West's fortunes tied to current wars
by Salim Mansur
The suicide bombings in Baghdad lately are part of the orchestrated campaign by the enemies of freedom in the region to wreck Iraq's evolving democracy.
There should be no mistaking, as we witness this continued violence in Iraq, that a mortal struggle between freedom and tyranny is being waged there, and across the core of the Arab-Muslim world between the Nile and the Indus.
It was a matter of time before this struggle would erupt and shake the world as it has since 9/11. And it is a weak sense of history that suggests the West could have avoided being embroiled in this fateful struggle.
"History is not a random sequence of unrelated events," wrote William Manchester, historian and biographer of Winston Churchill. He continued, "Everything affects, and is affected by, everything else. Only time can sort out events. It is then, in perspective, that patterns emerge."
The separate histories of the West and the East over the centuries gradually became inseparably linked, with each side holding itself as a mirror to the other.
Islam as a civilization once held a mirror to the West of order and sanity when Europe, for more than 10 centuries — from the sack of Rome by Alaric in 410 to the end of the conflicts surrounding Reformation and Counter-Reformation — was racked by wars of dynasties, religious inquisition and sectarianism.
Europe's long wars culminated in the age of enlightenment, and Christianity — once a religion of warriors soaked in their own righteous bigotry and anti-Semitism — evolved over time to gradually become somewhat more representative in faith and practice to the gospel of Jesus.
The Arab component of the Islamic civilization was thrashed when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258. After an unstable interlude, the Turks as Ottomans reconsolidated Islamic rule, captured Constantinople in 1453 and made it their capital as Istanbul.
There were three centres (capitals) of the Islamic civilization — Istanbul, Isfahan (Persia) and Delhi (India) — between 1453 and 1857. But they would all be eclipsed with the rise of Europe as the cradle of the West, reinvigorated by enlightenment.
For the past two centuries, the West has held a mirror to the Muslim world of science and democracy based on liberal values of freedom.
In this mirror the more discerning Muslims saw the hollowness of their civilization with Islam perverted into an ideology of oriental despotism. As long as European colonialism held sway over Muslim lands, this despotism was kept at bay.
Independence from European rule after 1945 unleashed the oriental despots across the Middle East, and in Iraq under Saddam Hussein this despotism rose to its worst excesses.
The Cold War and related events — including the Afghan war of the 1980s against the Soviet Union — obscured the mortal struggle inside the Middle East until 9/11.
Former U.S. president George W. Bush's decision to liberate Afghans and Iraqis respectively from their despots has given an edge to the forces of freedom over tyranny.
But if freedom is to prevail in the East, the West will need to remain engaged there.
A withdrawal by the West, uncertain of its responsibility, from this mortal struggle will embolden tyranny in our world where the West and the East are now inseparably bound together.