Ephraim Karsh has new essay out this week, "Islam’s Imperial Dreams", accessible both on the Wall Street Journal website and Commentary Magazine. The column is based on his book, Islamic Imperialism: A History, which is coming out next week.
In his essay, Karsh details the early history of Islam--especially its desire for empire, which always seems to be overlooked by the MSM and the academicians in favor of its other perceived achievements:
To Islamic historians, the chronicles of Muslim empire represent a model of shining religious zeal and selfless exertion in the cause of Allah. Many Western historians, for their part, have been inclined to marvel at the perceived sophistication and tolerance of Islamic rule, praising the caliphs' cultivation of the arts and sciences and their apparent willingness to accommodate ethnic and religious minorities. There is some truth in both views, but neither captures the deeper and often more callous impulses at work in the expanding umma set in motion by Muhammad. For successive generations of Islamic rulers, imperial dominion was dictated not by universalistic religious principles but by their prophet's vision of conquest and his summons to fight and subjugate unbelievers.I remember during the months following 9-11, when there were some in the Jewish community who were overawed with the Islamists' readiness to die for their 'cause'. They held up the Islamist suicide attack as a prime example of being 'Moser Nefesh,' as if it were somehow a refinement of the Jewish concept or something that Jews should respect and try to emulate.
I discussed this with someone once and suggested that whatever one might ascribe the Islamist 'dedication' to, it was not Mesiras Nefesh--Mesiras Nefesh has its roots in Ahavah, in Love of Hashem and building up. Whatever the Islamists drew their inspiration from, it was not Love, but Hate--and the desire to kill and destroy...and conquer.
Not only has the Islamist desire to extend Moslem influence in the West not died, but it has adapted to the latest threat to it from the West--Bush's efforts to spread Democracy at its doorstep in the Middle East. Rather than fight it, and risk alienating fellow Moslems through suicide attacks, the Islamist alternative has become to co-opt the democratic process, going so far as to harness popular support in a democratic Iraq in order to bring jihadist rule to Iraq. This approach is not limited to Iraq.
A case in point:
Something of the same logic clearly underlies the carefully plotted rise of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority, the (temporarily thwarted) attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to exploit the demand for free elections there, and the accession of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Indeed, as reported by Mark MacKinnon in the Toronto Globe & Mail, some analysts now see a new "axis of Islam" arising in the Middle East, uniting Hizballah, Hamas, Iran, Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood, elements of Iraq's Shiites, and others in an anti-American, anti-Israel alliance backed by Russia.You don't have to be in the Middle East to see this manipulation of democracy happening. Anyone paying attention to current events over the last few months has noticed--in the Moslem protests about the Danish cartoons, CAIR's successful stifling of criticism of Islam, and the banning of Piglet that Islamists have been able to co-opt democratic values and neutralize its threat to them by turning it back upon itself.
...the fuel of Islamic imperialism remains as volatile as ever, and is very far from having burned itself out. To deny its force is the height of folly, and to imagine that it can be appeased or deflected is to play into its hands. Only when it is defeated, and when the faith of Islam is no longer a tool of Islamic political ambition, will the inhabitants of Muslim lands, and the rest of the world, be able to look forward to a future less burdened by Saladins and their gory dreams.That time sounds like it is a long way off.