Thursday, March 24, 2005


The link in the title line is of interest, because it describes a concept that some of the neoconservtive crowd is pushing -- Eurabia -- basically that Europe has sold out to the Arabs because of rising Muslim immigrant populations. While the woman who maintains this site, an Egyptian Jew who now holds British citizenship but lives in Switzerland, isn't that well known, the ideas on it have been picked up by the neocon right in the United States, for example her article in National Review Online,, Niall Ferguson in The Hoover Digest, and Fox News.

Psst. Wanna hear a disturbing secret? The folks that most Americans saw as the Old Country, those with the most in common with us in terms of culture and values, the place where your great-great-grandfather came from in 1870 -- they're now the enemy. It really is just the U.S and Israel versus the vast Muslim hordes.

That's what Bat Yeor and the neocons want you to believe. Now in her case, I genuinely have some empathy -- she grew up in an era marked by the Nasser coup in Egypt and the early years of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which a previously thriving small Jewish community in Egypt's cities had their property confiscated and were hounded out of the country (and in many cases subjected to much worse abuses, including being executed on false charges). Bat Yeor seems to me to be carrying a lot of this baggage, which is understandable.

It's also true that, with increasing numbers of Muslim citizens in Europe, they are starting to wield some political power. But the real reasons for Europe's strong ties to the Arab world are rather practical calculations of national interest -- maintaining stability in a volitile close-by region to protect their own security, and the fact that Europe as a whole is a very large net oil importer (their only oil exporters are Norway and the U.K., and U.K. production is tailing off fast), which means that they have the same interest most of the rest of the world has in a stable supply of oil. They also have had enough experience trying to "civilize the natives" in that part of the world that they're less likely than Americans to buy into the idea that some sort of sweeping political change will democratize (and implicit in the necons thinking, Westernize) the Middle East any time soon. They deal with the Middle East through the lens of 'realpolitik', aware of their self-interest and without blinders or illusions. And to be frank about it, their limited relationship with Israel, in terms of 'realpolitik', is more or less doing Israel a favor -- Europe doesn't "need" anything that Israel is capable of supplying. Part of the reason as well is that there isn't the sort of large and organized Jewish community there that there is in the U.S. lobbying against their 'realpolitik' interests (and yes, I do know the reason for this is the single greatest crime in history -- the Holocaust -- but I'm speaking in practical terms of the situation which exists today).

Anyway, the idea the necons are trying to sell is to drive a wedge between the U.S. and our longtime European allies, and give us the impression that Israel isn't just our only real ally in the Middle East -- it's our only real ally in the worldwide war on Islam.

Now I agree that the U.S. needs to go out and use military force to go after groups like al-Qaeda, but talk of a "generational" war against Islam (especially in the absence of action to ameliorate the root causes of Arab grievances against the West, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) causes me to ask -- whose war is this anyway?


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