nationalinterest.org has an interesting article by Robert W. Merry in which he is making some important comments about the West and Islam. Excerpts below:
[Many Muslims in Europe] despise the West as a morally inferior civilization that has, however, dominated many lands of Islam through a superior technology of warfare.
“The underlying problem for the West,” wrote Huntington, “is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power. The problem for Islam is that the West, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture and believe that their superior, if declining, power imposes on them the obligation to extend that culture throughout the world.”
Huntington also wrote, “Some Westerners . . . have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise.”
There is a natural tension between the West and Islam that has always been there.
“The preservation of the United States and the West,” Huntington wrote, “requires the renewal of Western identity. The security of the world requires acceptance of global multiculturality.” In other words, domestic multiculturalism erodes America’s ability to preserve its identity. And global universalism exacerbates civilizational tensions unnecessarily. And yet that precisely is what America has been pursuing—domestic multiculturalism and global universalism. This can’t possibly work.
The Muslim population of France is about 7.5 percent, a critical mass that threatens ongoing domestic strife within that country. The renewal of Western cultural identity urged by Huntington won’t come easily there. Our hearts must go out to the entire country in the wake of episodes of mass murder like the truck attack in Nice on July 14, 2016.
The Muslim population of American, by contrast, is about 1 percent, though Muslims make up about 10 percent of ongoing legal immigration and differential birthrates will boost that population segment in coming years. The question for America is whether it should seek to craft immigration policies designed to prevent America from facing the challenge now confronting France. It’s a question that most Americans clearly don’t want to face, as reflected in the reaction to Trump’s suggestion of a temporary halt to Muslim immigration. But, if the trend lines of violence continue along their current trajectory, here and throughout the West, political sensibilities on the issue could change.
Robert W. Merry is a contributing editor at the National Interest and an author of books on American history and foreign policy.
Comment: Merry brings up a fundamental question in his article invoking Huntington’s clash of civilizations theory. There are many challenges today to the declining West.
It is important first to remember that there are many distinct cultures within Islamic civilization. The main challenge to the West is coming from the Arab subcivilization. The Iranian empire (former Persia) is the breeding ground for hatred against the West. Iran is a strong supporter of terrorist groups that attack the West. The Turkic and Malay subcivilizations of Islam have so far not turned against the West although there are Islamic terrorist groups in Central Asia. Muslim terror groups exist in for instance countries like the Philippines and Indonesia but their activities so far do not constitute a civilizational clash with the West. For centuries, however, there was a clash in Europe with Islam and a serious military Islamic threat to what was the the Western heartland.
The declining West has many more challengers than the Arab subcivilization. Other challengers are the Russian and Chinese empires. The main question is if the West will be capable of stopping and reversing internal decay, the inner challenge?
According to American macro-historian Carroll Quigley in The Evolution of Civilizations (1961) this is questionable:
Western civilization existed in full flower about A.D. 1500, and will surely pass out of existence at some time in the future, perhaps before A.D. 2500.