An accelerating sense of crisis now engulfs our society. As the impact of Coronavirus deepens and the death toll mounts, the scale of the emergency is unprecedented in peacetime. Yet there is a silver lining to this black cloud. It can be found in the growing ethos of selfless compassion across the country, with millions of citizens feeling a new concern for their neighbours and the vulnerable.
During the Second World War, our nation became renowned for its unity and self-sacrifice, an outlook known as the ‘Blitz spirit’. Today we can see a reawakening of that same community spirit, reflected particularly in local neighbourhood schemes, where people volunteer to check on the elderly, organise essential home deliveries and support imperilled businesses.
That mood of compassion should now be harnessed more systematically for the good of the nation. Yesterday Lord Stevens, the former head of the Metropolitan Police, called for the urgent mobilisation of retired coppers in order to relieve the huge current burdens on the police, the NHS and other emergency services. Pointing out that there are at least 100,000 former officers, Lord Stevens rightly said that their experience and enthusiasm is a ‘golden resource’ that ‘we cannot afford to waste’.
While I welcome his admirable suggestion, I would go even further. I believe that, in response to the crisis, we now need a national citizens volunteer force to help maintain the civic infrastructure which is under unique strain. This new organisation would capitalise on the yearning of so-many people to do their bit, as well as giving the public a defiant sense of purpose in these dark times. There is a vast range of tasks that could be carried out by these volunteers, like performing basic duties in the NHS, cleaning and sanitising public buildings, transporting goods, and providing cooked meals and groceries to the housebound. Former teachers could organise childcare for key public workers. Continue reading
Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 11 March 2020. © Richard Kemp
Private Joseva ‘Lewi’ Lewaicei, a soldier from my regiment, the Royal Anglians, was killed in Basra in 2006 by a roadside bomb, alongside his comrade Private Adam Morris. Lewaicei, who had a seven-year-old daughter, previously served in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Jordan and was a regimental boxer and rugby player. With a great sense of humour, he was the life and soul of his platoon.
Lewaicei was from Fiji, one of many Commonwealth soldiers serving in the British Army. On Monday, at a service in London commemorating the contribution of the men and women from Commonwealth countries who have fought for the Crown, Baroness Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary General, said: ‘I salute their legacy, manifested in our shared values, which guides us all to follow their example of duty in the service of humankind.’
Today, however, our country is failing in its duty to Commonwealth soldiers who have fought for us in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of former troops whose service entitles them and their families to live here after they are discharged have been forced to leave or to live as fugitives. Their situation can be compared to UK citizens of the Windrush generation and, as with Windrush, responsibility lies firmly at the door of the Home Office bureaucracy.
Throughout a 30-year career I served alongside many Commonwealth troops like Lewaicei, who made staunch and often courageous contributions and several became close friends. During a recruiting crisis in the late 1990s, we turned to the Commonwealth to fill the ranks of fighting troops and they unhesitatingly answered the call. Renewed recruiting drives have seen ever more Commonwealth soldiers signing up. As with their Continue reading
Article published in The Jerusalem Post, 26 January 2020. © Richard Kemp
Despite the closest of ties between our intelligence services and armed forces today, the Foreign Office has maintained its bias against the Jewish state.
What was Britain’s role in the Holocaust? What was its role in the establishment of the State of Israel? The Holocaust first fully entered my consciousness at the age of 13 when I read Simche Unsdorfer’s The Yellow Star. The disgusting brutality inflicted on the author – who wrote the book in Britain after surviving the Nazi terror – and his fellow inmates of Auschwitz, shocked me to the core and never left me from that day to this.
The Yellow Star is a story of the utmost savagery but also of the most profound courage. During a 30-year military career, recollection of 19-year-old Unsdorfer’s personal bravery and moral strength inspired me to overcome challenges I myself faced – all paling into insignificance alongside his own existential struggles with the devil incarnate.
Knowledge of the Holocaust increases my pride as a former British soldier over our army’s decisive role in re-creating the State of Israel, which followed close on its heels. At a cost of 168,000 casualties, British Empire forces freed the land of Palestine from the malignant rule of the Ottoman Empire in a defensive campaign from 1915 to 1918. Had our troops not secured victory, the Turks would have maintained dominion over that land and there could never have been a Jewish state.
Britain’s military campaign, with Jerusalem liberated on Hanukkah 1917, the Balfour Declaration immediately beforehand, and the 1920 San Remo Resolution that formalized Balfour’s intent to establish a Jewish national homeland, gave hope to Jews everywhere. That hope was dashed, and the San Remo mandate Continue reading
Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 20 January 2020. © Richard Kemp
Prince Harry earned huge respect among the Armed Forces for his 10 years of military service. One of the most privileged men in the land, there were many people who did not want him to put his life on the line in the battle zone of Afghanistan where so many British troops were killed and maimed. Unlike most soldiers, he had to personally fight the system to get himself into action. But in the face of opposition from a government worried by the risk to national prestige if he was killed, wounded or captured, he eventually arrived in Afghanistan ‘with butterflies in my stomach’.
Soldiers who served alongside him during his two tours in Afghanistan, on the ground and in the air, have spoken of Harry’s leadership and courage, of his down-to earth approach to ordinary soldiers and of his devotion to his comrades in arms. That devotion extended beyond his direct military service. He played a major role in looking after the war wounded and took part in a gruelling 200-mile trek to the South Pole in December 2013 to raise awareness for the charity Walking with the Wounded.
Most notably he set up and led the Invictus Games, which have been so important for restoring confidence, morale and self-respect among some of the most horrifically wounded of our troops as well as allied forces. I know several participants in the Games, all of whom met and were inspired by Prince Harry and the extent to which he cared for them personally. In his words, the games ‘have shone a spotlight on the “unconquerable” character of servicemen and women’.
Although it is gratifying to learn that he will keep up his role with Invictus, he is stepping down from his ceremonial appointments in the Armed Forces, including Captain General of the Royal Marines. Continue reading
Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 7 January 2020. © Richard Kemp
‘Death to America! The great Satan!’ Predictable chants on the streets of Tehran following President Trump’s strike against Iranian General Qassim Soleimani. Comments by many political leaders in Britain suggest their own feelings may not be much different. Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction, in any case now politically irrelevant, was so predictable it can be passed over. The candidates to replace him also lined up to condemn Trump’s action, led by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry who spoke of ‘Trump’s reckless lurch towards war’. Clive Lewis condemned ‘this cowboy action’.
Is it strategic naïveté that leads these people to side with Tehran over Washington? Ill-judged comments like this can only embolden Ayatollah Khamenei in his plans to retaliate against America. Desperate to split the EU further from the US, he knows the value of such backing, demanding that European leaders condemn President Trump.
These Labour politicians are far from alone, with academics and so-called experts in international law wheeled out in the media to accuse the US of acting illegally and even committing war crimes, despite ignorance of the intelligence that led to the attack order. At one point I expected the BBC to play martial music in the days immediately after Soleimani’s death, so sombre was their coverage of his funeral. Their correspondent in Beirut on Monday came across more like a spokesman for Tehran. Next maybe we should expect to see Soleimani transformed into an anti-imperialist icon, with Left-wing politicians donning t-shirts bearing his image Che Guevara-style.
All of this demonstrates breath-taking moral bankruptcy. Repudiating action to contain long-term lethal Iranian violence against US forces and diplomats ignores the depravity of a regime that kills gays, oppresses women, tortures prisoners and murders demonstrators. Ordinary Iranians know their own theocratic government is the Great Satan, not the US. Many have been privately celebrating Soleimani’s end, in contrast to the throngs of ‘mourners’ eagerly broadcast on Western TV, mostly there at the point of a gun. Hearing about President Trump’s threat to attack 52 targets, a lot have been hoping he will do it sooner rather than later.
They know the cause of much of the economic misery they have been protesting in recent months was Soleimani himself. Eulogised by commentators in the West, his unique influence over the Supreme Leader has led the country into disastrous imperial adventures across the region which have killed tens of thousands of Continue reading
Article published in The Sun, 4 January 2020. © Richard Kemp
Soleimani’s killing is the most strategically significant US military action since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Iran will want a violent reaction to the death of its most important commander. But Tehran is terrified of fighting a war with the US that they could not win and so will not start World War 3.
Instead this attack might spell the beginning of the end for the savage regime that has ruled Iran since 1979. They have been crippled by US sanctions and widespread demonstrations in the streets have left the ayatollahs fearful for their own survival. President Trump’s bold action will give the protesters, as well as their anti-Iranian counterparts in Iraq, hope that one day they might bring their oppressors down.
What are Iran’s military options? Soleimani put in place a network of terrorist proxies, not just in the Middle East but around the world. These might be used in a calibrated response to his death. The most powerful is Lebanese Hizballah, with tens of thousands of missiles in southern Lebanon, pointing at Israel. They exist to react to a US or Israeli attack on Iran. But they are a one-shot weapon: if launched they would be obliterated by Israel’s massive retaliation.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards could strike US warships or aircraft in the Gulf. Soleimani’s militias in the Middle East, especially Iraq, could attack US forces and diplomats. The same might happen in the US, Europe including the UK or elsewhere where sleeper cells await orders.
What should Britain do? We do have a dog in this fight. Apart from the ongoing threat to our interests in the Middle East, including from Iran’s nuclear programme, Soleimani’s proxies killed more than 1,000 British and US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan during the conflicts there. At the time I put forward to the prime minister an intelligence case for military action against this aggression. Continue reading
Article published in The Jerusalem Post, 26 December 2019. © Richard Kemp
The ICC chief prosecutor’s hand is now controlled by organizations linked to the 3rd Reich.
SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, architect and director of the Holocaust, would be proud of the latest move by Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Intent on the total elimination of the Jewish race, Himmler supported Amin al-Huseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in his plans to eradicate the Jews in Palestine.
Now Bensouda and the ICC have joined the international campaign aimed at eliminating the Jewish state, led by al-Huseini’s successors. In a grotesque inversion, the ICC, heir to the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, has become a propaganda weapon of anti-Semitic hate. This represents a shameful betrayal of its honourable anti-Nazi progenitor. Its path more closely resembles that of the Nazis’ notorious People’s Court, the Volksgerichthof, than the Nuremberg trials.
Nuremberg laid low many of the Nazi monsters that perpetrated the Holocaust. The ICC chief prosecutor’s hand is now controlled by organizations linked to the 3rd Reich. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Al-Haq, Addameer and Al-Dameer, Palestinian NGOs backed by EU and Swiss funds, have been lobbying the ICC to bring prosecutions against Israel for more than a decade according to the Israeli research institute NGO Monitor. All are connected to the Palestinian group PFLP whose founding leaders in the 1970s were trained in terrorism and political warfare by former SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny and Dr Gerhard Hartmut von Schubert, once of Josef Goebbels’s propaganda ministry. Continue reading
Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 19 December 2019. © Richard Kemp
An investigation by this paper has made clear that Hamas terrorists have been planning attacks against Israel from Turkey. President Erdogan knows this but denies it. He even denies that Hamas is a terrorist organisation despite the group’s categorisation as such by the US and EU.
According to Erdogan, Hamas is ‘a resistance movement trying to protect its country under occupation’. This is a lie. In fact, Erdogan’s support for Hamas is itself an act of aggression against Israel. In 2015 Turkey agreed to prevent Hamas planning attacks from its territory but has never done so. This inaction harms Israel but is even more damaging to the Palestinian people. Rather than developing Gaza, which it has controlled since Israel left in 2005, Hamas has consistently used the Strip as a base to attack the Jewish state.
Millions of dollars of international aid have been diverted to stockpiling missiles and other weaponry, digging attack tunnels and funding strikes against Israel. Much has also been diverted into the personal bank accounts of Hamas leaders who have been branded the wealthiest terrorists in the world. Not only have Gazans been deprived of much-needed economic development, hospitals, schools, utilities and humanitarian supplies, they have also been blockaded by Israel to protect its own citizens from attack. This has in turn intensified the hardship and suffering faced by ordinary Palestinians.
By encouraging and facilitating Hamas, Erdogan has helped make this situation worse. But any concern he may have for the Continue reading
Article published in The Sun, 3 December 2019. © Richard Kemp
Never in history has a more dangerous man been a contender for leadership of any Western democracy.
Corbyn has consistently sided with those that wish us harm. When IRA terrorists bombed the Cabinet at Brighton, his response was to invite two convicted volunteers of the murderous organisation to the House of Commons.
And when Russian assassins were sent on a murder mission to Salisbury, Corbyn failed to condemn the Kremlin and called for further proof of state-sponsored involvement.
He calls Hamas and Hezbollah his ‘friends’ and appeared to take part in a ceremony honouring a terrorist involved in the Munich Olympics massacre.
He said the death of Bin Laden was a tragedy and wanted the leader of IS arrested not killed. The same with British jihadists Mohammed Emwazi and Sally-Anne Jones.
His deputies John McDonnell and Diane Abbott demanded the closure of MI5, the security agency that protects us from terrorists.
With Corbyn as PM how could our allies trust us with their most sensitive secrets?
The US and Israel, vital sources of life-saving intelligence, have reluctantly drawn up plans to restrict co-operation in the event of a Corbyn premiership.
Corbyn has made it clear he would never press the nuclear trigger nor order troops into battle.
But credible deterrence is the best way to prevent conflict. Corbyn would subvert our military deterrence and endanger British lives.
Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 3 December 2019. © Richard Kemp
Imagine being the policeman who pulls the trigger in the grainy video of the attack at London Bridge on Friday. A man stabbed several people but is being constrained by passers-by and police. You think maybe he can be stopped with non-lethal force, always the priority. Then you see his suicide vest. The lives of all the people around him are suddenly in your hands. You have a split second to decide on life or death on the streets of the capital. As you aim and squeeze you have to know you will be supported — from the very top.
The most effective way to deal with a suicide bomber is shoot him in the head, stopping his brain to prevent him pressing the switch that detonates his explosives. I devised and implemented these procedures for British forces when they first met this specific threat, at around the time the police introduced Operation Kratos, their equivalent. It is a shoot-to-kill policy.
Jeremy Corbyn described the killing of the architect of history’s most devastating suicide attack, Osama Bin Laden, as ‘a tragedy’. He has equivocated over the elimination of Islamic State leader al Baghdadi, implying he could have been arrested rather than killed by US special forces.
He expressed the same reservations over the killing of British Islamic State jihadists Mohammed Emwazi and Sally-Anne Jones who he said should have been arrested rather than killed.
All this betrays his prioritisation of the human rights of our enemies above those of their innocent victims. It shows dangerous naivety in a man who wants to take over responsibility for national security. Continue reading