Yesterday (Monday) I read an article, which stated with great certainty that the US has been better at assimilating Muslims than European countries. I also read a separate article in USA Today, which quoted the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, claiming that “New York City has the strongest, most agile, best-trained first responders in the world. They’re ready to protect us.”
These are just the latest examples of hubris, which is defined as “excessive pride, or self-confidence, arrogance.”
When it comes to assimilation, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed on British television one Sunday morning a few years ago. People of African descent who had lived in both the United Kingdom and the United States were discussing this very issue. All the participants said they felt more comfortable and more assimilated in the UK than the US.
This may or may not be true of Muslims. My concern here is that Americans should be very careful in making such assumptions, that we cannot say for sure and that, really, it doesn’t make any difference. We are just as threatened by Islamic terrorism as the Europeans. Whether the US responders do a better job remains to be seen. FWIW, France (and Canada) are the two countries that top the World Health Organization’s list of best medical systems. The US ranks at #37. When it comes to saving lives, Paris is one of the best places to be.
When it comes to fighting ISIS, there’s a great deal of hubris right now. Once again, the entertainment industry is partly to blame – it’s not just James Bond that defeats the world’s greatest evils; Americans have been doing it for decades.
Or, have we?
More than fourteen years after 9-11, Al-Qaeda is still killing people. The hotel attack in Bamako was perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliate.
The US has been in Afghanistan for the same length of time (longer than the Russians were there) and there is no end in sight. In fact, the situation is worse in that ISIS now operates there, along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Iraq continues with daily conflict. The immediate goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein was achieved by the western coalition, but the resultant mess just goes on and on. The Iraqi conflict gave birth to ISIS, another problem that seems likely to go on and on. And, if they are ever defeated, there will be other Islamic extremists to replace them.
Proverbs 16:18 says that: “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
I quoted Niall Ferguson a few days ago. He showed the similarities between what is happening now and what happened to the Roman Empire in its last days – the barbarians are at the gates. Indeed, they are within the gates thanks to the West having the most myopic immigration policies in the history of mankind.
The West has lived through a period that might be called the Pax Americana, a peace guaranteed by the United States since the end of World War II.
But the US has not had a decisive victory since World War II, when the global conflict was won by the three great powers, the British Empire (which fought the war from 1939-1945), the Soviet Union (which was forced into war six months before the US) and the United States. The US could not have done it alone.
Korea ended up a stalemate, a burden still carried on the backs of the US tax-payer. Vietnam was lost. At the time, there was plenty of hubris. Who would have thought, in 1965, that the US could lose to North Vietnam?
The next major conflict was the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91. The immediate goal of driving Iraq out of Kuwait was achieved, but Saddam lived to fight another day, literally. And, as I said, the mess goes on and on.
Americans are fond of saying that the US military is the best in the world and that the country spends ten times as much on its military as the next biggest spender. That may be true, but it’s misleading. In World War II, for every US soldier actually fighting, there were 60 people employed in support roles; for the British it was 45 to 1; for the Germans, 20 to 1. Efficiency varies.
Additionally, US military personnel are paid more than those of other countries, so the dollar amount spent is not saying much.
Besides, the greatest threat now is Islamic terrorism, not a professional national army. The “armies” that brought down Rome were barbaric, wild tribes, the Huns, the Vandals and, ultimately, the Arabs. We’re faced with a similar enemy, but making it worse, our enemy is also “within.” Let’s remember, the Babylonian Empire fell because two men betrayed it! It only took two men to bring down the greatest empire in the world at that time.
The analogy with Babylon is apt in another way, too. Babylon’s period of ascendancy lasted a little over seventy years, from the defeat of Assyria in 612 BC to its own defeat at the hands of the Persians in 539. Super powers have great difficulty maintaining dominance over a longer period. The Romans and the British were two exceptions, but countries simply burn out after 70 years. The US is burning out, showing great reluctance to take on the growing threats to its own dominance.
It’s predecessor as global superpower number one was Great Britain. Britain simply went broke. The US is similarly broke, with a national debt of roughly 20 trillion dollars. How much longer can the country lead the fight against anything? ISIS is the wealthiest terror group ever, while the US is now penny pinching.
There’s a third lesson, too, from ancient Assyria and Babylon. The former invaded the ten tribes of Israel, taking the people away as slaves. The latter, Babylon, more than a century later, conquered the Jews and took them as slaves to Babylon. The Old Testament prophets show that these nations were conquered because of their sins.
In a statement after the Paris terror attacks, ISIS said it attacked Paris because it’s a “sinful city, full of perversions.” This does not mean that ISIS is made up of righteous people, any more than ancient Assyria or Babylon were. But it does mean that many Muslims, appalled at the liberal values of the West, will naturally flock to ISIS.
In this sense, our own permissiveness works against us and is contributing to the violent acts being perpetrated by the terrorists.
But people in the West have hardened their hearts when it comes to God. When the Church of England prepared a cinema ad promoting the Lord’s prayer, cinemas refused to show it; when the hashtag “#pray for Paris” appeared on Twitter following the Paris attacks, one French publication told people supporting the sentiment that their prayers were not welcome; that France doesn’t want religion!
Some asked where was God when Paris was attacked? The answer can be found in Isaiah 59:2. “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Isaiah was preaching to a nation that had known God, but rejected Him.
There are similarities with the western world of today. We should avoid hubris, clean up our act, and turn to the true God if we are to have any hope of defeating Islamic extremism.