"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What's at stake in the war with radical Islam

For understandable political reasons, not even President Bush among Western leaders presents our war with "Islamist" terrorists as a war with "Islam." It is incompatible with our modern, Western self-image to be intolerant of any major religion. But let there be no mistake: unlike some Muslims, the House of Islam as a whole has no room for such tolerance itself. Accordingly, there can be no permanent compromise between the House of Islam and those outside it. Ultimately, one or the other will effectively surrender.

I know that sounds like a radical throwback to the era of the Crusades and the Reconquista. And I'm not justifying the brutality of the Crusaders against non-combatants. But the Reconquista was, well, justified; and initially at least, the Crusades were launched for very good reason too. After centuries in which Muslim armies had conquered much of the ancient Christian world, including Spain, and were pressuring the rest of Christendom, the West was not only fed up but finally able to do something about it. There was jus ad bellum. That the thing ended up being done poorly, with some horrible crimes committed along the way, only shows that there was not always jus in bello. Such is fallen humanity in this vale of tears. And we are once again faced with the same sort of challenge.

Most Muslims are of course not terrorists; but in the House of Islam today, there is a doleful and inexorable logic working in the terrorists' favor. Given its resentment of the West and the energy of the violent radicals, it's as if the moderate majority have no effective argument against the terrorists. Al-Qaeda, in Iraq and elsewhere, seems able to draw on an inexhaustible supply of suicide bombers. Iran is now ruled by people who have made no bones about wanting to destroy Israel and the United States and are proceeding apace to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. Hamas, a terrorist organization that has killed many non-combatant Israelis, has just won power in the Palestinian territories. Hezbollah, another terrorist organization, is politically respectable in Lebanon and effectively rules the south of that country, where it borders on Israel. Even the toppled Taliban in Afghanistan continue, from their mountain redoubts, to bleed their enemies, including American soldiers. And in many other countries where Muslims are a significant presence, home-grown Islamist movements emulate the tactics of al-Qaeda, to which they increasingly look for logistical support as well as inspiration.

As we confront such people, we end up sooner or latter killing or otherwise victimizing many innocent people. Unlike the Crusaders, we don't feel free to do that; but as in any war, the death of innocents is to some degree inevitable even when not intended. In today's world, that only fuels our enemies' propaganda. But it's a measure of what we're up against that there's nowhere near as much outrage among Muslims about the death of non-Muslim innocents at the hands of terrorists who want to kill them as there is about the death of Muslim innocents at the hands of American forces who don't want to kill them. We're dealing with a double standard here, and it poses for us an inescapable choice: we can be seen as good guys, or we can defend ourselves. There is no third way between dhimmitude and war.

Western Europe seems most reluctant to see that. Perhaps it never will. If it doesn't, Europe will become Eurabia, if only demographically. I do not want that to happen to my own country. As disappointing and occasionally infuriating as it sometimes is, I love the United States of America. But even we will go down in the struggle if we don't recover our spiritual roots.

Those roots are "the laws of nature and of nature's God." The natural law recognized in the Declaration of Independence. Islam as such cannot recognize natural law. Its conception of God is purely voluntaristic; accordingly, it conceives law and morality simply as inscrutable divine commands. See Professor Anthony Esolen's compilation and observations. One of those commands is that of jihad: struggle to bring the world into the House of Islam. The Qu'ran indicates that sometimes violence is necessary for that. We are seeing it today.
blog comments powered by Disqus