A New Domino Theory?

It has been a month since Robert Novak identified the new domino theory undergirding the strategic thinking of at least some of the more extreme advocates of war connected with the Bush administration. Novak described it as the domino theory in reverse but that depends on your point of view. If you live in a possible target nation, it looks a lot like the regular old domino theory: an ideologically crusading nation toppling one regime after another. But Ron Brownstein says the domino theory is seriosly flawed, so maybe the fuzzy-wuzzys don’t needn’t worry afterall.

Or maybe they do. Brownstein doesn’t seem to take the domino theory very seriously but it has serious intellectual provenance. The Jerusalem Post reported Bernard Lewis supporting the middle east domino theory as early as last April. And way back in January contrarian-agrarian-classicist-war-historian-turned-polemicist Victor Davis Hanson was calling for a “domino theory of democracy.” Be warned, you poor benighted heathen.
Posted by at September 24, 2002 03:54 AM | Send


I am not advocating this, but raising it as a logical possibility. If it is true, as Robert Spencer writes in his new book Islam Unveiled (and as I wrote at NewsMax in November 2000), that there is no such thing as “moderate” Islam, and that therefore the entire Muslim world represents a threat to other civilizations wherever the Islamic world comes into contact with them, does not such a “Domino Theory,” by which existing Muslim regimes are replaced by half-Muslim, half-Westernized regimes, perhaps on the model of Turkey, make sense as the only way to deal with a genocidal totalitarian religion that, in its present form, is a threat to the rest of mankind?

I remind Mr. Carney that my understanding of Islam as a “genocidal totalitarian religion” was formed in a discussion I had with him one month after the September 11th attack.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 24, 2002 10:00 AM

While I haven’t read Spencer’s book, I am glad for a corrective to the “Islam means peace” blather. As I’ve indicated elsewhere (www.readings.blogspot.com—a collection of links to conservative books and reviews still in its embryonic stage), the Islamic terrorists don’t think Islam means peace and maybe we should take them seriously.

The attempt by well-meaning Christians to visualize a peaceful meaning of Islam reminds me of liberals who prattle on about the “true meaning” of conservatism. Somehow, conservatism always really means liberalism. And if you listen to many Christians describing Islam it sounds suspiciously like Christianity. We’ve had quite enough of such delusions.

None of this makes me anymore sanguine about the prospects for remaiking the middle east in the image of the West (or even Turkey). If anything, a more realistic understanding of Islam strikes me as a cause for skepticism about any such project.

Posted by: John Carney on September 24, 2002 11:38 AM

This discussion seems to confirm a little noted aspect of Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis. Huntington caught a lot of flak for his noting “the bloody borders of Islam”. Overlooked was his view that Western Liberalism was coming into conflict with Islam not only because of the Islam’s demographic explosion, but also because of the liberal West’s own missionary impulse. This impulse manifests itself in two forms; the classical liberal impulse to expand trade and penetrate markets and the equally strong desire to ‘uplift the natives’. In the 19th century, empire meant free trade in goods and Christian missionaries. In the 21st century, it means freedom for McDonald’s franchises and human rights activists.
The new “National Security Strategy” with its emphasis on creating democracies in the Middle East is just the latest manifestation of the old liberal dream. For non-Westerners, this program must seem agressive indeed.
The demographic expansion of Islam is enough of a danger to the West. Compounding the danger by mounting a global crusade for democracy and human rights will surely overextend our resources and increase our vulnerability.

Posted by: Mitchell Young on September 24, 2002 1:28 PM

I hope that Mr. Young is correct that a “containment” policy—meaning no more Muslim immigration to the West, removal of many of the current Muslims from the West, and no Western interference in the Islamic world—would be sufficient to protect the West (and the rest of the non-Muslim world) from Muslims. But I do not dismiss out of hand the Bernard Lewis approach. These are large issues that need to be considered in much more depth.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on September 24, 2002 1:37 PM

Agreed that the analysis of the large issues need a great deal of thinking through. I would like to make two more points:

1) Our interventions have, save Japan and Germany, not been very successful in creating prosperous democratic societies. Think Haiti, the Spanish American war prizes (Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico), Central America, Somalia. Even Bosnia and Kosovo have been failures. The one thing we have succeeded in doing is increasing immigrant flows from all these places. Who doubts that long term occupation of Iraq will create more immigration from that country to the United States?

2) If Turkey is the model, it should be pointed out that Ataturk’s movement was strictly indigenous. Influenced by Western ideas, obviously, but also motivated by the fight against the Greek and Western invasion of the Turkish heartland (oh, that we had Constantinople back) following the first war fought to make the world safe for democracy.

Posted by: Mitchell Young on September 24, 2002 2:35 PM
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