In his new book, Islamic Imperialism: A History, Professor Efraim Karsh does not mince words about Mohammed’s early and (to all those who do not accept the divinity of his inspiration) unscrupulous resort to robbery and violence, or about Islam’s militaristic aspects, or about the link between Islamic tradition and the current wave of fundamentalist violence in the world. The originality of Karsh’s interpretation is its underlying assumption that Islam was, from the very beginning, a pretext for personal and dynastic political ambition, from the razzias against the Meccan caravans and the expulsion of Jewish tribes from Medina, to the siege of Vienna a millennium later in 1529, and Hamas today.
The urge to domination is nearly a constant of human history. The specific (and baleful) contribution of Islam is that, by attributing sovereignty solely to God, and by pretending in a philosophically primitive way that God’s will is knowable independently of human interpretation, and therefore of human interest and desire—in short by allowing nothing to human as against divine nature—it tries to abolish politics. All compromises become mere truces; there is no virtue in compromise in itself. Thus Islam is inherently an unsettling and dangerous factor in world politics, independently of the actual conduct of many Muslims.
I put the question a little differently in this post: Is Islam compatible with a free society? Yes or No?
Time is not on Islam's side, however. Leaders like the Mullahs and Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hamas in Gaza are acting in ways that will facilitate a confrontation. They foolishly believe that the West will back down--if not because of a belief in the superiority of Islam; then from doubts about the superiority of Western values and from a reluctance to act decisively and ruthlessly.
The psychopathic elements in Islam believe this is our fundamental weakness; but they are wrong. This is actually our fundamental strength. President Bush has bet that Islam can be changed if it is infused with some democratic opportunities and freed from some of the political and religious tyranny that has dominated the Middle East. If such a democratizing process had been started--and carried through-- a decade or two earlier, well who knows how much the situation might have changed by now?
And, contrary to the infantile imaginings of the antiwar and so-called "peace" movements, Bush's strategy--as flawed as it might be-- actually represents the Best Possible Hope For Peace.
It is a strategy that faces the grim reality of Islamic contradictions and historical brutality; yet has enough optimism and goodwill in it to be genuinely worth the price we are paying. If it works, millions of deaths might be prevented. And if the peace crowd really cares about peace, then they would do well to reconsider their own antics.
Because, if the left succeeds in its determination to undermine American policy as it is now formulated; or if the extremists succeed in eliminating any voices for moderation and tolerance; then there will be only one strategic option open.
We have been inching toward "NO" as the answer to the question for quite a while now.
Whether it is appreciated or not, these last few years in Afghanistan and Iraq have indeed been our "Golden Hour" --the short time we have to deal with and defuse the threat that is represented by the radical elements of Islam.
So much of the last three years has been wasted and frittered away by the left with their constant carping about and undermining of Bush's strategic ploy. The continual appeasement, encouragement and cover given to those who would destroy us without mercy, has markedly diluted what we might have accomplished up to now with our aggressive pursuit of the YES Strategy.
As Dalrymple suggests, it may come down to all or nothing for Islam.
The "Golden Hour" has but a few minutes of history left. As the clock ticks down to answering NO to that fundamental strategic question posed by the west; as muslims grapple with modernization--and therefore abandonment of fanatical, utopian, imperialistic dreams of a caliphate; and as the two creep closer and closer to the ultimate confrontation; there will be no deus ex machina --and no pointless protest march with clever placards--that will be able to save the millions of lives lost in the ensuing conflagration.
All the usual leftist nutjobs are already preparing to blame Bush/America if the worse happens. But the saner elements of society will recognize the truth-- that Bush has chosen a strategy and done everything possible to change the course of history.
That the strategy was implemented too far along in the process to be able to wholly succeed; or that the enemy is even more "all or nothing" in its desire to embrace death and destruction than western sensibilities could have possibly predicted-- are two "inconvenient truths" that must be faced.