The Gulf

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:34 pm on 15th January 1991.

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Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party 6:34 pm, 15th January 1991

Today, we face war in all its hideousness, its hellishness and its horrors. Those of us who come from 20 years of terrorist war in Northern Ireland daily know something, albeit on a small scale, of the tragedies, sorrow, anguish and agony of deadly conflict. The cry of orphans, the sobbing of bereaved wives, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, and the mutilation of bodies are ever before us in Northern Ireland.

However, the grim and terrible conflict that confronts us today is a sea of blood compared with a tiny crimson stream. It is the Gulf crisis, and what a gaping gulf it is. If war comes, how many will perish in its maw? However, grim and terrible as war is, there are some things worse than war—to surrender to diabolical aggression, to bow to ruthless tyranny, to permit the devilish murderer to enjoy his bloodsoaked gains, to turn a deaf ear to those who are being savagely tortured and to forsake a small country that cannot save itself. That is worse than war, because that is the sowing of the seeds of even greater aggression. It is the motivation of a tyrant to even greater atrocities and the encouragement of other dictators to follow a similar path, leading to an ever-widening circle of helpless, innocent victims.

The terrible consequences of neutrality in this case—which, in reality, is only surrender by instalments—are far worse than the consequences of war. The aggressor must be resisted and those who draw the sword must learn that they will perish by the sword.

When the House was recalled during the summer recess, I closed a brief speech with these words: Many Hon. Members have used the words 'God forbid that this should happen'. I echo them. I call on the Prime Minister to go to see Her Majesty the Queen and advise her that this nation should have a day of prayer and humility to ask almighty God to avert this calamity."—[Official Report, 7 September 1990; Vol. 177, c. 877.] I regret that that did not happen. I still believe that, at this dark and final hour, a miracle could happen. But war or no war, we need to acknowledge that we require the wisdom and help of Almighty God today. Human impotency stares us all in the face. Let not pride lull us into the deception that the race is to the swift and that the battle is to the strong. Let us, with humility, acknowledge our deep need today as a nation.