As for the new party co-chairman, Baroness Warsi, she will have to show that she has earned her place in the Cabinet, not merely as a Muslim woman but on merit. We can only hope that she will see her new role in a less sectarian light than her previous one as shadow communities secretary, when she made far too many sacrifices in order to propitiate political Islam. While it is true that she was pelted with eggs in Luton last November by thugs from the extremist group al-Muhajiroun, Sayeeda Warsi routinely appeases less violent Islamists. For example, in her Conservative Party conference speech last year, she parrotted Peter Oborne's false claim that anti-Muslim hatred is Britain's last remaining socially acceptable form of bigotry. Instead of depicting British Muslims as victims of prejudice and encouraging their sense of grievance, the Baroness should acknowledge that British society has responded to sustained Islamist terrorism at home and abroad with its customary but nonetheless commendable generosity of spirit. Her career is testimony to this. The question is rather: will she work hard to quell the tide of anti-Semitism in Britain that is fuelled by the relentless hatred of Israel that is endemic in the Muslim community?
This brings us to the whole question of foreign policy. Britain is still an essential bastion of Western civilisation and must continue to play its part in upholding the values of that civilisation. But we must hope that this government, for all its faults, will not flinch in the face of our enemies. A partial withdrawal from Afghanistan next year has already been announced by President Barack Obama. The Con-Lib coalition too will be keen to beat a retreat, leaving the region to an uncertain future. "This wasn't our war," the Lib Dems say openly. The Tories say it too in private. The first priority is the long overdue formation of a National Security Council on the US model. General Sir Richard Dannatt's presence should serve to stiffen the backbones of fainthearted ministers. He points out, rightly, that it is better to fight the Islamists in Afghanistan than be forced to confront them closer to home. But Afghanistan is not the only challenge: there will undoubtedly be new questions of war and peace, as the jihadi hordes, emboldened by displays of weakness in Washington and disunity in the Atlantic alliance, renew their global guerrilla war. There was tough talk about the need for sanctions against Iran from William Hague at his meeting with Hillary Clinton, intended to pave the way for a White House visit in July for Cameron to repair frosty relations with America's least Anglophile President for a century.
The repair job starts here: William Hague meets Hillary Clinton in Washington
Tough talk, of course, is cheap. What we need to know is how robust the Cameron-Clegg alliance will be when faced with a direct threat to Western interests, from whichever quarter it may come. If Tehran continues in its brazen attempt to annihilate the state of Israel, or China threatens to seize Taiwan, or al-Qaeda succeeds in carrying out another audacious attack on the scale of 9/11, the Bush doctrine of pre-emption may need to be dusted down and reactivated by a chastened Obama administration. That would confront Cameron and Clegg with the same choice that Thatcher and Blair faced in their day: Atlanticist or European? While neither man would relish that choice, there is little doubt that their instincts would incline them in opposite directions. That might prove to be the moment of truth for this government. The country expects a thoroughbred. It may require a warhorse. But a pantomime horse won't do. Britain won both world wars with coalition governments. That was possible because there was no doubt about the natural authority of Lloyd George and Churchill. This time, too, David Cameron cannot rely on the authority of his office, but must assert his leadership by sheer force of character. Character is like marriage: its strength only becomes apparent when it is tested. When the coalition is tested, the temptation will be to take the line of least resistance. Only God can deliver us from evil, but David Cameron can at least lead us not into temptation.
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