Aztecs and Arabs

A very interesting observation via Instapundit.

On his site, Wheeler includes a subscription article comparing the Aztecs with Arabs: “Both the Arabs and the Aztecs invented a religion of jihad as a rationale to justify their imperialist empires. …”

“War – Holy War – became the purpose of the Aztec state. All soldiers in the Aztec army were holy warriors, warriors of the gods. Peace was dangerous. No war meant no prisoners to sacrifice, no food for the gods, which risked the destruction of mankind and the universe itself. The only way to avoid cosmic disaster was for the Aztecs to accept the burden fate had given them and wage perpetual war for the salvation of humanity.

“All in all, a pretty clever rationalization for a monstrous imperialist tyranny, wouldn’t you say? Sounds like they were taking religion-inventing lessons from the Arabs.”

There is a similarity between the dynamics of the Aztec Empire and modern Arab states.

The rapid increase in the number of human sacrifices in the last decades of the Aztec Empire most likely resulted from internal competition between the priest class and the warrior class. To maintain or increase their dominance of the warrior class, the priests needed to keep them occupied, preferably somewhere far away. Wars for captives to sacrifice served this function admirably. (Other sacrifice victims came as “tribute” from already conquered peoples.) The more victims brought to the priests, the more they demanded. A positive feedback loop was created.

Things got so bad that when utterly alien beings with skin like corpses, riding giant deer, with magical weapons showed up and tried to overthrow the Aztecs, the non-Aztec peoples of meso-America flocked to the aliens’ banner.

The same sort of internal competition drives a lot a Islamic terrorism. The terrorists come from groups marginalized from the halls of power. They use terrorism against non-Muslims to raise their visibility and status within Islamic societies. (The actual impact on their non-Muslim targets is largely incidental.) Unanswered by the West, terrorism came to be seen by Muslims as the only means of exerting power in the world. Soon a fierce competition broke out between the marginalized and central groups, to determine who could be seen as striking out the most. The cycle gradually escalated until 9/11 finally provoked a real response from the West.

Like the Aztec warrior and priest classes, many Muslims now wonder why they have no allies. Like the Aztecs, they suddenly realize that they face an external opponent much more powerful than themselves. Like the Aztecs, they face total destruction if they can’t change.

Europeans destroyed the empires of the Aztecs and Incas almost by accident (the disease weapon was totally accidental), using only a trivial amount of the military force available to them. The same enormous gulf of power exists between the west and the Islamic world today. The things we could technically do to Islamic nations are terrifying to even contemplate. It would make the fall of the Aztecs look like a friendly boxing match.

We need to wean the Islamic world away from terrorism, less because of what they can do to us but more because of what we can do to them.

10 thoughts on “Aztecs and Arabs”

  1. What a lot of Europeans have a hard time understanding is that George W. Bush is probably the least militant and aggressive President that could satisfy the demands for action by the Jacksonian portion of the country. If we had had a wimpy Wilsonian (as opposed to a pragmatic Wilsonian/Gladstonian like Tony Blair) in office on 9/11 he would probably have been impeached after the 2002 elections and somebody really hard-assed would be in office by now.

  2. They just don’t understand this is the hard way.

    But let’s face it, when the 2nd plane hit the WTC we knew what the possible endgame was.

  3. Whoa Jim, that seems like a wild suggestion (that a wimpy pres. would have been impeached, etc.) when a less belicose Kerry carried practically half the votes.

    I mean, I can’t imagine any current potential presidential personality calling for less than national security measures. The majority of these potential personalities would not (I think) have invaded Afganistan and Iraq but would that get them impeached?

  4. I believe that without the US having gone on the offsensive, the islamofascists would have pulled off further large-sczle attacks in the US, which would have triggered an intense jacksonian response. Kerry voters were free to indulge themselves because the offensive made Americans feel safe at home by 2004.

  5. Are you arguing that perhaps Pelosi’s description of a nation unprotected after three long years was, well, a bit of hyperbole? And the argument that Iraq is in turmoil because American troops are there misses the point?

  6. I mentioned after 9/11 that it was probably a good thing that I was not occupying the Oval Office that day, because my first reaction would probably have been to turn Baghdad, Teheran, Kabul and Pyongyang into glow-in-the-dark craters first and ask questions later.  I fully expect Pyongyang and Teheran to disappear anyway within hours of a successful nuclear terrorist attack on the USA.  The major cities of Saudi Arabia might join that list.  See Wretchard’s notes.

    The USA has awesome technical capabilities and is still sitting on large stocks of various war agents which have never been used in anger.  Anyone who provokes such anger is risking the conclusion outlined in The Three Conjectures.

  7. Is this weblog a joke? I mean, do you know how ignorant you boyz sound about Islam and the Middle East? Apparently not, though you seem to pride youself on it.
    So, tell me (and before you start dreaming that I am some radical Muslim writing you, I’ll be nice and give you a hint that I am from the North Shore), BOYZ-
    Can you tell me even one of the many names of reformers in the Middle East, ANY, from the 18th century up to WWI, that not only saw certain Western ideas as not only helpful, but as backed up by the Quran- ideas such as equality and democracy? Can you even tell me the difference between the history of reform in Turkey and that in Iran? Or whether Syria was a colony of France or England? And I will give you bonus points if you can tell me what began to happen that made such reforms looked down upon (hint: it has to do with the West using military might and domination as tactics to control oil reserves and colonies, which left much more of an immediate impression than proclaiming the virtues of Aristotle or the glorious message of Our Savior).
    Actually, now that I have indirectly addressed the whole “Greek/Latin Civilisation as the Cornerstone of the Western Civilization Greatness” subject, reflect upon this- while Europe (and the UK) was full of a motley and decidedly barbaric collection of Celtic, Frankish, and Gallic tribes after the fall of the Roman Empire, Baghdad, YES your hated Baghdad , by the turn of the first millenium, not only had a university that collected and appreciated Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian texts (imagine that, appreciating other cultures. wow, boyz, what an idea)… They were also responsible for collecting and translating the Greek texts of such men as Aristotle and Plato into Arabic, which then got transmitted to the rest of Europe mostly through Moorish Spain. And sorry, but historians have the evidence for this in spades.
    No doubt the terrorists today are awful, and a threat. Believe it or not, most Arabs hate them too- they have been a menace in such places as Egypt and Syria well before Europe ever began to care. (Oh, and pop quiz fellas- how many ethnic groups are there in the Middle East that are not Arab? Hint: if you answer anything less than a hundred, you’re wrong.) But that doesn’t give you the right to write such crap that implicates the whole Middle East, or that makes Baghdad the epitome of evil. If you all are so damn smart, you should know that paying attention to the details is what really separates the boyz from the men. Tough-sounding one liners like the hilarious ones posted here clearly take little imagination and even less intelligence (and, take it from a fourth generation Chicago gal, it ain’t worthy of Chicago). And hey!, they bring even more danger to the U.S., because the moment you are willing to kill an innocent for an ideal… Well, that’s why we hate the 9/11 terrorists, right?
    And please, don’t flatter yourself that Christianity is any better than Islam. When Mohammed was alive, he saw Christians killing each other. It’s known as the conflict between the Monophysites and the Diphysites- I’ll let you open a book to find out more,
    Pick up a goddamn book.

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