Well, we are now on the brink of a third Gulf War with no end in sight. Political and military commentators will be working overtime and acres of print will be written contesting the question: “will Western intervention work or not?” Important though this is for the West and global security there are other issues here of primary importance which are rarely discussed.
The West will no doubt face acts of terrorism on an ongoing basis but these will not destroy our culture and civilisation. However, unchecked ISIS will destroy Arab civilisation. Arab peoples and other ethnicities in the Middle East now need to ask some deep and searching questions of themselves. Do they want to preserve and defend the legacy of medieval Islamic culture in the arts and sciences through the turbulence of this era and into the third millennium or are they going to surrender passively, or indeed actively to religious barbarism?
The high point of Islam in global terms was not the bloody expansion of the Arab tribes into the Eastern Roman Empire in the seventh century but rather what the descendants of those tribes achieved in more peaceful times in subsequent centuries. If once again Arab, and specifically Islamic Arab culture, is to become a blessing rather than a curse for humankind then its leaders and peoples have some hard choices to make, which initially will lead to severe internal conflicts.
These choices are severely practical in nature. They involve Muslims fighting against Muslims, sadly, not only and necessarily in tanks and bombers and with guns and grenades, but also at some point with councils and dialogue, with open hands and peaceful hearts, a more costly jihad In this cultural “war” between resurgent Islamic fundamentalism and the more cultured, peaceful expressions of Islam, (which the world would rightly welcome), the West needs to gain new friends and new partners.
At the moment we have a more immediate problem, “who is fighting whom?” We hear much of the new coalition of the willing but decent, peaceful Arab Islamic peoples need now to stand up and be counted. The West cannot allow a situation to develop whereby it fights their war against barbarism, not only for them but also instead of them. Yes, this will draw the snipers crosshairs onto the House of Saud and the Gulf States themselves, but this will happen soon enough anyway.
We need to see in the West that these countries are indeed pulling their weight in the military war and in the cultural war. If not, we should pull out while there is still time. What is at stake here is the survival of Arab civilisation and culture and in the end only Arabs can both address and defend that for themselves.