Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Shakespeare said...

... all the world's a stage, and we but players. There's a new truth that can be added to it - the entire world is a battlefield, and we're all soldiers in the war.

That makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I wonder if it makes them as "uncomfortable" as watching two maniac-guided flying bombs hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I wonder if it makes them as "uncomfortable" as all those people on the three Madrid commuter trains bombed in March. I wonder if it makes them as "uncomfortable" as the people in a nightclub in Bali, or, reaching back twenty years ago, to the hundreds killed and injured in a blast in a Berlin nightclub. That doesn't even begin to include the Kenya and Tanzania embassy blasts, the USS Cole attack, Pan AM Flight 103, the Khobar Towers bombing, or the destruction of the Marine barracks in Beirut, or a hundred other attacks over the last forty years.

The islamofascist war against western civilization didn't start with the September 11th strikes against New York and Washington. It's been going on for at LEAST 40 years, and has killed ten thousand people around the world. Nor has America been the only target: the main thrust of this cultural war has been against Israel, but there are few countries who have been spared. About the only thing the war has in common is that it's primarily waged by the adherents of one particular virulent, fundamentalist sect of Islam - wahabbism. It's funded mostly by Saudi Arabia, but Islamic cells all around the world have contributed. Its chilling goal is to return the world to the seventh century, under Arab Islamic domination.

A few people understand this. A few nations have grasped parts of the truth. No one, however, has understood fully that these people are fanatics, and they will continue to fight until they're dead, or they succeed. There are no in-between steps. There is only one sure way to stop them - kill them, all.

Killing them all is not an easy task. There are some incremental steps that MUST be done in order to reach the ultimate goal. The world must stop funding these madmen, stop giving them the wealth needed to recruit and train warriors, stop the money to buy explosives and other supplies, and to stop their ability to communicate with one another. We must be careful - very careful - not to turn more moderate Muslims against our forces. We've seen success in Afghanistan, where that nation has had its first free election in its existence. The people have suddenly discovered the blessings of freedom. They're also learning that freedom and Islam can coexist - if the people themselves wish it to. They're also learning that some portions of the Hadith, even portions of the Koran, are so far out of step with reality that change is not only necessary, it is inevitable. The Koran no longer exists in a vacuum, and no longer exists in a 7th century society.

The world has changed - the Koran has made no provision to change - in fact for many, any changes are heresy. Yet everything changes - nothing is ever constantly static. When anything resists change, stresses build up - up to the point where there is an explosive release of the stresses and their associated pressures. The violences of 14th century Europe were the result of attempts to force changes within Christianity from what the priests and monks had insisted was unchangeable. The Protestant reformation was the direct result of the stresses caused by that refusal to change, and by the growing evidence that the Church was sinfully corrupt, from the top down. The major battles that followed extended all the way into the late 19th Century.

Today's islamofascist war is the last-ditch effort of a few to keep the world from changing. They are doomed to failure, but just as the religious wars of Europe dragged on for over 400 years, change won't come immediately to Islam. There will be those that greatfully adapt to change, while others will fight with all their might to preserve the "purity" of their faith. The islamofascists claim, justifiably in part, that Western Civilization is part of the problem. With the elimination of the isolation of Arab nations come new ideas, new processes, new products, new thoughts. These are having an unbelievable effect on Islam, adding stress to an already stressful religion.

The Arab - and thus, Islamic - world went through a huge revolution in the eleventh century as Islam conquered major centers of learning throughout the Mediterranean, and absorbed the teachings of these great centers. While Europe turned inward (driven by a monstrous outbreak of plague, gleefully pounced upon by the establishment Church as a sign of God's displeasure), Islamic learning bloomed. Unfortunately, the bloom was short-lived, as there were no scholars allowed to pursue ideas beyond the bounds of Islam, and the knowledge learned was slowly dribbled away in internal feuds, bureaucracy, complaciency, ineptness, and an enforced binding of curiosity.

The Rennaissance of learning in Europe emerged with the emergence of the Protestant Reformation, arguing that the Church was NOT the end of all learning, and that there were many more things to be learned from the world around us than what was in the Bible. The power of the Popes and Bishops were broken, and new ideas burst forth in abundance. Quickly Europe supplanted the Arab world as the source of new knowledge, new ideas, and new ways of doing things. The discovery of the New World not only hastened those changes, but expanded them beyond anything previously known.

New frontiers spurred new ideas, and the principal one of those ideas was that of individual freedom. People in a frontier society learned that they - and only they - were their first line of defense not only against 'savages', but against the unscrupulous of their own society. The immense pressures of frontier life were a pressure-cooker of new ideas - about government, about property, about personal freedoms, and about religion. Colonial masters soon found themselves faced with revolt, revolution, and war on a hundred fronts, as people began throwing off the outmoded ideas of their colonial masters. The United States was one of the first to break away, but new nations were constantly being born - some to survive, others to be crushed - until late in the 20th century. Constant conflict led to a constant flow of new ideas, some adopted, others dropped.

Except in the Arab world, where Islam continued to unite the people, even in the face of European masters. Some Arab and non-Arab Islamic groups accepted some of the trappings of western civilization, but maintained the core fundamental principles of Islam. As long as the strain wasn't too great, there were no great problems. Where strains did develop, there were "native uprisings", some successful, others not. Even after independence, many of these Islamic states were faced with constant turmoil, as they tried to accommodate the massive changes of western civilization into a 7th Century religious lifestyle.

Today's world continues to move forward, faster and faster, with more and more changes. At the same time, it's shrinking as satellites, television, telephone, the Internet, and travel make it easier to move information from a local area to an international one in minutes. The strain in trying to force a population to remain mired in the 7th Century is getting harder and harder, and the pressure is building. The fanatics are fighting against the influence of the rest of the world, trying to hold back the tide of progress with teacups - and high explosives. Eventually, the world will either tire of them and destroy them, or they will be overwhelmed from within, as the ordinary people tire of being chained to the past.

The Protestant Reformation required 400 years of warfare and the discovery of a new hemisphere to finally (mostly) adjust to reality. The Islamic Reformation will be quicker - perhaps in as little as 150 years. The Protestant Reformation claimed the lives of tens of millions of people. Unfortunately, the Islamic Reformation may well exceed that number before it truly reaches equilibrium and maturity.


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