Peace through victory - the American way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Might Western Impatience With Islam Lead To Total War?

The thing about Western democracies is they aren't patient. That impatience makes it hard to sustain a long shooting war. Democracies want their wars to be short. If a democracy is fully committed to what it is doing, it will fight brutally if that's what is needed to get the war over quickely. If not, it will find a way out of the war and abandon it.

The violent and unreasonable reaction against the Danish cartoons is leading to a tipping point in Western-Islam relations. Quite simply, the West is losing patience with Islam. General William Tecumseh Sherman famously said that 100,000 Southern men had to be killed to set the conditions for peace in the American Civil War. A similar situation may exist today within Islam.

Western impatience with the situation in the Islamic world is a very real threat. Time is running out for moderate Moslems to act. It's up to moderates to take their religion back from the extremists. Western impatience may lead the West to abandon the region and leave the moderates to fend for themselves. Given the strategic importance of the region that is not likely to happen.

Islamist extremists often refer to the Crusades in describing this war. Their desire is to have a war between the West and all of Islam. Western impatience may provide the Islamists what they want and teach them the meaning of the old cliche, "be careful what you wish for." The West is adept at total war and committed to waging it when necessary. The destruction of Europe during World War Two shows what Westerners are capable of when aroused.

The West has not yet decided that a total war is necessary because we still believe that the problem is not with Islam but with Islamist extremists. The day we stop believing that is the day we view the war the same way the Islamists do as a war between the West and all of Islam. The day the West views the war the same way the Islamists do is the day the West fully engages its war machine and begins to wage total war. It's up to moderate Moslems to prevent the coming of that day.

-tdr

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