Theodore Chasseriau
Theodore Chasseriau, Ali Ben-Hamet, Caliph Of Constantine And Chief Of The Haractas, Followed By His Escort​

The relationship between Islam and the West is profoundly, multifariously, inescapably asymmetrical. In an attempt to resolve the cognitive dissonance this creates for a Western mentality schooled in the less complex oppositions of the Cold War, I have tried to distinguish ten types of asymmetry. This list does not pretend to be exhaustive or original. Taken together, however, these ten antitheses chart the extent of a confrontation that is still unfolding before the eyes of an intellectual elite that is astonished and affronted by the resurrection of religion as the defining factor in the future of humanity.

In 1888, a century before the advent of David Cameron, the Liberal politician Sir William Harcourt declared: “We are all socialists now.” As self-fulfilling prophecies go, this was one of the more memorable. I wonder whether, early in the twenty-second century, people will look back on the Prince of Wales’s speech to Al Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, earlier this year as Britain’s “We are all Muslims now” moment.

As the first Westerner ever to address the clerical elite of Wahabbi Islam, the future supreme governor of the Church of England appeared in the robes of an Islamic scholar and even spoke in the first person plural, as though he were one of them: “I think we need to recover the depth, the subtlety, the generosity of imagination, the respect for wisdom that so marked Islam in its great ages,” he said. “What is so distinctive of the great ages of faith surely was that they understood, as well as sacred texts … the meaning of God’s word for all time and its meaning for this time… . [I]t was Islam’s greatness to understand this in its full depth and challenge. This is what you … can give not only to Islam but by example to all the other children of Abraham.” So Jews and Christians should learn how to interpret the Bible from the most fundamentalist scholars of the Koran?

It is a pity that the Prince was not present at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo in 2005, when Pope Benedict XVI reportedly explained why Islam cannot interpret its sacred texts in the way that Jewish and Christian theologians routinely do. The Koran, Muslims believe, was the word of Allah—“a transcript of the eternal book in our keeping,” as the Koran puts it (43:1). Jewish and Christian scriptures, however, are mediated by human beings, and actually require interpretation to allow their meanings to evolve, while Islamic scholars reject anything other than the most literal interpretation of the Koran. The hermeneutic inflexibility of Islamic theology has had and will continue to have incalculable political consequences. It is the first, and logically most important, asymmetry: between the uncompromising demands of Islamic leaders that others should adapt to their divinely ordained laws and the fatal tendency to compromise of those entrusted with preserving the Christian identity of European civilization.

It is a truism that Muhammad does not meet mountains halfway. This immovable fact of political theology is unlikely to deter the future King of England from pursuing his romantic dream that Muslims, Christians, and Jews can all be “children of Abraham” together. As we now know, Prince Charles overruled Archbishop George Carey of Canterbury by letting it be known that on his accession he would alter the royal title “Defender of the Faith” to “Defender of Faith” out of deference to Islam.

You need to be a Hindu nowadays to defend the special status of Christianity in Britain. The Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, for example, declared that he was “actually absolutely appalled” by the British government’s decision to fund Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh faith schools to provide parity with the much older Christian ones. “It overlooks the way Christian schools have evolved and often provide a much more tolerant atmosphere than a purely religious school would,” the former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge told the Daily Telegraph. “A lot of my friends came from St Xavier’s in Calcutta [a Jesuit school]—I don’t think they were indoctrinated particularly in Christianity. But the new generation of Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh schools are not going to be like that.”

Let me add to Professor Sen’s words an anecdote about the experience of my daughter, Agatha. In the spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding encouraged by the Labour government, her class of eight-year-olds at a Catholic “faith school” were taken to IslamExpo, held in London in July 2006. This was supposedly the largest exhibition of its kind ever held in Europe, and the high-point of a whole year of Islamic cultural events. My daughter returned, having been taught a little about Islamic art, but none the wiser about the five pillars of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, and so on. She had actually been assaulted—kicked hard, twice—by an unknown woman while waiting in line with her classmates; when the teacher remonstrated, the culprit ran away. More importantly, she returned with a goody-bag which contained an activities book aimed at children. This included bumper stickers to color in bearing legends such as: “Allah is the Greatest,” “100% Muslim,” and “Islam=Peace”. Such slogans were quite inappropriate for Christian or other non-Muslim children. But what really worried me was the collecting box for Islamic Relief. This is no ordinary charity, but a controversial organization that Israel accuses of funding Hamas terrorists. So my little daughter, who had gone in all innocence to find out more about what her Muslim contemporaries believe, had come home bruised and frightened, having been recruited, however indirectly, to support Islamist extremists. As a lesson in tolerance, this was hardly edifying. Yet her school had bowed to the multicultural pieties by trekking out to IslamExpo with the blessing of not only the British Government but also the Catholic Church. It is impossible to imagine our local Muslim school, the Saudi-funded King Fahd Academy, sending its pupils to spend a day at Westminster Cathedral to inform themselves about Catholicism. Yet there is actually an incomparably greater obligation on a minority community to acquaint itself with the customs and religion of the majority. Those who claim to represent Islam are abusing the earnest desire to extend toleration as widely as possible in the hope of integrating Muslims into the British nation state.

Professor Sen has instinctively put his finger on a second asymmetry between Islam and the West: the attitude to toleration. Islam demands, and in Europe has received, a measure of toleration for even the most intolerant of its practices. From the suppression of free speech to the subordination of women, a gradual process of de facto recognition of sharia is leading to a normalization of conduct that would until recently have been regarded in the West as barbaric. In return, Islam concedes little or no toleration of other faiths in its public spaces, and precious little even in private life.

There are two kinds of toleration: toleration born of weakness and toleration born of strength. The latter is the precious inheritance of classical liberalism from Locke to Mill. The debates about the emancipation of Catholics and Jews in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries established the principle that religious minorities may earn full equality of civil rights in return for unambiguous loyalty to state, society, and the law. Where religious scruples require exceptions to be made, for example in the swearing of oaths of allegiance, there must be an understanding that obedience to God shall not conflict with allegiance to the established constitution, written or unwritten, of the nation state. An implicit contract is agreed between majority and minority; if the minority break it, their toleration may legitimately be circumscribed.

There are two kinds of toleration: toleration born of weakness and toleration born of strength.

Toleration born of weakness is something quite different. It is well illustrated by the failure to arrest Abu Hamza, years after his preaching of hatred, violence, and terrorism were well known to the authorities, though the full extent of his subversion was unknown to those—of whom I am one—in whose midst he lived. While we naively allowed our children to play in the vicinity of this evil man—even, surreally, to sing Christmas carols outside his front door—the police, MI5, and the Home Office were playing mind games. The authorities were too fearful and the community too ignorant to defend themselves.

In the endless discussion of Islam and the West, a third asymmetry is usually passed over in silence. Islam is not a civilization, and the West is not a religion. It is true that Islam has profoundly influenced several Oriental civilizations in the past, just as it is true that Western civilization is Judeo-Christian in origin. Yet civilizations and religions are evidently not identical. Emerging from the desert nomads of Arabia, Islam was imposed on older and more sophisticated civilizations from Spain and Byzantium to Persia and India. Our cultural relativism leads us to suppose that Islam is compatible with Western civilization, but the historical evidence is rather against that proposition. Islam has no tradition of living under what al Qaeda calls “crusader laws”; it is incumbent upon Muslims to persuade or oblige others to submit to Sharia law.

The present confrontation between Islam and the West is thus not, strictly speaking, a clash of civilizations, but the attempt to impose a theocratic religion upon a secular civilization, if necessary by force. This is asymmetrical warfare in the widest possible sense, for there is not, nor could there be, a corresponding attempt by the West to convert Muslims by force. It is all the more acute because the secular West is reluctant to face the fact that it is faced by a holy war for which it is almost entirely unprepared.

It is worth examining this asymmetry in more detail. The means by which Islam is propagated is jihad, defined by Muslim jurists as exertion of one’s power in Allah’s path. Jihad is obligatory for every Muslim, and may be fulfilled by his heart, his tongue, his hands, and his sword. The last of these methods is holy war. Islamic apologists who deny that jihad can mean and historically has meant holy war are disingenuous: it is clear from several passages in the Koran, especially the later revelations in Medina, that Mohammed intended his followers to follow his example by spreading Islam at the point of a sword.

The Koran is unambiguous on this point: “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it” (2:216). There are many passages when Allah orders his prophet and people to make war on idolators and infidels. Muhammad himself, in his farewell address in 632, stated: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah.’”

The purpose of jihad, according to Allah and his prophet, is thus to convert or at least to subdue all those who refuse to accept Islam. Islam considers other wars illegitimate, apart from the suppression of rebellion, and it claims to abolish all other forms of warfare apart from jihad. The only just war is a holy war sanctioned by the Islamic authorities; hence wars waged against Muslims by infidels are by definition unjust. Resistance to such wars is, for Muslims, justified in almost any form. Islam reveres martyrdom no less highly than Christianity, but whereas Christian martyrs are usually those who are persecuted for their faith, Muslims may also achieve martyrdom for persecuting others for their faith, i.e. obey the Koranic injunction to carry out jihad.

The unbroken tradition of jihad since the seventh century has no parallel in the Judeo-Christian West. Neither the Jewish scriptures nor the Gospels exalted war. Even the Crusades had the limited objective of securing access to the holy places for pilgrims. Unlike Islam, neither Judaism nor Christianity seeks to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. It is true that the Church has always seen itself as prefiguring the world to come, and in the early centuries sought to create a simulacrum of the divine order within the confined space of the monastery or convent. Muhammad was impressed by what he knew of monasticism. In the treasury of St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai there is a charter given to the monks by Muhammad and signed with his mark. (He was illiterate and could write only by dictation.) But the Arabs were warriors, not ascetics, and Muhammad made sure by his example that jihad played as large a role in Islam as monasticism did in the early Church. A hadith, or traditional saying attributed to Muhammad, declares: “Every nation has its monasticism, and the monasticism of this [Muslim] nation is the jihad.” Another hadith makes clear that in the Muslim hierarchy, war trumps piety: “For one of you to remain in the line of battle is better than his prayers for sixty years.”

The asymmetry created by the concept of jihad is manifested in the reaction of Muslim leaders every time a terrorist attack is perpetrated. The West draws a sharp legal and moral distinction between warfare and terrorism, but most Islamic scholars treat both as legitimate forms of jihad. The Koran states: “We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers” (3:149). Paradise is the reward for those who are killed in the cause of Allah, and the Koran repeatedly contrasts the cowardice of the infidels with the fearless self-sacrifice of Muslims.

Ever since Western scholars began to study Islam seriously, beginning in the Enlightenment, it has been assumed that the cultural, military, and economic superiority of the West would eventually force Muslim societies to follow suit. The great Islamic scholar and later culture minister of the Weimar Republic, C. H. Becker, wrote in 1912: “The future of Islam can lie only in adaptation to European intellectual life; otherwise its days are numbered… . [I]n the long run an approximation of Islamic civilization to European seems probable.” Over the past century, the disparity in wealth and power between the Islamic and the Western worlds has become ever more apparent to both.

But this kind of analysis reveals a fifth asymmetry. Islam measures its success quite differently from the West, and works according to a different time scale. The populations of the Muslim countries are growing much faster and are much younger than their Western counterparts, many of which are in decline. The same applies to Muslim minorities in Europe, where their size and influence is growing fast. The causes are threefold: natural increase, immigration, and conversion. Moreover, Islam is steadily extending its control across Africa and Asia, as conquest and persecution drive Christians and adherents of other faiths into emigration. Islam is adopting Western technologies and techniques, but it is not adapting to Western culture. On the contrary, Islam is reacting to that culture by returning to doctrinal orthodoxy, including jihad. Muslim secularizers, such as the Turkish Kemalists, are becoming an endangered species.

The return to orthodoxy is symbolized by the Pakistani cricket team: all but one are devout Muslims (there is one Hindu), they pray five times a day, beginning at dawn, and never touch alcohol. A decade ago, it was possible for a Western, secular figure such as Imran Khan to captain the side. That would be unthinkable now.

The sixth asymmetry is the most notorious, but also perhaps the least understood. Islam acknowledges no fundamental distinction between religion and politics. This is not because it is “medieval,” though it is true that Islam has experienced no equivalent of the Western Reformation or Enlightenment. Medieval Christianity in the West distinguished clearly between political and ecclesiastical authority, even though Church and state frequently clashed. There is no equivalent in the Koran to the Christian injunction: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” Throughout its cultural evolution, Islam has refused to adapt its theocratic conception of politics to accommodate Western ideas, such as liberal democracy. But the problem goes deeper than that, back to Mohammad himself, who combined the offices of prophet, apostle, monarch, and warlord of the Arabs.

The true reason for the Muslim refusal to distinguish religious from political authority lies in the absence from Islam of any limitation on authority. In what is known as the Constitution of Medina, promulgated by the Prophet before his death, all authority is vested in the Messenger of Allah and his successors. There is no distinction between nations—“An Arab is superior to a non-Arab only in devotion”—and all believers are “friends to the other to the exclusion of outsiders.” All humanity should belong to the universal ummah and be subject to shariah law. The God of the Hebrew Scriptures is jealous of His chosen people; the God of the New Testament extends His covenant to the gentiles; but only Muslims are commanded to “fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah.’”

Instead of the Judeo-Christian distinction between temporal and spiritual authority, Islam postulates a dichotomy which divides the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, which generates the absolute, unconditional, and permanent duty to prosecute jihad. This was well summed up by the greatest Muslim historian, Ibn Khaldun, writing in the fourteenth century: “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the [obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united in Islam, so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them at the same time.” Ibn Khaldun contrasts Islamic theocracy with the secular politics of the infidels. They “did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs in [other religious groups] is not concerned with power politics at all.”

A seventh asymmetry emerges in the unequal nature of the Kulturkampf or cultural jihad which Islam fights within Western society. The West instinctively translates the language and customs of Islam from theological into cultural terms that secular minds can understand. Much of the political significance of Islamic symbols is thereby lost. And the hostile meaning of those symbols, the threat they pose to the tolerant foundations of an open society, is either entirely overlooked or grossly underestimated.

Thus, for example, many shopping malls in London ban youths wearing “hoodies,” justifying this by the fact that hooded jackets hide the faces of muggers and make other customers feel nervous. But they would not dream of banning Muslim women wearing the burka, which conceals everything except the eyes, even though it, too, makes many non-Muslims feel uncomfortable. This is not merely a security issue, though suicide bombers have been known to disguise explosives under burkas. The true significance of the burka is missed by those who see it as merely a cultural statement, a kind of national costume. It is no such thing. Every woman who covers herself from head to toe makes a public submission to the Islamist ideology and advertises its superiority over Western liberalism. The burka is an aggressive assertion of radical Islam, a manifestation of jihad, a declaration of cultural war.

It is not just cultural differences that are misunderstood as a result of our asymmetrical Kulturkampf: apparent similarities, too, are misinterpreted. One example must suffice. Much has been made by the British media of the fact that Shehzad Tanweer, a young Muslim born and bred in Britain, was playing cricket on the night before he and his three accomplices blew themselves up along with fifty-two other people in London on July 7, 2005. Cricket signifies fair play, not only for the British, but for many of their former colonial subjects who took up the game, notably in the Indian subcontinent. “That’s not cricket”—meaning ungentlemanly conduct—is one very English phrase that a British Muslim of Pakistani origin, such as Tanweer, would not need to have explained to him. At the time of the attacks, many Britons found it incredible that decent young chaps like Tanweer could be part of a global jihad, preferring to believe that they had acted on their own. This “home-grown” Islamic terrorism was supposedly born of deprivation and “Islamophobia.” The Government set up task forces, led by Islamist intellectuals such as Tariq Ramadan, to propose ways of helping British Muslims.

In fact, Tanweer and his fellow terrorists were trained by al Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker at a training camp in Pakistan. On the first anniversary of the London bombings, al Qaeda released posthumously a video made by Tanweer. His tirade is delivered in a Yorkshire accent which, like his love of cricket, sends out a reassuring signal to English ears because it is associated with sincerity and authenticity. (By contrast, William Joyce, the wartime broadcaster of Nazi propaganda known as “Lord Haw-Haw” on account of his upper-class accent, sounded like a phoney—as indeed, being Irish-American, he was.) But there is nothing reassuring about Tanweer’s message. It is an ultimatum. He demands the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, the cessation of all support for the United States or Israel, and the release of all Muslim terrorists from Belmarsh Prison “and your other concentration camps.” “And know that if you fail to comply with this,” he continues, “then know that this war will never stop.”

This brings us to the eighth and ninth asymmetries, concerning the reconciliation of the living and the commemoration of the dead. Immediately after 7/7 and indeed ever since, we were told that the terrorists’ families had suspected nothing of their plans. So far from being afflicted with Islamophobia, most Britons want to think the best of their Muslim compatriots, despite the mounting numbers of them recruited to take part in global jihad. We sympathize with the parents of the terrorists no less than the parents of their victims. We want to believe that our fight against terrorism is also theirs. Yet the manner in which these families react to these suicide attacks—unprecedented in British but not in Muslim experience—should give us pause. The mother of one victim, Anthony Fatayi-Williams, spoke for the nation last year when she made an impassioned lament for her only son beside the bus in which he had died. A Catholic Nigerian married to a Muslim, Marie Fatayi-Williams seemed to personify the tragedy, all the more so because her faith enabled her to respond with an eloquence that came less naturally to secular Londoners. Having come to terms with her grief, as a good Christian she offered forgiveness and reconciliation to the family of her son’s murderer. To date, she has received no response. “All I know is that I don’t serve a bloodthirsty God that seeks human sacrifice,” she said on the anniversary of her son’s death—not without a hint of bitterness. “Muslims here in Nigeria have come to me and tell me there is nothing in the Koran that demands murder. I say to them: Say it louder, say it with conviction.”

It is precisely that conviction which has been absent, and for a very good reason. Tanweer’s demand for a withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan accurately reflects Islamic law, which proscribes all wars apart from jihad. By definition, wars against Muslims carried out by non-Muslim states are against Islamic law. When a corporal in the British Army who happened to be Muslim was killed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, his brother appeared on television only in silhouette, to protect his identity against possible reprisals by fellow-Muslims. The fallen soldier was treated as a hero by everybody except the Muslim Council, a spokesman for which would say only that, while the British presence in Afghanistan was opposed by Muslims, soldiers had to obey orders. The truth is that, while many British Muslims disapprove of Tanweer’s methods, they approve of his cause. And, bearing in mind the Koranic injuction that “no oaths are binding with [the leaders of unbelief]” (9:12), they do not identify with the British nation state sufficiently to honor a Muslim soldier who died for Queen and country in a war against Muslims. What will have resonated with many British Muslims was Tanweer’s reproach that they had “turned a blind eye to … the oppression of the Muslims from the East to the West,” for the Koran warns that a terrible fate awaits hypocrites, apostates, and traitors, in this world and the next. In the eyes of the devout Muslims, community spokesmen who condemn terrorism unequivocally are speaking in bad faith. To the non-Muslims, however, the equivocations that accompany ritual expressions of disapproval after each terrorist attack are also a mark of bad faith, not least because the main aim seems to be not deterrence of the terrorists but reassurance for their potential victims.

In this asymmetrical Kulturkampf, actions speak louder than words. The contrast between the way in which Mrs. Fatayi- Williams responded to the loss of her son and the way the Tanweer family responded to their son’s act of suicidal mass slaughter throws light on the mutual incomprehension between Islam and the West.

The Catholic response is summed up in the image of the Pietà: the grieving mother lamenting over the broken body of her son. The fundamental idea of Christianity is love, which can triumph even over death. Notwithstanding her anguish, the Christian is bound to follow Jesus’s example: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” And so she does. For her, the priority is reconciliation.

But a Muslim responds quite differently, in accordance with the fundamental idea of Islam: submission. What has taken place, however terrible, is the will of Allah, predestined for all time. The fact that suicide is prohibited to Muslims is ignored, not only by the family but also by the scholars and jurists. In the eyes of his family, their son has sacrificed his life for his faith. For them he is a martyr. This fact of martyrdom, and not what they see as empty gestures of remorse or reconciliation, is what matters to them. The different attitudes towards martyrdom and its commemoration reveal a ninth asymmetry. For Muslims, the family of a martyr, too, will gain a place in paradise. Their true attitude is revealed in what they chose to do with Tanweer’s body parts, which the British state returns to them according to the law. Tanweer’s mortal remains are buried at a holy shrine in Pakistan. This fact, stated baldly in The Times of London as if it were a matter of course, is actually more revealing than any gestures of reconciliation—for actions speak louder than words.

When the Nazi war criminals were executed at Nuremberg, their remains were not returned to their families, but cremated and scattered. This policy was intended to prevent the emergence of a commemorative cult, and it has been largely successful. Western governments have treated Islamic suicide bombers and other terrorists, however, far less rigorously than they did the Nazis, usually allowing families of suicide bombers to bury their dead. The Muslim authorities, political and clerical, have also permitted the interment of terrorists in holy places as if they were martyrs. Given the importance that Islam attaches to shrines and martyrdom, this is surely storing up trouble for the future.

The tenth and final asymmetry concerns attitudes towards the nation state. Whereas the West evolved organically into nation states, Islam’s relationship with the nation state has always been complex. As Efraim Karsh has argued, Islam has throughout its history pursued the dream of a universal empire. It is true that the Arabs occupy a privileged position within the ummah, because the Koran was revealed to them and in their language. Allah tells the Arabs: “You are the noblest nation that has ever been raised up for mankind” (3:109). In theory, however, all Muslims are equal before Allah, regardless of ethnicity, and what they have in common is supposedly far more important than what separates them. In practice, of course, neither the universal Islamic empire under a single caliphate nor even the more limited concept of Arab nationalism, unifying the Middle East under one ruler, has ever been more than a chimera. Yet the gravitational pull of Islam is strong enough to balance—occasionally even to overcome—the centrifugal forces of politics and culture which divide the ummah into nation states.

Islam’s relationship with the nation state has always been complex.

It is true that Muslim jurists treat jihad, unlike the five pillars of Islam, as a collective rather than an individual obligation. Warfare requires the sanction of authority, political or religious. But the universality of the Muslim ummah or nation means that such authority need not necessarily be found in one’s own state, especially if that state is not Islamic.

This brings us back to the question of allegiance. Given the relatively low value that Islam accords to the nation state, under what conditions, if any, can a Muslim give his allegiance to a non-Islamic state priority over his solidarity with the Muslim ummah? This is an open question, to which there are as many answers as there are Muslim authorities, but the disturbing evidence of opinion polls and even more disturbing fact of the growing numbers of Western-born jihadis tell their own story. If enough young Muslims are drawn to embrace the world-wide caliphate promised by Islamist ideologues, the nation state—both in the West and, still more, in the Muslim world—will be threatened to its very foundations.

What conclusions can be drawn from these ten types of asymmetry? We must rid ourselves of any illusion that we can eliminate the contrasts between Islam and the West: the Koran is not about to be interpreted less literally, Muslims are not about to embrace Western ideas of toleration or terrorism, and jihad will remain a fundamental part of the Islamic attitude to the rest of mankind. What is within the power of the West is to reassert its own identity, so that the confrontation—whether political, social, cultural, or theological—is less asymmetrical and hence more equal. It is the asymmetry of the relationship that so poisons the atmosphere. The most important source of Western identity is the nation state. Muslim ambivalence towards the Western nation state may not be resolved any time soon. For as long as that is the case, the bar needs to be set much higher to qualify for full citizenship.

Those who espouse tough measures to divide Islamism from Islam, and render both harmless to the state, are bound to be accused of “Islamophobia.” Well, there are worse things. The time may come when a wary suspicion of politicized Islam becomes a necessary precondition for decisive action in self-defense. A comparison from the dark days of appeasement may be helpful here. The Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, Robert Vansittart, wrote in his memoirs à propos a mission by two British ministers sent as envoys to Berlin, John Simon and Anthony Eden, that “Simon judged Hitler rightly, but eye-openers are of limited use unless followed by corresponding action, which could only be generated by the one thing lacking and decried: Germanophobia. Neither Simon nor Eden had it; both were demure and considerate of electors.” The man who did have it was, of course, Winston Churchill.