Thursday, 13 July 2017

"A clash of civilisations or community". Martin Wolf | Financial Times, 12 July 2017

Letter to the Financial Times:
Martin Wolf says "Terrorism is just a nuisance". In contrast, Soviet Communism was "an existential threat". ("A clash of civilisations or community", 12 July 2017)
Certainly the Soviet Union was a clear and present danger. In the Cold War it was a clearly defined entity within clearly defined borders with a clearly defined government and nuclear-armed forces. Nothing like today's terrorists, in other words. We should note however that there were no terrorist acts on the West by Soviet forces, so the degree of threat is not necessarily defined by its terrorist acts. 
Thus the Islamist threat to the West now is not -- or not just -- from terrorist acts. There I agree with Mr. Wolf.  But I don't agree that that makes the threat simply "a nuisance". The real threat is from those in Islam who want to impose its ideology on the world. The Islamic threat may not be a monolith. But it does have cross-border organisations. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, for example, brings together 57 Islamic countries, a formidable group within the United Nations, promoting inter alia Islamic blasphemy laws. The Islamic Declaration on Human Rights was specifically formulated to counter the UN's Universal Declaration and states explicitly that human rights must be subservient to Sharia law. 
And let's not forget the many polls of Muslim attitudes, in Islamic countries and in the West alike, that reveal troubling levels of intolerance across the board from the treatment of sexual minorities and women to punishments for blasphemy and apostasy. 
It may be that we don't have a single monolithic enemy like the Soviet Union of yore. But this threat to the West may be all the more dangerous for that. Its very disparity may fool many in the West to discount it as being "just a nuisance", like the Martin Wolfs of the world. 
It's not just a nuisance. It's just that it's not clear and present.  Present, yes, but strategically unclear.
Peter Forsythe