Come, Let Us Reconcile …

Lurking beneath cozy semantics, relations between the West and the Islamic world remain trapped in the past.

Three factors scream their guts out for a seat in related paradigms.

The 13th century Siege of Baghdad by the Mongols under Halaku Khan marks the end of the Islamic Golden Age, and not the Western Industrial Revolution’s need for raw materials and markets that led to colonization. Yet, no bitterness is directed at Mongols or Mongolia, perhaps because their underdeveloped state is unconsciously taken to be nature’s punishment!

Secondly, Islam expanded into Eastern and Western Christendom well before European powers occupied Islamic lands.

Thirdly, while the Islamic world and the former Christendom beat their chests about their superior colonial governance, neither is untarnished by the dark stain of institutionalized discrimination and slave-trading.

They claim the moral high ground and undermine each other in callisthenic one-upmanship!

Halaku Khan the Mongol ground the Abbasids and their fine civilization into dust, danced gleefully around burning libraries and spitefully had salt ploughed into Iraq’s fertile land.

Consequently, the Ottoman and Persian empires were unable to spawn an Age of Enlightenment and its golden goose, the Industrial Revolution.

Yet, simmering resentment at the West’s success is close to boiling point.

Preaching from pulpits can stoke, cool or redirect resentment.

Preachers need to be taken on board to tell their congregations why the West took a lead and guide their flocks in the same direction.

The past neither needs to be buried, nor resurrected, but studied as a compass for a common, interlinked and interdependent future.

Over a thousand years of blood-drenched Franco-German rivalry was neutralized after World War II by creating a structure of economic interdependence. Admittedly, both nations had the same level of economic, scientific and social development. That seems to be the one way out of this impasse of alarming Western-Muslim rivalry, further complicated by the many warring worlds the Islamic world.

The much maligned and politically incorrect Clash of Civilizations was the work of Professor Huntington, a staunch American Democrat and life-long liberal. Now George Friedman of Stratfor seems to have excelled himself in a forthright and pointed analysis entitled A War Between Two Worlds, despite a title rich in multi-directional meaning.

Although Friedman is right in saying that much of the Muslim antipathy comes from having been bypassed by the industrial revolution, it is regrettable that he has circumvented the effect of the 13th century Mongol invasion.

Yet, his scholarly article remains a time-worthy read:

However, at the end of the day, time-honored models for studying geo-strategic challenges were never expected to be infinite and need to be re-assessed.

Newer models relevant to the imperatives imposed by the raw intelligence material are a compelling need.