Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Analysis: the EU at 50 - yes, a peaceful and expanding Europe is 50 years old (hallelujah!)

1. Europe No Longer Makes People Dream -- by Jean-Marcel Bouguereau/Le Nouvel Observateur

The European Union is fifty.

While it's getting ready to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in Berlin, Europe no longer makes people dream. It's as though a drive had broken. And yet, the very fact that the ceremonies are taking place in Berlin is highly symbolic.

Not long ago, over half the member states were dictatorships. Their adoption of democracy was concurrent with their adhesion to the European Union. From one end to the other of the European continent, people live much better and are freer than half a century ago. If someone had told the ten signatories to the Treaty of Rome that the Europe of 2007 would look the way it does today, he probably would have been considered crazy.

In spite of corruption, unemployment and outsourcing, progress is real. A currency has been created; capital, people, goods and services circulate - almost - freely; the Old Continent has been reunified; the terrible divisions of the 1990s over the Balkans have opened up into a still-inadequate, but real, foreign policy and 27 countries are peopled by over 490 million people agreeing to be regulated by the same laws.

But this progress produces a paradox: individually, most Europeans live better than before, but collectively they are gnawed by doubt. Their doubts are partly a consequence of Europe's success and rapid enlargement. It is not simple to project oneself beyond the short term and to get past rejection reflexes to envisage the future of an enlarged Europe.

New paradox: the French, nearly 55 percent of whom rejected the proposed European Constitution, mostly (71 percent) claim to be very proud to be European. But their main concern is to hope for a more protective Europe, more careful to defend a social project they deem threatened - a sentiment that was broadly responsible for the Left's "no." Consequently, France's isolation persists, even though the adversaries of the Constitution recognize that it is urgent to at least agree on a form of interior regulation to avoid paralysis now that the six have become 27.

Meanwhile, as they prepare for the Berlin summit, member states have bickered over the way to resume the institutional debate, even though Chancellor Angela Merkel has whistled the end of recess by taking up the pen herself: a treaty must be adopted by June 2009.

(Jean-Marcel Bouguereau is editor-in-chief of Le Nouvel Observateur)

2. A "pause for thought" without the thought?
Possible ways to talk about the future of the EU today
After the rejection of the EU constitution in the French and Dutch referenda, Europe's elites launched a one-year "pause for thought" in the ratification process. A summit in June 2006 brought an extension of the adjournment. The time could be put to good use, writes political scientist Jan-Werner Müller. Theoretically speaking, there are three Euro-visions currently competing; a discussion of their pros and cons would be well worth Europeans' while.
By Jan-Werner Müller/Eurozine

The European Union has been far more successful than anyone expected when the Treaty of Rome was signed half a century ago, on 25 March 1957. But as political Europe turns 50, the questions about its future are as open as ever.

Already in 2005, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker commented on the official pause for thought that the EU had declared after the French and Dutch voters' no to the constitution: "I see the pause but I don't see much thinking." Little has changed to this day. In mid-2006, Europe's political leaders extended the adjournment for another year, but they have not offered new fundamental visions to European citizens – though Juncker had complained, with a pathos not uncommon in EU-related rhetoric, that citizens no longer "loved" their Union, and that the EU no longer made them "dream". At the same time, European elites seem reluctant to commit to a deliberately visionless pragmatism, which in theory would be one option for moving forward. So how is one to imagine the "new foundation" of Europe to which Angela Merkel referred in her very first address devoted to Europe in the German Bundestag ?

Does the apparent "thoughtlessness" of the pause also have to do with the fact that academic discussions about concepts of Europe have reached a dead end – and therefore are unable to provide either citizens or politicians with new "food for thought"? Not necessarily. Theoretically, there are three competing basic visions for the EU, fragments of which sometimes even filter into political debates – without always forming a consistent whole. Hence it would be worthwhile for Europeans to debate some of the pros and cons of these visions.

First, one can still find the odd advocate of the Union as a future "state of nation-states". These advocates, often somewhat imprecisely described as "federalists", have always considered the constitution as an essential step towards a European federal state. Such a federal state can be justified in a number of ways: on a consciously ethical basis, with the argument that the moral substance of the classical nation-state has been profoundly compromised by its belligerent past; or as a practical preventive measure, to keep conflict-prone nation states in check.

But an EU-state can also be justified from a completely different, in some ways even opposing perspective. For example, British political scientist Glyn Morgan has tried to show, in a much-debated book on The Idea of a European Superstate , that a robust concept of pan-European security also requires a pan-European state: according to Morgan, it is simply irresponsible for European elites to rest assured in a position of permanent strategic dependency on the US. [1] And then there is of course always the argument that only a strong EU can rescue the "European social model".

In recent years it has become clear that in virtually all European countries there are simply no majorities that would favour a European federal state; the debate over the constitution – contrary to the intentions of many Europhiles – made this abundantly clear. This scepticism understandably has grown out of the fact that many federalist arguments appear rather dubious upon closer inspection: for example, there is no single European social model. The differences between, for example, the Scandinavian countries, the Mediterranean states, and the "liberal Atlantic countries" such as Ireland and Great Britain are generally far more profound than the differences between Europe as a whole and the US.

On the other hand, in recent years, a vision of Europe that one might call "supranational multiculturalism" has established itself as a conscious alternative to the dream of the federal state. This perspective seeks a Union whose task primarily consists in recognizing – and preserving – diversity and difference. Instead of striving to be a classical, homogenous state, such a Europe would strive to be a kind of "people of Others", to cite the influential legal scholar Joseph Weiler. Here, tolerance becomes a prime European virtue; the Union's character as an entity with federal law but without a federal state is not seen as a weakness, but rather a part of a pan-European moral "re-education" or even self-emancipation from Europeans' pervious nationalist selves. According to Weiler, Europeans are invited to obey the EU; no one can force them, because the EU as such cannot coerce its citizens. But to obey laws issued "in the name of the peoples of Europe" becomes a means to continuously keep the "inner nationalist" in check and to practice tolerance. Like supporters of the European federal state, proponents of this vision ultimately see Europe as a tool for moral education – only not quite so obviously.

It is worth emphasizing that under no circumstances do the proponents of this kind of supranational multiculturalism want a Union conceived as a federal democracy. Rather, they imagine a so-called "demoi-cracy" as the power not of one people or of one "demos" but rather of peoples – or "demoi" – who consciously affirm, and wish to retain, their diversity. There is much that appears attractive in this vision. But one wonders just how credible European leaders are when they promote this kind of supranational multiculturalism while at the domestic level emphatically renouncing the supposed illusions of naive "multiculturalism" – as has become the standard political rhetoric by now in almost all countries. Can one arbitrarily limit the principle of mutual recognition to certain policy sectors or levels?

The question arises whether noble talk of a "European struggle for recognition" merely disguises the fact that "recognition" mainly involves acknowledgment of entirely prosaic national regulations and norms? The French would no doubt have acknowledged the now proverbial "Polish plumber" in all his cultural distinctiveness – as long as he stayed at home and did not try to fix bidets in Paris. That is primarily why the rhetoric of tolerance, or of Europe as a journey and as "forever becoming", sounds so false when it comes from the mouths of European elites. Even before the referendum in 2005, Dominique de Villepin and Jorge Semprún wrote that the essence of Europe could be described as a "travelling dream", un rêve qui voyage , in their book about "the Europeans" [ L'Homme Européen ]. [2] Even to those who do not consider Europe a neoliberal, job-destroying bureaucratic machine, such jewelled phrases must sound like mockery.

The main model for a supranational, multicultural Europe is Canada – even if its proponents do not always put it that way. Canada is the only country that is simultaneously a country of immigration, a multinational political patchwork, and a state whose constitution includes the principle of multiculturalism. From an implicitly Canadian perspective, then, the preliminary failure of the constitutional treaty is not a tragedy; Canadians have been trying in vain for more than two decades to reach a constitutional "accord". More important than the result is that the process – or conversation, as it is often called – is kept going; it raises the possibility of drawing in new voices, of deepening and broadening the conversation. No wonder Canadians refer to the endless constitutional conversation that "we are" – as if the country had become a nation of Gadamerians.

The third vision of Europe is in fact not a vision but a justification of the existing Brussels bureaucracy, which harkens back to Helmut Schmidt's famous comment that anyone who has visions should go to a doctor. From this technocratic perspective, Brussels today carries out functions similar to those that nation-states delegate to non-elected institutions – central banks are the classic example (although for many proponents of the technocratic perspective, the European Central Bank has in fact gone too far in the direction of independence: not even the German federal bank had so much room for manoeuvre).

On the other hand, insist the technocrats, the policy areas most important to citizens remain under the control of member states – above all social welfare and education. Thus, from this perspective, Brussels is not a government in the making but rather a cluster of regulatory agencies – and often to the advantage of European consumers, who, for example, will soon no longer have to pay exorbitant mobile phone roaming fees. These agencies are in turn part of a system of national and supranational checks and balances that can block any potential despotic tendencies in Brussels. Thus, for the technocrats, complaints about the Union's supposed democratic deficit are at best relegated to inconsequential debates in the cultural pages, and at worst case kept alive artificially by wannabe-Madisons so that money for research on "European democracy" continues to pour out of Brussels.

There are good reasons to debate these three visions of Europe – surely none of them is entirely mistaken about the reality of the European Union today or what it might be in the future. The federal state is a distant vision but remains a goal in political speeches, as if a different end-state were absolutely unthinkable; for their part, technocrats feel confirmed with each passing day in their belief that the supposed crisis of legitimacy is in fact a "non-crisis", since the EU obviously keeps on going and functioning. Meanwhile, demoi-crats are winning more supporters in academia – not least perhaps because they tend to justify the status quo normatively while leaving open almost all options for the future.

But it is also clear that the debate about Europe's future must go beyond the crude question of "How much Europe do we want?" First, clear criteria must be specified by which to measure the various Euro-visions – though not all criteria are compatible or even commensurable. In that respect, those who wish to use the pause in order to contemplate the various possible ways forward must necessarily engage with much more profound questions: can consensus be reached, or a majority be won, for a pan-European understanding of what politics should be about in the first place? If the answer is no, then perhaps the principled commitment to pragmatism and to the Union as a kind of commonwealth is presently the most honest alternative to grandiloquent visions. The classic shark, or bicycle, argument – that the EU must remain in motion in order not to die or keel over, and therefore always needs a next big thing or project on the horizon – is empirically unsustainable: the pause may be frustrating for Federalists, but it also shows that a EU on hold need not expire. The Brussels elites will most probably not acknowledge this fact at first; their rhetoric continues to veer between a doomsday scenario and the kind of Euro-PR that was common well before the referenda, which before anything else, always asks how Europe can best "sell itself".

[1] Glyn Morgan, The Idea of a European Superstate (Princeton, 2005)
[2] Domnique de Villepin and Jorge Semprún, L'Homme Européen (Paris, 2005)

3. Existential dreaming
Pro-Europeans have two broad and incompatible views about the future of the European Union
From The Economist

ACCORDING to Hallmark cards, when you turn 50 you no longer have to worry about acceptance by the young and hip (hopeless); having children (too late); listening to what people say (too deaf); or getting up unassisted (too bad). Well, obviously such a card couldn't be right for the European Union.

This weekend, Europe's leaders gather in Berlin to write a 50th birthday greeting to mark the signing, on March 25th 1957, of the Treaty of Rome, the founding text of what became the European Union. Agreement has been hard. The French wanted something on minimum welfare standards. The Poles wanted a reference to God but not to a constitution. The Germans wanted the constitution but not God. There was even talk of two declarations—one by the original six, a second by the others.

Although rejected in favour of an anodyne text, this idea was significant. For behind the wrangling lies a growing divergence between two concepts of what the EU is for. One holds that Europe is a good thing merely for existing, and that the more Europe, the better. The other says that Europe is only good for what it can do; the EU is an instrument for specific policies and whether it is a net plus depends on whether the policies work.

The first, existential view goes back to the EU 's roots. The founders thought European co-operation was good for its own sake, since it would prevent war. The high point of this thinking came in the 1980s and early 1990s when Helmut Kohl, Germany's chancellor, talked in unabashed terms about a United States of Europe, and the ex-communist countries applied to join the EU because it embodied their identity as Europeans. Such talk is heard less often now but its ideals are still in the treaty, which commits its members to the goal of “ever closer union”. And it informs the views of at least two countries still. The Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, wrote a booklet in 2005 called “The United States of Europe”; Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, thinks almost all EU projects should be seen as preparations for political union.

Yet it is the second, instrumentalist view that has recently been the dominant one. In response to declining public support, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has started talking of “a Europe of results”—meaning a series of policies designed to win back popularity on issues people care about: climate change, energy security, cross-border crime, immigration. All these are global in character. Small countries cannot deal with them alone. The EU justifies itself as the organisation that gives Europeans a voice on the world stage.

In a way this approach, too, goes back to the founders. Jean Monnet thought the EU should grow through acts of technical co-operation that would slowly win public support. But the latest boost for the second view came from the club's expansion to 27 members, not many of which are keen on deeper political integration. In effect, the idea that there should be two Berlin declarations reflects the psychological gap that exists between the original six and most of the later arrivals.

One might not expect this difference to matter much now. Both schools of thought want more integration, so that they differ from Eurosceptics, who want less integration, as well as from much of European public opinion, which thinks the present degree of integration is about right. Both want “more Europe” in response to globalisation, differing from the British chancellor, Gordon Brown, who thinks that globalisation weakens the case for regional blocks such as the EU . The two schools rub along; Mr Barroso embodies an attempt to reconcile them. Although he espouses “a Europe of results”, he comes from a country (Portugal) that joined the EU largely to confirm its identity in the European mainstream after years of dictatorship.

Yet the differences between the two approaches to Europe are now having an effect. Most obviously, instrumentalists tend not to like grand existential projects—the constitution, a European army, the Europeanisation of national legal systems. But it is no less true that many existentialists do not support the policies that animate the instrumentalists—or at any rate not enough to make them work. Everyone blithely signed on to the EU 's flagship emissions-trading scheme. But France and Germany then gave their industries so many permits to pollute that they undermined the entire scheme. For them, the scheme was just something else to haggle over. For instrumentalists, it carried the burden of the EU 's very future.

In search of love

At a time when everybody worries about the EU 's lack of popular support, the two groups are looking for legitimacy in different places. The second naturally focuses on things they hope will win public backing. Academics call this “output legitimacy”. The first group is more concerned with “input legitimacy”—the respect that people give to institutions (such as national parliaments) that they recognise as representative, even if they do not always like what they do. Existentialists want to change the EU 's institutions through the constitution, whereas instrumentalists fear this cannot resolve the EU 's crisis of legitimacy.

This column leans towards the instrumental approach. It offers a rationale for the union's future, whereas the existential concept is a product of unprecedented historical experience—the post-war reconstruction of Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But in truth, neither strand of opinion is likely to vanish. The nature of the EU 's tortuous decision-making makes that very notion inconceivable.

In the long run, the bigger question is whether the two approaches can somehow be made compatible. The risk is that undermining the instrumentalists' policies will stop the EU earning legitimacy through results. But without results, the focus of democratic hopes and support will always remain the nation-state, however many Berlin declarations are intoned.

4. What Europe needs now
On the eve of EU's 50th anniversary, German philosopher Jürgen Habermas sets out what he believes are the most pressing items on the European agenda
From signandsight

The weekend of March 24-25 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome and the birth of the European Union. In an interview, philosopher and social scientist Jürgen Habermas looks at Europe's development and speculates about its future. He proposes that, in the Europe-wide elections scheduled for 2009, citizens should vote on a referendum asking whether the European Union should have a directly elected president, its own foreign minister and financial base.

Matthias Hoenig : Herr Habermas, You were just 15 at the end of World War II, but that was old enough to personally experience the devastating effects of blind nationalism. Now that the EU is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, what do you remember as a witness of those postwar years?

Jürgen Habermas : I must confess that, 50 years ago, the domestic question of nuclear arms for the West German army was of more passionate interest to me than the creation of the European Economic Community. I didn't realize back then that the EEC as a customs union had already been equipped with constitutional-like institutions and therefore offered the prospect of a real European Community, that is, a political unification of the countries of Western Europe. On the other hand, the motives of supporters of the national peace movement were in accord with those driving the six EEC founding nations and their chief spokesmen, Adenauer ,de Gasperi and Schumann . Those aims were: no more war between the nation-states which had devastated one another in two world wars, and the firm anchoring of Germany in a community of European nations, the selfsame Germany which had launched the last war and bore the monstrous, criminal responsibility for the Holocaust.

That EU member states could ever again make war on one another seems inconceivable. And the mature Common Market has brought prosperity to many people. May we then celebrate an historic paradigm shift in European politics, away from thinking in terms of nation-states and towards a genuinely pan-European view?

That is certainly cause for celebration, even though the paradigm shift is not yet complete. But there has been quite another outcome which, with some degree of self-awareness, we could put to good use. In today's tense, multi-polar situation, European unification makes it possible for us to play a role which no one could have foreseen back at the start of the East-West conflict. At the outset, "Europe" was a response to internal problems; today, when we think about the future of Europe, our eyes are mainly on problems which challenge us from the outside . It is not only the EU's eastward expansion which is extending the dynamics of unification beyond the level arrived at in Nice. But admittedly we are not yet ready to play the role of a diplomatic bridge among global powers.

Could you cite a particular geopolitical challenge?

Let's take the example of the recent conflict between Israel and Hizbullah , carried out on Lebanese soil. Thanks to the Bush government's one-sided policy on the Middle East conflict, the USA has long been a partisan player. Many people pinned their hopes on Europe, which was regarded as neutral. But aside from sending its foreign policy spokesman Javier de Solana to Beirut and Jerusalem, the EU provided a laughable spectacle with its chorus of dissonant voices. At the same time certain individual countries, such as France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, tried to stand out on their own, and outdo one another by putting forward home-grown initiatives.

What would you place at the top of the EU's policy agenda : the recently defeated EU constitution; a common European foreign policy; joint European armed forces; the taming of international neo-liberalism by setting social standards; or taking a leading role in international efforts to deal with climate change?

You've listed there the most urgent challenges which a united Europe must face in the 21st century. But a common foreign policy, the creation of joint armed forces and the harmonisation of tax and economic policies to secure our endangered social and cultural standards are on quite a different level from the defeated EU constitution. Before it can set itself such ambitious goals, the expanded EU must first put its own house in order, so it can remain governable and develop the ability to act politically. Above all, we shouldn't harbour any illusions about where the resistance to a deepening of EU institutions is really coming from...

... from the rejection of many citizens throughout Europe?

Not from resistance by the people! That is an understandable, but nevertheless mistaken idea which has taken root since the constitution's defeat in France and the Netherlands. Actually, in most countries there are silent majorities that favour a strengthening of the European Union. The underlying reason for paralysis is rather that various governments have differing objectives to the Union. The obstruction we see today comes from the fact that our governments are avoiding the predictable conflict over this central issue. There have been reports, for example, that as President of the European Council, Germany is preparing a statement for the March 25th jubilee which touches only tangentially on the constitution question.

Then what is the significance of the negative outcomes in the French and Dutch referenda?

The failed referenda simply turned a spotlight on the fact that our governments are stuck in a dead-end and can move neither forwards nor backwards. Until now they have been able to rely on the " Monnet method" and have followed the imperatives which inevitably arose from economic integration. The Common Market was not a zero-sum game. It brought various benefits to every member-state. By contrast, a constitutional framework for common policies demands a common political will that goes beyond recognition of the benefits for each member-state. Obviously our governments cannot yet reach agreement about the ultimate goal, the real meaning of the "European project."

Would it be possible to say more concretely whose fault it is?

Leaving out the new member-states, Great Britain and some Scandinavian countries are pulling in one direction, while the founding nations and Spain are pushing in the other. The Brussels agreement on concrete goals to reduce climate change (news story ), which has yet to be implemented, must be regarded as a success for Angela Merkel. But was it really anything more than a diversionary move before the real battle?

Then who should fuel European development, if not the governments?

The only way out I can see is a Europe-wide referendum . The governments – which control the process after all – have to recognize their own powerlessness and, this one time, "dare to use democracy." They have to rise above themselves and face the political parties of which they themselves are composed with the necessity of engaging in an open, Europe-wide campaign, a struggle for each and every vote in favour of, or in opposition to, an expansion and deepening of the European Union.

As you have emphasized on many occasions, geopolitical developments demand a strong Europe, which could become a model for similar mergers into supranational powers on other continents. A just international economic system cannot come into being without such global players, you have argued, and in any case neither international security problems nor the challenge of climate change can be treated at the national level alone. In brief: given all the problems which cannot be dealt with nationally, is the model of the nation-state on the way out?

No, nation-states remain the most important players on the international stage. They also constitute irreplaceable components of international organisations. After all, the international community is organised in the form of "United Nations." Who is to support and nourish the UN, and provide troops for humanitarian interventions, if not the nation-states? Who, if not the nation-states, will guarantee equal rights for all citizens? What must change – and has already done so in Europe – is the self-image of nation-states, which must learn to see themselves not so much as independent players but as members of a larger community, who feel bound to adhere to common norms. They must learn to pursue their own interests within international networks, more through clever diplomacy than through the threat of unilateral military force.

You have sharply criticised the crude power politics of the USA under the Bush administration, which makes the interests of its own country the supreme criterion and has openly suspended major tenets of international law. In your view, world politics today is governed by an uninhibited " social Darwinism ." A strong Europe could strengthen the United Nations and pave the way for a more just worldwide domestic policy. How do you envision that in concrete terms?

Your brief account neglects two things. First, that my criticism of the Bush government bears not the faintest whiff of anti-American sentiment. Here in Germany, anti-Americanism has always been part of the most reactionary movements. But the fact that my generation in particular admires and has learned from the political culture of the United States, which is rooted in the 18th century, does not oblige me to unquestioning loyalty. Rather, it obliges me to hold fast to the normative significance of the Federal Republic's orientation towards the West, even against the self-destructive policies of an American government which can be voted out of office. Secondly, I am not naive enough to believe that even a Europe which has learned to speak with a single voice could alone bring about the long-overdue reform of the United Nations . If the United States does not spearhead the movement for reform – as it did twice in the course of the 20th century – there is little prospect of its success. We can at most cultivate the hope that a stronger Europe will be able to influence its allies along these lines. At the same time we must reckon with the likelihood that the next U.S. administration will pursue a neo-realist power policy and will tend not to be open to the normative prospects of a strengthened United Nations Organisation.

What long-term goals should be pursued by the EU as a political body? Does your vision include a " United States of Europe " with a common government, citizenship, armed forces, etc.? What should Europe's political structure look like 50 years from now?

A bold vision for 50 years down the line will not help us get on right now. I am content with a vision for the period leading up to the European elections in 2009. Those elections should be coupled with a Europe-wide referendum on three questions: whether the Union, beyond effective decision-making procedures, should have a directly elected president , its own foreign minister , and its own financial base . That is what Belgium's Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt advocates. Such a proposal would pass muster if it won a "double majority" of EU member-states and of individual citizens' votes. At the same time, the referendum would be binding only on those EU member-nations in which a majority of citizens had voted for the reforms. If the referendum were to succeed, it would mean the abandonment of the model of Europe as a convoy in which the slowest vehicle sets the pace for all. But even in a Europe consisting of a core and a periphery , those countries which prefer to remain on the periphery for the time being would of course retain the option of becoming part of the core at any time.

The interview was conducted by Matthias Hoenig for the dpa .

(Jürgen Habermas , born in 1929, is one of Germany's foremost intellectual figures. A philosopher and sociologist, he is professor emeritus at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt and the leading representative of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. His works include "Legitimation Crisis", "Knowledge and Human Interests", "Theory of Communicative Action" and "The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity.")

5. Beyond Europe
The Retreat of the Western World Order
Fjordman/Global Politician

Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations” thesis has generated a lot of debate, and some justified criticism. He has been accused of simplification, but also for underestimating the case of Islam. Huntington does talk about “the bloody borders” of the Islamic world. However, he has also stated that there is nothing implicit in Islamic teachings that has created the current turmoil among Muslims, but rather the huge number of young men, the primary instigators of violence in any culture. This is obviously not the case. If Huntington had read books such as “The Legacy of Jihad” by Andrew Bostom or “Onward Muslim Soldiers” by Robert Spencer, he would have understood that Jihad and aggressive violence have been intimately related to Islam on three continents for 1300 years. Yes, an abundance of young men as “cannon fodder” for war or demographic Jihad certainly helps, but this situation was created by the contents of Islamic core texts.

Huntington fails to grasp to what extent Islam is a special case, uniquely aggressive among all established cultures and religions on earth today. Hugh Fitzgerald, Vice President of Robert Spencer’s website Jihad Watch, has explored some of the limitations of the “clash of civilizations” paradigm. As Fitzgerald points out, it gives the impression that America or “the West” or Western Christian or Western post-Christian civilization are the enemy, while in reality the global Islamic Jihad is as much directed at Hindus and Buddhists, and the Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, and the non-Muslim black Africans, as it is against the much more powerful, and therefore more dangerous, United States of America:

The phrase “clash of civilizations,” made famous by Samuel Huntington, is misleading. In Huntington’s formulation, there are the Sinic, the Orthodox, the Hindu, the Islamic, the Western, and so on. And these are all potentially clashing. But this is nonsense. There is only one clash that counts: that of Islam with all of non-Islam. If, in the future, China and America were to go to war, it would not be because the former is “Sinic” and the latter “Christian” or “Western” or some such, but because of perceived Great-Power rivalries — for China and America are now part of the same civilization, the shared, modern, universal civilization, with disagreements at the edges, but nothing like the clash between Islam and all Infidels. In fact, a war between China and America would be about power, and thus no different from, for example, the rivalry, ending in war, between Germany and England in the pre-1914 period. It is interesting to note, meanwhile, that Arab and Muslim analysts around the world tend to prefer the phrase “clash of civilizations” — because it avoids the truthful description of the conflict as one motivated by a belief-system, the belief-system of Islam.

However, Samuel P. Huntington should be credited with some of the honor of placing the significance of culture on the radar of global politics. He is also right in pointing out that the beginning of the 21st century is characterized by a West that has superior, yet declining global power. Rival cultures such as the Chinese and the Islamic ones are asserting themselves. The tectonic plates of global power are shifting in ways they haven’t done for centuries. Maybe future historians will label this age “the retreat of the Western world order.” I say “retreat of” because it is not yet certain that this is the end of the Western world order, although that is a possibility. These massive changes and the real or perceived weakness of the Western civilization that has been dominant globally for centuries could very well create a new world war. Multiculturalism and the inability or unwillingness of Western nations to uphold their borders from massive immigration is viewed by Muslims as an invitation for attack and a signal that their ancient Western rival is weak and ripe for conquest. This is no doubt the background for the ongoing aggressive posture by the Iranian president, among others. We should take this dead seriously, because it is meant that way.

Muslims really do believe that the time has now come for overthrowing the West and putting Islam into the global, dominant position it should have according to their scriptures. They will spare no efforts, including nuclear war, in achieving this goal. The Iranian president has quite openly stated that “Islam will soon rule the world,” which implies that they will have to destroy or subdue the West. Al-Qaeda strategists have earlier outlined a schedule for awakening the Islamic world and crushing the West, with a timeline stretching over the coming fifteen to twenty years. They still stick to this plan, which means that tensions are bound to escalate even further in the near future. Westerners need to understand that a world war of sorts with the Islamic world is already inevitable by now, no matter what we do. The only question is whether this will be a cold or a hot world war. We will rapidly approach the latter, if countries such as Iran are allowed to gain nuclear weapons and continued Muslim immigration pushes Western European nations to the brink of civil war. Iranian nukes need to be prevented at absolutely all costs, if we are to have any chance of avoiding further escalation of the most dangerous kind.

There are many possible scenarios for the first half of the 21st century. Let us have a look at some of them:

1. Another Atlantic/Western century

The intra-Western, Atlantic ties between Europe and North America will still be the most important and defining global axis. This would require that Europe regains her old, cultural and religious dynamic and repels Islam. Just as Islam isn’t the cause of Europe’s current weakness, but rather a secondary infection, it could have the unforeseen and ironic effect of saving Europe from herself. By quite literally putting a dagger at Europe’s throat, the Islamic world will force Europeans to renew themselves or die. Europe will go through a turbulent period of painful, but necessary revival, and will arrive chastened on the other side. Although not impossible, this is probably not the most likely scenario at this point, given the economic and cultural weakness of Europe in particular. The West as a whole also makes up a declining proportion of the world’s population, and globalization makes it more difficult for the West to retain its technological superiority.

2. Another American century

The USA, more than Europe and Asia, will remain the world’s unchallenged superpower. The 21st century will be a continuation of the American Age that started in the 20th century. Europe may foster the strength to repel Islam, but not enough to renew herself, and will fade off the world stage. Alternatively, Islamic-controlled Eurabia emerges triumphant, or the entire continent becomes a nightmare of civil wars where neither side gains a decisive victory. In both cases, Europe will be a source of constant instability. The rise of the Asian economies will be derailed by internal political and cultural problems, or could trigger nationalistic rivalries and devastating intra-Asian wars similar to WW1 in Europe.

3. The Asian/Chinese century

The world will return to the Asia-centric system we had before the rise of Europe and the West. Multiculturalism and uncontrolled mass-immigration destroy the internal cohesion of the decadent West, which will slowly fall apart as it has lost the will to defend itself and the belief in its own culture. The wars in the Balkans in the 1990s will in hindsight be seen as a prelude to the Multicultural World War. Just as Imperialism caused WW1, Fascism WW2 and Communism the Cold War, Multiculturalism and Muslim immigration will drag the West into a war with the Islamic world. Instead of a Westernization of the Balkans, we get a Balkanization of the West. Will this be a world dominated by China, or by Asia as a whole, including India? Perhaps India and Southeast Asia will be bogged down by instability caused by Muslims. The Chinese will watch from the sidelines, quietly playing both sides against the middle as the West and the Islamic world destroy each other. In the end, China will reign supreme as the last man standing.

4. The Pacific century

The USA may remain the world’s leading power, but Europe fades off the global scene and leaves her spot open for Asia. Global affairs will be shaped by the twin pillars of the USA and Asia, mainly China, who will cooperate to contain Islamic extremism, a kind of Global Infidel Alliance. Europe will be the world’s largest open-air museum. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Parliament in England as well as many other landmarks will have been lost during the Eurabian civil wars to expel Islam from Europe. They now exist only as plastic souvenirs that Europeans sell to American and Asian tourists to scrape out a living. These “authentic European souvenirs” will all be made in China, of course.

5. The Anglosphere - Indian century

I believe this is what has been predicted by writer Mark Steyn, among others. The USA and the UK, the major powers of the previous 3 centuries, will be at the centre of this one, too. But they will share the spot with India and some other countries such as Japan, “honorary members” of the Anglosphere. US President Bush has already adopted a policy designed to draw India closer to the United States in a strategic alliance. Perhaps this will be in the shape of a Democratic Union or Democratic Infidel Alliance, which may include parts of Free Europe depending upon the Islamic situation there. This alliance will be suspicious of authoritarian China, and will have hostile relations with the Islamic world.

6. The Global Civil War - Neo-Barbarism and Chaos

The darkest scenario of all. Islam manages to derail the West, both Europe and later North America. This disrupts global trade, and the ripples create unrest even in other parts of the world not directly involved in the fighting, including East Asia and Latin America. India will be drawn directly into the conflict with Islam, as will Russia and Israel. The chaos forces created by Islam and by global mass migration by hundreds of millions of people will erode state power virtually everywhere. Perhaps this trend will be reinforced by the appearance of a new, lethal virus, which will quickly spread to all regions of the world thanks to technological globalization. All of this will create a Global Civil War, the first of its kind in human history. It will disrupt civilization, be that Eastern or Western, for generations to come.

(Fjordman is a noted blogger who wrote for the Fjordman Blog in the past. He has also been published on many other websites, including Gates of Vienna, which is the publication where this article originally appeared.)

6. The logic of tolerance
In questions of reason and freedom, societies, like individuals, have to make a choice
By Lars Gustafsson/ signandsight

Old Thomas Buckle in his "Civilization in England" was rightly convinced that democratic, scientific and technological progress in Europe had its origin in a major change in British mentality in the mid-seventeenth century when, even in the disquisitions of leading theologians, the demand for infallible arguments took the place of infallible faith.

This type of rationality, exposed long before the Enlightenment by Descartes and Leibniz, is, if we follow Buckle, not only the foundation of science but of democracy as a whole.

The gist of this is of course the idea that rationality is a method, not a conviction and that this method can be applied to nature, man and society. And even to religion. As Buckle puts it:

"Reason gives us knowledge; while faith only gives us belief, which is a part of knowledge, and is, therefore, inferior to it."

In Buckle's understanding of history this step from dogmatism to methodic rationalism was the decisive one towards political freedom .

At the heart of the present debate between Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash on one hand, and Pascal Bruckner and others on the other, seems to be the question whether irrationality deserves the same amount of tolerance as rationality. Or in other words; is the rational approach a creed among other creeds, deserving no more, no less tolerance than the other ones, whatever measure of irrationality and fanaticism they might expose?

This – in my view, rather feeble-minded, relativism, as far as I can see, represented in the debate by among others Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash – makes it possible to accuse those who believe in Western tolerance and democratic freedoms of "Enlightenment fundamentalism."

The idea is obviously that western rationality is a set of dogmas, in no way different from other dogmatic outlooks and demands on the world. Under the dubious pretext of multiculturalism, we are supposed to be obliged to treat all dogmas, all possible authoritarian political and moral demands with equal respect.

This is of course impossible. Not only because the concept of "culture" is an extremely fuzzy one. At the core is the confusion between dogma and rationality, between Buckley's infallible beliefs and infallible arguments.

Religious creeds and scientific rationality, which is the basis of Western democracy, are simply not in competition . There is no Christian or Muslim approach to, say, biochemistry. Religions are obviously not based on empirical observation, measurement, logical inference and deduction.

But more importantly; the demands of all "cultures" are not compatible. Of course monotheists, atheists and polytheists should (in the ideal case) be able to live peacefully side by side. But Sharia law and western democracy, orthodox biblical family law which demands capital punishment for gay relations and modern family law – which in most progressive countries permits sexual relations between persons of the same gender – are certainly incompatible. There is no way to talk away this incompatibility by vague reference to multiculturalism.

There is an interpretation of the concept of tolerance where the word becomes meaningless and the concept becomes empty. That occurs when it is applied to anything and everything without discretion. To claim that we owe tolerance to everything and everybody is mindless in the same way that it is pointless to say that everything we encounter is an illusion. Which makes it senseless to make a distinction between true and forged money, hallucinations and everyday experience.

There is a logic of tolerance , which remains to be formalized by some future philosopher. Let me, as a starter, suggest two fairly obvious axioms:

- Tolerance of intolerance yields intolerance.
- Intolerance of intolerance yields tolerance.

In other words, in questions of reason and freedom, societies, like individuals, have to make a choice. You cannot have everything at the same time. This holds for original dwellers as for newcomers alike.

(Lars Gustafsson is a Swedish poet, novelist and scholar.)


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