The Western doctrine of non-violence depends on the willingness to compromise. To resolve any conflict by sitting down at a table, finding points of agreement and then working through the rest. The ruthless killing fields of the twentieth century have not shaken that eternal faith in a diplomatic solution, rather they have only strengthened it. But what happens when a compromise is genuinely impossible?
The commitment to non-violence depends on the assumption that while small numbers of fanatics might seek war, the vast majority of people do not. And even if they do want war, they want a humane war, not a genocidal war of extermination. Therefore even when such wars are fought, they do not reflect the will of the people, only that of a small group of fanatics.
That such a manifestly absurd belief that flies in the face of human history could be so widely held among the decision makers of the world’s dominant civilizations is itself apt testimony to the decline and fall of those civilizations. Nevertheless this belief remains unshakeable.
Atrocities are attributed to a dictator and a few of his cronies. Remove the dictator, roll in the voting booths and then we need make war no more. But the rise of Islamic terrorism presents an explosive challenge to that worldview. There is no Hitler or Stalin of Islam. No small group holding power on which everything can be blamed. In the age of terrorism, it is the ordinary Muslim who acts as the killer. Who sheds his guise of humanity and kills.
Islamic terrorism is the most democratic and representative form of war there is. There is no draft. No government mandate. And no compulsion but that of the Koran. Of course in territories under their control, becoming a Jihadist sometimes is compulsory. But that certainly isn’t the case in the West. While Western diplomats chatter about democracy, the Muslim votes with his bomb vest. And his vote is the decisive one.
Islamic terrorism is a direct refutation to that understanding of evil as a function of governments, rather than people. Its election victories mock the idea that democratic political representation ends violence. While Western intellectuals parrot the party line about a tiny minority of extremists being at fault, the political success of Islamist parties demonstrates that they are neither a minority nor extremist. That the version of Islam they relegate to cave dwelling barbarians is actually the mainstream one.
If Western elites were to accept this, they would also have to accept that compromise is impossible. And that we face a war of extermination waged against us with every available weapon from demographics to atomics. But rather than accept the error of their ideas, they mainstream the Islamists. When the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas ride a wave of popular support, they rush to explain why they are really moderate after all. If Al-Qaeda were to win elections in Yemen, there would immediately be distinctions made between the moderate Al-Qaeda terrorists who won the election, and the extremists who don’t represent the humanistic principles that Al-Qaeda stands for.
The official position is that we are fighting a war of ideas against ‘radicalization’. To win, we have to beat that tiny minority of extremists in a debate over the nature of their religion. And while they have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Koran and the Hadiths, we have a silly little ditty we picked up about Islam being a “Religion of Peace”. But no matter how often we lose the debate, we never admit defeat. Instead we go on empowering Islamic populism, and when the populists turn out to be the very radicals we were fighting all along, then we reach for the dictionary and redefine them as moderates.
The intellectual error that lies at the heart of this cluster of stupidity is that the fault cannot lie in the people. That no people can be committed to war and destruction. That no mass of human beings would rather kill, than reach a reasonable compromise.
And so when the compromise is refused, its inadequacy is held to blame. Next time a more generous compromise must be offered. And if that too is rejected, then it’s time to sit down and understand why the previous offers were judged so inadequate and bid even higher, like a game of poker in which the objective is to lose as much money as possible. The notion that the compromises are being rejected for the very reason that they are compromises is not one that can be accepted.
One sided compromises quickly become appeasement. But that is the only kind of compromises that are accepted, and even they are only temporary. Why compromise when you can win? To the mindset of a people who believe they would be running the world, if not for setbacks, political weakness and treachery– the very word is poisonous. A treaty is a slap in the face to destiny. And a war is nothing to fear. The value that civilized morality assigns to life is absent in a culture where the individual is only an extension of the family, whose honor matters more than his or her life.
The Western fixation on non-violent solutions has no common echo in the Muslim world. There a non-violent solution is strategic, not moral. Such strategic cowardice has its place, but it is the violent solution that is held to be the moral one. The Jihad is approved by the Koran. But treating on equal terms with infidels is immoral. If Western leaders think that war is immoral, the Islamists view the lack of a war as immoral. This is a gap that cannot be bridged with any manner of compromise. No more than you can stop a sword with a handkerchief.
Western diplomats can’t accept the impossibility of compromise because it overturns the political developments that led them to this stage. And they are not about to go back in time, no matter how much of a dead end the present path that they are taking may be. Rather they are still trying to pin the blame on individual dictators, orchestrating elections and counting on the goodwill of the majority to avoid the violence. They have not made any progress, but that is not for lack of compromising.
Israel has nearly been compromised out of existence through the process of one sided compromises that lead to nothing but more violence. Europe is following swiftly on its heels. And America, Australia and Canada are not far behind. The compromisers say that we must given in to show what noble and well-meaning people we are. And if our compromise is rejected, that is proof that we did not compromise hard enough. The diplomatic and political blood-letting is a slow form of suicide. The rhetoric about peace becomes a warm bath in which the suicide slits his wrists and floats away to dreams of a New Middle East in a cloud of his own blood.
And none of these sacrifices, the abandonment of dignity, law, religion and life avail as nothing against the inevitable violence of people who believe that it is their moral duty to kill us. That murdering us is their sacred duty to their god. That the atrocities they commit are a fulfillment of their national destiny.
Compromise exchanges victory for a tolerable agreement. But the fiction of the inevitable compromise is the work of Western intellectuals and diplomats serving declining trade empires. The compromise is their preferred method of achieving stability without excessive risk. It preserves the lives of individuals at the expense of the power and interests of the nation. This seems an obviously moral tradeoff in the 21st century Post-Religious West– but a shameful act of cowardice in the eternally 7th century Muslim East.
In the face of such determined evil, compromise is impossible. And even when possible, immoral, for such compromises are nothing more than Chamberlain pacts, pieces of paper that do not bring peace, but a chance for the enemy of life and freedom to improve his position, to devour and mangle more victims, before finally turning his eyes toward the biggest prize.
From NY to Jerusalem, Daniel Greenfield Covers the Stories Behind the News