The Western doctrine of non-violence depends on the willingness to compromise. To resolve any conflict by sitting down at a table, finding points of agreement and then working through the rest. The ruthless killing fields of the twentieth century have not shaken that eternal faith in a diplomatic solution, rather they have only strengthened it. But what happens when a compromise is genuinely impossible?
The commitment to non-violence depends on the assumption that while small numbers of fanatics might seek war, the vast majority of people do not. And even if they do want war, they want a humane war, not a genocidal war of extermination. Therefore even when such wars are fought, they do not reflect the will of the people, only that of a small group of fanatics.
That such a manifestly absurd belief that flies in the face of human history could be so widely held among the decision makers of the world’s dominant civilizations is itself apt testimony to the decline and fall of those civilizations. Nevertheless this belief remains unshakeable.
Atrocities are attributed to a dictator and a few of his cronies. Remove the dictator, roll in the voting booths and then we need make war no more. But the rise of Islamic terrorism presents an explosive challenge to that worldview. There is no Hitler or Stalin of Islam. No small group holding power on which everything can be blamed. In the age of terrorism, it is the ordinary Muslim who acts as the killer. Who sheds his guise of humanity and kills.
Islamic terrorism is the most democratic and representative form of war there is. There is no draft. No government mandate. And no compulsion but that of the Koran. Of course in territories under their control, becoming a Jihadist sometimes is compulsory. But that certainly isn’t the case in the West. While Western diplomats chatter about democracy, the Muslim votes with his bomb vest. And his vote is the decisive one.
Islamic terrorism is a direct refutation to that understanding of evil as a function of governments, rather than people. Its election victories mock the idea that democratic political representation ends violence. While Western intellectuals parrot the party line about a tiny minority of extremists being at fault, the political success of Islamist parties demonstrates that they are neither a minority nor extremist. The version of Islam they relegate to cave dwelling barbarians is actually the mainstream one.
If Western elites were to accept this, they would also have to accept that compromise is impossible. And that we face a war of extermination waged against us with every available weapon from demographics to atomics. But rather than accept the error of their ideas, they mainstream the Islamists. When the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas ride a wave of popular support, they rush to explain why they are really moderate after all. If Al-Qaeda were to win elections in Yemen, there would immediately be distinctions made between the moderate Al-Qaeda terrorists who won the election, and the extremists who don’t represent the humanistic principles that Al-Qaeda stands for.
The official position is that we are fighting a war of ideas against ‘radicalization’. To win, we have to beat that tiny minority of extremists in a debate over the nature of their religion. And while they have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Koran and the Hadiths, we have a silly little ditty we picked up about Islam being a “Religion of Peace”. But no matter how often we lose the debate, we never admit defeat. Instead we go on empowering Islamic populism, and when the populists turn out to be the very radicals we were fighting all along, then we reach for the dictionary and redefine them as moderates.
The intellectual error that lies at the heart of this cluster of stupidity is that the fault cannot lie in the people. That no people can be committed to war and destruction. That no mass of human beings would rather kill, than reach a reasonable compromise.
And so when the compromise is refused, its inadequacy is held to blame. Next time a more generous compromise must be offered. And if that too is rejected, then it’s time to sit down and understand why the previous offers were judged so inadequate and bid even higher, like a game of poker in which the objective is to lose as much money as possible. The notion that the compromises are being rejected for the very reason that they are compromises is not one that can be accepted.
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