Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Historical Context: Article And Video

Commentary from the October 1, 2006 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

One Last Thing: Post-9/11 conflicts rooted in history

It's not just Afghanistan, Iraq and a "war on terror." It's the West vs. the Islamic world, a clash that has never abated.

By Jonathan Last

Soon after 9/11, the Bush administration labeled the conflict into which it plunged this country the "war on terror." But this is no more descriptive than calling the fight in Iraq a "war on IEDs." The more pressing question is: Are we, or are we not, engaged in a larger clash of civilizations?

If the answer is "We are," the clash long predates 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and George W. Bush. It predates America itself. It is a clash between Western civilization and the Islamic world.

Harvard professor Samuel Huntington first made this case in 1993, in his famous article "The Clash of Civilizations" in the journal Foreign Affairs. "Conflict along the fault line between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300 years," he wrote. After the founding of Islam, Muslims spread their faith by the sword. Islam conquered North Africa and pushed into Europe, where it ruled in Sicily, Spain, Portugal, and parts of France. Twice, the forces of Islam laid siege to Vienna. For 1,000 years, Islam advanced and Christendom retreated.

As Pope Benedict XVI explains in his book Without Roots, the very concept of "Europe" emerged as a reaction to the surge of Islam. Not until the failure of the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 did the Islamic tide recede definitively. For the next 300 years, Western civilization was ascendant and the Islamic world stagnated.

But the conflict between the two cultures never fully abated. Throughout the 20th century, Western countries tussled with Islamic states or their non-state proxies. And, as columnist Mark Steyn points out, when you gaze at conflicts around the globe today, the one constant is Islam. Muslims are fighting, or have recently fought, Jews in the Mideast, Hindus in Kashmir, Christians in Nigeria, atheists in Russia, Buddhists in Thailand and Burma, Catholics in the Philippines, and Orthodox Christians in the Balkans.

Some argue that these conflicts arise not from a clash of civilizations, but from specific grievances, such as the West's support of Israel. This is an unsatisfactory argument. In his 1990 essay "The Roots of Muslim Rage," professor Bernard Lewis pointed out: "The French have left Algeria, the British have left Egypt, the Western oil companies have left their oil wells, the westernizing shah has left Iran, yet the generalized resentment of the fundamentalists... against the West and its friends remains and grows and is not appeased."

The cause of conflict is not what the West does, but what the West is. Lewis gives two examples. When Israel was first founded, U.S. support was less than wholehearted. Instead, it was the Soviet Union that, through its proxy Czechoslovakia, sent Israelis arms to defend themselves in their first war. In 1956, the United States intervened to help force the British and French out of Egypt. Still, through the '50s and '60s, the Muslim world joined with the Soviets in resenting America.

In November 1979, Islamic terrorists took control of the Great Mosque in Mecca. In Islamabad, a Muslim mob was outraged. The response was to attack and burn - the U.S. Embassy. If Western opinion on the clash is divided, many Islamic voices are quite candid on the subject.

"The war with Israel is not about a treaty, a cease-fire agreement, Sykes-Picot borders, national zeal, or disputed borders," Ayman al-Zawahiri explained this year. "It is rather a jihad for the sake of God until the religion of God is established."

Zawahiri, of course, is an al-Qaeda leader. But the views of other Islamic leaders sound similar.

"Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan is absolute," Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah said in 2002. "Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan."

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed in 2005: "[We] will soon experience a world without the United States, and Zionism and will breathe in the brilliant time of Islamic sovereignty over today's world."

"It is not the world against Iraq. It is the West against Islam," wrote Safar Al-Hawali, dean of Islamic Studies at Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca. This last quote, however, is not from 2003 - it is from 1990, and Hawali was speaking about the first Gulf War.

Two lessons and three caveats here. Lesson one: When we face horrors such as the Beslan school massacre, the assassination of Theo van Gogh, the bombings in Bali, or the beheading of Daniel Pearl, we are seeing not a response to this policy or that action, but the latest episode in a long, historic struggle. Second: No matter how frightening, sometimes you must take your adversaries at their word.

First caveat: Appearances can deceive, and even the wise can be wrong. Second, even if this is a clash, it still could be short-circuited via unforseen events (such as the invention of a hydrogen fuel cell, or the rise of a great Muslim teacher who persuades millions to reject fundamentalism).

Finally, as Lewis writes:

"There is something in the religious culture of Islam which inspired, in even the humblest peasant or peddler, a dignity and a courtesy toward others never exceeded and rarely equaled in other civilizations."

If we accept that this is a clash between civilizations, two questions face us: How does this change our thinking? And the painful one: What do we do about it?
Contact Jonathan V. Last at
For a short visual representation of the history of Islam's expansion, watch the following video (Click on center arrow, then on the arrow on the lower left):

[Hat-tip to Brooke for alerting me to this video]


At 10/04/2006 3:51 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Excellent post, as ever, Always!

Islam is indeed expanding; but nobody seems to wish to do anythhing about it!

Only today, the possible next Conservative prime minister of the United Kingdom gave his speech to the party faithful. To watch it, view here: Does Cameron have what it takes?

And then, we have this video of your president: Is Bush a universalist?

It's all VERY SAD! None of our leaders seems to understand Islam, or its intentions of taking over the world. All are oblivious of its intent, all are unwilling to call a spade a spade. Or are they too cowardly?

At 10/04/2006 4:08 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Hiya AOW..if I hear one more anti semite try to pin this on Israel or the US support of the ONLY democracy in the Mid_east Imma puke!...excellent overview!

At 10/04/2006 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to discuss the clash of civilizations, but I seem to have misplaced my caduceus.

At 10/04/2006 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Snakes on a Plane!!!!

At 10/04/2006 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If nanc could just put Argus to sleep, there's a good chance that someone could blow in there and milk that cow!

At 10/04/2006 5:46 PM, Anonymous religion of pieces said...

A perceptive article on the Islamic cultural attack on the west:

'Violent Islam, cowardly Europe: from the cartoons to Regensburg'
by Samir Khalil Samir S.J.

Samir Khalil Samir, S.J. is an Egyptian Jesuit scholar familiar with Pope Benedict XVI and obviously given his homeland, Islam.


At 10/04/2006 6:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for that link. Excerpt from the article:

There is no realization that our culture and uniqueness are at stake....On Islam's part, there is insupportable intolerance. Is wine being served? Don't drink it! Are they attacking Muhammad? Respond by writing something, a statement. why respond with violence?...

The threat of violence from Muslims is cowing the West.

At 10/04/2006 6:14 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Snakes can serve as different metaphors, but the most common one is that of the subtlety of evil.

[I]f I hear one more anti semite try to pin this on Israel or the US support of the ONLY democracy in the Mid_east Imma puke!

You and me both!

I used to buy into the idea that "Palestinians" were irate over the theft of their real estate. History shows otherwise. Violence on the part of militant predates the founding of the modern nation of Israel by several centuries.

Islam is spread by the sword, not by voluntary conversion thereto. However, in the 20th and 21st Centuries, we're seeing demographics and reproduction rates coming into play.

At 10/04/2006 6:15 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Perhaps you can locate your caduceus? ;)

At 10/04/2006 6:41 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said...

Wonderful article AOW, thanks.


At 10/04/2006 7:16 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

It seems that every few hundred years we get consumed by the Islamic cancer, and must then push it back.

Great article, AOW!

At 10/05/2006 6:27 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Morgan (aka Jingoist),
Andrew Bostom's The Legacy of Jihad is a long read, but lays out the historical path which Islam has followed for those who wish to learn more details.

A few years ago, I read Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations. I will be putting the book on the reading list for my world history students as an option for their annual project.

It seems that every few hundred years we get consumed by the Islamic cancer, and must then push it back.

Over and over again.

At 10/05/2006 6:45 AM, Anonymous religion of pieces said...

Is France slowing descending into civil war?

At 10/05/2006 7:35 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

From the link which ROP just left (article dated October 5, 2006):

Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day.

Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy was warned of an 'intifada'

As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin....

Michel Thoomis, the secretary general of the hardline Action Police trade union, has written to Mr Sarkozy warning of an "intifada" on the estates and demanding that officers be given armoured cars in the most dangerous areas.

He said yesterday: "We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more...

However, Gerard Demarcq, of the largest police unions, Alliance, dismissed talk of an "intifada" as representing the views of only a minority.

Mr Demarcq said that the increased attacks on officers were proof that the policy of "retaking territory" from criminal gangs was working....

Read the rest HERE.

At 10/05/2006 7:46 AM, Blogger JINGOIST said...

Concerning the article you linked above. The French had better crack down on this "intefada" with brute force or all is lost. They showed suicidal weakness in dealing with the riots of 5-6 mos. ago. If they don't figure this out REAL QUICK the France that we all know and despise will be history inside of 20 yrs.
The big worry? Who will have custody of the French nuclear arsenal?


At 10/05/2006 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I do not know if you recall the reaction of the far left anti semites to my boiling the Arab-Israeli conflict down to its basics.

1 There is no basis for Palestinian
ethnicity. This is a myth largely fostered by Communists. Palestinians are Arabs and 22 states exist allready. There is zero reason for the creation of another Juden Frei state.

2 Arabs are not indigenous and have a 1400 year record of colonialism and Jim Crow against the Jews and Christians of the region.

The first reaction is to cry racist. The second reaction is bait and switch well Arabs lived there for eons and they have a right to the land as well.

Thus the left endorses the creation of yet another Islamo-Aparthied state. People like the Duck talk about Greater Israel but push for the Islamo equivalent.

At 10/05/2006 11:15 AM, Anonymous religion of pieces said...

Further to what's happening in France, the British police will soon be too subverted to take any form of action when the intifada breaks out in London:

At 10/05/2006 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think it was in my pocket all the time!

There are two ways of dealing with snakes. One is to unite the Upper and Lower kingdoms at Luxor in the peaceful caduceus. The other is to fight them on the plane. Either one worships the caduceus at Kamutef, or one has to pay a visit to the Precinct of Montu. They've decided they want to play with Montu, and so Kamutef should get out of the way.

I've got my feathered cap on! Do you have yours?

At 10/05/2006 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dems think they can stop worshipping Montu. What a bunch of morons!

At 10/05/2006 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Especially since all they do is complain about Kamutef and the caduceus! They want to tie her up in Muts Precinct and then pretend that Amen-Ra's gonna stop shining.

At 10/05/2006 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where the 'h have these people been for the past 5,000 years?

At 10/05/2006 12:52 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

I cringe every time I hear the term "War on Terror".
I think political reasons are behind this term. If Bush ever was to state that we are at war with Islam than we could forget any help or even the pretense of help. There are governments in the middle east who do not want to see extremists succeed and as long as we limit the rhetoric to terrorism they will at least stand on the sidelines.
In truth though, this is a clash of civilizations and eventually it will be recognized as such.

At 10/05/2006 12:53 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Little help in the corners, folks?

We are staying in Iraq till we "win".

Does that mean kill all the Shia, all the Sunnis or both?

At 10/05/2006 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...livin' in the Sheuts pretending theirs no way of joining the Ba and Ka once the Sekhu is placed in the dungeon of Cheops Great Pyramid at Giza?

At 10/05/2006 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...neither. It's till we cut the tongues out of Cerberus' mouths.

At 10/05/2006 1:48 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Whatever Farmer, but you have to elect a Dem to do that. You want to invade grenada or cut and run from the beirut airport then any Republican will do.

You seem to want some killing done.

At 10/05/2006 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I simply think that once Montu has got his whip out, its time for Kamutef to stop reaching for it and also to stop shuttling back and forth between Mut and Amen-Re.

Let their three tongues be still while Montu performs his functions for Amen-Re at Karnak.

It makes no sense for all of Luxor's pools to be drained.

At 10/05/2006 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...the Valley of the kings lies on the other side of the Nile, just as the Milky Way lies between earth and Orion. Siriusly, Cerberus may be blocking the way! How will Ka and Ba make it out of the Queen's Chamber and get resurrected in the doubly-squared empty tomb in the King's Chamber otherwise?

At 10/05/2006 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Of course, I could be wrong. I got a contact-high over at Long Range that went up in smoke at mine.

At 10/05/2006 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't the Upper and Lower Kingdoms beget Libya? Isn't Giza to the West of Cairo across the Nile as well?

ducky, Elvis doesn't live in Memphis anymore. He haunts the "west" side!

At 10/05/2006 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...where Ra dwells at night.

At 10/05/2006 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mind your step rope-walker. The abyss below is deep. Model yourself after Kamutef. and perhaps one day, you will discover Maat

At 10/05/2006 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shuttle must not be devoured by a Crio-Sphinx. Go to Giza and talk to an Andro-sphinx. But steer clear of Heliopolis and the Hierocosphinxes. You'll never answer their questions.

Sorry for eating all your bandwidth again always. I get carried away everytime I experince an epiphany.

At 10/05/2006 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Be bewy bewy quiet.

Wabbit twacks!


Da widdle is compwete. De answers will fowever wemain hidden!

At 10/05/2006 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

..[._.](..)---( )......./...\..


At 10/05/2006 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This weekend we roast Freedom Now Be There!!!!!!!!!!!! I hear we are serving Marxist Duck.

At 10/05/2006 7:27 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Ducky said...
Does that mean kill all the Shia, all the Sunnis or both?

Whatever it takes.

At 10/05/2006 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, all of this is going on, and yet not a damn thing is being done about it by our sorry-assed government. To make matters worse, if we get a bleeding heart liberal in, they'll be wanting to "have talks" with the terrorists.

Dear president Bush,

When are you going to start allowing open season on the Islamofascists?

Answer: Now now. We have to all live together. Our arab friends are helping us win this war on terror.

At 10/06/2006 8:30 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

..[._.](..)---( )......./...\..



At 10/06/2006 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a bold statement, always! I'll have to remember that!

At 10/06/2006 9:28 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...


At 10/06/2006 9:59 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

From Muslim World Review, "What Is the World Afraid of Muslims?". Concluding sentence:

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "I have judged other's religions by their lives, for it is from our lives and not our words that our religions must be read."

At 10/06/2006 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd better get yourself over to beaks. Elbro's speading rumours about you & FN. If you get over there, you may find a good use for one of tmw's frying pans! ;-)

At 10/06/2006 2:27 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm reading that post at Beak's right now.

At 10/06/2006 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I must have misunderstood...Janet and Mrs. Furley are gonna kill me!

At 10/06/2006 6:22 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Three's Company?

At 10/08/2006 8:34 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

You know, all of this is going on, and yet not a damn thing is being done about it by our sorry-assed government.

The Sixties mentality is in charge. "Can't we all get along?"

At 10/08/2006 2:52 PM, Anonymous religion of pieces said...


There are reports that Jesus is appearing to Muslims in dreams and converting them to Christianity:.

What are the Religious Police doing about it? How come this sort of stuff can get through censorship into Islamic countries? Can't the authorities put up some kind of dream firewall?

Most likely the Jooooooooz are behind it since they control all the media. And wasn't Jesus a Joooooo?

At 10/08/2006 9:48 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for those links. I've already notified one of my students, who definitely will be interested in reading about those "dreams."


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