January 22, 2003
Clash of Civilizations II
From The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington - published by Simon and Schuster, l996
"The dangerous clashes of the future are likely to arise from the interaction of Western arrogance, Islamic intolerance, and Sinic assertiveness."I have not read the book but some of us have discussed this subject at another forum. I believe, as does the author, that we are at the onset of a very serious clash of civilizations.
I believe that East and West can get along well enough to avoid war despite their different world views. I believe that both East and West have advanced sufficiently to see that their interest is economic and not territorial. I also believe that for both East and West their interest in religion is not strong enough to be a cause for war.
Clearly that is not the case of the Muslim world. Extremist elements in the Muslim world are stirring religious passions and advocating violence and terrorism as legitimate means of war and conquest. Neither East not West will be the willing targets of terror and violence although European actions sometimes cast doubt on this statement.
North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela are minor distractions on the world stage, comic relief if you wish. They can be dealt with or ignored as the major powers see fit.
The Muslim world is not mono block, it is clearly divided into religious and secular blocks and into aggressive and passive blocks. Herein lies the difficulty in understanding what the East and West are up against. Clearly the passive blocks are not a problem. In this group are some Middle East oil countries, certain Asian Muslim countries like Turkey and many, if not most, Muslim communities the world over. Without the existence of the aggressive religious block, the secular block would not be a major problem because there would be no glue to bind them together. They have tried socialism, nationalism, pan-Arabism and even oil and all have failed as glues to create a solid Muslim block that could challenge either East or West. Nasser, Gadaffi, the House of Saud and their followers were pimples on an elephants ass. Bothersome but not life threatening. Even Saddam Hussein is nothing but a large sized pimple. They can be and have been dealt with as the occasion demanded.
When the religious extremists make their appearance on the world stage and as they move from bit parts to the lead roles, the whole equation changes. Now there is a glue to unite the Muslims, the banner of Islam, and they provide the Credo to drive the Muslims into a frenzy well expressed in suicide bombings like the one that destroyed the New York World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It is good to listen to Osama Bin Laden to find out what they are after. Reading Mein Kampf could have prevented the ascendency of Adolph Hitler. Bin Laden's message is simple and clear. Islam does not have to be a second rate religion. Islam needs to recover its former glory as expressed in Moorish Spain and Saladin's realms. Osama Bin Laden is the modern day Saladin.
The quandary that the West is faced with is that Islam is not presenting itself as a traditional national enemy. Nazi Germany was easy to identify as an enemy. Imperial Japan was easy to identify as an enemy. In previous times Imperial Spain and Imperial England were easy for the US to identify as enemies. Osama Bin Laden is not a territorial entity. The moment he becomes one, as in the case of Afghanistan, he is relatively easy to deal with. The Taliban are history.
If you can't isolate the enemy to fight him, you need find other ways to get at him. If Osama Bin Laden is not the leader of a country, if he does not have a country that you can attack and defeat as was the case of Afghanistan, you need to go to the next level which is to attack and defeat those countries that aid and abet Osama Bin Laden. There is no need for hair splitting. What needs to be determined is which states are the most effective aides for Osama Bin Laden. In my mind there are two of them that are clearly identifiable. Saudi Arabia and Iraq. These are the countries that America ought to, in principle, attack and defeat. There is no need to take them on both at the same time. Strategy dictates that extreme Islam needs to be brought under control. Tactics dictate that Iraq is the best target of opportunity at this time.
Tactical considerations also dictate that time is of essence and that this Winter is the closest opportunity to take care of Iraq. If not done this Winter a whole year will have been wasted and the situation will be just a lot worse when Iraq is confronted at a later date.
George Bush, as the leader of the West, cannot allow himself and the United States to be mired in the bog that is the United Nations, the tar pit that is swallowing human dignity and human freedom. Libya and Gadaffi defenders of human rights? Laughable if it weren't so sad. That the French are opposed? America will have to save their sorry arses for them once more. Germany? Idem. Russia? Idem. I'm glad to see that at least the Anglo-Saxon countries seem to be united in the quest to save the West from Extreme Islam.
Clash of Civilizations by Denny Schlesinger
Book Review by Father John McCloskey
Caracas - Venezuela
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Last updated June 22, 2003