During the 1930s, Winston Churchill, a seemingly failed politican, repeatedly warned his British countrymen against the growing menace of Nazi Germany.
The leaders of Britain, France and the United States–the three great victors of World War 1–hoped that if they simply ignored the increasingly aggressive behavior of Adolf Hitler, they could somehow escape catastrophe.
When, in the early 1930s, Hitler began re-building a powerful German army (Whermacht) in open defiance of the Versallies Treaty that had ended World War 1, Churchill gave warning–and was ignored.
When Hitler ordered his army to occupy his native Austria in 1938, Churchill warned that the Nazis would not be content with the conquest of one nation. And was ignored.
In 1938, Hitler demanded that Czechoslavakia cede the Sudetenland, its northern, southwest and western regions, which were inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans.
When British Prime Minister Nveille Chamberlain surrendered to Hitler’s demands at the infamous “Munich conference,” his fellow Britons were ecstatic. He returned to England as a hero.
Churchill knew better: “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war.”
In March, 1939, the German army occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.
Hitler next turned his attention to Poland–which he invaded on September 1, unintentionally triggering World War II.
In time, historians and statesmen would regard Munich as an object lesson in the futility—and danger—in appeasing evil and aggression.
It is a lesson that current world leaders have forgotten as Islamic fundamentalists increasingly flex their military and economic muscles–and demand that Western nations bow to their demands.
- In Iran, scientists continue to fashion a nuclear weapons program–while insisting they intend to use the atom only for “peaceful purposes.”
- In Pakistan–which has 90-110 nuclear warheads–Osama bin Laden lived less than a mile from the Pakistan Military Academy, the country’s West Point. So much for America’s “ally” in the “war on terror.”
- The rising tide of Muslim population growth spells deadly challenges for non-Islamic nations.
Winston Churchill’s warnings fell on deaf ears until other world leaders–most notably Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin–were forced by events to take action.
So did the warnings of Harvard political science professor Samuel P. Huntington.
In 1993, he published an essay in Foreign Affairs called “The Clash of Civilizations?” In this, he argued that the post-Cold War would be marked by civilizational conflict. Among his assertions:
- People are divided along religious and cultural lines.
- Islamic civilization do not share the general ideals of the Western world–such as individualism and democracy.
- Their primary attachment is to their religion, not to their nation-state.
- When the Muslim world conflicts with other civilizations, tensions and wars result.
- Arab dictatorships were fragile and could be overturned by the masses of unemployed young men. But even if they fell, the new regimes would not modernize along Western lines.
- A fundamental clash of civilizations between Islam and the West is inevitable.
- Relations between Muslims and non-Muslims–such as Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews–have been marked by Islamic antagonism and violence.
- Western nations should distance themselves from Islamic ones. The more both civilizations interact, the greater tensions between them will be.
Huntington’s critique of Islamic civilizations ignited a firestorm of controversey–especially his statement: “Islam has bloody borders.”
In 1996, Huntington expanded his thesis into a book–also called The Clash of Civilizations. Once again, he minced no words:
“Some Westerners, including President Bill Clinton, have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise.”
Huntington cited British scholar Barry Buzan as giving several reasons for an inevitable war between the West and Islam:
- Western secular vs. Islamic religious values.
- Past historical rivalry between Christianity and Islam.
- Jealousy of Western power by Islamic nations.
- Islamic resentments of Western domination during the post-colonial restructuring of the Middle East.
- Islamic bitterness and humiliation at the achiveements of Western civilization over the last 200 years.
Much of the fury Muslims were directing toward the West, wrote Huntington, was aimed at its embrace of secularism. Westerners were attacked not for being Christian but “for not adhering to any religion at all.”
Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a quasi-war developed between some Islamic nations and some Western ones. On the Islamic side: Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. On the Western side: The United States and Britain.
“In this quasi war,” wrote Huntington, “each side has capitalized on its own strengths and the other side’s weaknesses.” For example:
- Muslim terrorists exploited the openness of Western societies to plant car bombs at selected targets.
- Western powers used their superior air power to bomb selected targets in Islamic countries.
- Islamics plotted the assassination of Western leaders.
- The United States plotted the overthrow of hostile Islamic regimes.
Writing at a time before the United States directed its full military power at conquering Afghanistan and Iraq, Huntington ominously noted:
“During the 15 years between 1980 and 1995…the United States engaged in 17 military operations in the Middle East, all of them directed against Muslims. No comparable pattern of U.S. military operations occurred against the people of any other civilization.”
The war that Huntington warned was coming and was, in fact, already in progress, has since erupted into full-scale conflict, with no end in sight.