FREELY Islam in the 21st
century By Nicholas A Biniaris
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philosophy by example - Dionysius of
Halicarnassus 30 AD.
In 1979 the
Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. In 1989 the
Soviet Union collapsed. On the same year the
Iranian Revolution ousted the Shah and established
a theocratic state hostile to the USA and what is
conveniently but not very clearly defined as "the
Afghanistan was not the efficient
cause of the Soviet collapse, but it was a
proximate one. September 11, 2001, was the day a
planned terrorist attack on the territory of the
started the "war on
terror" doctrine. Since then, Afghanistan has been
invaded by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO), and Iraq by "The Alliance of the willing".
All the same, Iran, through its nuclear program,
has raised the prospect of another pre-emptive
attack by Israel or the US or both against that
country. Such an attack is viewed by many experts
as the preamble of a protracted conflict with
unknown and grave consequences for Israel and the
In a relentless tempo of change, in
2011 the Arab Spring emerged as a new political
and ideological force in the Muslim world. Hosni
Mubarak was ousted, and an intervention by the
West in the Libyan uprising on the side of the
anti-Gaddafi forces brought about a new political
landscape in that country. In Syria, Bashar
al-Assad is fighting a civil war which is breaking
that country apart and introduces huge risks for
Turkey and the region. The Afghanistan front,
which involves Central Asia and Pakistan - a
nuclear power nation - and Central Asia, is also
in a state of utter instability.
since 1979 up to this day, the West and the world
is dealing with what is called "the Muslim World".
It is more than obvious that communism, as an
hostile ideology to the rich and liberal West, was
supplanted by Islam.
Samuel Huntington as
a representative of the qualitative school of
international relations warned his audience that
the West should not be engaged in conflicts with
Islam but rather in deepening and safeguarding its
own values and culture. Kenneth Waltz, the father
of structural realism, was adamantly opposed to
the West's intervention in Iraq and in other
On the side of Islam,
Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, an
Islamic scholar and philosopher, had tried to
argue that there is an alternative model for
international relations theory, the Islamic one.
The gist of his argument is that the Western model
is philosophically based upon epistemology,
whereas the Islamic upon ontology.
former, as Davutoglu tries to argue, is bound to
construct man and society devoid of spirituality,
a hero worship culture; the second shapes man and
society taking the existence of God as a prior
point of departure for his acts and behavior.
Davutoglu and other Muslim intellectuals have
actually failed to present a coherent theoretical
explanation of what an Islamic civilizational
paradigm would look like in contradistinction to
the Western one with the exception of traditions
based upon the religious narrative.
above short historical and intellectual
description of the Muslim world is just a reminder
of Islam's active involvement in the world. There
are two further factors that keep Islam on the
world stage: first and foremost oil, energy
resources the blood which runs through the veins
of the West's economy and secondly, Osama bin
Obama we are all Osama - chant of
Kuwaitis outside the American Embassy.
terrorist act of 9/11 was masterminded by Osama
bin Laden, who was killed by a group of American
Special Forces in Pakistan. Most analysts think,
or wish to believe, that Osama's legacy is a spent
force. With the Arab Spring, analysts tried to
argue, the Muslim world has invented other
political tools to demand and force social and
economic reforms upon their societies and thus
come to implement the necessary reforms for their
relations with the West.
What was left
from Osama's legacy, so they thought, was an
outdated philosophy of political activism
superseded by a healthy political discourse.
Terrorism was out.
Wishful thinking is the
most usual way human psychology employs to cope
with hard and unyielding necessity, the reality of
the world as it is. In politics and international
relations leaders are basically prone to wishful
thinking for various reasons, one of which is the
management of the here and now, as it is defined
by each society.
What was missing from the
analysts' mind about Osama's legacy and his
philosophy of terror was the acknowledgement of
his views as a serious political proposition; a
proposition that may prove efficacious for many
cases for societies in turmoil and full of
grievances for local conditions intertwined with
alleged or real Western domination.
Osama's terror philosophy was a strategic
and tactical weapon that could be used at any time
political discourse reached deep rifts in
societies that did not participate in the process
of nation-building, the scientific and the
industrial revolution of the West.
Terrorism is rampant in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia,
Yemen, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, Kenya,
Palestine, Israel, Turkey, and in several other
places. The list is too impressive to announce the
end of Osama's legacy. Terrorism was legitimized
and sanctified by some elements in the Muslim
world by 9/11. The ostracizing of terrorism by
many analysts, both from the West and from the
Muslim world, is an ongoing effort to wash away
the dark shadow of flagrant murder from world
resources employed against this allegedly
otherworldly but totally nihilist philosophy are
huge; technology, manpower and money. The results,
in a nutshell, are poor or non-existent. The West
is still phasing a Muslim world in flux, utter
confusion and conflict. Al-Qaeda operates in
Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and in central
Africa. The security much sought in all these
years is restricted to the territories of the West
but the West itself is not more secure now than it
was 10 years ago, of 30 years ago for that matter.
The West and its legacy What
the West had done, so some pundits say, is to use
"creative destruction" to force these moribund
societies to wake up and find a mode of existence
in the modern or more precisely the post-modern
world. What is missing from this view is the fate
of the destroyer, the West, versus the destruction
heaped upon these societies and cultures.
What is also missing is the reaction of
these societies after they wake up in the world of
globalization, human rights, democracy and
economic laissez-faire; a fast and radically
changing world where other forces such as China
and Russia come into play.
the History of the Peloponnesian War tries
to identify the causes of that ancient conflict:
For if in one word someone could say
for them [the Athenians] that their nature is
such that they themselves have no rest and that
they do not leave the others in peace, he would
say the truth. 
This is the real
description of the West. Someone can argue that
this is the nature of democracy, and/or of the
Athenians, but the final verdict would be that the
West doesn't leave anyone at rest, on their own.
This can be viewed as its cultural and power
domination. It was this power of the Athenians
that the Spartans feared and tried to subdue. They
succeeded, but at a price for them, for Athens,
and for the Hellenic world as a whole. Sparta was
marginalized and withered away as a political
power, Athens remained a cultural center and the
Hellenic city-states where incorporated in the
Hellenic northern Macedonian Kingdom.
The second phase of the Arab
Spring The aftermath of the Arab Spring and
the Iranian Revolution are at present threatening
the flow of oil, the economic well-being of the
West, and the internal security of Europe as
masses of displaced and desperate individuals move
towards its borders. Unchecked immigration from
Muslim areas has provoked a rise in xenophobia,
fascism, and even terrorists acts in the West
itself as the Norwegian Anders Behring Brevik
exhibited a few months ago.
stay intact with a huge sovereign debt? Can the US
tackle its own and its huge foreign trade deficit?
Can the fractured and more or less incoherent
political landscape in the US come to order and
address the problems of that country? We are
following a presidential campaign of spending
billions with a debate focused on hot air. The
Republican Party is in shambles and the Democrats
are fighting to keep Barack Obama as a respectable
president vis-a-vis Israel and red lines for Iran.
What we are observing the last few days as
a backlash of that infamous film about Prophet
Mohammad is one of the manifestations of this
ingrained feature of the West to leave nothing at
Some will say that it was a Jewish
conspiracy, Islamophobia or/and a flagrant
expression of the West's hegemonic role over
Islam. Historically it makes no difference, as
this has happened before and it will happen again.
On the other hand, governments and mass
media in the West try to be politically correct
and abstain from parading Muslim behavior towards
Christians in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia
Northern Cyprus and Sudan as well as towards some
Islamic sects in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf,
and elsewhere. This is a policy of appeasement,
since the West is trying to change its image as a
crusading force against Islam.
groups attacking Western embassies and
assassinating diplomats are no doubt part of an
ultra-orthodox Islam that is trying to assert its
political power over the forces of change
unleashed through the Arab Spring. This kind of
political process in several Muslim states may
derail the political discourse in these societies
and cancel security based on the existing balance
of powers in the region.
All the above
point to a clear view: Islam is here to stay with
us and shape our political, economic and security
future for years to come. One think is for sure.
What a young protester shouted outside the
American Embassy in Cairo will not materialize:
"American views us as slaves, and they are the
masters," said Kajo. "We are telling them that we
will be the masters and them the slaves". 
It cannot happen because Islam has
actually to enslave the West, which has already
shaped the world Islam lives in. This world is the
world of science and technology.
of the West cannot be defeated even if London and
New York turn to Muslim cities. What Islam can
succeed in doing is either destroying the world
through provoking a nuclear war or letting the
crucial problems of mankind take the backseat -
problems such as as the environment, poverty,
illiteracy and disease.
The past century
ended with the Muslim world confronting a dominant
West. This century is extenuating the real
repercussions of the past. If the Muslim century
will be a century of success of human history
towards inclusion and not exclusion, this does not
depend solely upon the attitude of the West, as
some Muslim or Western intellectuals believe.
This is a posture of denial. On the one
hand it depends upon the West, which has to stop
meddling in Muslim affairs and let the people find
their way through any means they deem appropriate.
This was the case for Europe during the Thirty
It equally depends upon the
attitude of the Muslim world primarily towards
itself. If the Muslim world does not start to
reconcile itself with its internal problems as
well as with the world as it works, it will
collapse upon its own fervor and anger.
Indignation without understanding will lead to an
already discernible catastrophe.
Nicholas A Biniaris has taught
philosophy and political theory at NYC in Athens.
His historical novel The Call of the Desert
was recently published in Hellas; he is a
columnist and an economic and foreign policy
(Copyright 2012 Nicholas A
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