"A fanatical Islamic army sweeps across a river valley that has nourished civilisations for thousands of years. Its leader calls on the Muslims to unite under his leadership in preparation for world conquest and the subduing of infidels. The defeated are sold into slavery. Sound familiar? It happened in the late 19th century when Muhammad Ahmad proclaimed himself the Mahdi - the expected redeemer of Islam and the world. His armies emerged from the deserts of what is now Sudan to conquer Khartoum and seize control of the upper Nile valley. British vacillation allowed the Mahdist state to terrorise and enslave its neighbours for 15 years until new British leadership finally resolved to launch a military expedition against the Mahdi's successor. Serving in this expedition was a young Winston Churchill who later wrote a history of the Mahdists and the British expedition that destroyed them in the climactic Battle of Omdurman. In facing the threat posed today by the Islamic State, President Barack Obama and all Western leaders should be given a copy of Churchill's The River War to instruct them in how a liberal Western country should respond to a fanatical Islamist army bent on death, destruction and enslavement. I suspect the US will require better leadership before this lesson is learned." (16/9)
As it happens, after reading Friday's Sydney Morning Herald, you'd have thought that Colonel Blimp's fanatical Muslim hordes were knocking on the gates of Sydney, and that the "climactic" Battle of
Death, destruction & enslavement not being Herald reader Mark d'Arbon's cup of tea, this resident of Chittaway Bay responded appropriately in the circumstances - only to find that the reality didn't quite match the Herald's headline:
"When I opened the morning paper on Friday and read the headline 'Sydney under siege', I had the caravan hooked up to the four-wheel drive and was ready to head for the hills in less than 30 minutes. As a last farewell, I found a lookout and gazed towards the CBD, expecting smoke, flames and the distant screams of the dying. To my surprise, there was not a sign of the siege - no large engines of destruction, no bivouacked armies and importantly, no smoke, flames or screams. I have decided to await developments, at least until the small band of criminals that appear to have been the cause of the panic are either released or sent to trial. I await this with baited breath." (20/9)
As do we all, Mark.