Skip to comments.ISLAM: THE SECOND WAVE
Posted on 10/31/2001 6:24:45 PM PST by Brian Allen
Anthony Harrigan is a free-lance writer with decades of experience.
This article was written before the terrorist attack on the U.S.
For a century after the death of Mohammed, Islam was an explosive force sweeping across North Africa and Iberia, pushing deep into Gaul and rolling over Byzantine possessions from the Middle East to the Balkans. Charles Martel stopped the Muslim drive into France in 731, but it was centuries before the Islamic forces were expelled from Spain. Now the Muslim world once again is a great explosive force. It is an ideological, religious, political, and military force gathering power each year.
Not all Muslims are fanatical, to be sure; not all Muslim states are in the grip of fanaticism or enraged at Western countries. But Increasingly, Islam is nuclear armed. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Thanks to Chinese help, Iran seems well on the way to developing such weapons and constructing missiles to rain on its enemies in the West.
Iraq was well on its way to producing nuclear weapons before the Gulf War. No one can say with exactitude how far they progressed or what has survived in the years since the end of the war. Libya also has had nuclear ambitions. Sooner or later, these nations will possess nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
Even as the Islamic world has moved to acquire weapons of mass destruction, their peoples have moved into several Western countries. Germany has a large Turkish population. Pakistanis constitute an ever-growing part of the British population. France has a large Moroccan population.
Italy and Spain also have many newcomers from Arab states. The United States, for its part, has a growing population of Muslims. So the Western nations, through their tolerance, are facing pressures from within and without.
The extent of the worldwide Muslim population is not generally appreciated in the United States. Muslim rebels threaten the stability of the Philippines. Indonesia, with 200 million people, is a Muslim giant, albeit a largely sleeping giant. China faces Muslim pressure in its western region, as Russia does in Central Asia and nearby republics. Witness the protracted war waged by the Chechnyans. The United States in an act of incredible folly supported the Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, thereby giving Muslims an historic opportunity to renew their penetration of the Balkans at the expense of the Christian Serbs and Croats. The Europeans, for their part, seem unmindful of the danger-even though Muslim revolutionary fighters were brought into the Balkans to help establish bases there. Europeans seem to have forgotten that their ancestors had to fight for hundreds of years to prevent the Muslims from controlling all of Europe, the remains of the old western Roman empire.
J. M. Roberts, author of The History of Europe (Allen Lane, 1996) makes the definitive statement on Islam, saying, "Islam from the start was a religion of conquest." It remains so today. It has a very different character from Christianity, which it displaced for centuries in North Africa, the Middle East, Spain, and the Balkans. That's not to say that Christians in many periods have not been militant, as in the crusades and the conquest of Central and South America. Some of that militancy, however, was the result of the closing of pilgrimage routes by Muslim forces. But the underlying message of Christianity has been "love thy neighbor," whereas Muslims believed that if they killed an infidel-a non-believer-they would be transported into paradise. From the seventh century onward, this belief has characterized and unified Muslims from Indonesia to the slums of Gaza and the West Bank.
Mohammed was born in Arabia in 570 and died in 632. He established a simple but revolutionary faith whose forces seized Jerusalem, Syria, and Mesopotamia in short order. An Arab fleet attacked Cyprus. By 700 Carthage had been conquered and the entire North African coast, once part of the Roman empire, had been brought under Muslim control. At roughly the same time, the Muslims crossed into Spain, then under the control of the Visigoths. The Muslims also pushed into India and battled the Chinese in the Pamir mountains on China's western border. Several centuries later, a Muslim fleet attacked Canton. In short, the Muslims carried their war from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The Muslims came close to cutting Western Europe in two. Westerners today don't appreciate the extent of the Islamic offensive against Christendom in the seventh and succeeding centuries. Apart from the deep penetration of present-day France, the Islamic invaders from the sea moved into the Riviera, pushed far into Provence and reached the Alpine passes. They also fought their way into Central Italy. At the same time-in the ninth and tenth centuries-Western Europe was under assault by the Vikings who raided the continent and the British isles, devastating vital cultural institutions such as monasteries. It is amazing that the weak West European kingdoms were able to prevent total destruction at the hands of both invading forces. Of course, the Norsemen settled down in many places and became Christians and members of the traditional social order.
The war against Christendom raged in the Mediterranean throughout this period. Crete was conquered by the Muslims in 823 and Sicily was under attack from 840 to 902. Muslims also overran the Eastern Roman Empire's territories in Southern Italy. The Muslims sacked Barcelona in 985. The Western counterattack didn't come until the First Crusade (1095-99) when a chain of Western principalities was established between Antioch and Jerusalem. Saladin's assault on Jerusalem marked the beginning of the end of the Western outposts in Muslim West Asia.
It was not until the mid-1400s that the Moors were expelled from Spain. And the Ottoman empire remained in control of the Balkans and large sections of the Middle East until modern times. Descendants of the conquering Muslim tide still hold a bridgehead across the Bosporus. It also should be noted that Islam spread into many parts of Africa. People we now know as Arabs were active in East Africa from the time of the Queen of Sheba. In the early Muslim period the island of Zanzibar became a center of Arab power. Arabs were the great slavers in Africa for a thousand years. Indeed Africans continue to be captured and sold into slavery in the Arabian peninsula. And the world is well aware that Muslims in the northern part of Sudan hold tremendous numbers of Christian and animist slaves from the southern part of the country. Islam is strong in many parts of the African continent, including very large countries such as Nigeria. Muslims also are numerous in the Natal province of South Africa. War between Christians and Muslims is an ongoing problem for several West African countries.
One of the initial targets of the second wave of Islamic conquest are the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, a poor area of 60 million people. Margaret Coker of the Cox News Service wrote in The Washington Times, October 28, 2000 that U.S. and Russian officials fear a decisive Taliban victory will give the organization more time and money to export its brand of Islamic fundamentalism across Tajikistan and the rest of central Asia, spawning a new generation of terrorists.
Engagement with the Islamic terrorist forces will be a heavy burden for a Russia which is struggling to become a democracy.
The Arabs learned in the wars with Israel that they couldn't match the military might of Israel, which possessed advanced weaponry provided by the United States. They turned to the weapon of terrorism. Skyjacking, suicide bombers, the destruction of selected, high profile buildings, assassinations, and related actions, now including urban warfare on a larger scale, have enabled the Muslims to extend their power and to intimidate much of the West, winning psychological victories in the process. When the Muslims tried these methods in Russia in recent years, they learned the hard way that the Russians would respond with massive military force. The West, however, has made the mistake of trying to accommodate terrorist elements by allowing them to participate in the struggle in the Balkans. One can't accommodate or appease terrorists. They have to be crushed wherever they appear. If they enjoy a success in one place, they move on to new targets.
The case of Israel is relevant to this problem. For almost a decade, Israel has accepted the "land for peace" formula in trying to stabilize and regularize its position in the midst of the Arab world. The outbreaks of Palestinian street warfare in the fall of 2000 finally woke the Israelis to a realization that the formula will not work, that the yielding of land in the hope of advancing acceptance and peace is an unrealistic strategy. It only increases the Palestinian appetite for more land and control and heightens hope for the expulsion of Israelis from a nation they believed would be accepted and recognized as a permanent homeland.
The fact of the renewed Islamic push undoubtedly will require the people and government of Israel to completely abandon the land for peace notion and move into a siege position. A siege position may cause the Israelis to conclude that their only option is to reoccupy areas now under Palestinian control, to evict Arabs now living inside Israel, and to end the practice of hiring Palestinian labor from outside. This means that Israel will have to remain on a war footing, with a disturbing casualty rate among its soldiers, as far as one can see into the twenty-first century. As Israel already manages to live only with tremendous military aid from the United States, the new conditions will have a very strong impact on opinion in the United States and new questions regarding U.S. policy.
It would be a mistake for Americans to conclude that a new Arab assault on Israel means that the United States is directly under attack. The United States may sympathize with the Israelis but it isn't obligated or committed to intervening militarily to rescue the Israelis. Israel is not a NATO ally of the United States. The only intervention that would be broadly popular in the United States would be of a diplomatic or political nature. For the United States to move militarily against Muslim countries or entities, the national interest and security of the U.S. and its citizens would have to be directly involved.
It has to be borne in mind that Muslim terrorists already have struck at the American homeland with their bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. American diplomatic missions also have come under attack in Kenya and Tanzania. The United States, Western European countries, and Russia are the prime targets. For all the economic and military might of these countries, they are vulnerable to terrorism and urban warfare in a variety of forms-from the attack on a U.S. warship in Aden, to the Chechnyan bombings in Moscow. More of the same undoubtedly lies ahead.
Understanding the dimensions of the Islamic second wave assault against the West, principally the United States, is the initial and most important step to be taken by our country and its allies. And that will not be an easy task because in the late twentieth century the liberal-minded Western world was so confident that all opposing forces could be accommodated and handled by negotiations and financial arrangements. Relatively few voices-Samuel Huntington of Harvard University is one of those-warned of the coming clash of civilizations. Yet that is precisely what we face in respect to the Islamic challenge. This means that we in the West are ill-prepared for a war of conquest directed against us, a war that challenges all our post-modern values and employs the most deadly and cunning forms of assault against our people.
The attacks are not solely derived from the fact that the United States has in effect created and has long supported Israel. These attacks are grounded in hostility to our civilization and, as history shows, occurred more than a thousand years before modern secular culture came into existence. The initial assault of the seventh century was directed at Christianity and the Romanized world of the Mediterranean.
Today we live in a largely post-Christian world in which historic Western traditions have been undermined or scrapped. Yet the Islamic second wave is as furious as the first. There are disparate groups ranging from Indonesia to Libya. And the Islamic forces are likely to rely on urban warfare, suicide bombers and other acts of terrorism that are difficult for the West to confront and counter.
Westerners, spoiled by more than a half century during which the world has been their oyster, surely will find it enormously stressful if, as it now appears likely, many lands will be closed to them or become too dangerous to travel in. We may well have a situation in which Western diplomatic missions will be forced to shut down so that Western travelers don't have any place to turn to in a personal crisis. During the Cold War, parts of the Communist empire were closed to Westerners, but the rules were clear and enforcement was by official forces, not by fanatical individuals and groups who aim to terrorize. And there are likely to be new hostage situations such as proved the undoing of the Carter administration. Such a situation would be a throwback to the early first wave of Islamic conquest when Christians could not safely travel in Muslim lands. And it should be remembered that many Muslim areas, such as the Arabian desert, remained closed until the twentieth century. Indeed Americans should bear in mind that Saudi Arabia remains closed to tourists, only business and government people who have specific missions in the country, missions which are authorized by the Saudi government.
Dealing with conditions of this sort is extremely difficult for Westerners whose mind-set has been shaped by liberal notions of openness and tolerance. Their lack of rigorousness of belief makes it hard for them to live with and deal effectively within a hostile world environment. People of the medieval world, on the other hand, were well-equipped to resist forces that they knew by experience to be hostile. They did not expect their enemies to vanish overnight or to abandon their hostility. The educated people were mindful of earlier assaults on the civilized people of the Roman world and were prepared for a very long siege, not only against the walls of castles but against the entire structure of Western society.
Given the relativism of the contemporary liberal world, one has to wonder whether it will be possible for the West to develop the siege mentality that may be necessary to prevent a new Islamic conquest. The acquisition of such a mentality runs counter to everything that Westerners bought into in the latter half of the twentieth century. One of the underlying assumptions of the liberal Western world is that all people are essentially good and that all problems can be solved by sweet reasonableness, with economic advantage being a major force for different groups finding common agreement. These notions are contrary to several millennia of human experience and ignore the bloody, protracted character of conflicts between civilizations.
When all is said and done, neither the leaders nor peoples of the West comprehend the full scope of Islamic ambitions in the twenty-first century-the second wave of conquest that is looming on the horizon of history. Only those who are most directly in the path of these ambitions-and these are the Russians-understand. We can learn from their understanding and response. It isn't easy for comfortable, seemingly secure people in the West to recognize a foreign threat. During the cold war, millions of people in Europe and the United States refused to believe the reality of the Soviet threat, though it was there in the vast Red Army and the powerful fleet of Soviet ballistic missile submarines targeting the United States. Americans and Europeans were fortunate that President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher recognized the enormous threat and were resolute against the giant totalitarian power confronting the West. But the West must come to understand the new emerging threats not only from China but from gathering Muslim forces. Gaining this understanding will require a massive effort by thought leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. For American or European action to be effective in the long run, the West must regain its identity and the moral fabric that made possible the sacrifices that prevented a Nazi totalitarian victory in World War II. The victory in the clash of civilizations doesn't depend on advanced weapons but on the inner strength of the combatants. This is especially true of a struggle extending over decades. The struggle between the West and Soviet Communism extended from the end of World War II to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. And a struggle between the West and Islamic forces is likely to have a much greater duration as the Islamic forces are more diverse and extend over a vast physical space.
Dr. William Melczer, author of The Pilgrimage Guide to Santiago de Campostela (Italica Press, 1995) has discussed in detail medieval man's mystic state of mind. It isn't possible to understand Western Christendom's resolute resistance to Islamic conquest without recognizing that key psychological fact. This state of mind not only made possible the construction of great cathedrals and the establishment of pilgrimage routes, but it provided the inner drive for Christians in the West who fought against the Muslims from the time Tarik-Ibn-Zaid crossed into Spain from Africa in 710 until the Moors were expelled in the fifteenth century. Westerners, or the greater part of them, have lost that mystic bent and steely inner drive that would equip them for lengthy resistance to the second wave of Islamic conquest. In brief, the West has been spiritually and morally disarmed by the spread of liberalism, especially in the twentieth century.
All things considered, the United States and other Western nations face a tremendous challenge in facing up to the developing Muslim threat. The challenge will come in terms of understanding the reality and dimensions of the Muslim threat and also in terms of the moral stamina required to deal with it. The challenge is compounded by the fact that at the same time the United States will have to respond to the Chinese threat to dominate the Pacific world. To be sure, this is not the first time the United States and European nations faced a dual threat on this scale. In the 1930s, the U.S., Britain, France, and the Netherlands faced a dual threat from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. It took years of warfare to overcome the threat. And the human cost for the West was staggering. Ultimately, it required that an atomic bomb be used to humble the Japanese. It was necessary for the Allies to invade the heart of Europe to defeat Hitler's Third Reich. Fortunately, the moral stamina of the Americans and the Allies was immense at the time. They were willing to sacrifice to secure their liberties. Today, Western morale is diminished. Clearly, there has been erosion in the Western spirit since the end of World War II. One can only hope that the sources of moral stamina will be renewed and that the United States and its allies in the West will be able to survive and overcome the assaults that will take place in the twenty-first century.
© Copyright St.Croix Review 2001
The [Clinton "administration"] in an act of incredible folly [?] supported the Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, thereby giving Muslims an historic opportunity to renew their penetration of the Balkans at the expense of the Christian Serbs and Croats.
The Europeans, for their part, seem unmindful of the danger-even though Muslim revolutionary fighters were brought into the Balkans to help establish bases there. Europeans seem to have forgotten that their ancestors had to fight for hundreds of years to prevent the Muslims from controlling all of Europe, the remains of the old western Roman empire.
I hope that you're right and not just horsing around
That Islamic fanaticism, found fertile soil in the middle east, is a given. But this is a reactionary response, to the shear speed, and pervasiveness with which western culture has assaulted them. Just look how they responded, by trying to turn back the clock. Even we in the educated west, have trouble with the speed of change. Try to imagine if you grew up in one of these backward nations, you can't even read, and now your presented, with a personal computer and you know, that the west is leaving you behind. They call us arrogant, the ignorant, always think the educated are arrogant, and that they look down on them. It's the young, that are best with change. Look at the recent riots in Iran, where the students are calling for an end to the Theocracy. This second wave concept, is wrong. What we are seeing is reactionary, not revolutionary.
A lot of us are starting to appreciate the long-term danger of the Islamic world - that they have replaced the Communist world as the main evil force in the world. But I don't think the West had gone soft because of (generic)liberalism, it's just that once Communism collapsed it looked like liberal Western-style philosophy had won.
We all just kind of ignored the Muslim threat. (We never even gave it a thought until 1979 & Iran.) But I think we'll be able to get over the fact that the new Western idyll was cut short after beating the Communists. If another seige is necessary for this century against religious totalitarianism like it was against CommuNazi totalitarianism before, so be it.
IOW, in the long run I'm not worried at all. We will win the long term battle. Islam cannot thrive in a modern world.
No wonder Mr Bush and Mr Putin came to an understanding with each other so smoothly over the conduct of the Ashturdistahn campaign!
Agree. Are we witnessing the painful, agonizing birth of Islam into modernity? I think so. To use the birth metaphor, it's going to have to be a cesarean.
Survival instinct, just as much as "moral stamina." Folks didn't want to be subjects of Germany or Japan, who had declared war against us.
Radical Islamists have effectively declared War against the US (and I suppose anyone who allies with us). Bush and Blair should just come out, and say this, plain and simple. They should give a little history lesson, running down the litany of terroism, by Muslims, across the world.
They should throw down the challenge to every nation, to pick sides. Then start fighting the war, without reservation.
Thus far, it appears to be only vague, half-measures. But it will come to be more, far more, than that. Atomic at some point, because these folks unerstand power and destruction, and nothing less.
But we must not forget that they first establish a stable population as a base in a country. Their main method of attack is from within the country ,as 9/11 shows. They do not fight conventional warfare, ie: mass troops, tanks rolling etc. etc., because they would lose. They fight from within with guerilla tactics and terror.This way they negate the use of the more powerful aspects of a country's weapons and even the playing field.
They already have a base of several million Islamics in this country. We've got to seal our borders from these people or we're going to be facing the same thing that Israel is with the same regularity. The damn politicans had better forget this PC crap and the Muslim vote and get as many of these people out of the country as they can.
FReegards -- Brian
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