There is the worrying fact that David Cameron has now joined the legions of politicians who have decided to speak about Islamic theology and get it fanatically wrong. Mr Cameron said yesterday that Muslim terrorists:
Are driven by a wholly incorrect interpretation - an extreme distortion - of the Islamic faith.
Aside from the distastefulness of a Tory leader feeling the need to interpret Islamic scripture, this statement is simply untrue. Muslim terrorists are driven chapter and verse by justifications in the Koran. They may be debatable interpretations, or interpretations which may be argued away from, but to pretend that their Koranic impetus is "wholly incorrect" or an "extreme distortion" is itself wholly incorrect and an extreme distortion.
Be fair - he's following in the footsteps of those great Islamic scholars Tony Blair and George Bush, both of whom have said much the same thing.
If Mr Cameron is going to take the reins of government he is going to have to look like he can run a country, and - most importantly - the country's foreign policy. He must prove himself worthy of the task. Monday's speech gives me less hope on this front than I had previously thought possible. Although he offered no specific answers to the problems of resurgent Islamo-fascism, and though he spent a deal of time attacking our friends for wholly justified policies of containment, the only answer Mr Cameron gave was that we should introduce a new style into our foreign policy. It should always raise alarm-bells when politicians talk style and not specifics. Style does not save lives. Cameron said:
I believe that in the last five years we have suffered from the absence of two crucial qualities which should always condition foreign policy-making. Humility, and patience.
This is not just disagreeable stuff - and un-statesman-like stuff. It is dangerously misguided stuff - the result of a man who appears to see foreign policy through the eyes of domestic habit.
What we need to demonstrate least of all with Iran at the moment is "patience". Patience on the part of the international community has all but given Tehran a nuclear bomb. An increase in our level of "patience" now will produce a permanent existential threat to Israel and the West, and ensure the whole Middle East goes nuclear within a few years.
And as for "humility". It is simply embarrassing that a candidate hoping to lead one of the world's foremost military powers should hope to win votes by speaking like this. This is domestic posing - deeply trivial and irrelevant. What will an onslaught of "humility" directed at Syria and Iran achieve at the moment? Anything? Of course not. And what Cameron worryingly fails to realise is that it is our weakness - our humility - which makes the Ahmadinejads, Assads and Nasrallahs of this era hate us even more. Our weakness is a provocation to them (witness the upsurge in Hezbollah-sponsoring defiance in the last year). Mr Cameron's deeply misguided message is that we need an increase of weakness when he should realize that our weakness - perceived or otherwise - is the problem, not the solution.
Where I part company with Mr Murray is in recognising that, like it or not, David Cameron has sound electoral reasons for his foolishness. Anti-Americanism has been the (only) acceptable prejudice of the educated English for the last few years, and recent polls showing a majority in favour of decoupling from US foreign policy may well have had the same effect on him as the 1933 East Fulham by-election had on Stanley Baldwin.
Just as Baldwin's reluctance to rearm (supported all the way by Labour and the Liberals, who both voted against the introduction of the first Hurricane and Spitfire squadrons) had dire effects in 1939 and beyond, so Cameron's desire to chime with the thoughtless prejudice of the Brits will not do them any favours either.
In Churchill's words : "The cheers of weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to echo, and their votes soon cease to count. Doom marches on."