When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

Western Civilization In Decline? Not So Fast

Editorial: Three events over the past week – a London wedding, a Vatican mass, and a death in Pakistan -- signal that popular sentiment within the West wants its leaders to defend core values.

Ground Zero, New York City, May 2, 2011 (woongjae)
Ground Zero, New York City, May 2, 2011 (woongjae)
Ivan Rioufol

PARIS -The West is in decline. It doesn't make it true the more you keep repeating it. And this week, three major news events in rapid succession -- the British royal wedding in London, the beatification of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, and the elimination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – combine to show a culture invigorated by popular zeal.

The crowds that turned out for each event are connected. In the United States, people spontaneously filled the streets to praise the free world as the victor against terrorism; in Rome, a million faithful stood firm behind the Church, thought to be moribund in Europe; and in London, two million subjects (and two billion television viewers) applauded timeless rituals. At each event, an affection toward the civilization, memory, and the passing on of tradition was unanimously celebrated.

Of all these events, the death of Bin Laden is obviously the most important. It bolstered the democratic impulses carrying the "Arab Spring" that for long had been demoralized by the 9/11 attacks, and fears of more to come. It was up to Barack Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, exhibiting until now an indecisive personality, to carry out this victory with guile and force. George W. Bush, his predecessor, who was loathed for his brutality, could not have done it better. The joy of Americans learning of the demise of the Devil was far less shocking than the way some in the Muslim world had welcomed the tragedy in Manhattan, and its 3,000 innocent victims.

As history would have it, the death of Bin Laden, who embodied a hatred for Jews and Christians instilled in him by his exclusivist reading of the Qur'an, would come on the day that John Paul II was beatified in front of a people enchanted by this holy figure who embodied love and the forgiveness of sins. Fanatical Islamists have twice lost their war of civilizations: both when Bin Laden died under American military fire and by the revolting image of a conquering Islam, both sexist and deadly, that they let loose. May the Muslim world, in search for a breath of fresh air, take advantage of its newfound liberation.

The West, in any case, can be blamed no more. That's the message these crowds are giving their leaders so often tempted by capitulation, relativism, and short memories. In view of the amnesia from which many elites in old Europe suffer, the starry-eyed infatuation with the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton was also that of Britons proud of their past and traditions. If these disparate elements are put side-by-side, they allow us to see a vitality that contradicts the despondent spirits calling for the West to stand aside and exit from history. The people once again defy the opinion of the elites.

Calling out Islamofascism

For all that, obscurantism did not die with Bin Laden. The Arab youth aspiring for more democracy remain at the mercy of a possible political hijacking. The Islamofascism incarnated in that Antichrist figure is the same totalitarian ideology that recently struck Marrakech, killing eight French citizens, including a 10-year-old girl. This depraved Islam, this Nazi-Islamism that proclaims that the Muslim is a superior being, just as the Aryan was for Hitler, must be called out for what it is. This is not, however, what one hears from the political figures in charge, including French President Nicholas Sarkozy: they all prefer to say that the war is against terrorism, scared to name Islam. But it is an insult to Muslims to believe them incapable of separating the worst from the best in what is found together in the Qur'an. This is not how an objective reading of the Qur'an will be promoted.

To not name the realities of the situation is cowardice. If Islamofascism has forever been shaped by al Qaeda, it still remains aggressive in its political ambitions, represented by Iran and its allies who fear liberty like the plague. Must we still close our eyes? Hamas, which is in control of the Gaza Strip, was one of the few groups to condemn the American raid against Bin Laden. Seeing them on Wednesday join forces with Fatah, which runs the West Bank, under the applause of Western leaders, revealed that recurring and perplexing naïveté of the West. The death of Bin Laden is not the end of history. President Obama has helped the West regain its pride, and its leaders must now be sure not to compromise with the reactionary Islamist forces who wish to squash the Arab spring.

photo - woongjae

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ