Monday, July 11, 2005

We Are the World

By Efraim Karsh


The London bombings had little to do with Iraq — and everything to do with the radical Muslim agenda to make Islam the world's reigning religion. We ignore that fact at our own peril


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Together, Tony Blair and George Bush were the driving forces behind the Iraq war. So it was hardly surprising that the obscure European-based Al Qaeda cell that claimed responsibility for attacks specifically linked the operation to Iraq — and warned Italy and Demark to pull their forces out or face the same threat of terror. As a result, many will interpret this bombing as a response to British involvement in Iraq — just as many, including Spanish leaders themselves, interpreted the Madrid bombings of last year as a response to that country's role in the Iraq war.


In fact, the 7/7 bombings had little to do with Britain's international behavior or Middle Eastern policies. Rather, the attacks had everything to do with America's position as the preeminent world power, one which blocks radical Muslim aspirations. As such, the United States and its allies — Britain chief among them — are a natural target for aggression. Osama bin Laden's war is not against America per se but is instead a manifestation of the radical Muslim agenda to make Islam the world's reigning religion.


This Islamic imperial ambition did not disappear with the destruction of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. To this very day Muslims and Arabs unabashedly pine for the restoration of Muslim Spain (or Andalusia as it was commonly known) and consider their 1492 expulsion from the country a grave historical injustice — as if Spain's Muslim rulers were its rightful owners and not colonial occupiers living thousands of miles from their ancestral homeland. After September 11, bin Laden specifically noted "the tragedy of Andalusia," while in March 2004, the perpetrators of the Madrid bombings mentioned revenge for the loss of Spain as one of the atrocities' "root causes."


Indeed, even countries that have never been under Islam's imperial rule have become legitimate targets. As Europe's Muslim population grew rapidly in the late twentieth century through immigration, higher child birth, and conversion, prophesies of Islam's dominance in the West have become commonplace. In the late '80s various Islamist movements in France, notably the Union de Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF), began to view the growing number of French Muslims as a sign that the country had become part of the House of Islam. This message has been echoed by the extensive network of mosques, schools, and charities established by the Muslim Brotherhood across Europe over the past fifty years.


Even such quintessentially moderate Islamic scholars as Zaki Badawi, longtime director of the Islamic Cultural Center in London, a hub of interfaith dialogue, have acknowledged the persistence of Islam's imperial dream, albeit in far more tempered language. "Islam endeavors to expand in Britain," he said. "Islam is a universal religion. It aims to bring its message to all corners of the earth. It hopes that one day the whole of humanity will be one Muslim community."

If this message sounds familiar, it should: Christianity's universal vision is also sweeping. But by the eighteenth century, Christian Europe had lost its religious messianism. It lost its imperial ambitions by the mid-twentieth century. By contrast, factions within Islam retain their imperial ambitions to this day.


This vision is by no means confined to a disillusioned and obscurantist fringe of Islam. In the historical imagination of some Muslims, bin Laden represents nothing short of the new incarnation of Saladin, the legendary warrior who destroyed the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. According to this view, the war for world mastery is a traditional, indeed venerable, quest and is far from over. In the words of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the avowedly imperialist regime in Iran:

The Iranian revolution is not exclusively that of Iran, because Islam does not belong to any particular people. ... We will export our revolution throughout the world because it is an Islamic revolution. The struggle will continue until the calls "there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" are echoed all over the world.

Within this grand scheme, the Iraq war, or for that matter the Palestine question, is but a single element, and one whose supposed centrality looms far greater in Western than in Islamic eyes.


Tony Blair is unlikely to give any ground in Iraq. But he may well endeavor, as he has before, to insert himself in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. This would be an assured recipe for disaster. Radical Islamists view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as simply one part of the larger holy war to establish the House of Islam. Should Blair's eagerness to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, without insisting on the dismantling of terror networks as required by the Oslo accords and the roadmap, be seen as a response to the London bombings, it will send the wrong message: that terrorism works.


In any event, none of this will address the underlying problems raised by the 7/7 attacks. Only when radical Islamists reconcile themselves to the reality of state nationalism and forswear their expansionist ambitions will Osama bin Laden and other aspiring Saladins finally lose their momentum and their influence. When that day comes, Muslims will at last be able to look forward to a better future.


In steering America through September 11, President Bush famously drew courage and inspiration from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. One can only hope that Tony Blair will now show the same resolve. He can start by acknowledging the obvious: This attack was about bigger things than just Iraq.

From Bill: an excellently wrote article with some excellent points.

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