Attacks by Islamist terrorists grow daily. Their goal is singular and focused. Islam must be the one and only global religion, and anyone who stands in their way will be dealt with at the end of a gun, via beheadings or car bombs, to name just some of their favored methods. The killings are intensifying in their frequency as each successive terrorist is emboldened by the success of his predecessors. Incredibly, after each attack the apologist pundits are quick to point out why this is not the fault of Islam, Islamists, and a slew of other obvious perpetrators. All of this masks one basic issue: we are in a fight with Islamists about the future.
Western Europe needs to realize the threat that is growing in their midst. Young ideological men, with no promising future, are being indoctrinated by radical Islam, an ideology promising a better future, where they will no longer be lost in society, giving them purpose and meaning in their daily struggle for existence. Contrast that with the hedonistic vision proposed by the current culture that exists in Europe. It is hedonistic, with a future that has little promise of a better life, of growth, of meaning, spiritual or otherwise.
It is unclear how many Western European countries could fight a sustained war overseas. Western Europe has a financial advantage, although for some countries that edge is marginal, due to the economic instability brought on by the rampant spending that socialism demands. Western European countries also have a military advantage, though for many countries in Europe that edge is marginal since they have cut military funding in favor of evermore domestic welfare programs.
Islamists have a few advantages that may be large enough to overcome this financial and military edge. First, they have a clear goal and a dedication that is unwavering; they are willing to fight and die for their cause. They perceive the West as unfocused, wavering, spoiled, weak, and self-indulgent. Second, they have a demographic advantage; they are producing on average five to six children for every woman of child-rearing age. These children are vulnerable to radicalization due to the sustained indoctrination that is the basis of radical Islam. Third, due to lax immigration policies, there is a large population of sympathetic adherents upon whom they can rely on for material support and a ready supply of terrorists. They can operate in Europe with ease, since this is their home turf.
History is replete with examples of corrupt great societies undone by a homegrown minority which was focused and determined enough to destroy it. Some of the most recent examples are China circa 1940’s and Czarist Russia. The communist movements started as small determined groups which persevered by sheer strength of will, a fanatical belief in their ideology, and the determination to win at all costs. This story repeats itself throughout history on every continent.
In order for the West to overcome this threat, the first step would be to recognize the enemy and their resolve to win. The longer we view them as a non-entity, a minor threat, or radical fringe, the loner we will fail to recognize the true threat. This is best embodied by the response of Je Suis Charlie printed on a card and held up as a sign of solidarity, a passive response that is meaningless when facing the business end of an AK 47. If this is the best we can muster, than we have already lost the war. The response should be thought out, but it needs to carry more heft, and pose a bigger threat than a cardboard sign.
This is war, even if the French and the rest of Europe don’t want to recognize it, nor come to grips with the reality of the situation. Islamists will kill again in greater and greater numbers because they see no deterrent and no determined response. They hear apologists and apologies and laugh, growing ever more confident in the weakness and ineptitude of Western leaders.
Robert Nelson is a writer in Los Angeles.