Flawless is coming soon...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Western Christendom v. Islam? Part II

On September 10, 2001, I met a federal official at L’Enfant Plaza, who worked for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The security was so tight, it took about 30 minutes before I was permitted to see the official. I commented to him how strict security was at the facility, and he advised that the government didn’t want to take any chances on a terrorist attack. I said, “No terrorist organization would have the guts to strike in the heart of the nation’s capital.” Well…that wasn’t the first time I’ve had been proven wrong in an assessment on a particular subject.

A little less than 24 hours after my meeting with this federal official, Samuel P. Huntington’s phone began to ring off the hook, because his bestselling book, The Clash of Civilizations predicted the inevitability of September 11th. He predicted that new patterns of conflict would emerge in the post-Cold War era, and they would be battles over the survival of civilization and not over ideological disagreements that plunged many nations into protracted wars during the 20th Century.

If the thesis of Huntington’s book is correct, then 21st Century conflicts are simply a continuation of wars that have destroyed many civilizations; some as influential in their time as America is today. Carroll Quigley, in his book Tragedy and Hope, offers an explanation into the life cycle of civilizations. According to his analysis, civilizations go through a process of evolution from its birth, which is followed by a period of vigorous expansion, at the expense of its neighbors and possibly other civilizations. Once the civilization is recognized as such, it becomes stabilized and eventually stagnant. This period of stagnation is often accompanied by a Golden Age of peace and prosperity, where internal crises arise, and the question of the civilization’s ability to defend itself from outside forces come to bear.

If new ideas – modes of thought and action – become incompatible with its founding principles, the civilization will grow steadily weaker through internal conflicts until it is submerged by outside enemies and eventually disappears. These are not hypothetical notions, but time honored observations into the life and death of a society. Quigley traced the lifecycle of sixteen civilizations dating back to 6000 B.C., and he demonstrated that Europeans, bearing various names, including Western Civilization, have destroyed twelve possibly fourteen civilizations. This is so significant, I feel compelled to repeat it: Quigley traced the lifecycle of sixteen civilizations dating back to 6000 B.C., and he demonstrated that Europeans, bearing various names, including Western Civilization, have destroyed twelve possibly fourteen civilizations since the time of the Greeks in the 4th Century B.C.

Quigley goes further to say, “When we consider the untold numbers of other societies, simpler than civilizations, which Western Civilization has destroyed or is now destroying, societies such as the Hottentots, the Iroquois, the Tasmanians, the Navahoes, the Caribs, and countless others, the full frightening power of Western Civilization becomes obvious (Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1966, pp. 7-8).”

In Tragedy and Hope, Quigley discloses an Anglo-American conspiracy for World Empire. He doesn’t place a value judgement on it as being right or wrong, but he makes it clear that its role is so important that it should be acknowledged:

“There does exist and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in a way the radical right believes the Communist act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other group, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960’s to examine its papers and secret records. I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments...[I]n general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known (ibid, p. 950).”

Quigley seems to encourage this furtive expansion of Western Civilization; however, he would rather see it be more open. Huntington, on the other hand seems to be concerned that this expansion will not occur if the United States continues to divorce itself from European culture with multiculturalism and multilingualism. Consequently, Who Are We is the roadmap to reclaiming America’s Anglo-European culture.

If Quigley in the 1960s and Huntington more recently realized the stakes that are at risk for Western Civilization, then there is no reason for me to doubt that many of our political, social and corporate leaders, along with Islamic scholars and political leaders see the same thing – the destiny of human civilization. According to Quigley, each time the Western world went through a stage of expansion, it caused the death of someone’s way of life.

Now this brings me to the question that has been debated since the destruction of the World Trade Towers – Is the current War on Terror a conflict of civilizations between Western Christendom and Islamic Civilization or is it simply America’s response to September 11th? When you consider that people who have identified themselves as “Christian” have been fighting Muslims since the Crusades, and if you consider that the Western world has intervened in Middle Eastern affairs in ways that have harmed Muslims since the turn of the 20th Century, this conflict certainly looks like a continuation of war between the West and Islam.

President Bush denied that the wars in the Middle East are conflicts of civilization, but he also denied that they were not about oil either. He’s probably right about the issue of oil, but I believe that he is twisting the facts to reject the idea that the war is a conflict between Western Christendom and Islam. He claims that we are defending our right to be a free nation: Do you remember the “They hate our freedoms” comment? If you buy that explanation, however, I humbly suggest that the standard of proof will be on you.

The war planners on both sides know the motivation for war, and although the Saudis, Jordan and other U.S. allies in the Middle East are continuing their public show of support for this war, they understand that this war could determine the fate of Islam. Although the war is not about oil, oil continues to be the commodity that runs the world; literally, so the unsavory relationship between the U.S. and its Middle East allies will only be as strong as the flow of oil to the West.

The United States knows a thing or two about strange bedfellows. It was allied with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s when he was engaged in war against Iran; however, as soon as that war was over, he became a villain. And the irony is not lost on anyone who studies Middle Eastern politics: America scripted Saddam’s overthrow and execution and did it under false pretenses. This country’s relationships with non-Western nations are purely for American self-interest, and once that self interest has been satisfied, the relationship will be severed. Self interest was why the U.S. sent the CIA to Afghanistan to train Osama bin Laden during the conflict between al Qaeda and the Soviet Union. However, after that war ceased, America rejected its ties with him as well and years later, bin Laden finds himself at war with his former lover.

Last week it was reported that after a meeting in Vienna, OPEC refused to boost production, although President Bush suggested that it would be a mistake if it allowed the U.S. economy to slow down as a result of higher energy costs. OPEC President told reporters that there was sufficient supply of oil, so there was no need to increase production. He went on further to say that world markets were reacting to “the mismanagement of the U.S. economy.” However, one must consider if this OPEC decision is the economic equivalent of launching a Tomahawk Cruise Missile at the United States. If anyone understands what’s at stake in the current volatile situation in the Middle East, the OPEC nations do.

…to be continued

No comments: