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Friday, October 27, 2006

Book review: America Alone 


America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It
Mark Steyn
2006 Regnery Publishing, Inc.
224 pages.


Mark Steyn's new book, America Alone, is not surprisingly the American answer (though Steyn is originally Canadian) to British journalist Melanie Phillips' Londonistan. Phillips warned Americans in particular that Great Britain's status as the beacon of the West was being subverted by creeping Islamization, and that soon she would no longer be a reliable ally.

The effect on America if its principal ally continues down this perilous road will be profound. The consequences for the West, for which Britain remains a cultural beacon, would be incalculable. That is why this book is a warning -- to America, to Britain and to all who care for freedom.

Mark Steyn acknowledges the warning from the western shore of the Atlantic, and extends the analysis to the former great powers of continental Europe. Both authors discuss culture, demographics, politics -- particularly of the left -- and geopolitics. Phillips relentlessly sounds the alarm against the collapse of British cultural confidence and resurgent "multiculti leftism," which she believes has destroyed the will of the British to stand up for their own future. While Steyn also discusses cultural confidence (see this post from yesterday), he focuses on the interplay between the social democratic welfare state, the collapsing fertility of the leading modernized countries, and "civilizational exhaustion." Each of these feeds the other, according to Steyn, and the result is that rich countries of Western Europe, plus Japan, will soon be unable to defend themselves no matter how much they might wish to do it.

In the book he starts with demography, "because everything else does." Whether or not that is true, let's set the table as the author proposes:
If your school has two hundred guys and you're playing a school with two thousand pupils, it doesn't mean your baseball team is definitely going to lose, but it certainly gives the other fellows a big starting advantage. Likewise, if you want to launch a revolution, it's not very likely if you've only got seven revolutionaries. And they're all over eighty. But if you've got two million and seven revolutionaries and their all under thirty, you're in business.

I wonder how many pontificators on the "Middle East peace process" ever run this number: the median age in the Gaza Strip is 15.8 years.

Once you know that, all the rest is details. If you were a "moderate Palestinian" leader, would you want to try to persuade a nation -- or pseudo-nation -- of unemployed poorly educated teenage boys raised in a UN-supervised European-funded death cult to see sense? Any analysis of the "Palestinian problem" that doesn't take into account the most important determinant on the ground is a waste of time.

Likewise, the salient feature of Europe, Canada, Japan, and Russia is that they're running out of babies. What's happening in the developed world is one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history. Most of us have seen a gazillion heartwarming ethnic comedies -- My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its ilk -- in which some uptight WASPy type starts dating a gal from a vast, loving, fecund Mediterranean family, so abundantly endowed with sisters and cousins and uncles that you can barely get in the room. It is, in fact, the inversion of the truth. Greece has a fertility rate hovering just below 1.3 births per couple, which is what demographers call the point of "lowest low" fertility from which no human society has ever recovered. And Greece's fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain, 1.1. Insofar as any citizens of the developed world have "big" families these days, it's the Anglo democracies: America's fertility rate is 2.1, New Zealand's a little below. Hollywood should be making My Big Fat Uptight Protestant Wedding, in which some sad Greek only child marries into a big heartwarming New Zealand family where the spouse actually has a sibling.

As I say, this isn't a projection -- it's happening now. There's no need to extrapolate, and if you do it gets a little freaky, but, just for fun, here goes: by 2050, 60 percent of Italians will have no brothers, no sisters, no cousins, no aunts, no uncles. The big Italian family, with papa pouring the vino and mama spooning out the pasta down an endless table of grandparents and nieces and nephews, will be gone, no more, dead as the dinosaurs. As Noel Coward once remarked in another context, "Funiculi, funicula, funic yourself." By mid-century, Italians will have no choice in the matter.

The second leg in the Steynian triad is the social democratic welfare state: it both fosters the demographic decline of the rich countries and is done in by it. The social-welfare state demotivates its beneficiaries, taking away an important reason to have children -- so that they will take care of you late in life. That leads to catastrophically low birthrates, which in turn destroys the economic base necessary to sustain the welfare state in the future. Even worse, by "annexing all the responsibilities of adulthood" the state "severs its citizens from humanity's primal instincts, not least the surival instinct... These programs ... corrode the citizen's sense of self-reliance to a potentially fatal degree. Big government is a national security threat: it increases your vulnerability to threats like Islamism, and make it less likely you'll be able to summon the will to rebuff it."

Which leads directly to the final leg, "civilizational exhaustion" or ennui. The West no longer cares to defend itself because it no longer has confidence in its own moral judgments. This manifests itself most directly in the squishy multiculturalism that so animates Melanie Phillips. Her example -- which is priceless if depressing -- is Prince Charles' idea that once he is King he will no longer be Defender of the Faith, but "defender of faith," as if "faith" in the abstract needs a defender. From what? Reason run amok? Steyn's corresponding point is that the Church of England is no longer worthy of defense, preoccupied as it is with issues that are actually very peripheral:
If ever there were a time for a strong voice in the heart of Christianity, this would be it. And yet most mainline Protestant churches are as wedded to the platitudes du jour as the laziest politician. These days, if it weren't for homosexuality, the "mainstream" Christian churches would get barely any press at all. In 2005, the big story in America was the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop; in Britain, the nomination of a celibate gay bishop; in Canada, New Westminster's decision to become the first diocese in the Anglican communion to perform same-sex ceremonies. In Nigeria, where on any Sunday the Anglicans in the pews outnumber those in America, Britain and Canada combined, the archbishop is understandably miffed that the only news he gets from head office revolves around various permutations of gayness. Getting a reputation as a cult for upscale Western sodomites and a few attendant fetishists doesn't help when half your country's in the grip of sharia and the local Islamoheavies are just itching to torch your churches.

Whatever one's views of homosexuality, it would seem in the greater scheme of things to be marginal, and thus the preoccupation with minority sexuality is best understood as an example of mainstream Protestantism's retreat to the periphery....

Anything to say on non-gay issues? Well, the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, declared during the Afghan campaign that the United States Air Force pilot and the suicide bomber are morally equivalent -- both "can only see from a distance: the sort of distance from which you can't see a face, meet the eyes of someone, hear who they are, imagine who and what they love. All violence works with that sort of distance."

That doesn't even work as glib lefty equivalence. The distinguishing feature of the suicide bomber is that he doesn't see at a distance. He looks into your face, meets your eyes -- and he still blows you up, because even face to face he can't imagine who you are or what you love. He can't see anything about you, other than that you're the Other. So, like the Beslan schoolhouse slaughterers and Daniel Pearl's decapitators, he looks into the eyes -- and then he kills. The United States Air Force pilot is running on GPS technology -- that blip's a mosque, that one's a nursery -- and from hundreds of miles and thousands of feet he can still see the common humanity more clearly. And, most perplexing of all, he can see more clearly than the archbishop of Canterbury, insulated by the distance of his own assumptions.

It is not entirely clear from the book whether Steyn detects cause and effect among the triad of demography, the social democratic welfare state, and civilizational exhaustion, or a relationship of a different sort. Does socialism cause demographic decline, which causes civilizational ennui, or is demographic decline a function of affluence, which leads to socialism (we need somebody to take care of us), which leads to exhaustion? Or, perhaps, leftism's moral equivalence leads to socialism, which in turn promotes demographic collapse. He points to many interrelationships that would reinforce any of these theories, but the book is a bit vague on the matter of chickens and eggs.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to put that question to him on Thursday afternoon's conference call. Steyn recognized that each of the three factors to some degree causes the others, but thought that the strongest relationship was demographic decline first -- it being the most verifiable fact -- followed by the nanny state, followed by civilizational exhaustion. I'm not entirely sure I agree -- I think that the welfare state and its appurtenances leads to demographic decline -- but Steyn's basic case, that there is a strong interaction between these three factors that is weakening the rich democracies, perhaps irredeemably, is very persuasive to me.

There is another question, and that is whether Europe is lost to Islam. After having read Phillips and Steyn over the last couple of months, it is hard to conclude otherwise. How will Europe reverse this decline? There are two possibilities, neither of which Steyn broached in the book, but both of which came up on today's conference call. First, Europeans might react to cultural pressure by breeding more. Perhaps today's small number of European children will give birth to many more children. Perhaps. Second, Europeans might turn violent. Ralph Peters suggested precisely that in his equally creative book, New Glory, recommended on this blog last year.
Yet Europe is likely to be good for a number of surprises - surprising not least to Europeans themselves. With our short historical memory (one American quality Germans welcome), we thoughtlessly accept that, since much of Europe appears to be pacifist now, so it shall remain. But no continent has exported as much misery and slaughter as Europe has done, and the chances are better than fair that Europe is only catching its breath after the calamities it inflicted upon itself in the last century.

We last saw widespread pacifism in Europe just before 1914 and again during the half-time break in that great European civil war that lasted until 1945 (or 1991 east of the Elbe).

Europe's current round of playing pacifist dress up was enabled by America's protection during the Cold War. We allowed our European wards to get away with a minimum number of chores. The United States did (and still does) the dirty work, seconded by our direct ancestor, Britain. Even the North Atlantic Treaty Organization merely obscured how little was asked of Europe. For almost a century the work of freedom and global security has been handled by the great Anglolateral alliance born of a struggle against the tyranny of continental European philosophies hatched on the Rhine and Danube. Our struggle continues today, against fanaticism and terror.

It is unlikely that Europe's present pacifism will last... Europe will rediscover its genius, reforming itself if necessary. There will be plenty of bitterness and recriminations along the way, but Europe will accept the need to change because change will be forced upon it. The trouble with European genius, of course, is that it has a dark side. If its racist populations feel sufficiently threatened by the Muslim millions within their divided societies and by terror exported from the Islamic heartlands, Europe may respond with a cruelty unimaginable to us today. After all, Europe is the continent that mastered ethnic cleansing and genocide after a thousand years of pactice. We Americans may find ourselves in the unexpected
position of confronting the Europe of tomorrow as we try to restrain its barbarities toward Muslims.

So what to do about this? Steyn sets forth the options at the end of the book in particularly stark terms:
There are three possible resolutions to the present struggle:
1. Submit to Islam
2. Destroy Islam
3. Reform Islam

Because most of us don't take number one as a serious possibility, we're equally unserious about being forced to choose between two and three. But submission to Islam is very possible, and to many it will still seem ridiculous even as it happens; like John Kerry during the 2004 campaign, we'll be spluttering that we can't believe we're losing to these idiots. But we can lose (as I've always believed) and (as I've come to believe) we might lose more easily than even the gloomiest of us thought.

By "we might lose," I mean "the good guys" -- and I define that term expansively. There are plenty of good guys in Australia and Poland and Iraq and even Pakistan. And I'm a little unnerved at the number of readers who seem to think that the rest of the world can go hang but America will endure as a lonely candle of liberty in the new Dark Ages. Think that one through: a totalitarian China, a crumbling Russia, an insane Middle East, a disease-ridden Africa, a civil war-torn Eurabia -- and a country that can't even enforce its borders against two relatively benign states will somehow be able to hold the entire planet at bay? Dream on, "realists."

As for option two, it doesn't bear thinking about. Even if you regard Islam as essentially incompatible with free societies, the slaughter required to end it as a force in the world would change America beyond recognition. That doesn't mean that, a few years down the line, if some kooks with nukes obliterate, say, Marseilles or Lyon that the French wouldn't give it a go in some fairly spectacular way. But they're unlikely to accomplish much by it, any more than the Russians have by their scorched-earth strategy in Chechnya.

That leaves option three: Reform Islam -- which is not ours to do. Ultimately, only Muslims can reform Islam. All the free world can do is create conditions that increase the likelihood of Muslim reform, or at any rate do not actively impede it.

Steyn offers a number of suggestions, most of which will be familiar to those of you who have read and absorbed my realist case for the democratization strategy.

Finally, all of this goes down with the famous Steyn wit. On who should care about Islamization:
When the mullahs take over, I'll grow my beard a little fuller, get a couple of extra wives, and keep my head down. It's the feminists and gays who'll have a tougher time.

On feminists and Islamization:
In their bizarre prioritization of "a woman's right to choose," feminists have helped ensure that European women will end their days in a culture that doesn't accord women the right to choose anything. Non-Muslim females in heavily Muslim neighborhoods in France now wear headscarves while out on the streets. Yes, yes, I know Islam is very varied, and Riyadh has a vibrant gay scene, and the Khartoum Feminist Publishing Collective now has so many members they've rented lavish new offices above the clitorectomy clinic. I don't pretend to have all the answers, except when I'm being interviewed live on TV. But that's better than pretending that there aren't even any questions.

On "grievances", as opposed to religion, as a root cause:
One day they'll even be on the beach at St. Tropez, and if you and your infidel whore happen to be lying there wearing nothing but two coats of Ambre Solaire when they show up, you better hope that the BBC and CNN are right about there being no religio-ethnic-cultural component to their "grievances."

On politically correct, European political discourse:
Across half a century, Continental politics evolved to the point where almost any issue worth talking about was ruled beyond the bounds of polite society. Austria was the classic example: year in, year out, whether you voted for the center-left party or the center-right party, you wound up with the same center-left/center-right coalition presiding over what was in essence a two-party one-party state. In France, M. Chirac isn't really "center-right" so much as ever so slightly left-of-right-of-left-of-center -- and even that distinction only applies when he's standing next to his former prime minister, the right-of-left-of-right-of-left-of center Lionel Jospin. Though supposedly from opposite ends of the political spectrum, in the 2002 presidential election they wound up running against each other on identical platforms, both passionately committed to high taxes, high unemployment, and high crime.

On paranoia in the Muslim world:
For example, I hadn't really followed Sudanese current events closely since, oh, General Kitchener's victory at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898, but in 2003 a story from that benighted land happened to catch my eye. In the fall of that year mass hysteria apparently swept the capital city, Khartoum, after reports that foreigners were shaking hands with Sudanese men and causing their penises to disappear. One victim, a fabric merchant, told his story to the London Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi: a man from West Africa came into the shop and "shook the store owner's hand powerfully until the owner felt his penis melt into his body."

I know the feeling. The same thing happened to me after shaking hands with Senator Clinton.

The vanishing penis story, which goes on at some length from there, is all by itself worth the price of the book.

Don't be a fool. Read America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It. And hope that Mark Steyn is just wrong.

MORE: See Michelle Malkin interview Mark (part 1 and part 2).

31 Comments:

By Anonymous Coach Paul, at Fri Oct 27, 10:23:00 AM:

Will someone please join me in formally requesting that the Princeton Public Library obtain this book. It is easy to do on their web site ... I have made two requests, it is still not on order as far as I can tell.

http://catalog.princetonlibrary.org/

Then, "Suggest a purchase"  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Oct 27, 10:31:00 AM:

Done.  

By Blogger Dan Trabue, at Fri Oct 27, 10:35:00 AM:

"There are three possible resolutions to the present struggle:" (submit, destroy or reform)

I'd suggest there is also the option of "ignoring." That, and then the possibility of combinations of the four options.

Why would I possibly suggest "ignoring" as even an option? Frankly, because I believe in the ideals of our great nation.

People want liberty, want a voice in their gov't, want freedom to practice (or not) their religion. For all of our problems, the West has a lot going for us. The ideals of democracy and liberty, our generosity and kindness are appealing and will win the war of ideas all on their own, says I. IF we don't make it a struggle against US and THEM.

The terrorists have relatively no support UNTIL such time as we validate their point that the US is a danger to be reckoned with. Once we start bombing and killing innocent bystanders, having economic policies that benefit Us at the cost of Them, well, then the idea of terrorism can start making headway in places like certain Islamic nations, certain poorer nations.

BUT, says I, if we go on benignly promoting democracy and liberty, continuing and increasing our generosity, repent for some of our neo-colonialistic ways and some of our more unhelpful capitalistic ways, I'm entirely confident that our ideals will stop what our armies never will.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Fri Oct 27, 10:47:00 AM:

My goodness.

I was down in the dumps, another gray rainy day here in the buckle of the rust belt.

But suddenly I'm feeling chipper and cheerful again. I read Dan's comments and learned that, indeed, Pollyanna and Mary Poppins are both alive and well.

what a relief.

thanks Dan.  

By Blogger Dan Trabue, at Fri Oct 27, 11:06:00 AM:

Why do you hate America, Skip? (Hey! I finally get to ask that question instead of having it angrily cast at me!)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 27, 11:22:00 AM:

I think Mark Steyn is exactly right with regard to Europe. Where I think he misses it though is in regard to the US.

See here: http://www.vdare.com/rubenstein/060829_nd.htm

I hope Mark is right and I am wrong. In any event, the consequences are quite profound.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 27, 11:32:00 AM:

First, where can I apply to be one of Mark Steyn's additional wives?

Second: "That doesn't mean that, a few years down the line, if some kooks with nukes obliterate, say, Marseilles or Lyon that the French wouldn't give it a go in some fairly spectacular way."

If a great percentage of French people are Muslims, is this likely?  

By Anonymous IndispensableDestiny, at Fri Oct 27, 11:35:00 AM:

When the Muslims burn the Louvre, will there be any French left in Paris to mourn its passing?  

By Anonymous Kim Priestap, at Fri Oct 27, 11:56:00 AM:

Great review, TigerHawk. I got my copy from my local Books A Million. Although they didn't put it on display along with Bob Woodward's book, I did find it easily in the Politics section.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Fri Oct 27, 12:15:00 PM:

And Dan asks me the new revised and updated for the twentyfirst century version of the old reliable question:

"Have you stopped beating your wife?"

come on Dan, be happy for once, you made my day!  

By Blogger DEC, at Fri Oct 27, 12:24:00 PM:

What happens to the U.S. if you lose?

Nothing.

Will the Middle East stop selling oil if you lose?

No.

Can Muslims change the U.S. Constitution if you lose?

No.  

By Anonymous Mystery Meat, at Fri Oct 27, 12:24:00 PM:

Futurist Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of "The Pentagon's New Map" and "Blueprint for Action" thinks Steyn doesn't know what the hell he's talking about:

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/

Argument by anecdote, fueled by extrapolations without context
[excerpted]

"I bump into the online article because in this excerpt he obliquely cites BFA, noting that I read Robert Kaplan--unlike he, apparently, because otherwise I assume he'd cite Kaplan directly. The cite on Kaplan is just the reference to the phrase "Injun country," which he dissects very narrowly in its historical context, noting that the Sioux never ravaged New York City (although, I might add, the Irish did when sufficiently provoked, a la "Gangs of New York"--but again, Steyn likes to use his imagery very narrowly, so pointing out stuff that like is meaningless here).

Since Steyn focuses on "them" coming here (actually, arguing only Europe instead of the West at large) instead of noting the far more profound global flow of "us" going there--in the form of globalization--he only describes Islam's potential for cultural invasion here while ignoring the powerful effect of the West's cultural penetration of the Middle East (where does he think all this nationalism/Islamism is coming from?).

So, Steyn's basic technique is much like a Lou Dobbs or a Pat Buchanon: anecdotes that scare, compounded with some today data extrapolated to tomorrow's frightening inevitabilities. This is a technique often used by fear-meisters, especially in the realm of the environment, and it betrays an "all things being equal" assumption that just never holds true in the real world. A good example of this was all the "population bomb" logic from my youth, which has simply fallen apart on a global level. Now we're getting a "clash of civilizations" version of that from Steyn with reference to Europe, which is apparently the center of his universe.

But here's some limits to this logic:

1) The simple extrapolation approach on population in Europe is unlikely to unfold, as time and time again we find that those baby-crazy immigrants simply don't maintain that fertility rate the longer they live in an advanced economy. Strangely enough, they become subject to all the same pressures on family that everybody else does. We hear this argument on Hispanics here in the States, except we already find that birth rates are dropping as Hispanics get more wealth and opportunity--go figure! Just like everybody else who's come to America in the past.

2) If the amazing did come true in Europe, making it unique in human history, then what would be the difference to global history? Answer is, not much. Either Europe gins up its demographic vitality through the effective integration of Muslims or "Eurabia" simply becomes an extension of the loser Middle East. Meanwhile, the rest of the world simply wouldn't hang around. It would move on. To some, the "end of the world," but to others who "know" more of the world than just Europe, no big deal. Not big for America, whose allies will lie in the East and South, not in Europe. Not big for the East or the South either.

3) But if it did come true in Europe, it would constitute no more than a strange migration of the problem set from the Middle East to Europe, because the Middle East isn't slated for rapid expansion as a population indefinitely. Indeed, the baby boom of the 1970s, associated with oil wealth in many instances, has ended already throughout the region. Weirdly enough, as globalization increasingly penetrates the region, fertility rates have dropped throughout the region, as Olivier Roy noted in Globalised Islam, a book I used plenty in BFA. If Steyn worries so much about aging Europe, I am plenty optimistic about a middle-aging Middle East, where today's youth bulge becomes tomorrow's middle age spread. So if Steyn expects a neverending flow of population from the Islamic Middle East and North Africa to fuel his invasive species fears in Europe, that's simply not in the cards. As for the processing of that youth bulge in the Middle East, two outcomes are possible: 1) lotsa violence as politics and economics remain unchanged and 2) politics and economics in the region change a lot. If the former occurs, the Middle East will be as disconnected from globalization's Core as central Africa is today. With some pain, the world will simply learn to get along without Middle Eastern oil, as the tumult there will push the Core down the hydrocarbon chain even faster than it will proceed on its own natural course, which has been quite steady throughout human history. If the latter occurs, then just watch the flow of humanity from the Middle East to Europe dry up. Impossible? We've seen that occur on a state-by-state basis plenty with Latinos here in the States over the past 40 years. If it hadn't, then America would have been overrun by Puerto Ricans a long time ago, based on logical extrapolations you could have made in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. But no matter.

4) Steyn assumes that the invasive Muslims will simply pervert democracy in Europe, rather than avail themselves of democracy's avenues to press their economic and political demands. In effect, Steyn's making the same glum assumptions about market-democracies that Karl Marx once did about a different proletariat, yielding the same sort of decisive assumptions that will be just as powerfully disproven as his ultimately were.

5) Of course, Steyn's (and others') counters to that last argument is to say that the intense religious-cultural coherence of Islam will transcend all those changes that tamed such past threats--like say, the immigrant Irish in America who were described in all the same ways then (in the mid-1800s) as Muslims are described by Steyn today in Europe. But do we see that coherence throughout the Middle East? Hardly. When given the chance, Muslims throughout the region seem to move into an acceptance of modernity that looks suspiciously like that of every other culture on the planet. Can it be done en masse? Check out East Asian Muslims. Can it be done in Western democracies? Check out America. But these are unfair arguments to someone as fixated on Europe as Steyn, as he displays the same fatalism on culture and civilization as Osama and others do regarding the Middle East. Neither's gloom is justified. Globalization won't warp the Middle East beyond all recognition, although it will kill Osama's nostalgic dream of turning back the clock there to a time he finds more comforting. And the Islamization of Europe won't warp Europe beyond all recognition, although it will kill Steyn's nostaglic dreams for turning back the clock there to a time he finds more comforting.

There is much intellectual danger in Steyn's form of reasoning, which I believe betrays the course of his life education and experiences. Coming from the rather narrow and self-absorbed world of theater, he really doesn't have the chops to do good horizontal linkaging of trends and driving forces associated with globalization, and that's too bad, because if he understood his biases better, his arguments could be a lot more powerful, although they'd also be far less frightening, and since he works his gallows humor in this vein, I guess that's just a choice he prefers making. But this is not seriously systematic thinking about the future. Steyn's futurism betrays the usual myopic problem of the pessimists going all the way back to Malthus and Marx: they simply refuse to acknowledge the enduring ingenuity of mankind to change and adapt, plus they ignore the obvious power of markets to take advantage of both good and bad, treating all churn as simply an opportunity for new sales of new goods and services to new customers. In short, the "bad" that Steyn describes for Europe will not occur in some vacuum. Wherever Europe fails in this respect, others will exploit, and I'm not just talking about his invasive Muslims. I'm talking about the rest of this flat world."

Posted by Thomas P.M. Barnett  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 27, 12:46:00 PM:

Mystery Meat beat me to the punch, the link he cites above is found here:

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003895.html

I think Barnett is sometimes too optimistic, but he's also quite the supporter of our efforts in Iraq, while properly criticizing flaws in our tactics and strategy there.  

By Blogger Reagan's Ranger, at Fri Oct 27, 01:46:00 PM:

I heard about it at National Review first, but I bought it through your Amazon Associates link. I have already read most of it and would recommend it to anyone who cares about the future of the West.  

By Blogger ScurvyOaks, at Fri Oct 27, 03:21:00 PM:

I confess to being very predictable. I think civilizational exhaustion is the starting point that has led to the other problems, all of which do reinforce each other. And one specific aspect of that exhaustion in particular: Europe's rejection of Christianity.

John Paul II wrote in "Ecclesia in Europa" in 2003: "One of the roots of the hopelessness that assails many people today is found in their inability to see themselves as sinners and to allow themselves to be forgiven, an inability often resulting from the isolation of those who, by living as if God did not exist, have no one from whom they can seek forgiveness. Those who, on the other hand, acknowledge that they are sinners, and entrust themselves to the mercy of the Heavenly Father, experience the joy of an authentic liberation and can continue life without being trapped in their own misery. In this way they receive the grace of a new beginning, and again find reasons for hope."

And hope is essential to being willing to take the trouble involved in bringing the next generation into the world.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Oct 27, 06:22:00 PM:

"When given the chance, Muslims throughout the region seem to move into an acceptance of modernity that looks suspiciously like that of every other culture on the planet."

Drinking Pepsi and using electricity is not necessarily acceptance of modernity, I hate to tell you. Since the 70's, there has been a terrific popular resurgence of Islamism which WANTS to turn back the clock to the 8th century. Iranian Mullahs, Hezb Allah, Hamas, the Taliban, the increasing conservativism of Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Pakistan, the Islamist uprising in Algeria and Syria, assassination attempts on the Jordanian Royal family by religious extremists...

The Middle East is actually going *backwards.*  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Fri Oct 27, 09:16:00 PM:

Confusing as it is, Dawnfire and Stein both may be right. There are indications that the Muslim community is both progressing technologically and regressing socially. Think of it as their “Retro” phase, but with Fundamentalism instead of bell-bottom trousers. There is a deep push in the Middle East mindset for modern technology, for an example take a look at the blossoming trade in cell phones and satellite dishes. Engineering is a status job. Add in a dash of 60’s era “Finding yourself” expressed in traditional faith instead of drugs and fab music. A great deal of Muslim “Face” is involved in trying to out-Muslim your neighbor.

The turning point of the war in Iraq will be when it is no longer cool to be a “Martyr” and they start to be called “Terrorists”. Perhaps we can start with the New York Times?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 27, 11:51:00 PM:

Islam is simply incompatible with the modern world: decent position for women, freedom from religious dogma, emphasis on scientific/technical education.

Quick name ONE world class company from Muslim lands akin to Nokia or Sony.

Traditional Muslim society is being destroyed by modernity, forget America CHINA will overwhelm them once the oil runs out. So it's a race to either destroy Islam or Islam destroy the modern world.

Bet on the modern world and a lot of dead people to get there. The French intifada (basically Muslims demanding their own Sharia-based nation inside France) is a harbinger of things to come. No Muslims in any number are simply incompatible with anything other than Afghanistan under the Taliban at worst to say, Algeria at best. That's it. So yes we have sadly a whole lot of killing ahead of us. As predictable as the calendar.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Sat Oct 28, 09:50:00 PM:

Great post, TH. I enjoyed the Steyn interview very much; can't wait to read the book. I also listened to Wretched. I didn't know you were coblogging with him on occasion. You merit the attention.  

By Blogger Reagan's Ranger, at Tue Nov 07, 05:29:00 PM:

FWIW: My review of America Alone is up:

www.battleforcivilization.blogspot.com  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Feb 10, 07:33:00 PM:

here is a little link list for all of you interest on the book and discussions / articles about it:

www.americaalone.net  

By Blogger Celia, at Tue Sep 18, 07:00:00 PM:

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