Imagine that a group of the most fanatical ideologues on the planet had seized an historic city and carried out unspeakable atrocities there. Imagine they had lined up 25 soldiers in the ruins of an ancient ampitheater and filmed their teenage recruits executing them. Imagine that they had tortured and beheaded the 82-year-old head of antiquities in that city and hung his mutilated body on a column in a main square.
Now imagine that a foreign power teamed up with that country’s army, and together they liberated the city, driving out the terrorists and restoring order. Imagine that they then cleared the area of thousands of mines, making it safe. Then imagine that just a few weeks later they held a concert in that same ampitheater, full of stunning music from composers such as Bach and Prokofiev.
Now imagine that the British Foreign Secretary, a man who represents a government that has been supporting the chief sponsors of the terrorists — Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia — describes the concert as “a tasteless attempt to distract attention from the continued suffering of millions of Syrians.” Thus spake Philip Hammond.
Have a listen for yourselves, and as you do so, remember that a few weeks ago the Islamic State was on its way to reducing the magnificent ampitheater into rubble. Remember that they were brutally torturing and executing people where the orchestra is playing and showing it to a horrified world. Remember that they and the several other flavours of jihadists, which have been encouraged by the West and their Gulf allies, were close to taking Damascus and effectively putting the whole of Syria under the control of a deranged Wahhabi death cult.
Remember all that as you listen to this glorious concert in this gloriously liberated setting. What do you think? Mr Hammond thinks it all rather tasteless. Is he right? Or is that word more fitting for a man who finds it impossible to rejoice in Palmyra’s liberation from the Islamic State death cult?