Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Feb. 7, 2006

Brace For Collision

History is on the move. The last couple of generations have come to think of momentous moments in history as – well, history. The U.S. Civil War, World War I and II, the Holocaust, Stalin's purges, the Great Depression, history neatly chronicled, with a beginning, middle and ending.

We've lived in times during which noteworthy events have been, by comparison, History-lite. I'm 60 and the first real historical event I recall was the Cuban Missile Crisis. But it's impact was almost entirely emotional. It lasted only few days then life returned to normal. The next historical event in my life was the Kennedy assassination, followed a few years later by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. But again, after a short period of shock, followed by a few weeks of sad reflection, life resumed quickly to normal.

The only history made during the conscious lives off the 30 and under generation was the fall of Communism, and that was good history.

History, like earthquakes, happens when it happens. A hunk of humanity over here, and a different branch of humanity over there, follow different paths, making their own progress, their own rules, their own mistakes, on parallel paths. Until one day, hardly noticed, their paths begin to converge. First there's friction. Sparks fly. But neither is willing or able to change or alter course. And finally, one day it happens. The two collide, and history – the bad kind -- is in the making.

That's precisely what's happening right now. The Christian/Judeao/secular West has merged paths with the Islamic world. Sparks have been flying for some time now while folks on both sides hoped one or the other would verge onto a less confrontational course. But neither has, because neither can.

The West has spent the last two centuries developing relatively open, enlightened, science-oriented, liberal societies. The Islamic world spent that time tethered to a philosophy that dictates both its religious and social identity, Islam. It once made them great, but now functionally obsolete, it has rendered them uncompetitive and increasingly unwelcome.

The West cannot accommodate unreconstructed Islam. Simply outlawing cartoons that offend Muslims, or letting them wear religious garb in public schools won't do it. Eventually the only way the West can avoid colliding with fundamental Islam is to “respect” all their rules -- rules that are antithetical to what being Western is. It would mean respecting rules, for example, that treat women in ways the West rightfully abandoned centuries ago. And that would just be the beginning.

I understand, even as I wrote the words above that saying such things risks throwing me into the company of bigots, flag-waving rednecks and jingoistic nut-case neocons. But the intractable nature of fundamentalist Islam has been on full display for several years now. Sooner or later something has to give, and I can't believe it's going to be the West. (When was the last time your heard of an Islamic nation complaining about illegal immigratants from Europe?)

The point of collision for this chapter in history will be Iran and it's s nuclear ambitions. As long as all the angry Islamic world's only weapons were suicide bombers the West had the luxury of pretending that radical Islam was a manageable problem.

But radical Muslims with the ability to kill millions of Westerners and disrupt the entire world economy in the process, is distinctly NOT a manageable problem. It's collision. It's war... and this time, a real one.

The inability of either side to change course has already set in motion forces that will create that moment of collision sooner rather than later. Muslim masses that immigrated to the West for jobs are now busy wearing out their welcome with riots and demands their Western hosts cannot concede. Those Muslim immigrants are also unable to concede. But they hold the weaker hand. If the violence continues -- and it will -- such guest workers will be sent packing. Those with European citizenship will be put in confinement under new laws, not unlike the internment of Japanese/Americans during WW II.

Those workers deported from Europe back to their native countries will only add to endemic unemployment there and they will become fresh fodder for anti-west forces. The Islamic world will achieve full-boil. Western companies and Western investment will flee. The House of Saud will be threatened by internal forces and will have to be protected by Western forces to secure access to Saudi oil – which will of course only further enrage radical Muslims. Collison in the making.

And speaking of radical Muslims, after collision Muslims throughout the Islamic world will either all be radicalized, or pretend they are. Because those who openly support the West will risk losing their heads.

Bleak, huh? Yep. But for the life of me I can't see a peaceful outcome to this unique collision of cultures. One society is populated by largely educated liberal, forward-looking citizens. The other is populated by largely uneducated, anti-intellectuals steeped in a social/religious framework that stopped changing and growing a thousand years ago -- a culture that sees almost every aspect of liberal Western life as an offense against Islam. An offense against them personally.

Which brings me back to Iran. It's bad enough that Pakistan has nukes, but Iran is horse's ass of a different color. It can't be allowed. This time it won't be the goofy neo-cons in Washington rattling their sabers, but the Europeans – and Israel. Because tit will be them, not us, within range of Iran's first nuclear tipped missiles. And, it's far more likely that a nuclear-equipped suicide bomber will get into an Israeli or European city than a US city.

All of which is simply unacceptable.. It cannot be allowed to happen, so it will not be allowed to happen. Diplomacy has not worked, particularly with Iranians. Because radical Islam doen't make deals with infidels. Infidels are either converted or conquered.

That's why I believe that some morning in the not-too-distant future we will awake to the news that someone just bombed the living crap out of Iran's nuclear facilities, including a nuclear-tipped bunker buster used to reach Iran's underground enrichment facility.

It will be Pearl Harbor – the Islamic world version. Collision. The first page in a new chapter of mankind's bloody history will begin. And, like all momentous moments in history, this one will change our lives and the world in ways we cannot now even begin to imagine.