Some people believe the war we (the U.S. and Western Civilization) are currently engaged in is with Al Qaeda and the arbiters of radical Islam. While it is true that we are fighting those elements in several places around the world, including the home front, our real war is a war that goes way beyond the current crop of Islamic radicals.
Since the advent of Islam in the seventh century, Western Civilization, with the support of Christianity, which nurtured its root and branch, has been fighting a continuous war with Islam. We should note this war was not with “radical” Islam, but with Islam itself as it spread across the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Asia Minor, conquering and subjugating those formerly Christian areas by force, often with genocidal consequences (e.g. see the plight of the Armenians). It was stopped in southern France at the Battle of Tours. Since its high water mark in 8th century, Islam was on the defensive until the shift in power brought on by WWI and the events depicted in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. The Great War helped to established the Kingdom of Saud and gave Islam control over the rich oil fields of the Mid-East. Since then, using its growing economic strength centered in its oil and gas assets, Islam has turned itself around and begun expanding again.
However, due to changes in the West after WWII, coupled with the demise of colonialism, the West’s former understanding of Islam as a threat has been effectively forgotten. As a result, you could argue that the real fight is internal. It is over what the West believes about Islam, not just the “radical, jihadi Islam” it confronts on the fields of terror, but on the demands (or lack) its belief about Islam in general places on the West and its need to defend itself.
In the previous periods of conflict with the followers of Mohamed, the West had the unifying principle of Christianity to bulwark its purpose and identity within the larger struggle. Now, however, thanks to the advances of secular humanism and the modern progressive movement, the supportive Christian base of the West has been effectively nullified; its ability to unify dissipated. While many still claim to adhere to its beliefs, their actions within Western Culture speak loudly otherwise. In addition, there are growing numbers within the modern Western societies that actively support the full elimination of of Christianity in any form from the public sphere, not believing it will have any real effect on what remains of Western Civilization. They see Christianity’s demise as an asset, not a liability.
When they finally succeed, what then will the progressives in the West use to unify any resistance against the advance of Islam, which is already making inroads everywhere in the West? In the end, what will there be to rally around? Will they realize too late that they have destroyed their only defense that does force them along the well-trod route of Stalinism, Maoism, or National Socialism? Are they too blind to see the diminishing choices they are leaving themselves? It would appear they are, and in the end will have to give up their soul in an effort to save it.
We live in perilous times and those who should know better, don’t.
Update: A good book on the subject of Islam’s threat to the West is Lee Harris’ The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the West.