Monday, March 26, 2007

The third era of Islamic Imperialism

Via Melanie Phillips comes this lecture from historian Bernard Lewis on the threat facing the west from the latest wave of Islamic Imperialism. Read it all.

The declaration of war begins at the very beginning of Islam. There are certain letters purported to have been written by the Prophet Muhammad to the Christian Byzantine emperor, the emperor of Persia, and various other rulers, saying, "I have now brought God's final message. Your time has passed. Your beliefs are superseded. Accept my mission and my faith or resign or submit--you are finished." The authenticity of these prophetic letters is doubted, but the message is clear and authentic in the sense that it does represent the long dominant view of the Islamic world.

It's interesting to note that the President of Iran has sent similar letters to the President of the USA. Lewis then goes on to remind us that the Crusades - which in the post-modern view is seen as an act of aggression against peaceful Muslims- was actually a response to Islamic Imperialism which had conquered the Holy Lands as well as much of Africa, Asia and Europe.

Lewis points out that the post-modern view of the Crusades is so entrenched that in 2002, the then French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, while addressing the French National Assembly was to say .....

that one of Saddam Hussein's heroes was his compatriot Saladin, who came from the same Iraqi town of Tikrit. In case the members of the Assembly were not aware of Saladin's identity, M. Raffarin explained to them that it was he who was able "to defeat the Crusaders and liberate Jerusalem."

The second wave of Islamic Imperialism was led by the Turks.

[W]ho had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from North Africa--well-known to historians of the United States--were raiding Western Europe. They went to Iceland--the uttermost limit--and to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631. In a contemporary document, we have a list of 107 captives who were taken from Baltimore to Algiers, including a man called Cheney.

Once more, this conquest was pushed back and appeared, for a time, to have been completely defeated. But Islamic Imperialism was far from beaten. It is, if nothing else, a patient beast that believes it's destiny is to rule the world and that time is no barrier to that ambition. The latest wave is characterised by two tactics. Terror attacks and immigration and is headed by Osama Bin Laden.

In his perception, the millennial struggle between the true believers and the unbelievers had gone through successive phases, in which the latter were led by the various imperial European powers that had succeeded the Romans in the leadership of the world of the infidels--the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the British and French and Russian empires. In this final phase, he says, the world of the infidels was divided and disputed between two rival superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. In his perception, the Muslims have met, defeated, and destroyed the more dangerous and the more deadly of the two infidel superpowers. Dealing with the soft, pampered and effeminate Americans would be an easy matter.

Not just the Americans, of course, but the Europeans are even softer and even more pampered. They weren't even worth taking into consideration as far as Bin Laden was concerned. Indeed, it could be argued that Europe has already capitulated. Lewis continues ....

This belief was confirmed in the 1990s when we saw one attack after another on American bases and installations with virtually no effective response of any kind--only angry words and expensive missiles dispatched to remote and uninhabited places. The lessons of Vietnam and Beirut were confirmed by Mogadishu. "Hit them, and they'll run." This was the perceived sequence leading up to 9/11. That attack was clearly intended to be the completion of the first sequence and the beginning of the new one, taking the war into the heart of the enemy camp.

What Bin Laden didn't expect was for the US to take the war into the heart of the Islamic world - which is what Bush has done and which is why the Islamic Imperialists now find themselves having to fight a defensive war. Even so, the main attack comes not from warplanes or terrorists, but from immigration.

Where do we stand now? Is it third time lucky? It is not impossible. They have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction, which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking. They are self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography, the combination of natural increase and migration producing major population changes, which could lead within the foreseeable future to significant majorities in at least some European cities or even countries.

In my opinion, we have to start to reverse this trend - or the future for Europe is an unremittingly bleak Islamic one.

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