The current war of civilization is founded as much on geography as on history
14th October, 2016
LE FIGARO : Éric Zemmour believes that different epochs are colliding with, and confronting each other. Some are harking back to the time of the Caliphate and the Empire; Russia, China and Turkey are holding fast to the system of nation-states; and Western countries believe that the era of national sovereignty is over.
What is to be done? This is the question posed out loud by François Hollande, and more discretely, by Angela Merkel and Barack Obama. Lenin’s famous question is now being asked about Putin. The Russian strongman poses a major problem for what is called, with hypocritical emphasis, the ❛international community❜, because he doesn’t play by the rules. Pretending to be a sovereign country while still in thrall to the American ❛hyper-power❜, is not for Russia. Putin does not believe, with the Europeans, that the 21st century is governed by law and commerce alone. When he makes war, he takes responsibility for it and doesn’t feel obliged to deck out military intervention in the tattered finery of human rights humanitarianism.
“For the West, Putin appears as an anachronism. He doesn’t live in their era. He’s behind the times.”
This is a man of the 21st century, who knows only cold Realpolitik and the balance of power between nation-states; and who makes war to crush an enemy, as did Napoléon in his celebrated battles. Certainly, he doesn’t hesitate to target towns like Aleppo and their innocent inhabitants, but the Americans did precisely the same during World War II in order to destroy Germany and Japan. Putin hasn’t forgotten that the Europeans once dominated the world through the ferocity of their soldiers. For the West, Putin appears as an anachronism. He doesn’t live in their era. He’s behind the times.
And he’s not the only one. Islamic fighters, whether affiliated with the Caliphate, al-Qa’ida, or some other group, whether making war in Syria and Iraq or anywhere else in the world, are living in the 7th century. They follow the Koranic precepts of jihad, and imitate in every way the acts and heroic, warlike deeds of the prophet Mahomet, ❝the perfect man❞. They justify their actions by the surah, as we ours by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the United Nations Charter. To each his fundamental principles, his rights, and his civilization.
The unprecedented violence of globalization is not just that it brings together diverse populations that hitherto had precious little contact with each other; it forces peoples and cultures to meet on territory that has become too small. This is not only a geographical issue, but also an historical one. Different epochs are colliding with, and confronting each other. Some are harking back to the time of the Caliphate and the Empire; Russia, China and Turkey are holding fast to the system of nation-states still recognized by Europe on the eve of the war of 1914; and Western countries believe that the era of national sovereignty is over.
Each camp is persuaded of the superiority of its own law and civilization. Each camp wants to impose its agenda on the others. This is what lends that ineluctable character to the clash of civilizations, whether we recognise it as such or not.
Translation by Edward Shilling