Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Half Full or Half Empty?

The BBC asked people in eleven countries to ask whether they thought a conflict between the West and Islam was inevitable. Except for the respondents in Indonesia, there was no majority reporting a belief in the inevitability of conflict, but only in two countries did more than three quarters of the population think that peaceful coexistence was possible. The results raise some interesting questions. There is no explicit information on the trends of these poll numbers. For example, did 39% of Germans always believe that "violent conflict was inevitable" or was that number lower or higher in the recent past. My own guess was that the 31% of Americans who thought a clash was coming would probably have had no opinion towards Islam at all six years ago. Why does Indonesia, a country with a relatively tolerant strain of Islam, have such a high degree of belief in the inevitability of conflict when Lebanon, a country in which an actual civil war has been fought between religious confessions, report a much lower number?

I think the BBC is drawing entirely the wrong conclusion from its poll when it says, "a new BBC poll taken by Globescan suggests there is a significant middle ground which rejects the view that Islam and the West are doomed to clash." That amounts to treating a potential disaster as if were normal, simply because it is not yet total, equivalent to finding that since more than half of the Titanic was still unflooded the passengers should go back to their cabins.

But in any case the numbers in all countries are high enough to put the entire premise of multiculturalism to question.  With nearly a quarter of Frenchmen believing some sort of clash of civilizations was inevitable, was it possible to blithely regurgitate the "we are the world" platitudes of the late 1990s any longer?  The issue of Islam versus the West must now be explicitly addressed. It can no longer be banished from open debate. The poll shows there may still be time to head of the crisis, but there can be no doubt that the crisis exists.


Blogger Habu said...

All one has to do is have a knowledge of Islam to see that a clash of civilizations is inevitable. Who have they not attacked in the past thirty to forty years? What does their faith REQUIRE them to do?
It is a giant hoax on humanity for world leaders to gloss over the acumulated history of Islam and it's attendant philosophical basis' and conclude that peaceful coexistence is possible.

2/20/2007 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

...And even among Muslims a 55 per cent majority worldwide saw politics, not religion or culture, as the cause of tensions between Islam and the West.

The fact that in Indonesia a slim majority of Muslims see conflict between Islam and the West as inevitable will be of concern to policymakers here. Indonesia is Australia's most populous neighbour, with a bigger Muslim population than any other nation.

It was the only country in which the dark view predominated.

Clash of Civilizations?

2/20/2007 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Perhaps the survey should have included a question such as "Do you anticipate the West peacefully converting to Islam, or do you think that a conflict is inevitable?"

2/20/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre said...

Polling data already existed for Indonesia...for both 2003 and 2005. It is so damaging to the idea that there is something called moderate Islam that I am incedulous that any Islamic governments allowed such polls to be taken again.

In 2003 56% of Indonesian Muslims believed that Bin Laden was a hero. This is a supposedly moderate Islamic State. Nah this isn't a religious war.

Islam and Democracy….the debate on National Review Corner.

2/20/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I don't think a "clash of civilizations" in the sense of a violent conflict or widespread war is necessarily inevitable. But a "clash" in which two competing belief systems refine their internal beliefs, express their goals vis-a-vis each other and draw their Red Lines is neither unlikely nor undesirable. Ironically the more we have of the latter, the less likely the former.

The root of current tensions may be rooted in the West's reluctance to define its own inner beliefs and draw its Red Lines. Fudging the borders is not an act of peace, it is an invitation to armed conflict. The very same UN which would balk at altering an international boundary by a foot has difficulty in seeing the harm arising from the erasure of cultural borders, which as much as frontier fences, define the extent of a civilization. That is not "bigotry" any more than mapmaking is.

The problem with the BBC poll is it suggests "all is well"; and that no further action is required besides ignoring people who worry about a "clash of civilizations" when the contrary is probably true.

2/20/2007 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

In many ways, the Jihad has redefined what is meant by Total War. Not only does the new comprehensive way of warfare go beyond the the use by the State of all means, it includes the commandeering and subversion of international and nonbelligerent facilities to advance the aims of the combatants.

India denounced the use of the Pakistani Banking system to assist the transfer of funds to terrorist organizations in small transactions designed to evade detection using ATMs. (AKI/Asian Age)

"Legitimate banking channels are regularly being used to fund terrorist operations. Many instances of funds received via banking channels from so-called safe locations such as Dubai and UAE, intended for terrorist organisations, have been detected by Indian counter-terrorist agencies. Each individual transaction tends to be small so as not to attract attention and to avoid detection. Use of both real, and fraudulent, ATM cards has also been resorted to at times," he observed. ...

Another important source of funds to jehadi terrorist outfits were religious charities. Voluntary and forced donations were also common, as was using charities to channelise funds. He said, "Compulsory subscriptions to pro-terrorist publications have laterally become an important avenue for generation of funds. The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba's monthly, Majalah-al-Dawana, and its weekly magazine, Al Ghazwa, are two prime examples."

Recalling that a networked insurgency is controlled by propagating a narrative and disseminating operational techniques, it is readily apparent that a civilizational war, as waged by the Jihadis is potentially far more a "people's war" than Mao's and a much more "total war" than Hitler's in some respects.

Unless the West challenges the narrative it will have to progressively restrict ordinary life to compensate. We see this already in air travel. Pretty soon we may have to give up a great deal of privacy to pay for the liberal reluctance not to criticize the Jihad.

2/20/2007 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Michael Totten interviews Michael Orren at Pajamas Media, touching upon other things, America's early wars with the Barbary Pirates. Back then, the pirates considered enslaving Americans the most natural thing in the world.

MJT: When speaking of the Barbary War you used the word “jihad.” I don’t think you used that word in your book, though, did you?

Oren: No, I didn’t really have to. There was the case in 1785 where Thomas Jefferson is sent to negotiate with the envoy of the Pasha of Tripoli. Jefferson says to him that America only wants peace with the Barbary states. And he says to Jefferson “No, we want war with you. We have a holy book called the Koran which says that we have to conquer and enslave all infidel states. And the United States is an infidel state. And moreover our holy book the Koran tells us that if we are killed in the course of carrying out this war that we’ll go directly to Paradise.” So I didn’t think I even had to put the label jihadist on there. I figured that remarkable report of Jefferson’s at the Continental Congress would suffice to alert contemporary readers what Jefferson was dealing with in the Middle East.

But then America drew its Red Lines. And the rest is history. And I would argue that caused a change for the better, not only within Islam but in the world as a whole. Slavery was abolished not only in the US, but as few now remember, it was put down the world over. I trust nobody has any objections to describing that as a win-win for all mankind. The question today is, do we have the bipartisan consensus needed to draw those Red Lines? A bipartisan consensus, not simply in the narrow sense as between Democrats and Republicans but in the wider sense, as between the Left and Conservatives. Do we?

2/20/2007 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think Shulamit may be on to something:

Quote: The emancipation of women is a key factor, without it, there will never be a change in Islam. It will lead to families having fewer children, and thus more love for children and more value placed on their lives. As long as women are no more than reproductive machines, we will have suiced bombings. Also, emancipated women may begin demanding some _real achievements_ from potential suitors. When men no longer can _buy_ wives they may have to find ways to become likeable, less belligerent. When men have to do dishes they will no longer have the time to demonstrate in droves with effigies or torch foreign embassies at the drop of a hat.

2/20/2007 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

I have no idea where you're coming up with this American draws the Red Line mantra.

Recalcitrant ideologies or religions draw the lines. We bust through them. It's called freedom.

And you're avoidance in admitting there is not a clash of civilizations astonishing. How many countries does Islam have to attack (unprovoked except for the dictates of it's ideology)before one acknowledges that it is the problem and that it does a bit of clashing with everyone else?

2/20/2007 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Vinegar Joe said...

I lived in Indonesia in the late 1990s....up to 2004. Before and after 911 Bin Laden tshirts were for sale in Islamic clothing shops.....for example, the Carnival Mall in Batam. Several months before the 2002 Bali Bombing, Bin Laden tshirts were commonly worn by Muslim men working Kuta, Bali. Christmas Day 2001, my Balinese wife and I saw them being worn at the old Matahari Department Store on Jalan Legian......near on of the bombings.

Am I surprised? Having read the anti-American, anti-western propaganda spewed by their elected leaders almost daily in the Indonesia press.....I'm not surprised at all.

2/20/2007 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


As presently constituted the world may be too small for Western Civilization and Islam to mix without modification. When they existed in essentially separate universes, back in the days before widespread travel, migration and globalization, their incompatibility didn't matter.

Western ideas are probably as lethal to Islam as Islam is to the West. The mere existence of the West is refutation of the claim to primacy of Islam. If Red Lines do anything it would be to re-separate Islam and the West again so that they can pursue their separate paths. Otherwise they must either mutually adapt to accomodate each other (a nonzero sum outcome) or annihilate each other like antiparticles.

But anyone who wants to attain the negotiated outcome must determine his own internal negotiating position. What is our walkaway condition? How do we value the elements that are on the table? What is Islam's walkaway condition? It may turn out, as students of negotiation know, that no deal is possible. But that conclusion comes only after each side analyzes its position. The West has not. Drawing Red Lines forces the West to ask the question of what it is willing to negotiate and what is non-negotiable.

The alternative is of course the outright, take no prisoners clash. We may get there. But I hope this can somehow be avoided.

2/20/2007 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

You must certainly know that Islam precludes what you outline. It is in their guidebook of life, the Qu'ran.
You are ,I am sure, aware that almost all scholarship on Islam points out it's zero-sum nature.
In the past the only thing that has halted the spread of Islam is militay might. It is not just todays world that is presently constituted as too small. The world was too small for Islam nad any other religion since the day it was dreamed up by Mohammad. Since THAT day it has agressed againt all others.
Today one cannot name a single contributiion Islam has made to the world in a positive light in what, a thousand years?
Negotitation with Islam? You know their position is fixed. Conversion,dhimmitude, or death.
These are not negotiating positions but ultimatums. The Christian West is not going to convert to Islam without a very bloody war. And once again,as throughout history it will be Islams doing.
Current trends would dictate that a half a billion Islams will die to force them to recognise they cannot reestablish the Caliphate. The world will not miss 500 million people who live in the 7th century.

2/20/2007 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

re: Habu

Habu lists the three principles of Islam: conversion, slavery, or death.

Professional negotiators are quite clear on the fixed, immutable, existential nature of principles, i.e. they cannot be negotiated.

Can anyone here list three principles for the West? And let me be clear about this. A principle is an integral part of one's existential perspective, which cannot be changed without changing what one is. In short, when a person abandons a principle, he becomes, at that instant, a new person.

The West confuses goals with principles and, therefore, always comes up short of Wretchard’s "Red Lines." Quite rightly, Muslims see this as a profound weakness, not as some sort of perfectly reasonable negotiating technique. To be frank, when Muslims see Western governments modifying free speech, for example, to impress Muslims, they see cowards.

Of course, Muslims have the three principles cited by Habu. They will not change them unless faced with an existential crisis, and even then millions will prefer death to change. Simply put, the West has nothing to offer Islam, unless it is the time by which the West will submit to conversion, slavery, or death.

So, unless the West can find true principles worth dying for, the only Red Lines drawn will be by the other side.

2/20/2007 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Oengus said...

Wretchard, after taking into account what you have written, I hereby propose the Corollary to the Three Cities Axiom:

The Red Lines will not be drawn until America loses at least three cities.

2/20/2007 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...


I read with rapt attention your piece. I beieve you are right.

I'm not sure I have the ability to define three western priciples but here's a go.
First I would list our Bill of Rights, but here even with there codification we in the US have found enough flexibility to "modify", "interpret", however one wants to characterize it those ten principles. I do not know if that constitutes a change sufficient to say the person has changed in a significant way.
I think your points are excellent and well worth pondering.

2/20/2007 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Allen, the three principles of the west,
sight alignment,
stock weld, and
trigger squeeze.

Actually you can throw another one in there,
natural point of aim.

Hope that's all you need. BTW they're non-negotiable according to Presley O’Bannon.

2/20/2007 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"Do we?"

No. In the gap is the room for the jihadi egos to run wild until they slaughter another large group of innocents here (in US). Then, we do...and Baghdad and Anbar Province get cleared out properly rather than correctly. Hopefully, the resultant animus gets that craphole area of NW Pakistan and the Bekaa Valley flushed for good measure.

2/20/2007 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

BTW, haven't aid it in a while and readin' Habu1 prompts me to repeat:

Slaughter now or slaughter later.
Slaughter later = slaughter more.

2/20/2007 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger BurtB said...

Allen Estrin points out-

BBC Clash of Civilizations Poll
Posted by Allen Estrin at 12:28 PM

They ask two questions which are not comparable, so therefore the poll is worthless. They had an agenda -- they wanted to prove that most people believe the West and Islam can get along without any problems -- and created a poll to get the result they wanted. That's not truth-seeking. That's agenda journalism.

The two questions are not even mentioned in the BBC article.

the two questions:


Asked whether "violent conflict is inevitable" between Muslim and Western cultures or whether "it is possible to find common ground," an average of 56 percent say that common ground can be found between the two cultures, which is the most common response in 25 countries. On average almost three in ten (28%) think violent conflict is inevitable; Indonesia is the only country where this view predominates, while views are divided in the Philippines.

2/20/2007 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jeha said...

May be the Low Lebanese numbers is because we know very well how those wars are fought. They're basically sectarian affairs, with religion used as a reason to convince the village idiot to die for you.

In our case, we're not a war with Islam; we're facing a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. And the Sunnis have allied with them Christians and Druze. But no side can afford to "shoot first", so the sides are trying to manoeuvre one another into doing so...

2/21/2007 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

The shots were fired quite some time ago. Nov,4th 1989 is just one date that comes to mind.
Another date id 9-11-02.

In between the Islams have been begging to be nuked and we have restraind ourselves. They've earned it, we should serve it.

As I mentioned before the world will not miss in the least 500,000,000 Muslims who live in aworld of hate and aggression. Let's just do 'em a favor and send 'em to hell.

2/21/2007 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger Charles Edward Frith said...

Polling people is futile. Nobody listens to people when it comes to war which is why Islam and Chrisitanity are largely benign. It's those nutters at the top of the tree on both sides of the coin that are spoiling for a fight. And a fight it will be. By which time the media will have closed ranks and be bombing the people with reasons why they should sacrifice their lives for Halliburton, Carlyle Group, Kellog Brown & Root (KBR) et al.

2/21/2007 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

The True Death of Western Civilization; likely to succeed long before the jihadis get their act together.

2/21/2007 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Charles Frith,

No Halliburton, Carlyle Group, Kellog Brown & Root (KBR) et al, in Gaza City. Why not, habbibi, have your permanent residence there?

2/21/2007 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger DeFran said...

Speaking of Jefferson, I like to think the principles of the West are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

2/21/2007 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Someone should redo the old Coke TV commercial with the people in their national costumes singing on that hilltop.

And make one of them an Islamic Homicide Bomber - "I'd like to buy the world ...Boom!"

P.S. Okay - why is the verification word this time: "SMUT"?

2/21/2007 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Charles Edward Frith said...

Dan. It's not that you can't see the wood for the trees. It's just that you can't see the squirrels for the woods.

America pacific? erm, stealth, nukes, clusters, apaches, laser guided, death metal, tanks, hummers, space, satellites, the list goes on and on. The only thing the US doesn't have the stomach for is loss of blood in symetrical warfare.

Victim of it's own gluttony more like.

2/21/2007 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger tim maguire said...

I'd be interested in seeing a breakdown of Muslim respondants and non-Muslim respondants.

2/21/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Harrison said...

One word to explain the "shocking" results of the BBC poll: taqqiya. If they truly were spoiling for a fight, would they express it so blatantly to the world? Or would they insidiously attempt to undermine state institutions, laws and society to perpetuate sharia and jihad?

wretchard wrote: The question today is, do we have the bipartisan consensus needed to draw those Red Lines? A bipartisan consensus, not simply in the narrow sense as between Democrats and Republicans but in the wider sense, as between the Left and Conservatives. Do we?

Not so, judging from the manner in which Democrats are attempting to paint the defeat of the non-binding resolution as a victory for the party, and the decision to withdraw British troops as a sign of anarchy and violence spiraling out of control rather than a transfer of power to local police and military forces in Iraq.

The Red Lines you speak of are being drawn amidst us - Congressmen with their crayons perpetuating an atmosphere of partisanship that will prove divisive for the people, and between the executive and the legislature.

Transnational Progressivism and Islamofascism are recalcitrant ideologies indeed, habu. "Busting" the latter requires measures that our current government and the people seem unwilling to take.

The former is much more pervasive - already it has infected the left, and with the implicit support it receives from international bodies it may very well prove much more resilient as it harnesses public opinion on its side in order to subvert civilisation for the sake of cultural equivalence, among other utopian ideals.

2/21/2007 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Harrison said...


re: 08:36:00 PM comment

Great post.

Simply put, the West has nothing to offer Islam, unless it is the time by which the West will submit to conversion, slavery, or death.

So, unless the West can find true principles worth dying for, the only Red Lines drawn will be by the other side.

What choice do we have when faced with an adversary who accepts, even glorifies and embraces, death as a necessary measure to advance his or her cause? No form of threat we make will intimidate and deter them. No form of concession we make will prevent them from exploiting that as a weakness on our part.

While we view accommodation and integration as part of establishing multiculturalism, they see it as a zero-sum game writ large in the "clash of civilisations". That battle for existence has been ongoing for centuries, and our enemies have recognised the essential need for brutal, uncompromising cruelty against dissidents within their own, and kafir who refuse to be subjugated under Islamic rule.

Without technology, they only have their own bodies to offer to the altar of religious ideology - a sacrificial act as primitive as one could imagine, hearkening back to Western pre-civilisation. We, on the other hand, have the means to avoid such forms of sacrifice, but we choose not to employ them.

We have compromised too much on principles for the sake of Transnational Progressivist concepts like multiculturalism, cultural and moral equivalence, relativism, to name a few subversive memes. Our enemy employs these tools because he has observed, for a very long time, that we are not willing to muster the resolve and will to defend what we hold dear - and therefore it must be of little value to us, so why preserve it? As more of his fellow jihadists are massacred, he should be discouraged, but why is he not? These memes take on a life of their own within nations - peoples become apathetic and indifferent to the invidious nature of their intentions, accommodating intolerance because it makes themselves look tolerant - carrying out the jihadists' work for them.

This emboldens them, and further vindicates their struggle against Western civilisation. As he sees that we are capitulating with each concession that is made, it further amplifies his appetite instead of sating it. He will want more and more until Western civilisation is no longer existent.

2/21/2007 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Charles Edward Frith said...

I've always thought that the defense (not attack) of freedom was something I'd die for. Not sure about you and your fin de siecle twitterings.

2/22/2007 01:53:00 AM  
Blogger Martian Barista said...

And so how would you differentiate the attack and the defense of freedom?

And how would you know which is which so that you know when and where to show up?

2/22/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Charles Edward Frith said...

ppab said...
And so how would you differentiate the attack and the defense of freedom?

And how would you know which is which so that you know when and where to show up?

The attack upon freedom my dear chap....which negates the second question.

2/22/2007 08:12:00 AM

Dan said...
That's right Chuckles: wither up and blow away. Get thee to a coal mine and expiate your petulance and error in useful employment.

Dan,.. I'll just watch you go cold turkey first if you don't mind. It's been fun so far.

2/22/2007 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Martian Barista said...


You more or less coined a phrase "the attack of freedom" and suggested this was less preferred than the "defense of freedom."

Your terms remain ambiguous and I was hoping you would clarify and not just add a preposition.

2/22/2007 11:59:00 AM  

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