An Ill Wind from Spain

There is a white flag blowing in the breeze over the beautiful city of Madrid. Muslims, who once fought a bloody war to occupy much of Spain -- which they did for centuries, have now done it with a few bombs, an ominous portent indeed. In THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS, Samuel Huntington wrote that there are three great religious blocks in the world: Eastern religion; the scattered nations of Islam; and Western civilization, influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition, embodied in the United States and Europe. As we look at September 11 and its aftermath, we have to conclude that Huntington was right when he predicted that the clash between Islam and the West would be the great struggle of the twenty-first century. But Huntington went on to say that Islam would win. I disputed that at the time, but given recent events in Europe, I'm beginning to wonder. Spain is one of the two major European nations to support America's position in Iraq and the War on Terrorism. If, as it now appears, al Qaeda was responsible for bombing the trains in Madrid just days before the election, then al Qaeda has defeated Spain by giving the Socialists an upset victory over the center right party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Observers say the war issue brought about the surprise upset. The Prime Minister-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zabatero, has promised to bring Spanish troops home from Iraq -- just what the demonstrators in the streets have been screaming for. In bombing those trains, al Qaeda fired a warning shot at the West -- if you come after us, put troops in the Middle East, and try to destroy radical Islam, we will destroy you. And so the Spanish and the rest of Europe have surrendered. They will allow the United States to fight this out alone, as Islam takes an ever larger hold, population-wise, in all European nations. One can see a progression in which Europe becomes neutralized and then falls under the influence of Islam. It may take a generation or two, but it is almost inevitable if the Spanish elections are any sign of European resolve. We find nations too comfortable -- or perhaps too decadent -- to fight for their own liberty. There is a second ominous portent here: We can expect al Qaeda to attempt a major attack of the United States on the eve of our presidential elections this year to try to do the same thing to us that they did to the Spaniards. Do we have the will and the resolve to continue to battle Islamist extremists? Our only defense is to deal with nations that are sponsoring terrorism -- the real reason we went into Iraq in the first place (weapons of mass destruction, I think, are secondary). We must, as Bernard Lewis, the great scholar of Islam at Princeton says, build a democratic structure in the Middle East that will bring about an end to the oppressive Islamic regimes. The radicals know that modernity cannot be conquered in the free marketplace of ideas. It must be destroyed -- bin Laden has written this, as have others. Are we willing to let them have their way? I'll speak for myself: The answer is, "No." If we really love our nation and the people around us, we will be willing to defend them. In fact, it is the greatest expression of Christian love to defend our neighbors against the threat to our way of life and, of course, our Christian faith. Maybe, just maybe, what has happened in Spain will serve as a wake-up call, because September 11, you see, was not just an isolated event. We are in a real war. For further reading and information: "President Bush Honors Victims of Bombings in Spain," Remarks by the President to the Spanish and American Press, Pools Embassy of Spain, Washington, D.C., 12 March 2004. Glenn Frankel, Peter Finn and Keith B. Richburg, "Al Qaeda Implicated in Madrid Bombings," WASHINGTON POST, 15 March 2004. Rowan Williams and George Weigel, "War & Statecraft: An Exchange," FIRST THINGS, March 2004. "A win for terror," Decision Brief from the Center for Security Policy, 15 March 2004. Marni Soupcoff, "Inviting Terror to Supper," AMERICAN ENTERPRISE, 15 March 2004. Christopher Caldwell, "From 9/11 to 3/11," WEEKLY STANDARD, 22 March 2004. Stephen Schwartz, "Terror's Target Is Peace," WEEKLY STANDARD, 12 March 2004. "Spain's 3/11," WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12 March 2004. Denis Boyles, "The Spanish Apology," NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE, 15 March 2004. George Weigel, "Islam and democracy: the crucial questions," Ethics and Public Policy Center, 24 July 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 030911, "Terrorism, War, and Evil.",_War,_and_Evil.htm BreakPoint Commentary No. 030723, "A Necessary Show of Strength." BreakPoint Commentary No. 020306, "Loving Your Neighbor: Just War and Charity." (Free registration required.) Jim Tonkowich, "Ten Things We Should Have Learned since September 11, 2001," BREAKPOINT ONLINE, 20 September 2002. Samuel Huntington, THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS AND THE REMAKING OF WORLD ORDER (Touchstone, 1998). Dr. Timothy George, IS THE FATHER OF JESUS THE GOD OF MUHAMMAD?: UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM (Zondervan, 2002). Also available is a "BreakPoint This Week" CD interview with Dr. Timothy George. Bernard Lewis, "What Went Wrong?" ATLANTIC MONTHLY , January 2002. Bernard Lewis, WHAT WENT WRONG?: WESTERN IMPACT AND MIDDLE EASTERN RESPONSE (Oxford University Press, 2002). Bernard Lewis, THE CRISIS OF ISLAM: MODERN JIHAD AND THE ROOTS OF MUSLIM RAGE (Modern Library, 2003). Bernard Lewis, "The Roots of Muslim Rage," ATLANTIC MONTHLY, September 1990. Paul Berman, TERROR AND LIBERALISM (W. W. Norton and Company, 2003).


Chuck Colson


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