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'Fr Theodore, how long will all this destruction of churches and sacrilege of holy things go on for?'

'This fire must spread all over the earth'.

The prophecy of Schemamonk Theodore, the eighty-year old Elder of the Monastery of the Ascension in Irkutsk, Siberia, in the 1920s.

The recent release of photographs of American and British soldiers torturing and sexually abusing Iraqi captives has scandalized the civilized world. Photographs of the disgusting abuse of Iraqi prisoners by certain American men and women and the revolting and murderous violence towards Iraqis on the part of certain British thugs have shocked all who can still call themselves human-beings. Even if only a very few soldiers have been involved, it is clear that such abuse has gone on, either with the connivance of some of the military hierarchy, or else that military hierarchies have lost control of some members of their own soldiery.

Many will be reminded of the situation some thirty years ago when the forces of the United States, the greatest military power on earth, were humiliated and defeated by the peasants of North Vietnam. Why was technology defeated by peasants digging tunnels? For the simple reason that the United States did not prove to be morally superior. Its support of a corrupt South Vietnamese regime, its use of napalm and chemicals, its massacres such as My Lai, its lack of faith and therefore morality, made it no better than the Communist enemy. Only those who can show a moral example can win wars, as was the case in the Second World War, when a morally corrupt regime was defeated by the Allies, who still professed civilized, moral values.

For example, at one of the darkest moments during the Second World War, the Nazi Occupation of Serbia, the great man of God and later captive of Hitler's Dachau, St Nicholas of Zhicha, was asked:

'Who will be victorious in this war, the Germans or the English?'

He replied:

'The English of course. The German holds a mere sword in his hand, but the Englishman holds a sword in one hand and the Bible in the other. The Bible is stronger than the sword'.

How times change.

Indeed the question of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners leads us to another question. Is it only Iraqis who have been abused? Is it not also the American and British public? Perhaps it is time to be disabused, freed, of illusions:

Saddam Hussein was long ago set over Iraq by the CIA to provide stability in a politically volatile region which possesses over thirty per cent of the world's known oil reserves.

He was then armed by US and British arms manufacturers to defeat revolutionary anti-Western Iran. To such an extent, indeed, that during the first Gulf War, the British Army lacked desert kit - it had been sold to the Iraqi Army. Like Saddam Hussein himself, the Iraqi generals all wore British Army berets. The Americans and the British provided Hussein with chemical and biological weapons technology. France provided nuclear technology.

While Saddam Hussein murdered hundreds, the Western Powers and the United Nation stood by while 800,000 Rwandans were murdered with French logistical support.

When Israel stole the lands of the Palestinians and set the grandparents of present-day Palestinian terrorists in refugee camps, where they still live, that was acceptable to the West.

When Israel obtained the nuclear bomb with Western help, that too was acceptable. When Israel massacred some two thousand Palestinian civilians in their refugee camps in the Lebanon over twenty years ago, that too was acceptable.

When some twenty years ago the Sudanese Muslim government began its genocide of millions in mainly Christian southern and western Sudan, that too was and still is acceptable - for, like the Rwandans, Sudanese Christian peasants have no oil.

The Western powers actively co-operated in the Croatian ethnic cleansing of some 150,000 Serbs from Croatia, whose ancestors had lived there for over 600 years.

The Western powers actively co-operated and still co-operate through KFOR soldiers in the ethnic cleansing of southern Serbia (Kosovo and Metochia) by Albanian drug-dealers and gun-runners, who are supported by Muslim fundamentalists. Thus medieval monasteries and churches are destroyed by thugs, with the connivance of Western Powers who not long ago took to bombing innocent Serb civilians.

When the United Nations weapons inspectors found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, their mission was cut short. American and British allies invaded, but they still found no weapons of mass destruction, even after a year of fruitless searches. And yet that was the story sold to the British public, that the Iraqis possessed weapons of mass destruction and that is what justified a 'pre-emptive strike'. People forget that this was the reason that Hitler gave for invading Poland - it was a 'pre-emptive strike'. No wonder last summer the critical British weapons expert Dr David Kelly disappeared, according to some committing suicide, although according to some experts, it was no suicide at all.

In a few weeks time, American and British forces will be leaving Iraq - without an 'exit strategy', that is, an escape route, rather like the way in which American forces left Vietnam. No doubt some will stay to guard the oil pipelines, which is the real reason why they were sent there in the first place. Iraq, like the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, where US and UK forces interfered previously, will descend into anarchy - unless of course it is permanently patrolled by other Western 'peace-keeping' forces, or else a 'strong man' emerges, a figure strangely resembling Saddam Hussein. It will not matter - as long as oil supplies are secured.

During an inglorious episode in the mid-nineteenth century the then Western powers of Great Britain and France invaded Russia in support of Muslim Turkey. Russia wanted to free Constantinople and the stop the massacres of Christians in the Balkans - that was not allowed. So today the Western Powers behave in a shameful and unprincipled way around the world. So too in the future, when Mr Bush and Mr Blair are removed from power, we may not necessarily enter into a more principled period of history. Their rivals for political power at present, Senator Kerry and Mr Howard, are for many reasons firm supporters of the State of Israel. We can expect abuse to continue, not necessarily the vile abuse of Iraqi prisoners, but certainly the abuse of the American and British public.

Disabuse, freedom from abuse, will only come when the Western peoples return to moral values and principles, turning their backs on the present spiritual futility and moral decay of contemporary Western life. Little wonder that Muslim fundamentalists, however abhorrent their fanaticism and violence, call the West 'the Great Satan'. The West has only itself to blame for the rise of Muslim fundamentalism.

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