Fleming's other points are challenging and valuable and could well
serve as a basis of discussion for conservatives who do not feel
represented by the mindless calls for increased US bellicosity emanating
from the neoconservative Republican establishment. Chronicles
has not yet posted Fleming's piece online but (perhaps after editing out the incorrect references to me)
lists, in "ascending" order of importance the following
recommendations for US policy:
Work toward a just settlement of the Middle East crisis, including
a real Palestinian state with guaranteed defensible borders. He
adds, "There's no doubt that the US government's one-sided
policy in the region has contributed to the hatred toward America
that has boiled up in the modern world."
End the US' drive for global hegemony the muscle flexing which
has led the United States to war against Iraq, Panama, and Yugoslavia.
Such policies "make the world a more dangerous place for Americans."
Instead pursue a foreign policy based on American interests.
"Wake up to the real threat of Islam," a religion "that
has defined itself, since its inception, as the enemy of Christianity."
Muslims do not believe this struggle is over. Resolution of the
Palestinian question will not produce more than a détente desirable in itself, but not an end to the struggle.
is not a "crusade" because the elite classes of Europe
and the West are "unfit to take up the Cross."
we are asked to take part in a campaign of cultural genocide waged
by the post-Christian, post human anti-culture of the consumerist
West against the traditional culture of Islam, we will adamantly
Work toward the re-creation of Christendom in North America and
response and I suspect that of many of this site's readers is:
agreement with points A and B; a troubled and not entirely confident
disagreement with point C, and regarding D, which may well be the
crux of Fleming's argument, a "What exactly is he talking about?"
Fleming is suggesting in C and D is that the post-Enlightenment
world that saw the West advance materially and geographically, while
God and Christianity gradually receded in the Western consciousness,
is no more than snare and delusion. Instead, the basic civilizational
divisions of mankind into how worship is organized are reasserting
themselves, somehow must reassert themselves. Unlike Christians,
Muslims have not deluded themselves into believing that the world
based on faith is in any way subordinate to the world based on science
are large propositions they may lie at the heart of serious contemporary
political inquiry, however one might try to answer them. (They are,
for instance, the central preoccupation of Michel
Houellebecq, the best-selling French writer who has been variously
described as a racist, eugenicist, Stalinist, and anti-Muslim and the most important Western novelist in a generation).
don't think Fleming's view of the main trend-lines within Islam
is correct. Iran is the most significant "believing" Muslim
country. If America's conservative establishment doesn't blow it
by unleashing an expanded American war in the Middle East, Iran
will continue a momentous transformation from militant anti-Western
fundamentalism to something much more benign, a process which occurred
within a generation. But if the most successful scientifically and
culturally advanced states in the Islamic world cast off the most
obscurantist elements of their faith, that kind of Islam will prevail
over Osama bin Laden and all the nuthouse mullahs raging about jihad.
interesting thing about Fleming is that he does not desire this
kind of victory. It is not reactionary enough. Facing a choice between
the post-Christian West and believing, obscurantist Islamic jihadism,
Fleming would rather not have to choose, or would at least say he
wouldn't want to choose. He wouldn't want the secular West, this
West, to win. For him, salvation for the West lies in the "recreation
what can that mean? Does "Christendom" mean a religious
revival of sorts, a rearrangement within the existing order
one that sees some rolling back of the culture of abortion, a greater
focus on family life, the end to the suppression of Christmas, a
cultural politics derived from a widely accepted understanding that
the United States was a better country when it was more Christian
than it is at present? That would be a possible option, and a far
from disagreeable one.
does Christendom mean something much more radical? the rejection
of the Enlightenment, an attempted rollback of as many developments
as possible which have taken place since the French Revolution,
or since Galileo? Ought the people of the West become as subordinate
towards their clergy as they were in the Middle Ages, or in the
time of the Puritans?
or not (and for me it is not), nothing of the sort is going to happen
barring perhaps a nuclear cataclysm that kills more than three quarters
of the world's educated population. I think I can understand the
longing for the Middle Ages, recognize that it is not unfamiliar
ground for a certain kind of disaffected Western intellectual. But
it's beyond the realm of the possible.
if what I infer to be Tom Fleming's preferred option a sort of
Holy War between a re-Christianized West and militant fundamentalist
Islam, with the West victorious is not on the table, what are
the actual choices?
boil down to two. One is an eventual détente between a secularized
West and an unevenly secularizing Islamic world. That means the
West fights back against Osama bin Laden while actively seeking
détente and noninterference with the rest of the Muslim world,
while fundamentalist movements begin to burn themselves out. Fleming's
points A and B, a Palestinian peace settlement and a less aggressive
US foreign policy, are probably the necessary preconditions for
this, the most favorable of possible outcomes.
this scenario, the retreat from faith that transformed the West
in the last 150 years transforms the Muslim world as well. There
are several variations within this scenario some far more attractive
than others. But since this is the one that holds the greatest prospect
for long lives for my children and (yet to be born) grandchildren,
it is the best.
other scenario is an escalating war between the secularized West
and an Islam taken over by Islamic Jihadism, where aggressively
anti-Western fundamentalists are able to form alliances with more
scientifically advanced secular dictatorships (Iraq). The West would
win, but the costs of such a war could be horrible probably involving
nuclear terrorism, use of nuclear weapons, man-made epidemics and
may be in for a wild ride a friend who telephoned recently said
that if India and Pakistan went to war, China "would have to"
get involved so the world may be facing a situation beyond the
influence of any of us. But if the present crisis eases a bit, Fleming's
piece precisely because it takes faith as seriously as many of
the West's most impassioned adversaries is a fine place to initiate
printable version of this article
As a committed
cold warrior during the 1980's, Scott McConnell wrote extensively
for Commentary and other neoconservative publications. Throughout
much of the 1990's he worked as a columnist, chief editorial writer,
and finally editorial page editor at the New York Post. Most
recently, he served as senior policy advisor to Pat Buchanan's 2000
campaign , and writes regularly for NY Press/Taki's Top Drawer.
columns on Antiwar.com
In the January
Campaign Is that All There is to Victory?
in the Land
Sneering at Powell, Flacking for Sharon
of the War Party
Hearts and Minds
Strategic Withdrawal Option
Open Letter to Arab Readers
Push for A Wider War
Bushes and the Palestinians: Act 2
Struggle Over War Aims
They Hate Us
Many Arabs Hate America
is Still Right
Real Plan for the Mideast
Just Mideast Peace
Liberalism on the March