Be Not Afraid
If you read one main stream media columnist on a regular basis it ought to be David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen. His latest article, Should we despair? exemplifies why he is a must read.
Warren is quite pessimistic about the rise of radical Islam and notes five reasons for his pessimism. The items on his list, taken individually, are not really news to anyone who follows the growth of this odious threat, but Warren takes the long view and has the capacity to pierce through contemporary society's ideological fog to see the field of battle clearly.
So to the question, "Is there a crisis in Islam?" -- the answer might be a droll, "No, it is flourishing." The crisis is developing in Former Christendom. President Bush and Prime Ministers Blair of Britain and Howard of Australia have made a brave start in leading Western response to what is becoming less deniably a "clash of civilizations". They were right to take the battle to the enemy; they remain right in attempting to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan as "beacons". They rightly grasp that the alternative is worse.In the moral and intellectual decay of the West we see a foreshadowing of the possible outcome of the great battle in which we are engaged. The primordial destroyer of worlds, in its old guise of Islam the All-Conquering, is once more battering at the gates of Vienna. The current threat is great and the consequences of failure are grave beyond measure.
What they have done is just a start, however, and I see no one in mainstream Western politics with the glimmering of an idea about what to do next. Plenty of evidence, on the other hand, that our "ruling classes" have been rotted away by moral relativism, and by the cowardice that is the rot below that. And, especially in Canada and western Europe, evidence that "the people" do not have the stomach for any challenge at all.
We forget how close Islam came to conquering all of Europe. It was the valiant stand of Catholic warriors led by King Jan Sobiesky III of Poland that turned back the army of the Ottoman Turks and Tartars at the siege of Vienna in 1683. Of course, one difference now is that the author of the second (secular) manifestation of the cult of death is concurrently eviscerating the entrails of its intended prey by employing legions of uncomprehending narcissists within the walls.
I sense from the tone of his recent columns that David Warren is in a state of deep pessimism, if not quite despair. That shows he is a thinking man. I am not so pessimistic, though, for I believe victory can and will be ours in this fight as it was in 1683, although at what cost I cannot say.
In the Night the Christians made themselves Masters of all the Turks Camp. Afterwards Four Companies of our Foot entred into the Enemies Approaches with Torches and lighted Straw, but found nothing but Dead Bodies; they took possession of the Enemies Artillery, some whereof were brought into the City.If, as David Warren asserts, we do not have the stomach for the fight, it is because we have no spirit for the fight. It is the spirit that girds the loins and steadies the nerves and it is the spirit that must be revived and brought to bear by the West in this great struggle. The Islamicists understand this process well. They call it jihad and rightly note that it is primarily a spiritual struggle.
All the night long we saw Fires at a distance, the Turk having fired as many of their Camps as so sudden a flight would give them leave, and retreated from the Island by favour of a Bridge which they had made below the River, upon one of the Arms of the Danube, the Christians having seized the Bridge above, on the same River.
On Monday Morning we saw all the Camps and Fields covered with Souldiers as well Poles as Germans. The City was relieved on Sunday about Five of the Clock in the Afternoon, and every bodies curiosity carried them to see the Camp, after they had been shut up above two Months.
The King of Poland [Jan Sobieski] having in the mean time with the greatest Vigor repulsed the Enemy on his side and put them to flight, leaving the Plunder of their Camp behind them, which consisted of a very Rich Tent of the Grand Visier, his Colours, Two Poles with the Horse Tails, their usual Signal of War, and his Guidon or Standard, set with Diamonds, his Treasure designed for the Payment of the Army, and in short, all his Equipage was possess'd by the Polanders. As for the rest of the Tents, Baggage, Artillery, Ammunition, and Provisions enough to load Eight thousand Waggons, was divided among our Army.
I don't mean to infer that the solution we seek is purely spiritual in nature. I accept that the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the world wide intelligence war which is trying to thwart Islamicist terror attacks, are necessary holding actions which buy us some little time to permit us to gird our loins for the greater struggle involving the souls of humanity.
For ultimately this is a worldwide spiritual war in which we find ourselves and it is through spiritual means that we shall find the vigour and determination to defeat our sworn enemy on the field of battle and in the realm of ideas and faith. The profession of arms will continue to play its necessary part, but the ontological basis of the resistance, by which I mean the ideological and theological nature of the struggle must be recognized and addressed. In this instance I would apply St. Augustine's dictum:
Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.The fundamental question which this dictum requires us to answer is one which I am not sure many in the West can answer, for it requires a sense of purpose that is real enough and important enough to grasp that "something" about our society is worth preserving, and dying for. We are now led by a generation raised on that old Vietnam war era leftist anti-war song.
And it's one, two, three, What are we fighting for? Don't ask me, I don't give a damn, ....That attitude simply does not cut it in this time and place. Adherents of the secular cult of death (both overt and unconscious) are obsessed to the point of narcissism with the immediate quality of their personal lives, but do not value life as a whole, or the western society which bequeaths to them the freedom they twist so readily and foolishly into licenciousness.
What then to do? The solution is both quite simple and very complex, in the sense that the strategic direction we must take is clear, while the tactics to be employed must still be determined.
The immediate problem is how to "encourage" (i.e., infuse with courage) our people to resist the current assault. It has been said that the best defence is a good offence and while I have no quarrel with that notion (it appears largely to be the rationale behind the Afghani and Iraqi wars), our offence at the moment is not sufficient for our cause.
For the most part we are not fighting standing armies in the field and must, therefore, employ tactics suitable to meet the real threat. Our tactics must be comprehensive in scope and cannot be entirely dependent on the western profession of arms, as technologically and tactically superior as that profession might be.
Accordingly, I believe we must employ a tactic invented by Frederick the Great of Prussia called the oblique attack. In the great European wars of the eighteenth century vast armies would march across fields in long lines and attack the opposing force with musket fire followed up with a bayonet charge and a fight to the death.
Frederick's army was the best drilled army in the world and could execute field maneuvers other armies could not imagine. In the oblique attack, his troops would execute a sudden 45 degree turn in direction while marching toward the enemy lines and thereby shift the weight of the attack (called "schwerpunkt", if I remember my Von Clauswitz) further down the line to an area not expected to be hit with the central weight of the attacking infantry.
When I suggest we use Frederick's oblique attack in the struggle against Islamicism I mean we must employ it in a metaphysical and not a military sense. Osama Bin Laden and the rest of the Islamicists understand, in a way most of the Europe does not, that the West's Achilles heel is the spiritually rootless children of the Enlightenment. Our immediate task is to wage war against the Iraqi and Afghani insurgents. But our greater (and concurrent) need is to re-root Europe in something other than nihilism and materialism.
I assert that "something" is Catholic Christianity. Catholicism is our spiritual and intellectual wellspring, which fed and nurtured our civilizational vitality for two millennia and which is the true motive force for the West.
It is essential that the West must either abandon the secular cult of death, which it has embraced and which is exemplified by moral relativism and hedonist secularism, or it will submit to the other manifestation of the cult of death, which is radical Islam. The former has little capacity to resist the latter.
Secular death cultists believe that man is free to do what he wants, when he wants and for the most part to whom he wants. But as St. Augustine once wrote three hundred and fifty years after Christ, there is a necessary pre-condition to that freedom.
The reason why I believe that the answer lies in the re-rooting of Europe in Catholicism, as opposed to Protestantism, is that the Church has retained both faith and reason at its core, while liberal Protestantism has largely rejected faith for reason and Evangelical Christianity emphasizes faith to the near exclusion of reason. It is the Church, therefore which has the most capacity to threaten the existence of the both the secular and the religious cults of death.
"Love God and [then and only then] do what you will."
While David Warren may be right that there is no political figure who fully grasps or is able to articulate what must be done, there is one lone figure who both understands the threat and knows the way forward. Pope Benedict XVI is raising the Church's ancient spiritual battle flag over the soil of continental Europe. He knows that the solution to the spread of radical Islamicism lies in reclaiming Europe for Catholic Christianity.
So the battle to be fought is to be an attack on Islamicism by an oblique attack on the secular death cult. Given the pitched battle the secular side has been waging on remenant of Christendom for several hundred years now it is fair and proper that an aroused Church shall begin the long counter attack necessary to save itself and the Western civilization to which it gave birth. Can the Church recover itself in time to minister to a society abandoned to lust, concupiscence and a defiant and essentially incoherent nihilism? It is here that Catholics of the third world will play a vital role.
Those of no religious belief and my Protestant and Jewish friends will not likely agree with what I have written, but I am convinced that the old Barque of Peter is what will save us if we board her and set sail, confident in our faith and steadfast in our course. Of course, the old barque is leaking; perversion is rife among a good portion of the officers, much of the crew is spiritually lazy and indifferent or ignorant of their duties, the sails badly need patching and the big guns need to be cleaned and primed.
It is an unlikely man-o-war to carry the current battle, but it is our best and brightest hope. For its old charts still show the way through the shoals and the reefs and its captain is true and loyal. And ultimately I am comforted that this ancient barque is powered by a great, wise, loving and just wind that blows where It wills.