Eine Zukunftsprognose für die Welt des Krieges (Dar al Harb)

Posted on Juli 7, 2015

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Richard Rubensteins historische und politische Analyse der seit ihren Anfängen unverändert militanten islamischen Agenda und der Ahnungslosigkeit des Westens, der einen «Kampf gegen den Terror» zu führen vorgibt und das Eroberungsprogramm des Islam ausblendet, dessen bewaffneter Arm der Terror ist, bringt den Krieg des Islam gegen den Westen als dritten Weltkrieg, der schon im Gange ist und den der Westen nicht gewinnen wird, wenn er nicht begreift, wer sein Todfeind ist, auf den Punkt. Eine präzise und brisante, desillusionierende Analyse der islamischen Bedrohung.

An Afterword for The Cunning of History
by Richard Rubenstein (July 2015)

Richard L. Rubenstein is President Emeritus of the University of Bridgeport. His latest book is Jihad and Genocide (Rowman and Littlefield: 2011).

Introductory note: In 1975, Harper & Row published the first edition of my book, The Cunning of History: Mass Death and the American Future. In 1978, Harper & Row published a paperback edition with an introduction by William Styron, the author of Sophie’s Choice. In 2004, I received a request from a French publisher, Olivier Veron, for an “Afterword” bringing the book up to date. In the aftermath of 9/11, I focused on the threat of radical Islam. The Afterword was published in France in La Perfidie de l’Histoire. We are presenting it in English for the first time in this issue of New English Review.

The first edition of The Cunning of History was written at a time when the Cold War was very much alive. Throughout much of the post-World War II period, the conflict between the United States and its NATO allies and the Soviet Union was of paramount importance in international relations. There was always the danger that some action by either side, however accidental, might result in the launching of a catastrophic nuclear exchange. Fortunately, deterrence was effective during the Cold War because the conflict was between two powers whose leaders were risk-takers but not suicidal.
By 1974 attention had shifted to the Middle East. On October 6, Yom Kippur in the Jewish religious calendar, Egypt and Syria opened a coordinated surprise attack against Israel. During the first two days of fighting, Israel lost territory. Eventually, Israel repulsed the invaders and drove into Syrian and Egyptian territory. As the Arab states exhausted their supplies, they were speedily resupplied by the Soviet Union which rejected U.S. efforts to work toward a ceasefire. The United States then began its own airlift to Israel. The Middle-Eastern conflict was a surrogate for the larger conflict between the two nuclear superpowers. The focus remained the Cold War.
Nevertheless, the focus had begun to shift. On October 17, 1973, in the midst of the Yom Kippur War, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) declared an oil embargo against the West. Arab members of OPEC had announced that they would no longer ship petroleum to nations that were friendly to Israel, that is, the United States and its western European allies. Having failed to prevail militarily, the Arab states were determined to assert their strength on the world stage economically and diplomatically. Oil prices quadrupled, resulting in an energy crisis of unprecedented scale, as well as a monumental transfer of wealth from the oil consuming to the oil producing states. A fateful, albeit unintended, consequence of the transfer was the power it gave Saudi Arabia’s radical Wahabi religious establishment to influence the character of Muslim religious and educational institutions worldwide.
The oil embargo was followed by the Iranian Revolution that reached a crucial turning point on November 4, 1979 when 500 students seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran and held 62 American citizens hostage for 444 days until January 20, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the fortieth president of the United States. The inability of Jimmy Carter’s administration to secure the release of the hostages or to take effective action against the revolutionary Iranian regime was a major factor in his defeat. In the aftermath of the bombings in Spain on March 11, 2004, the world was once again made aware of the power of Islamic radicals to influence elections and even to destabilize governments.
The hostage crisis in Teheran marked a turning point in the relations of the United States and the countries of the Middle East. According to Bernard Lewis, an eminent authority on the world of Islam, the hostage crisis took place because relations between the United States and Iran were improving, not deteriorating.[1] For a moment, there appeared to be a real possibility of an accommodation between the United States and the new regime, but compromise and accommodation, the strategies of normal diplomacy, were precisely what the Islamic radicals did not want. The purpose of the hostage taking was to destroy all possibility of dialogue and accommodation.
Although it was by no means evident to Jimmy Carter or his State Department, Ayatollah Khomeini saw the issues in the conflict as cosmic. As such, they were not amenable to resolution through compromise and negotiation.[2] When advised that a fundamentalist attack might damage Iran’s relations with the United States, Khomeini replied, “May God cause it to be endangered.”[3] Khomeini understood the embassy seizure to be an act of war, a “holy struggle” or jihad, against the United States. Neither Khomeini nor the Islamic radicals who came after him intended to fight a conventional war, but that did not make their kind of warfare any less real or dangerous. As Iran’s head of state and supreme religious leader, Khomeini referred to America in terms such as the “Great Satan,” “criminal America,” and “world devourer” while Israel was characterized as the “little Satan.”[4] On May 25, 1979, over 100,000 of his followers marched to the U.S. Embassy in Teheran shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Carter.” Khomeini’s call for America’s destruction was no idle threat. That call has been endlessly repeated in mosques, universities, journals, satellite TV, and in the streets of the Muslim world. It has also been received with more than a little sympathy in western extremist circles, both right and left. One of the most influential calls was Osama bin Laden’s “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” issued on February 23, 1998 that begins with a catalogue of alleged offenses committed by the United States, Israel, and other U.S. allies, all of which are depicted as substantiating the fact that these powers have declared war against God and God’s Prophet. The document concludes with a fatwa stating that “to kill the Americans and their allies – civilian and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim in any country where this is possible, until the Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] and the Har?m mosque [in Mecca] are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim.”[5]
Although both Khomeini and bin Laden directed their fury against the United States, their sanctified license to kill was by no means targeted solely at America and Israel. On the contrary, the spirit that motivated them was much the same as that expressed by Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), one of the twentieth century’s most influential Muslim thinkers, who held that “There are two parties in all the world: the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan – the Party of Allah, which stands under the banner of Allah and bears his insignia, and the Party of Satan, which includes every community, group, race and individual that does not stand under the banner of Allah.”[6] Strictly speaking, not all Jews and Christians are of the “Party of Satan.” Those who have submitted to the “Party of Allah” and have accepted their diminished and, at times, degraded status as dhimmis, protected subject peoples, can be said to “stand under the banner of Allah.” Qutb’s dichotomous division of the world constituted a radicalization of the fundamental Muslim division of the world into the House of Islam (dar al-Islam), in which Muslim governments rule and Muslim Law prevails, and the House of War (dar al-Harb), that part of the world ruled by infidels. Apart from periods in which they find it to their advantage to enter into a truce with infidels, Muslims are under religious obligation to make war, jihad, until the entire world adopts the Muslim faith or submits to Muslim rule.[7]
Strictly speaking, Islamic tradition envisages no such thing as genuine peace between faithful Muslims and infidels.There can be a truce when combat appears unlikely to succeed. When Muslims are victorious, there can be a cessation of hostilities between the victors and those who submit to their rule, but the relations between dominant Muslims and subject peoples or dhimmis are contractual and conditional.[8] They are based upon the dhimmi’s fulfillment of the dhimma, a pact of submission terminating the state of war and stipulating the conditions under which dhimmis are permitted to dwell in Islamic lands.[9] As is well known, the conditions include certain disabilities among which are payment of the jizya, a poll tax incumbent on every male, and the wearing of distinctive clothing, a ban on bearing arms, owning lands, mounting horses, or possessing or constructing buildings taller than those owned by Muslims, legal inferiority, and the refusal of a dhimmi’s testimony in any case involving a Muslim. Failure to abide by the conditions stipulated in the dhimma entails a return to a state of war in which the dhimmis are subject to the forfeiture of all property, slavery, and even loss of life. Moreover, a dhimmi’s wife and children could legitimately be enslaved and forcibly converted. Lest these conditions appear to be an outmoded relic of an earlier age, a senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, on the occasion of combat against the occupation forces in Iraq, told worshippers during a sermon on Friday May 7, 2004 that anyone capturing a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.[10]
In the years since Khomeini’s call for death to America, Islamic extremists have been responsible for terror attacks in which thousands of non-Muslims have lost their lives. Since radical Muslims understand the attacks to be divinely legitimated acts for which there is plentiful reward in the hereafter, they are inevitably depicted as responses to the target’s aggression against Islam and innocent Muslims and, hence, as defensive in nature. Whatever one may think of that rationale, Khomeini, bin Laden and their fellow extremists, both Sunni and Shi’ite, have not been engaging in empty verbal aggression. On the contrary, they say exactly what they mean and would fulfill their violent promises if and when the opportunity arose. The most dangerous mistake of those openly targeted for aggression is to fail to take their adversaries at their word.
World Wars I-II and World War III
Much of the first edition of The Cunning of History was dedicated to an exploration of World War I in order to shed light on the catastrophic events of World War II. Once again, we turn to World War I, this time for insight into the early twenty-first century’s post-modern war of religion in which, willy-nilly, the non-Muslim world now finds itself. In 1914 the Prussian military caste was convinced that Russia’s growing economic, industrial, and demographic strength was such that, in alliance with France, it would soon dominate the European continent. Consequently, they regarded an attack on Russia as imperative while the power equation still favored Germany.[11] Helmuth von Moltke, (1848-1916), chief of the German General Staff in 1914, and his colleagues were convinced that Germany was fated to go to war against Russia in a “battle to the death between Germans and Slavs,” and the sooner the better.[12] The German military leadership was also convinced that it first had to defeat France in as short a campaign as possible before Russia completed its slow general mobilization. With France defeated, Germany could avoid a two-front war and concentrate the full force of its military might against Russia. However, a speedy defeat of France required the invasion of Belgium as specified in the so-called Schlieffen plan.[13]
As we know, Germany’s invasion of Belgium brought Britain into the war. Britain’s leaders understood that German control of the coast line of a defeated France and Belgium would render Britain permanently vulnerable and threaten to end Britain’s role as a world power.Actually, Britain went to war to maintain the European balance of power. The fundamental issue was control of the continent.Maintaining the balance of power had been Britain’s historic role from the Napoleonic wars to 1914. Although Germany was Europe’s most powerful land power in 1914, its ability to control the continent was held in check by the Franco-Russian alliance which was reinforced by the Entente cordiale of Britain, France and Russia.
Having failed to dominate Europe in the First World War, Hitler’s Germany once again sought to control the continent. On that issue, the Second World War can be seen as a continuation of the first. Apart from ideological differences, those who supported the Third Reich, especially after the fall of France, did so in large measure because they regarded German domination of the continent as preferable to Russian. There were influential groups within both Great Britain and the United States who shared that preference, but neither Churchill, Roosevelt, nor de Gaulle were prepared to consent to German domination.[14] With the entry of the United States and Japan into the war, the conflict once again became global. As we know, the war ended with Europe in ruins and the balance of power shifted from the traditional European players to two non-European powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed, only one superpower remained, a situation France and other powers have found unacceptable.
In their distress over the role of the United States as the sole superpower, France and other European powers have failed to recognize that the current global conflict is in reality “the undeclared World War III.”[15] They have perhaps failed to take into account that there has arisen a new, post-modern contender for dominance on the European continent and beyond, a contender that is not an independent, self-legitimating, secular state with the normal accoutrements and limitations of sovereign power but a worldwide, religio-political network in which the very idea of the autonomous, secular state is entirely without legitimacy, namely extremist, radical Islam. What Napoleon failed to achieve at the beginning of the nineteenth century; what Germany failed to accomplish in two world wars; what the Soviet Union failed to accomplish in the Cold War, the leaders of radical Islam are convinced they can eventually accomplish, namely, control of Europe as a prelude to world domination.
World Wars I-II and World War III
Much of the first edition of The Cunning of History was dedicated to an exploration of World War I in order to shed light on the catastrophic events of World War II. Once again, we turn to World War I, this time for insight into the early twenty-first century’s post-modern war of religion in which, willy-nilly, the non-Muslim world now finds itself. In 1914 the Prussian military caste was convinced that Russia’s growing economic, industrial, and demographic strength was such that, in alliance with France, it would soon dominate the European continent. Consequently, they regarded an attack on Russia as imperative while the power equation still favored Germany.[11] Helmuth von Moltke, (1848-1916), chief of the German General Staff in 1914, and his colleagues were convinced that Germany was fated to go to war against Russia in a “battle to the death between Germans and Slavs,” and the sooner the better.[12] The German military leadership was also convinced that it first had to defeat France in as short a campaign as possible before Russia completed its slow general mobilization. With France defeated, Germany could avoid a two-front war and concentrate the full force of its military might against Russia. However, a speedy defeat of France required the invasion of Belgium as specified in the so-called Schlieffen plan.[13]
As we know, Germany’s invasion of Belgium brought Britain into the war. Britain’s leaders understood that German control of the coast line of a defeated France and Belgium would render Britain permanently vulnerable and threaten to end Britain’s role as a world power.Actually, Britain went to war to maintain the European balance of power. The fundamental issue was control of the continent.Maintaining the balance of power had been Britain’s historic role from the Napoleonic wars to 1914. Although Germany was Europe’s most powerful land power in 1914, its ability to control the continent was held in check by the Franco-Russian alliance which was reinforced by the Entente cordiale of Britain, France and Russia.
Having failed to dominate Europe in the First World War, Hitler’s Germany once again sought to control the continent. On that issue, the Second World War can be seen as a continuation of the first. Apart from ideological differences, those who supported the Third Reich, especially after the fall of France, did so in large measure because they regarded German domination of the continent as preferable to Russian. There were influential groups within both Great Britain and the United States who shared that preference, but neither Churchill, Roosevelt, nor de Gaulle were prepared to consent to German domination.[14] With the entry of the United States and Japan into the war, the conflict once again became global. As we know, the war ended with Europe in ruins and the balance of power shifted from the traditional European players to two non-European powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed, only one superpower remained, a situation France and other powers have found unacceptable.
In their distress over the role of the United States as the sole superpower, France and other European powers have failed to recognize that the current global conflict is in reality “the undeclared World War III.”[15] They have perhaps failed to take into account that there has arisen a new, post-modern contender for dominance on the European continent and beyond, a contender that is not an independent, self-legitimating, secular state with the normal accoutrements and limitations of sovereign power but a worldwide, religio-political network in which the very idea of the autonomous, secular state is entirely without legitimacy, namely extremist, radical Islam. What Napoleon failed to achieve at the beginning of the nineteenth century; what Germany failed to accomplish in two world wars; what the Soviet Union failed to accomplish in the Cold War, the leaders of radical Islam are convinced they can eventually accomplish, namely, control of Europe as a prelude to world domination.
The End of the Ottoman Empire
As I reread the first edition, I was struck by the fact that I had completely ignored the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. That omission may have been understandable in the aftermath of the Holocaust and in the midst of the Cold War. With the rise of radical Islam, we can no longer ignore the consequences of that momentous event. Bernard Lewis has pointed out that when Osama bin Ladin spoke in his videotape of October 7, 2001 of the “humiliation and disgrace” suffered by Islam for “more than eighty years,” bin Ladin’s Muslim viewers, but very few westerners, understood that he was referring to the defeat of the Ottoman sultanate, the last of the great Muslim empires and the abolition of the caliphate.[16]
With the entry of Turkey in the war in November 1914 on the side of Germany, the Entente powers began to explore plans for the post-war dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The Middle East was the last region whose institutions the western imperial powers sought to remake. Iraq, Trans-Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and eventually Israel were among the new states established in time as a result of western initiatives.
The changes proposed by the Europeans were profound. Above all, they were changes proposed by Christians for Muslims. Moreover, they were changes proposed by Christians who were almost entirely ignorant of the Arab and Muslim world even after years of service in the Middle East.[17] As such, they were deemed unacceptable to large and important segments of the Muslim population. In Islamic tradition, true government is governed by sacred law, and not by secular western civil law whose roots were Christian and Roman. In December 1918, Allied troops set up a military administration in Istanbul in order to bring their dismemberment plans to fruition. Greece and Italy also had designs on Turkish territory, especially Thrace and Smyrna (Izmir). By the end of 1922, Turkish resistance led by Kemal Atatürk proved effective and Turkey was in no further danger of partition. As a consequence of the Turkish victory, between 1923 and 1930, 1.25 million “Greeks” were “repatriated” from Turkey to Greece; a smaller number of “Turks” departed from Greece to Turkey. In reality, the great majority of Anatolia’s “Greeks” spoke little or no Greek, speaking Turkish among themselves although writing in the Greek script. Similarly, many of the “Turks” in Greece and Crete spoke Greek among themselves and knew little or no Turkish. Turkish-speaking Christians faithful to the Greek Orthodox Church were expelled to Greece, a “homeland” they had never known, while Greek-speaking Muslims were expelled to Turkey. In actuality, the expulsions, initiated by the Turks, were instances of ethnic cleansing based on religion and represent a continuation by less violent means of the genocide of Armenian Christians during the first World War.[18]
By driving out the Christians and frustrating British plans to dismember Turkey, Atatürk was responsible for the first major political victory of Muslim over Christian forces in several centuries. Although his movement originally depicted the aims of the struggle as the liberation of “Islamic lands” and peoples, Atatürk understood that only through modernization could Turkey retain its lasting independence. In November 1922 he abolished the position of sultan. This was a revolutionary act for the Ottoman sultan was not only the political ruler of the Ottoman state but also the caliph. (The two positions were not necessarily linked. There have been numerous sultans who did not hold the office of caliph.) As such, he was widely recognized as the head of all Sunni Muslims, the symbol of Muslim unity and even identity.[19]. At least in theory, from the time of the Prophet, the political and the religious leadership of Islamic communities was vested in one and the same person. Two years later the caliphate was abolished altogether.
The Ottoman Empire had been rooted in almost fourteen centuries of Islamic tradition. Apart from all other considerations, both the British and French on the one hand and Atatürk, on the other, proposed to introduce political structures into the defunct empire that had evolved out of a very different set of historic experiences than those of the Muslim world. The contrast between the two systems is implicit in the difference between Jesus and Mohammed. Jesus is put to death by officials of the Roman state with the possible collusion of some elements in ancient Israel’s priestly establishment. From its inception, there was in Christianity a measure of separation between the religious and the political domains, as there was between prophet and king in ancient Israel. By contrast, Muhammad united the offices of prophet, military commander, and leader of a political community which he ruled in accordance with norms regarded by Muslims as divinely ordained. This fundamental difference continues to this day in the claim that ideally “Islam is both religion and state” (al-Islam din wa dawla).
It is hardly surprising that the attempt to impose western political structures upon the Islamic world would be resented by faithful Muslims from the very beginning and that over time their number would increase greatly. In the early years of the Turkish republic, Kemal Atatürk was hailed as the leader of Islam’s struggle against the Christian West. In later decades he came to be regarded by Islamic extremists as a Zionist tool who had sought to destroy Islam from within as the Western powers had attempted to do from without. The extremists reviled Atatürk for having illegitimately overthrown the caliphate: “The caliphate is the political system that was established for us by the Prophet in Medina and it endured for fourteen centuries, until the advent of a man called Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who overthrew the Ottoman caliphate and turned Turkey into a secular state whose religion was not Islam.”[20] The radicals also argued that Atatürk was not even a Muslim but a member of a secret Jewish sect, the Doenmeh, that outwardly professed Islam but were in reality followers of the mystical Jewish messiah, Sabbatai Zvi (1626-1676). He was also accused of having abolished the caliphate because Sultan Abdul Hamid II had “refused to sell Palestine to the Jews.”[21]
The claim that Atatürk was a Jew was used to discredit him and the modernizing trends he introduced as wholly alien to Islam. This has been an important political weapon employed by radical Muslims against both the West and modernizing Muslim leaders. The extremist cause was strengthened by the failure of western-style political and economic structures, whether socialist or nationalist, to deliver the material benefits they promised to the Muslim masses.
From an historical perspective, radical Islam’s current assault on the West can be seen as (a) a continuation of Islam’s ancient attempt to expand its dominion at the expense of Christianity beginning in the seventh century and reaching its zenith at the gates of Vienna in 1683 and (b) as a response to Christian counter-expansion in Muslim lands during the last three centuries. Although rejected by Islamic radicals, Kemal Atatürk’s successful check on European expansion in Turkey can be seen as foreshadowing a new era of Muslim expansion. There have been arguably three waves of Muslim invasion of Christian Europe, the first by the Moors, the second by the Turks and the third, the invasion of Muslim capital and labor that began in the second half of the twentieth century. Without a shot being fired and with the consent of the European governments, there is now a massive Muslim presence in Western Europe for the first time since the expulsion of the Muslims from Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.[22]
A Post-Modern Contender for Global Dominance
Superficially, it seems preposterous to think that an informal network of utopian revolutionaries from one of the world’s most politically and economically dysfunctional regions could hope to mount a successful challenge against the most technologically, militarily, and economically advanced countries in the world. In reality, the informal, dispersed character of the radical Islamic networks gives them important advantages in an age of instantaneous global communication and super-empowered individuals who are unaccountable to and unrestrained by any government. These networks have demonstrated their ability to inflict extraordinary damage on traditionally organized western states, such as the destruction of New York’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and, after the fall of the Taliban, the train bombings in and around Madrid on March 11, 2004, with their economic and political consequences.
Moreover, the flexibility and the global reach of Islamic extremists can be seen in the scope of their aggression. A sample of the many outrages perpetrated by the extremists include the bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed more than 200 people, and wounded another 200 on October 12, 2002, the attack on the French oil tanker Limburg on October 6, 2002, the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center resulting in the death of 86 persons and the wounding of 100 more on July 18, 1994, the suicide bombing that killed 11 French engineers in Karachi, Pakistan on May 8, 2002, the killing of 22 Christian petroleum professionals in Khobar, Arabia on May 29, 2004, and the beheading and videotaping of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and businessman Nicholas Berg in Iraq. Writing in the Daily Telegraph (London), Ahmed Rashid, an authority on Islamic extremism, has described the proximate objective of all the attacks: “kill Americans and other Christians, attack the large economic symbols of capitalism, attack to embarrass pro-Western rulers in the Muslim World.” [23]
It is highly unlikely that the West will see a “victory” in this war within the foreseeable future. More likely, the current war could last decades or longer, for the western world can be said to resemble Hercules, a figure in Greek and Roman mythology, who slew Hydra, a monstrous creature with many heads. Every time Hercules cut off one head, two more would grow. The West is confronted by a protean, hydra-headed enemy, Al Qaeda and its many informally related groups. The elimination of any of these groups is likely to be followed by the formation of others.
The loose, relatively uncoordinated nature of these networks has certain advantages over bureaucratically-administered western states. The motives of Islamic extremists are very different than those of western officials. Of necessity, the motives of the westerners are mixed. The turf battles and the resistance to change on the part of competing U.S. government agencies even in the face of extreme national peril has been amply documented in The 9/11 Commission Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.[24] This can sometimes result in distorting information and recommending unsound or untested programs lest one lose favor with one’s superiors. There remains a residue of suspicion that this may have been true of the leadership of the C.I.A. before the Second Iraq War. Career considerations may also involve advocating a foreign power’s seemingly harmless policies because of the prospect of lucrative employment after retirement. In Washington, for example, the so-called “revolving door” is not limited to lucrative employment in the American private sector after leaving government service. For persons of talent and influence, there are highly paid positions available in organizations directly or indirectly supported by foreign governments and institutions. Salaried government officials can seldom ignore considerations of career advancement.[25] Islamic extremists, by contrast, are more likely to ignore such considerations even when they do have families.[26]
Nor is there is any possibility that the United States or any other major western power could really satisfy the extremists save by abject surrender.[27] Their objectives are both non-negotiable and religiously legitimated. They have been stated repeatedly and explicitly. According to one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic fundamentalism and himself a Muslim, Bassam Tibi, Professor of Political Science at Germany’s Göttingen University, “The goal of the Islamic fundamentalists is to abolish the Western, secular order and replace it with a new Islamic divine order…The goal of the Islamists is a new imperial, absolutist Islamic power.”[28] One of the many confirmations of Tibi’s views was expressed in an interview in Le Monde (September 9, 1998) by Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a radical Muslim cleric domiciled in London. Speaking as the spokesman of Osama bin Ladin’s World Islamic Front For Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, he declared that their movement intends “to make the flag of Islam fly high at No. 10 Downing Street and at the Élysée Palace.” According to Tibi, about half of the world’s Muslim population may hope for the future supremacy of Islam but only between 3 and 5 percent are willing to resort to violence and, if necessary, suicide.
The Failure of the West
The continuing failure of western leaders fully to comprehend the danger to their culture and civilization is due at least in part to their ignorance of Islam and its history. It is also due to a certain reluctance to identify the enemy. Secular societies are understandably loath to get involved in a holy war. Unfortunately, that is precisely the kind of war the adversaries of the West have unambiguously proclaimed. Whatever may be the disposition of non-radical Muslims, the extremists have proclaimed a jihad against the West and the extremists constitute a critical mass within Islam that westerners dare not ignore. I have often been amazed at the ignorance of religion among well-educated Americans trained for responsible positions at America’s elite universities and professional institutions. Even after 9/11 far too many possess little or no understanding of the history of religion, especially Islam, as can be seen in the unrealistic expectations with which decision-makers in the U.S. Department of Defense began the war in Iraq. In 2015, that ignorance has become far more dangerous as revolutionary Iran stands on the point of becoming a nuclear threshold power, if not an actual nuclear state. Moreover, it appears to have done this with the connivance of the current American administration!
Calling the conflict a “war against terrorism” only adds to the confusion. Terrorism is not a warring power; it is an instrument employed by a warring power. The enemy is not “terrorism” but radical Islam. Without reliable knowledge they speak of Islam as “tolerant” and a “religion of peace,” as did President George W. Bush immediately after 9/11. Since achieving high office, President Barack Obama has spoken of Islam in similar terms on many occasions. Too many political leaders somehow assume, incorrectly, that all religions share more or less common values. Prudence may also play a part in the reluctance of western elites to identify the enemy. The values and the institutions of western secular societies leave them ill-equipped to wage a holy war.
No post-Enlightenment western country has ever before faced the kind of warring power that launched the sustained terror attacks of the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century and this has happened before Iran acquires nuclear weapons! We note above that there are no unconditional human rights in Islam for non-Muslims. Nevertheless, traditionally there have been definite limits on the conduct of war in Islam. These normally include the injunction, where possible, not to kill women and children or to mutilate the bodies of the enemy dead although appropriation of the spoils of war and enslavement of enemy women was permitted under certain circumstances.[29] However, when Sayyid Qutb divided humanity into the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan, and when Ayatollah Khomeini characterized the United States and Israel as the “Great Satan” and the “Little Satan” respectively, they legitimated for radical Islam the removal of all restraints on those included in the Party of Satan. Even then, the extremists justified their violence as defensive in nature, as well as just recompense for the allegedly greater crimes committed against Islam by their adversaries. It was such a defense that served to justify suicide murder against any western target.
Post-modern Warfare and Suicide
Suicide murder is not new, but the difference between earlier suicide murders and those of contemporary Islamic extremists is instructive. The Assassins were an Islamic religio-political sect during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In carrying out his mission, each Assassin knew that death awaited him. They never harmed ordinary people. Their violence was always an individual act directed against a ruler or leader. Rejecting safer weapons that kill at a distance, their weapon of choice was the dagger, Assassins made no attempt to escape after striking down the victim and no one attempted to rescue them. To have survived such a mission was regarded as a disgrace.[30]
Radical Islam’s suicide murderers recognize no such restrictions on the killing of civilians deemed adversaries of any age, gender or condition. With the exception of the catastrophic damage inflicted in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 and in Madrid on March 11, 2004, the numerical impact of suicide murder, as of this writing, has been relatively minor in comparison with other misfortunes. Far fewer victims die or are incapacitated in suicide murders than die of AIDs, automobile accidents, or in genocides such as Rwanda and the Sudan. Nevertheless, suicide murder is a relatively inexpensive yet fearfully potent psychological weapon that cannot be underestimated.[31] Suicide murder disrupts and disorients the flow of normal life of ordinary people and has a capacity to instill widespread fear and revulsion in the general population. Apart from the horror of dismembered body parts, survivors and their families are likely to sustain severe physical and psychological wounds that can last a lifetime. Such assaults attract sensationalist media attention and can do lasting damage to the target community. They can also be a highly effective instrument of economic aggression. The tourist trade virtually disappeared from Bali and Turkey after the bombings in those countries. The attack on the World Trade Center had a damaging effect on the United States economy for months. Unfortunately, in spite of enormous sums spent to prevent suicide and other terror attacks, no preventive measures can deter a determined suicidal aggressor.
Blaming the Victim
Perpetrators often enjoy a propaganda benefit as well. Bystanders often blame the victim. Beholding the horror, they often ask, “What terrible crime did these people commit that drove the perpetrators to commit these acts?” A whole literature has developed demonizing both Americans and Jews as the “reason” for the radical Muslim attacks and, among Muslims, as the explanation of all of the major ills that afflict Muslim societies.
The Jews are, of course, a perennially available scapegoat. In spite of the well-intentioned efforts of the Roman Catholic and other churches since Vatican II to alleviate the harshness of the deicide accusation, a residue of demonic archetypes is readily available to those who seek to “explain” the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians as due primarily, if not entirely, to Jewish malevolence. Acts of terror against Jews, whether in Israel or elsewhere, are depicted as the legitimate acts of “self-defense” of a “colonized” people against their colonizers. The United Nations, European governments and, for a time, the American State Department have been singularly reluctant to recognize acts of terror against Israeli civilians for what they are. For example, in an act of both symbolic and physical aggression, a suicide bomber killed 29 Israelis as they gathered in Netanya on March 27, 2002 for the Passover Seder and was lauded among Muslims as a shahid, a martyr, and by the European left as a freedom fighter.
One of the nastiest consequences of mass terror is the search by intellectuals, the media, and human rights advocates for “causes.” Invariably, the “cause” is found in wrongs allegedly done to the terrorists or their kin. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was an outpouring of sympathy in Europe, if not in the Muslim world, for what the Americans had endured. The sympathy did not last long and a deep and pervasive attitude of anti-Americanism soon manifested itself, especially after it was obvious that the unpopular Bush administration was going to invade Iraq with or without the sanction of the United Nations. There are a multitude of reasons for anti-Americanism, many due to very real differences of culture, history, politics, and comparative economic advantage. Undoubtedly, balance-of-power considerations also play an important role, as has been evident in President Jacques Chirac’s long-standing preference for a multi-polar world and his strong distaste for America’s uni-polar dominance.[32] This is not the occasion to evaluate the merits of the attitude. The issue that concerns us is whether radical Islam’s assault is confined to the United States or whether the United States is the first but by no means the last country of Christian inheritance to be targeted.
One of the chief Muslim complaints, both extremist and moderate, is that the United States is alleged to have blindly supported Israel and to have been deeply biased against the Palestinians because of racism, Christian Fundamentalist antagonism toward Islam, and the allegation that Zionists or Jews in general control the American government. Whatever the merits, if any, of these complaints, let us consider a scenario in which the United States decides that the cost of supporting Israel is too great and abandons Israel to the tender mercies of the Muslim world. Would such a move really alter the hostility of Muslim extremists toward the West and would the more accommodating nations of Europe be any safer? Among Muslim extremists there has long been a saying “After Saturday comes Sunday” or after we finish off the Jews we’ll do the same to the Christians.[33] To repeat, the idea that radical Muslims are involved in a worldwide jihad to achieve domination has been expressed often, openly, and candidly by the radicals themselves.
Muslim extremists are serenely confident of ultimate victory. In a May 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden claimed that, with the help of Allah, the mujahedeen fighting in Afghanistan brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union and they will do the same to the United States and Israel.[34] That bin Laden is convinced that he has the human and material resources to threaten established governments was evident by his offer of a “truce” on April 15, 2004 to European and other governments, in the aftermath of the Madrid train bombings, if they follow Spain’s example and pull their troops and other personnel out of Iraq.[35] Not unexpectedly, the offer was rejected by all European governments, although one wonders what deals may have been made in secret or what comfort countries with no troops in Iraq may draw from the situation. The “truce” offer to European governments was followed by a similar offer by Osama bin Laden in a taped message to the individual states of the United States on Friday October 29, 2004. Bin Laden harshly criticized George W. Bush and for the first time admitted that he rather than Jews and the Mosad was responsible for the 9/11 bombings in New York and Washington. He threatened “each U.S. state” (“ay wilaya”) that a vote for Bush would make that state a potential target of Al Qaeda whereas a vote against Bush would yield security from attack. Clearly designed to influence the American presidential election on Tuesday November 2, 2004, bin Laden’s message stated: “Any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security.[36] Commenting on bin Laden’s message, the radical Islamic web site Al Isiah stated “….this tape is the second of its kind, after the previous tape of the Sheikh [Osama bin Laden], in which he offered a truce to the Europeans a few months ago, and it is the completion of this move, and it brings together the complementary elements of politics and religion, … the sword and justice.”[37] The real significance of the “offer” lies in the fact bin Laden, in hiding somewhere in the inaccessible regions of Afghanistan or Pakistan, regards himself and his movement as a power capable of threatening established governments and doing them more harm than they can do to him or his organization even were he killed or captured.[38]
Extremist Islam’s catalogue of injustices allegedly perpetrated by the West is long and detailed. Nevertheless, the list has an unbalanced character. In the lands of the West, Muslims are free to practice and propagate their religion, usually as full citizens. Christians enjoy no such freedom in Muslim lands. Christians who seek to propagate their faith to Muslims often face expulsion and even death. In Saudi Arabia Christians are forbidden to hold services of worship and Jews and Christians are barred from permanent residence in the Hijaz, that part of Arabia encompassing Mecca and Medina deemed sacred to Muslims..
From its very first conquests in the seventh century until the Turkish retreat from the gates of Vienna in 1683, Islam was a militarily expanding world empire that threatened the very existence of Christendom through conquest, conversion and assimilation.[39] When Christians began to reclaim territory conquered by the invading Muslims, the latter regarded it as intolerable that lands that had been a part of the House of Islam (dar al-Islam) had reverted to the infidels. To this day, the extremists call for the recapture of these lands and their reintegration into the House of Islam. For example, radical Islamic web sites have stated that more was involved in the Madrid bombings of March 11, 2004 than the Spanish elections. From their perspective, the bombings were an opening shot in the reconqista of the once and future Islamic Spain.[40] Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, head of the Islamic law faculty at Qatar University and a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, often makes the claim that „Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror.“ Al-Qaradhawi qualified his statement by adding, “I maintain that the conquest this time will not be by the sword but by preaching and ideology.…”[41] Similar sentiments have been expressed by other mainstream Muslim leaders, such as the Saudi Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-‚Arifi, Imam of the mosque of the King Fahd Defense Academy,[42] who wrote „… We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it. Yes, the Christians, who carve crosses on the breasts of the Muslims in Kosovo – and before then in Bosnia, and before then in many places in the world – will yet pay us the jiziya (the poll tax paid by non-Muslims under Muslim rule), in humiliation, or they will convert to Islam…“ [43] Such statements cannot be dismissed as solely the atypical rantings of extremists and clerics outside the Muslim mainstream. The Wahabism of the Saudi clerics has had enormous worldwide influence because of the financial support given to Muslim mosques, schools, organizations, and other institutions by the Saudi government and very wealthy Saudi individuals, one of whom is Osama bin Laden.[44] As of this writing, the vast majority of European and American Muslim religious leaders and teachers are trained in the Middle East and the Maghreb, hardly centers of religious enlightenment. There is scant evidence among them of the kind of critical self-reflection to be found in both western Jewish and Christian religious institutions.
There is, in reality, nothing new or even radical in the Islamic aspiration to global dominance. On the contrary, Islam has been throughout its history a conquering religion. that did not recede by persuasion but by the force of arms and Islamic radicals have little doubt that the era of western dominance was only a temporary interlude that is coming to an end. Unfortunately, many westerners have short historical memories and regard the three hundred year era of western dominance as irreversible. In addition, far too many western scholars depict the preceding period of Islamic dominance in overly benign terms.[45]
Under the circumstances, a singularly important issue confronting the contemporary West is: To what extent do the views of the Islamic mainstream ultimately coincide with those of the extremists? We have noted Bassam Tibi’s observation that over half of the world’s Muslims may hope for the future supremacy of Islam but only between 3 and 5 percent are willing to resort to violence to achieve it. This is hardly reassuring. Population figures for Muslims vary from 1.3 billion to 1.5 billion with some statistics suggesting a figure as high as 2 billion. If we take a conservative estimate of 3 percent of 1.3 billion willing to resort to violence, we come up with a numerical total 39,000,000; if we assume that 5 percent are willing, the figure becomes 65,000,000. Moreover, the regions in which Islam and Christianity respectively are dominant are no longer geographically distinct. In 1993 Professor John Kelsay, an American authority on Islam, observed: “The rapidity of Muslim migration … suggests that we may soon be forced to speak not simply of Islam and, but of Islam in the West.”[46] That historical moment is already upon us.
Birthrates, Immigration and Unemployment
Much has been written concerning the declining western and the elevated Muslim birthrate. Historian Niall Ferguson has observed that “The fundamental problem that Europe faces ….is senescence.”[47] Ferguson cites UN projections that suggest that the median age of the 15 European Union countries, currently 38, will rise in 2050 to 49. While populations are projected to decline in all Western European societies, the Muslim populations in those countries will continue to increase.
Apart from all other considerations, a decreasing work force will have the burden of maintaining the social security and health care systems whose beneficiaries are primarily the elderly. Raising the retirement age can make a small contribution to alleviating the problem, but it is hardly an adequate response to the problems that beset the social security and health care systems of both Europe and the United States.
According to Ferguson, there are, in reality, only three possible solutions, all politically unpalatable: (a) Drastically reduce or eliminate entirely health care and old age pension benefits. (b) Increase already high taxes to a level at which the benefits can be sustained. (c) Encourage immigration. The latter has been less of a problem for the United States than for Europe. As noted in the first edition of The Cunning of History, throughout its history the United States has been an importer of peoples; until recently Europe has been an exporter. In addition, although there has been a steady increase in America’s Muslim population, most immigrants to the United States are currently Caribbean Blacks or Hispanics from Central and South America. Both groups are predominantly Christian.
The situation is very different in Europe where the available pool of non-European immigrants is predominantly Muslim and the Muslim birth rate in the source countries is more than twice that of northern Europe. In the European diaspora, the birth rate remains higher among Muslims. In 2003 it was estimated that there were 3.2 million Muslims in Germany, mainly from Turkey.[48] The German immigration pattern was set in the nineteen-fifties when Turks and Kurds were recruited as Gastarbeiter, guest workers, by reviving German corporations during the Wirtschaftswunder, the “economic wonder,” period of postwar German economic development. There was a labor shortage and German manufacturers discovered that the Gastarbeiter could be just as disciplined and productive as German workers. However, the Gastarbeiter and their families were long denied the one right that is the foundation of all other rights, citizenship, that is, full membership in a political community that can be trusted to defend one’s human rights. As noted in the first edition of The Cunning of History, absent the political rights of citizenship, human rights remain impotent abstractions. Until January 1, 2000, German citizenship was based on blood kinship (ius sanguinis) rather than place of birth (ius soli), as in the United States, Britain and France. Under Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, new laws were enacted that made it possible to acquire German citizenship as the result of being born in Germany or through naturalization.[49] This constituted a significant improvement in status for many of the 7 million non-German residents, half of whom have lived in Germany for at least 20 years. The new laws did, however, create other long-term problems that Germany shares with the rest of Europe.
In January 1993 I visited Germany to study the problem of minorities in newly reunified Germany. At the time, there was much neo-Nazi violence directed against minorities, especially Turks. During my stay I interviewed a number of well-informed, responsible Germans, including Gustav Schmidt, a Roman Catholic priest, university professor and long-time friend.[50] Professor Schmidt expressed the view that over time Germany could absorb Christian immigrants from Eastern European, as it had the descendants of Polish miners who had immigrated to the Ruhr in the nineteenth century. On the other hand, he believed that Muslim immigrants neither wanted to assimilate nor could they be integrated. Eventually, he said, they would have to leave. He could not conceive of Germany as a genuinely pluralist country. I was surprised. I have known him for several decades. He is a thoroughly decent human being and in no sense an extremist. He did not specify how millions of men and women, the majority born in Germany, could in the future be compelled to leave, but he was convinced that their German sojourn would, of necessity, be temporary.
Schmidt spoke to me before Islamic extremism had become a major problem. His views were based on the conviction that there is a fundamental incompatibility between the civilization in which he had been nurtured and that of the Muslim immigrants. He is neither a racist nor a right-wing nationalist. He is, however, a Christian who cannot envisage his civilization as other than Christian. Although I am not a Christian, it is also difficult for me to envisage European civilization as other than Christian. The fundamentally Christian nature of Europe is evident in its art, music, literature and its intellectual heritage. As we noted in the first edition, even Europe’s secularization, which has no Islamic counterpart, is derived from the disenchantment of the world of biblical religion.[51] Europe’s Christian heritage is also evident in its sacred architecture and the way urban space is organized in every European city. Take Paris, for example. It is not difficult for the casual visitor to find the city’s true center, the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Construction began in 1163 and, save for a brief period during the French Revolution, the magnificent structure has been the material embodiment of the Christian character of French civilization. The same phenomenon can be discerned in almost every other European city. Europe, even secular Europe, is unthinkable apart from Christianity.
As with all identities, Europe’s Christian identity was also a function of what Europe was not: it was neither Jewish nor Muslim. There was, however, a difference. Christianity has no Muslim roots. Save for Gnosticism, Christianity acknowledged its Jewish roots. Moreover, Judaism had neither the power nor the aspiration to displace Christianity as does Islam. Whenever and wherever it could, Islam challenged Christianity militarily, politically and religiously and there is little, if any, evidence that it has changed fundamentally. Wherever possible, Muslims were instructed that they were obliged to spread the dominion of Islam throughout all of God’s creation, granting to Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam the privilege, not the right, to practice their religion provided they abided by the terms of their inferior dhimmi status.
One wonders whether Europe’s political and business elites truly value their own religious inheritance. If they do, there are some obvious policy questions that they should have asked before admitting so large a population firmly committed to a religion that has for almost fourteen hundred years been Christianity’s most important competitor and, at times, dangerous adversary. The questions include the following: (a) Is there credible evidence that even moderate Muslims have abandoned Islam’s claims to being the sole possessor of God’s undistorted truth? (b) Has the Islamic mainstream cast off the obligation to enlarge the domain of Islam at the expense of Christianity?[52] (c) Would the new immigrants respect the religion and culture of their adopted land or would they seek to make their own religion dominant? Questions such as these are not only theological. They are also political, social, and cultural. By its very nature, the triumph of Islam in any community would have revolutionary consequences for that community’s non-Islamic population.[53] And, it is entirely possible that, given the decreasing Christian and the increasing Muslim birthrate, one or more western European nations will have a Muslim majority during the twenty-first century, France, in all likelihood, being the first.[54]
When Europe’s political elites made the historically unprecedented decision to permit large-scale Muslim immigration, did they ask such questions or were they primarily interested in the economic and perhaps the political advantages that would ensue from Muslim immigration? According to Bat Ye’or, an internationally recognized scholar on Islam’s relations with the non-Islamic world, the fundamental decisions concerning Europe’s relations with the Arab world were taken in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo of 1973 when the European Community (EC), the forerunner of the European Union (EU), created a structure of Cooperation and Dialogue with the Arab League (EAD).[55] The EC agreed to support the Arab anti-Israel policy in exchange for extensive commercial agreements. The collaboration fostered by the EAD was actually far more extensive than an agreement on Israel. As Bat Ye’or points out, the shifting of Europe into the Arab-Islamic sphere of influence undermined the Atlantic alliance, dominated by the United States, and created a very real but unstated European Union-Arab partnership and the seeds of a new balance of power.[56]
As a result of the agreements, Muslim immigration into Europe was permitted to proceed at an historically unprecedented rate and Arab cultural, religious, and financial institutions in Europe were encouraged to expand. As the immigrant population gained strength and learned how to use the levers of political power within western democracies, they greatly strengthened Muslim influence in Europe. The demonization of Israel became a regular feature of the Europe’s media and political culture. >Volltext

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