Clash of Civilizations

I recall sitting down with my corporate attorney in late September 2001 — shortly after the 9/11 travesty — and explaining to him some of the differences between Judeo-Christian values versus Islamic beliefs.   He refused to believe that Moslems didn’t follow many of the same ethical thought-processes common in western civilization.  

In the subsequent years, we’ve seen many journalists and politicians follow his same line of thinking: “terrorism is only a small portion of bad Moslems”; “American imperialism is responsible for their hatred”; and so on.  Interestingly enough, in just the last year we have seen many Islamic nations moving towards an even harder line.  And, for some reason their populations all appear to implicitly support the clash of civilizations.

In a recent editorial, Caroline Glick provides a nice analysis of the ingenuousness of American politicians:

Generally speaking, Western analysts have attributed the Islamists’ victories to their well-run welfare programs for the poor, and to the fact that unlike their secular opponents, Islamist parties and politicians are perceived an honest. No doubt, economic interests have played a role in their election. But the fact is that people who voted for the likes of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmadinejad, and those who are poised to vote for Hizbullah are not blind and they are not disengaged from the ideological currents of their societies. They know full-well what these parties and their leaders represent and seek…

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration came to the conclusion that it isn’t that these parties and movements are popular. It is just that people are intimidated into supporting them. Were the people given the freedom to choose, they would choose to be led by liberal political forces interested in living at peace with the West. For former president George W. Bush and his advisors, the root of Islamic extremism was authoritarianism and the solution was Westernization through open elections… When time after time the citizens of these countries or societies voluntarily elected jihadists, the Bush administration was confounded. Rather than seek an alternative explanation to understand what was happening, the administration alternatively denied reality.

For Obama, Islamic hostility towards the West is caused by American arrogance, not the absence of freedom. And because American arrogance is the root of the problem, the solution must be American contrition. It is this view that propels Obama from one international apology tour to the next and causes him to air the CIA’s laundry in public. As far as he is concerned, the more apologetic he is, the more contrition he expresses for the actions of his predecessors, the greater the pay-off will be… And yet, as we see from the behavior of Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iran over the past week alone, Obama’s apologetics are not winning them over, but emboldening them to take more aggressive positions against the West.

[T]he populations of Islamic countries and societies support Islamist parties like the AKP and Hizbullah and Hamas because they support what they stand for. This explanation notes that tens and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians, Turks, Egyptians and others voluntarily congregate in public venues and swoon when Islamist leaders tell them that Islam will defeat the West and promise the death of America and the death of Israel… Contrary to what Western leaders as distinct as Bush and Obama believe, the hearts and minds of the Islamic world are not presently in play. From Beirut to the Taliban-controlled Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan, jihadists enjoy public support because the public supports their aim of defeating the West with bullets, with bombs, and with ballots.

Like it or not, it appears that the rising forces in the Islamic world perceive themselves as at war with Western civilization. They cannot be convinced to believe otherwise by either elections or apologies. And the current situation, in which only one side is willing to recognize that there is a war going on between two mutually exclusive ways of organizing human societies, will only lead us to more violent and devastating clashes in the future.

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