I love the smell of illusions burning in the morning

The anti-war right, the anti-war left, and most Western Europeans have long believed that Muslim terrorism and hostility to the West stem from America’s intrusive involvements in the Mideast, principally its friendship with Israel (though, frankly, with “friends” like Bush and Rice, who needs enemies?) and its invasion and occupation of Iraq; and that, by contrast, European-style accommodation to Islam is the road to intercivilizational peace. That theory has gone up, literally, in smoke and flames. As Amir Taheri observes about the Muslim insurrection in Paris:

President Jacques Chirac and Premier de Villepin are especially sore because they had believed that their opposition to the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 would give France a heroic image in the Muslim community.

That illusion has now been shattered …

Does this mean that American interference in the Mideast has nothing to do with Muslim hostility? Of course not. We must try to understand reality as it is, not reduce it to simplistic, and, as in the case of the current anti-American mania, resentment-driven theories that conveniently single out a single hated party as the sole cause of all ills. Many specific factors may exacerbate or provide pretexts for increased jihadist activity. These include America’s imperialistic democracy-spreading efforts (as the left believes) and Europe’s multicultural accommodation to Islamic immigrants (as is now being more widely realized in the wake of the London bombings and the Paris riots), as well as many other factors. For example, if a Muslim terrorist group attacks America, and America then strikes back at that terrorist group by invading the country that it controls and where it has its headquarters, that will anger some Muslims and stir them to jihad. If Europeans require Muslim school children to conform to Western dress, that will anger some Muslims and stir them to jihad. And if French police enter a Muslim-dominated town in France to enforce French law, that will anger some Muslims and stir them to jihad. The point is that, given Islamic teachings about Muslims’ relations with non-Muslims, anything that brings significant numbers of Muslims into contact with non-Muslim society, plus the inevitable further frictions resulting from that contact, will tend to activate Islam’s jihadist core. But it’s the jihadist core that is the problem. That jihadist core, which is divinely mandated by the unchanging authoritative doctrines of Islam, is incompatible with democracy. As long as it exists, it cannot be assimilated to some non-Islamic culture or way of life.

These realistic understandings about Islam lead to sensible thoughts about how to deal with the Muslim problem. On one hand, we should, to the extent consistent with our interests and our safety and that of our allies, stop doing the things that exacerbate jihadism, while, on the other hand, we should recognize that we do not have the ability to eliminate Islam’s jihadist core, or, rather, we do not have the ability to do so short of destroying Islam itself, which, once again, we do not have the ability to do. In practical terms this means (1) initiating the steady out-migration, both forcible and voluntary, of Muslims from the West; (2) ceasing our doomed and counterproductive campaign to impose democracy on the Muslim lands; and (3) containing and isolating Islam (a containment backed by the credible threat of military force to destroy dangerous Muslim regimes) rather than seeking to transform it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 05, 2005 01:29 PM | Send

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