In 1897, British forces launched a bloody campaign against Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribesmen – forebears of the Taliban – on the North West Frontier. It was the first time Winston Churchill, then 22 and a junior cavalry lieutenant as well as aspiring Telegraph war correspondent, had taken part in military action. The subsequent experience greatly shaped his subsequent career as a politician.
When out riding with the Bengal Lancers, Churchill was always on the lookout for action, but had little luck. “I take every opportunity and have accompanied solitary patrols into virgin valleys and ridden through villages and forts full of armed men – looking furious – but without any adventure occurring. It is a strange war. One moment people are your friends and the next they are shooting. The value of life is so little that they do not bear any grudge for being shot at.”
On September 12 his camp came under sniper fire. Churchill was having dinner with Major-General Sir Bindon Blood when “a bullet hummed by over head”. The incident strengthened Churchill’s view that the Mohmands, a local Pashtun tribe, needed to be dealt with. As he told it: “After today we begin to burn villages. Every one. And all who resist will be killed without quarter. The Mohmands need a lesson, and there is no doubt we are a very cruel people.” Such action was vital, Churchill argued, because the Pashtuns “recognise superiority of race”.
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Winston Churchill on Islam:
from The River War by Sir Winston Churchill, 1899
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.
The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.
No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
Paraphrased, from above:
"Islam is to men what rabies is to a dog."
My favorite Churchill quote.
- STORMBRINGER SENDS