Thursday, July 14, 2005

Europe: Ever The War Front

In James Taranto's Best of the Web today, he quotes this BBC report:

[T]he revelation that the four London suspects were British will confirm the worst fears of many Muslim leaders....If the apparent British suicide bombers are of similar stock--young British-born men who are not driven by desperation, then British society's ability to deal with this may be severely tested.

Taranto then states:

This is potentially a huge problem not just Britain but for Continental European countries that also have large populations of unassimilated Muslim citizens. It does not appear to be a major problem for America, which has a proportionately smaller Muslim population and a long history of assimilating immigrants. If Islamist terrorism is potentially a domestic problem for Europe, then the stakes in the global war on terror are in a way much higher there than in America.

Assuming this statement is credible and widely held, which I believe it is, we can reach a rather dramatic and alarming conclusion. If we are to adopt Norman Podhoretz's and James Woolsey's view that the war on terror is World War IV (the Cold War being WW III), and acknowledge that World War I, World War II, and main front in the Cold War were all fought to a large extent in Continental Europe, it is possible to reach the conclusion that one of the main fronts - if not the main front - in this war, the war on Islamo-fascism, is, again, Continental Europe.

So how has Europe become the main front in the terror war?

To begin, we know that Islamic terror, in all its forms, originates from the Muslim Middle East—from Casablanca, Morocco to Karachi, Pakistan. That is, in fact, the subtitle of this blog. U.S. policy to win the war on terror is to spread and promote consensual, republican government—even in its crudest form—to “where it counts: from Casablanca to Karachi.” This form of government is not imposed from an outside power, but rather it is adopted by the consent of the people. Our first real effort to put this policy into practice is Iraq (not to exclude Afghanistan, but look where the blood is being spilled on a daily basis). We are attempting to create the conditions for Iraqi self-government. Only the Iraqis can adopt democratic practice, and for that, time and a test of (Iraqi) will and (American) staying-power will prove to be the difference. But it is our hope and the Iraqis’ that they can be example, or model to the rest of the Middle East for a better life, a new hope and a complete rejection of jihadist Islam. In effect, as columnists and pundits galore have been saying, the direction of the Middle East is up to the people that live there to decide.

But, then, is this really a war, as it is fought by America and her democratic allies? The struggle for the soul of the Middle East looks more like an internal civil war between the forces of Islamic modernism and Islamic barbarism. Certainly, our national interest is directly affected by the outcome of this civil war, as we should give all the support we can to the forces of modernism and hope and equality.

But, it is becoming apparent that the war must be fought in the West. However, this war won’t be fought with 20,000 strong Army divisions, Apache helicopters, B-2 bombers, or CIA-led counteroffensives. This war must be fought with the belief that Western civilization, specifically, the ideals of the American experiment, is the last best hope for mankind. And its battleground is Europe.

Therefore, it should be asked: Has the present European, post-modern "paradise," as described in Robert Kagan's thesis, for all that it represents - public disdain of an assertive military and police force, low defense and security budgets, absence of military power as a tool in international relations, open immigration policy, the politics and social orientation of multiculturalism, low birth rates, huge welfare handouts, and the decline of Christianity (some of these, I know, aren't part of Kagan's specific description of the European paradise, but they go hand and hand with the foreign policy aspects of his thesis) – has this post-modern paradise suddenly collapsed? In the wake of the French and Dutch “no” votes against the EU constitution, the unfortunate decline of the Catholic Church under John Paul II’s watch, the 3/11 attacks in Madrid and, now, the 7/7 attacks in London, it looks like Europe, as we now it, is beginning its decline. And guess who’re stepping in to fill the vacuum: the Muslims.

I don’t mean to sound like a paranoid, racially-incited nativist, but let’s not kid ourselves of the emerging reality in Europe. Last year, British historian Niall Ferguson gave a lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, entitled, “The End of Europe?” A question, he was asking. By the end of the lecture, you came away feeling (I wasn’t there, I watched it via the video link) he was asserting the end of Europe, not questioning the possibility. Thus, he began his lecture with a reference to our constant teacher, history:

In order to illustrate my argument, I want to take you back very far in time. In fact, I want to take you back to the year 732. In Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in Chapter 52, Part 2, he describes what might have happened if the Muslim that had invaded across the Straits of Gibraltar and invaded Spain and then France in the year 711 had won what became known in the West as the Battle of Poitiers. So let me quote Gibbon, that much greater Oxford historian.

"A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the Rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps"--and here is the quintessential Gibbon--"perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet."

Some of you who know my work on empire may have anticipated that this evening I would talk about empire. Indeed, American empire is the subject of my forthcoming book. But I thought we'd done American empire last year in this very room. And so what I want to talk about instead is a different notion. It's a little neologism of my own. It's "impire," with an "i". It's about what happens when a political entity, instead of expanding outwards towards its periphery, exporting power, implodes--when the energies come from outside into that entity.

Ferguson, citing current—and pretty damning—economic, social, and political trends in Europe (basically the same ideas I mentioned when I referenced Kagan’s work) goes so far to suggest that Europe is “perhaps being colonized by exogenous forces.” Who are those exogenous forces? Yup, Muslim immigrants. So, what’s the big deal? you make ask. They’re immigrants. They come to Europe for a better opportunity. They come to escape the squalor and despair of their homelands. All true. But the krux of the problem begins with a paradox.

Some of these folks have actually chosen to assimilate themselves and adopt (or, in the case of two of the London bombers, be born into) the ways of their new Western countries. For instance, 30 year old Mohammad Sidique Khan, the oldest bomber, was a teaching assistant to newly arrived immigrants at a primary school in Beeston, Leeds, who also had a 14-month-old daughter. As the Times reports:

Staff described him as gently spoken, endlessly patient, and immensely popular with children who called him their buddy.

Imagine that. This is a man helping the children immigrant families begin the process of adjusting to their new culture. Another bomber was 22 year-old Shehzad Tanweer. In an interview, his uncle claimed he was just like every other 22 year-old college kid, except:

It wasn't him. It must have been forces behind him.

Here are two seemingly regular, assimilated British citizens. But they caught the Islamo-fascist disease. This disease has been exported to Britain, and everywhere else in Europe (See the murderer of Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh). Thus, there is a clear and present danger in Europe. Andrew Sullivan suggests that “Western Muslims and the democratically-inclined Muslims in Iraq” are the ones who are “most able” to bring these terrorists to justice; to win the war. That is true for democratically-inclined Muslims in Iraq and the greater Middle East, but it will not get the job done in the West.

What is necessary for the West to defend herself, and ultimately triumph, is a reaffirmation of the ideals that made the West the West. America must take the lead in articulating what she stands for, while the modern source of the rule of law, our Enlightenment, of John Locke, of Adam Smith, Europe, must re-discover and re-affirm this heritage and these principles. The principles of the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal,” must defeat the emptiness of nihilism, which thrives under Islamo-fascism and is egged on by the far-Leftist agenda of multiculturalism. If Europe is not able to re-discover and re-affirm those Enlightened principles that, though she may not have always lived up to (neither has America), are woven into the European experience and the free peoples of Europe today, she will be defeated. And the war will be lost.

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