Senior British soldier admits democracies fight 'with one hand tied behind our back'

Maj Gen Tim Cross said in a Bible society forum that democracy "cannot fall to the same level as the insurgents".Bible Society/Layton Thompson

At a debate in Westminster, one of Britain's most senior former military leaders has criticised groups such as ISIS for carrying out "beheadings and savage beatings as a rule of law".

"Democracy cannot afford to do the same," warned Major General Tim Cross. "We cannot fall to the same level as the insurgents.

"Liberal democracy must behave differently. We have to win a battle of ideas even if we have to win with one hand tied behind our back."

This meant, he said, that Christians in the British military had to be "rooted in a moral framework and an ethical code" which came from the Bible.

Major General Tim Cross was speaking at a debate at Portcullis House on Monday, held by Bible Society. The event posed the question, 'Is the Bible a bridge or a barrier to democracy?'

Cross said: "We have a moral duty to stop people getting slaughtered. I don't think we should watch as a brutal dictator slaughters people."

Cross served in the Balkan war and later briefed Tony Blair on Iraq, expressing his concerns prior to the invasion.

He said that God could not be viewed as being on one side or another in a war. His words came ahead of a Commons vote tomorrow [Wednesday] on whether Britain should carry out bombings on ISIS targets in Syria.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said that there is a 'growing' support for air strikes, saying that it is "the right thing to do" and in the national interest.

But at the weekend thousands took part in protests against planned air strikes. The Labour party has criticised the government for being ready to "rush to war".

At the Bible Society event in Westminster, Dr Mike Bassous, the General Secretary of the Bible Society in Lebanon warned that Christians in the Middle East had not experienced democracy positively, since the start of the civil war in Syria.

"I agree that the alternatives to democracy are not much better," he said. "But my colleagues [in the region] say, 'Give us back dictatorship'. For the Christian minorities who have experienced what democracy has brought to the Middle East, they would say, 'Give us back dictatorship. We were happier then. We were safer then.'" 

According to research by the Pew Center, persecution of Christians in the Middle East has led to many fleeing the region. It reports that less than half a million Christians remain in Iraq and nearly a third of Syria's 600,000 Christians have fled the country.