Alan Henning, a brave, kindly 47-year-old Salford taxi driver, was in Syria to help young children caught up in that country's civil war. Our media goes into a tizz, commentators remark that IS's barbarism is "self-defeating", that the "civilised world" is "united in condemnation".
"Informed observers" report that the Arab world is sickened by IS and even al-Qaida finds IS extreme. Muslim and non-Muslim commentators worry about deterioriation in ethnic relations, how Islam has been "hijacked" by the extremists.
Now, IS may be cruel, but it is not stupid. The whole point of the beheadings is to be extreme, to move beyond the bounds of normal behaviour, to revolt.
Because it shows that they mean what they say. We may not understand what they say, but we cannot doubt their resolve, something we in the West may have never known, or have forgotten.
And the response of our leaders is limp. Reacting to Mr Henning's murder, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to do "whatever it takes".
"Whatever it takes"? Cameron made all the right noises with a hint of focus-group machismo. But it rings hollow. The same speeches were made the last time. Alan Henning is dead.
If we are engaged in massive ideological confrontation with Islamofascism, is a waxy-faced Old Etonian really the best man to lead the forces of enlightenment values?
Well, he may be, if the alternative is Ed Miliband or – even worse – Nick Clegg.
The dreadful truth is that Britain cannot deliver on its contract with its own people – to protect them from attack and, if attacked, to ensure justice is meted out to those responsible.
The Hollywood movies lie. The dramatic footage of the Libyan Embassy siege being lifted by the SAS is the stuff of historical documentary. It does not reflect in any way the reality of what even secret action can achieve. There were warnings. There was goading. There were false hopes raised.
Alan Henning is dead.
Ah, but what about the bombing sorties?
Just two weeks in and already experts report what we all knew anyway. They are totally ineffective in stopping the IS advance.
Airstrikes are, in a way, the exact opposite of beheadings. They underline a weakness of will. They are a pretend, safety-first, military response which directly reflects our weak-willed gesture politics.
For all the bleatings of the British Left about the West's so-called "new imperialism", about bloodthirsty, power-mad demagogues at the head of barely democratic nations – that's us, by the way, not the Near East – the West, as usual, is much more inclined to do absolutely nothing.
Will Dave, Ed and Nick even contemplate "boots in the sand"? No. Because our political leaders fear – perhaps rightly – that the people don't have the nerve to go face to face, eyeball to eyeball with IS.
Western leaders one and all are afraid of digging in to yet another long, body-bagged series of engagements against an enemy that has no political aim they can concede or even negotiate upon.
IS has desires only a fictional "caliphate" and neighbouring nations in the region can satisfy. There is a sense that Jordan and Saudi Arabia and even Turkey and Iran are waiting to see how the new order in Iraq and/or Syria pans out, because it is they who will have to live cheek-by-jowl with whatever basket-case state emerges. That diplomatic stasis was no use to Alan Henning or his family.
In Britain, Alan Henning was dead by Friday and, by Sunday, his story had slipped down the news rota with our leaders more interested in jockeying for position to win the next election than tackling the Islamofascists.
Nigel Farage causes more sleepless nights for Tory and Labour high command than "Jihadi John", to give the murderer his vile nickname. Easier to worry about the Clacton by-election than combating evil.
IS knows that war is not just about military positions, ground held and ground lost. It is about will. About endurance. And, sick though it may seem to say, faith in your cause.
"Jihadi John" vs Dave Cameron? We know who has the greater will, the greater belief in the "right action" to take.
We in the West may have the "right" attitude on our side – we generally hold human life, especially that of innocents, to be among the highest goods. But it wouldn't surprise anyone if Britain and the US considered the lives of a few individuals preferable to the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of foot soldiers.
Alan Henning is dead.
We have may have "right" on our side, but we don't have the will.
That's where IS have us beaten.
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