November 3, 2015


The current chaos in the Levant did not just happen. It has its internal causes but no small amount of the horror can be laid at the door of Barack Obama too. From his re-establishment of relations with the tyrant Bashar Hafez al-Assad to his surrender of George W. Bush’s victory in Iraq, to his standing by with his thumb up his brain while peaceful protestors took to the Syrian streets and the country then descended into civil war, to his weak sauce bombing campaign, Putin stealing his lunch at the UN and Obama’s puny U.S. response — through it all, President Right-Side-of-History has been on the wrong side of every decision. And so yes, now, the current mess looks remarkably like the Thirty Years War with its religious underpinnings, warring states and over-involved mega powers. And so it does indeed raise the question of whether it will be the turning point in Islam’s reformation, leading to an enlightened Westphalia-style peace.

One can hope. But the tenets of Westphalia grew out of Christian thinking and Christian religion. Christians were appalled by the bloodletting of the the Thirty Years War precisely because it violated the central preachings of the Prince of Peace: Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you. The outline for modern statehood and separation of church and state were written into the Gospels: Judge not lest ye be judged; render under Caesar that which is Caesar and unto God that which is God’s, and so on.

Does the same hope lie in the tenets of Islam?

Well, it would be nice if it ultimately turned out that way, but if so, I suspect things may take quite a while – and I’m not sure if the west can wait as long as Zhou Enlai’s apocryphal quip regarding the French Revolution to determine the outcome. In the meantime, as Mark Steyn asked in 2007, “What if we’ve already had the reformation of Islam and jihadism is it?”

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