It’s just what Barack Obama doesn’t need as he prepares to take his oath of office as the 44th president of the USA: another Israeli/Palestinian war inflaming passions anew all over the Arab world—and much of the Muslim world outside too, from Iran to Indonesia. What will his middle name, Hussein, count for in this intense firefight?
Well, maybe something, but only if he moves rapidly to change the long-standing American emphasis on supporting, by both word and deed, the Israeli side at the expense of the Palestinian. It is as simple—and as complicated—as that. After the Bush years, during which the ”clash of civilizations” became the de facto interpretation of American, and to some extent European, policy in the region, the West quickly needs to de-escalate its fixation with what it often sees as the rabid policies of the Muslim world. And it must restore a sense of humility in dealing with a great world-wide civilization, albeit one with its share of bad apples.
Comparison, even in the time of Al Qaeda, does not always work in Christendom’s favour. The West cannot overlook its near-conquest by the Nazis, whose attempt to eliminate the Jews came out of a country that was in many ways the fulcrum of modern Christianity. Nor can we ignore the inroads that atheistic Marxism made in Europe; or indeed an everyday crime rate in western nations that far exceeds that of any Muslim country, especially those in the middle east.
”It is human to hate” wrote Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington, who died last week, in his too influential book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. “In this new [post-Cold War] world, local politics is the politics of ethnicity; global politics is the politics of civilization. The rivalry of the super powers is replaced by the clash of civilizations.”
Huntington spent many of his book’s pages attempting to persuade his audience that ”the underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. IT IS ISLAM, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.”
It is not surprising that so myopic a conviction led him to see a future where the West would end up in an…