There’s been a profound cultural shift in the wake of the Paris attacks which has led many in the West to question whether or not Islam is fundamentally compatible with their civilization. The question is valid–the Paris attackers were all citizens of France or Belgium and likely incubated in French banlieues, which comprise de facto Islamic colonies on French soil.
Imagine the detailed and expansive logistical planning required to execute the French attacks. A network from Syria to France had to exist: automatic weapons had to be acquired and smuggled into the country, ammunition had to be stored, bombs had to be made in a lab in France or elsewhere, personnel had to travel from Europe to Syria and back again. Communications had to be made under the nose of French surveillance.
In the run-up to the suicide operation, the attackers had to walk past neighbors, speak with shopkeepers, old classmates, members of their mosque, and various others in their community on a daily basis. They had kin, wives, and friends local to the area as well. That such a savage and sophisticated attack could emanate just miles away from downtown Paris suggests that there is indeed an enormous social problem beginning to bubble up in Europe and the rest of the Western world vis-a-vis the Muslim population.
What this demonstrates is that there is a sentiment in the French Muslim community that is radically anti-Western and, even if it is not being openly acknowledged, there is now a concomitant and rapid growth of suspicion and hostility towards all Islamic communities across the West.
Shortly after the attacks, a football match was played in Turkey where a ceremonial “moment of silence” was to be held in honor of the French victims before kickoff. The Turkish crowd booed and jeered throughout the procession. This wasn’t surprising to me, but I remember reading comments of many shocked Westerners on social media who couldn’t believe the insensitivity of the Turks. This anecdote is tangentially related to the fact that there is now considerable anti-Western sentiment commonplace in the Muslim world.
And this highlights a seemingly perennial problem that Westerners possess, which is their own arrogance and ignorance.
Before I begin this harangue of Western culture, let’s backtrack a bit. Is Islam compatible with the West? Probably not anymore. In support of what its detractors say, Islam is indeed a cultural technology which creates aggressive individuals. It’s why Muslims were able to colonize substantial portions of Asia, Africa, and some parts of Europe and why it persists and grows to this day. However, this doesn’t mean that every Muslim is a potential terrorist or separatist. Most Muslims get along just fine in the West, but there is a problem with Western foreign policy that cannot be ignored if we wish to maintain peaceful relations with Muslim citizens and avoid radicalizing segments of the population.
I remind Westerners that is was they, not the Muslims, who decided to provoke a war of civilizations. 9/11 happened, Afghanistan was invaded to find those perpetrators and, before the dust had even settled in the Afghan mountains, the US had already invaded Iraq and set up plans to invade Syria and Iran as well. It was at that moment, when the US invaded Iraq, that the war with radical Islam ceased to be a war with a pack of ideological radicals holed up on a isolated, Central Asian mountain range and became primarily focused on conquering and subjugating the Islamic domain itself. Now, years later, this callous and arrogant disposition is bearing its bitter results in the streets of Baghdad, Aleppo, Beirut, and Paris.
Personally, I believe American hegemony over the Middle East would have been superior to both Saddam Hussein and the powers that have succeeded him, but the Americans cut and ran when they realized the Iraqis wouldn’t roll over easily and left a mess that has, ironically, created the very Islamic monster that they mythologized about to scare the American voter into supporting foreign adventures. Indeed, toppling Saddam opened a vacuum that has been filled by the most radical elements of the Islamic world.
Of course, American stupidity (which will ultimately be the undoing of its empire) did not stop in Iraq. They toppled Gaddafi and helped drive an insurgency in Syria where some 70% of that country has been lost to radical Islamists. In essence, where there was one Afghanistan before 9/11, there are now four, and the Islamist movement is now truly global and more of a threat to the West than ever before. Every revolutionary, miscreant, and psycho from across the Islamic world’s 1.6 billion members is scurrying towards the smoldering ruins of the Sykes-Picot arrangement in Syraq, acquiring combat experience, and is being armed by a variety of state actors with weapons that the Iraqi insurgents who battled the US military in the 2000’s could only dream of. Worse yet, they’re multiplying and training leagues of children to do the same.
Today we have a Mideast situation where the US is known for nothing but slaughtering and wounding hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, self-interested and destructive meddling, and supporting Israel. Essentially, there is a clusterfuck in the region thanks to American arrogance (facilitated by the stupidity of its own population) that I see acknowledged nowhere besides radical fringes on the far Left and libertarian circles.
It must be acknowledged that considerable parts of the American political establishment are profoundly not sorry for what they did in Iraq and the outcomes that war bore. Indeed, this sentiment even pervades the American culture. The only big budget Hollywood film I can think of that documents the Iraq War is American Sniper, which is essentially Clint Eastwood’s elaborate, 150 minute homoerotic masturbation to the legend of an American soldier. Compare this to the war films released by America in the wake of Vietnam, which were profoundly antiwar.
So there exists on both sides an intractability towards the other which threatens to drag future generations into an absolutely unnecessary and prolonged conflict. In essence the West will need to decide what it wants: years of fruitless war against Islam as its empire begins to recede, or a mending of relations. Of course, I bear no delusions that Westerners will willingly choose to acknowledge, much less apologize, for their crimes against Muslims. What I would prepare for is a century of civilizational war whose gory twists and turns nobody knows.