Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands
Ever since 9/11, I've been gloomily predicting the European powder keg's about to go up. "'By 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on the news every night," I wrote in Canada's Western Standard back in February.
Silly me. The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule. As Thursday's edition of the Guardian reported in London: "French youths fired at police and burned over 300 cars last night as towns around Paris experienced their worst night of violence in a week of urban unrest."
The notion that Texas neo-con arrogance was responsible for frosting up trans-Atlantic relations was always preposterous . . . If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans? For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. Unlike America's Europhiles, France's Arab [population] identified Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.
The French have been here before, of course. Seven-thirty-two. Not 7:32 Paris time, which is when the nightly Citroen-torching begins, but 732 AD . . . . In October 732, the Moorish general Abd al-Rahman and his Muslim army were not exactly at the gates of Paris, but they were within 200 miles, just south of the great Frankish shrine of St. Martin of Tours. Somewhere on the road between Poitiers and Tours, they met a Frankish force and, unlike other Christian armies in Europe, this one held its ground "like a wall . . . a firm glacial mass," as the Chronicle of Isidore puts it. A week later, Abd al-Rahman was dead, the Muslims were heading south, and the French general, Charles, had earned himself the surname "Martel" -- or "the Hammer." Battles are very straightforward: Side A wins, Side B loses. But the French government is way beyond anything so clarifying. Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman. They're in Brussels, where Belgian police officers are advised not to be seen drinking coffee in public during Ramadan, and in Malmo, where Swedish ambulance drivers will not go without police escort. It's way too late to rerun the Battle of Poitiers. In the no-go suburbs, even before these current riots, 9,000 police cars had been stoned by "French youths" since the beginning of the year; some three dozen cars are set alight even on a quiet night. "There's a civil war under way in Clichy-sous-Bois at the moment," said Michel Thooris of the gendarmes' trade union Action Police CFTC. "We can no longer withstand this situation on our own. My colleagues neither have the equipment nor the practical or theoretical training for street fighting."
A few years back I was criticized for a throwaway observation to the effect that "I find it easier to be optimistic about the futures of Iraq and Pakistan than, say, Holland or Denmark." But this is why. In defiance of traditional immigration patterns, these young men are less assimilated than their grandparents. French cynics like the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, have spent the last two years scoffing at the Bush Doctrine: Why, everyone knows Islam and democracy are incompatible. If so, that's less a problem for Iraq or Afghanistan than for France and Belgium.
If Chirac isn't exactly Charles Martel, the rioters aren't doing a bad impression of the Muslim armies of 13 centuries ago: They're seizing their opportunities, testing their foe, probing his weak spots. If burning the 'burbs gets you more "respect" from Chirac, they'll burn 'em again, and again. In the current issue of City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple concludes a piece on British suicide bombers with this grim summation of the new Europe: "The sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict." Which sounds an awful lot like a new Dark Ages (Steyn, "Jewish World Review," Nov. 7, 2005).