It’s un-PC to say these things, but what the Hell, what’s a blog for? Anyway, it should be no embarrassment to say that political behavior is most frequently dominated by ethnic, cultural and religious factors – identity issues are the main drivers of political life, much more than economic ones. This has been the lesson learned and taught by Michael Barone, Kevin Phillips, Thomas Sowell, Walter Russell Mead, David Hackett Fischer and everyone else who pays attention to the underlying factors in political life without ideological blinders.
I’m not sure quite what to make of this piece by Bat Ye’or, entitled, “European Fears of the Gathering Jihad”. She asserts that the growing Muslim population in Europe is the result of some conscious government policy with the purpose of
establishing permanently in Europe a massive Arab-Muslim presence by the immigration and settlement of millions of Muslims with equal rights for all, native-born and migrants alike. This policy endeavored to integrate Europe and the Arab-Muslim world into one political and economic bloc, by mixing populations (multiculturalism) while weakening the Atlantic solidarity and isolating America.
I’m more inclined to believe that Muslims moved to Europe because it was close by and promised a better material life as well as more safety and freedom than their homelands. That’s simpler, and consistent with thousands of years of immigration behavior, and does not require any conspiracy theory.
Nonetheless, this demographic development has and will continue to have real consequences. The ability of the European nations to act in opposition to any Muslim nation is limited by their huge Muslim populations, who vote and naturally enough are sympathetic to their co-religionists. This will be true even where, as is mostly true, their Muslim populations peacefully assimilate themselves. Unfortunately, there is also the threat of terrorism on their own soil which European governments are trying to appease. Both of these trends will be ongoing. European hostility to Israel, for example, will continue and increase. European sympathy for Islamic terrorism, particularly if it is directed against the United States rather than them, is likely to increase.
This much cited article from the Economist points out that Europe is in a state of decline in terms of population. This review from the Times Literary Supplement makes the same point. Europeans have stopped having babies. Their Muslim neighbors, who are now “Europeans” of several generations standing in many cases, have not. So, the territory we think of as “Europe” is going to increasingly cease to be part of the “West” in cultural and political terms. Whether the Cathedral of Chartres will be a mosque in our lifetime remains to be seen. Whether you think this is a good, bad or neutral development it is certainly one which will have very significant implications in international politics.
On the other hand, as the Economist article points out, the population of the United States is growing and will continue to grow. The relative power of the United States is likely to continue to grow as a result. A large, young, energetic population bodes well for the ongoing dynamism of the American economy. The United States is going to be confronted by a weaker, older, and increasingly hostile Europe in the decades ahead, at the same time that the American population is increasingly one which is not derived from European ancestors. The two “poles ” of the West, Europe and North America, are going to continue to move farther apart.
On a related point, in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Yuval Elizur has an essay “Israel Banks on a Fence” (excerpt here) He writes:
A growing number of Israelis now realize that demographic imperatives, and not just basic justice, dictate a two-state solution. The drastic decline in Jewish immigration to Israel in recent years — as well as the very high birthrate among Palestinians — has led population experts to predict that by 2020 or shortly thereafter, there will be an Arab majority in all the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. At that point, the land will cease to be “Jewish.”Much as the French were impelled to withdraw from Algeria, marooning and betraying a large and loyal community, the Israelis are going to find themselves doing the same by withdrawing from the West Bank settlements. The Israelis will buy their survival at the cost of handing an apparent victory to their enemies, who will gloat over what has been abandoned to them, or by annihilating those few who refuse to leave. This apparent defeat will embolden Israel’s enemies and encourage further attacks. And the Israelis, like the French will suffer from the presence of a large and embittered refugee community in their midst as a permanent complicating factor in their political life. Nonetheless, as with France’s withdrawal across the Mediterranean, Israel’s withdrawal behind a wall is probably the lesser of two very ugly evils.