only of western military force; not to the evils of terrorism, but of the defence mounted against it; not to the evils of al Qaeda, but of western democracy.They appear to be outraged only by the violence on one side – and it is always their own side....
In a devastating put-down, Iraq’s embassy to Canada has lashed out at the Peacemakers, calling them ‘phony pacifists’, ‘wilfully ignorant’ and ‘dupes for jihadism and fascism’, and accusing them of being on the side of the anti-democratic forces in Iraq.
The Peacemakers blamed the root cause of the kidnapping on the ‘illegal occupation of Iraq by multinational forces’. But the root cause is surely the all-out struggle by al Qaeda and the remnants of the Ba’athists to prevent the establishment of democracy.