Do We Still Want the West?: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017— In the late 1980s Stanford University did away with its required Western civilization course after Jesse Jackson led students in a chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!”
What Does 'Western Culture' Mean Anyway?: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 20, 2017— In a Wall Street Journal column, Bret Stephens recently wrote that Western societies lack the “civilizational self-belief” that others have.
Fear a ‘Post-West World’: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Feb. 21, 2017— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did the world a service this weekend when he abandoned coyly evasive and tiresome Russian diplo-speak by outright advocating for the creation of a “post-West world order.”
Europe: "The Era of Liberal Babble": Judith Bergman, Gatestone Institute, Mar. 14, 2017— Europe, so many years after the Cold War, is ideologically divided into a new East and a West.
Whose West?: Daniel Larison, American Conservative, Feb. 21, 2017
It's OK to Say Western Civilization is Superior: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, Mar. 14, 2017
"Celebrating" Orientalism: Richard Landes, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2017
The West has Finally Woken Up: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 17, 2017
Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017
In the late 1980s Stanford University did away with its required Western civilization course after Jesse Jackson led students in a chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” Campus conservatives tried to bring it back last year, but the effort failed in a student vote by a 6 to 1 margin. They should try pushing Western Civ again. To adapt the line in that Passenger song, you only know you love it when you let it go.
The thought comes to mind following Sergei Lavrov’s Orwellian speech last week at the Munich Security Conference, in which the Russian foreign minister called for a “post-West world order.” He also used the occasion to deny Moscow’s involvement in hacking U.S. and European elections, to announce that his government would recognize passports issued by its puppet state in eastern Ukraine, and to call for an end to the “post-truth” and “post-fact” state of international relations.
Mr. Lavrov understands something that ought to be increasingly clear to American and European audiences: The West—as a geopolitical bloc, a cultural expression, a moral ideal—is in deep trouble. However weak Russia may be economically, and however cynical its people might be about their regime, Russians continue to drink from a deep well of civilizational self-belief. The same can be said about the Chinese, and perhaps even of the Islamic world too, troubled as it is. The West? Not so much.
The United States has elected as president a man who has repeatedly voiced his disdain for NATO, the World Trade Organization and other institutions of the Western-led world order. He publicly calls the press “an enemy of the American people” and conjures conspiracy theories about voter fraud whose only purpose is to lend credence to his claim that the system is rigged. He is our first post-rational president, whose approach to questions of fact recalls the deconstructionism of the late Jacques Derrida: There are no truths; reality is negotiable.
Then there’s Europe, where youth unemployment runs close to 20% and centrist politicians wonder why they have a problem. In France, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen is gaining in the polls, despite expert predictions that she can’t possibly win the presidency. In Holland, nationalist politician Geert Wilders says of Moroccan immigrants: “Not all are scum.” Where have we heard these things before?
In Munich on Saturday, Mike Pence implored NATO members to spend more on their defense—a complaint Europeans also heard from the Obama and Bush administrations. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, instantly brushed the vice president’s plea aside. “I don’t know where Germany can find billions of euros to boost defense spending,” he said, “if politicians also want lower taxes.” Berlin spends 1.2% of its GDP on defense, well below the 2% NATO requirement and among the lowest in Europe. As of 2014, it could deploy a grand total of 10 attack helicopters and one submarine. Does Germany still want the West, insofar as it’s able to contribute to its collective defense?
What about other countries? Twenty-five years ago, becoming a part of “the West” was the dream from Budapest to Ulan Bator. Not anymore. Russia took itself off the Westernization track shortly after the turn of the century. Turkey followed a few years later. Thailand is on its way to becoming a version of what Myanmar had been up until a few years ago, while Malaysia is floating into China’s orbit. Ditto for the Philippines. Mexico may soon follow a similar trajectory if the Trump administration continues to pursue its bad-neighbor policy, and if a Chavista-like figure such as Andrés Manuel López Obrador comes to power in next year’s presidential election.
One can point to many reasons, specific and general, why the West no longer attracts imitators. Let’s point to the main reason. There was a time when the West knew what it was about. It did so because it thought about itself—often in freshman Western Civ classes. It understood that its moral foundations had been laid in Jerusalem; its philosophical ones in Athens; its legal ones in Rome. It treated with reverence concepts of reason and revelation, freedom and responsibility, whose contradictions it learned to harmonize and harness over time. It believed in the excellence of its music and literature, and in the superiority of its political ideals. It was not ashamed of its prosperity. If it was arrogant and sinful, as all civilizations are, it also had a tradition of remorse and doubt to temper its edges and broaden its horizons. It cultivated the virtue of skepticism while avoiding the temptation of cynicism.
And it believed all of this was worth defending—in classrooms and newspapers and statehouses and battlefields. We’ve since raised generations to believe none of this, only to be shocked by the rise of anti-Western politics. If you want children to learn the values of a civilization that can immunize them from a Trump, a Le Pen or a Lavrov, you can start by teaching it.
Arutz Sheva, Mar. 20, 2017
In a Wall Street Journal column, Bret Stephens recently wrote that Western societies lack the “civilizational self-belief” that others have. Daniel Larison in the American Conservative replied to him that “in modern times, ‘the West’ has often been even more narrowly defined to exclude nations that objectively share the same intellectual and religious heritage for contemporary political reasons”.
Larison is right: “Western culture” is not what liberals have in mind. Europe’s political establishment is still suffering from shock at the election of Donald Trump and the wave of populist movements, from France to the Netherlands. “The West”, the liberal establishment repeats as a mantra, is under threat from Russian expansionism. But what are these “Western values,” according to our élites? Gender ideology? Multiculturalism? Secularism? Ideological and mandatory open borders? Pacifism? Slander of Israel? Eugenics? Feminism? Cultural sanctimony?
Take Emmanuel Macron, the most Western of the French presidential candidates, the icon of the pro-European élite. He just decried French colonialism and preached more open borders for Europe. Malia Sorel-Sutter in an interview with Le Figaro explained the difference between Macron and his contender, Francois Fillon: “For one, French culture does not exist, when for the other it is part of a desire to continue France from a cultural point of view,” said the author of Decaying France.
Think about what just happened to Charles Murray, the conservative guru, who was almost lynched at the liberal college of Middlebury. “Western culture” for these liberals means that a conservative philosopher cannot take the podium in the socialist state of Vermont. “Western culture” for these liberals means that the Norwegian minister Sylvi Listhaug can be slammed for wearing a crucifix. Western culture” for these liberals is under attack if Trump defunds the shameful abortion provider Planned Parenthood. “Western culture” for these liberals is under threat if the US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case for transgender rights in restrooms.
Steve Bannon’s ideas about the West, capitalism and the threat of Islam to the Judeo-Christian civilization seem much better to me than the oped pages of the New York Times or the London University students’ ideology, who just asked to remove from their curricula Plato and Kant, among other Western philosophers, because they represent “colonialism”. “Western culture” for me means Goethe’s books, Leopardi’s poems, Bach’s cantatas, the French abbeys, the Sistin Chapel, Solzenitsyn’s Gulag Arcipelago. For these puerile liberals, “Western culture” is a caricature to be protected by trigger warnings and safe spaces. No wonder Europe and the West are not respected today.
Commentary, Feb. 21, 2017
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did the world a service this weekend when he abandoned coyly evasive and tiresome Russian diplo-speak by outright advocating for the creation of a “post-West world order.” These comments, made before an audience of European and American security professionals who are already sufficiently spooked by Donald Trump’s campaign-trail flirtation with the abandonment of the Atlantic alliance, surely disturbed the conference’s Western attendees. Good. It is about time that someone properly framed the stakes of the ideological and strategic competition between revisionist powers and the Western-led post-War order. The West’s intellectual elite certainly are not up to the task.
Wall Street Journal editor…Bret Stephens observed in a recent column that the constructs of the West—cultural, educational, and geostrategic—are no longer defended by their inheritors and chief beneficiaries. Indeed, Western elites have for too long evidenced only shame in their shared heritage. A self-hating strain of liberal intellectual culture that equates the advancement of Western values and interests as some form of exploitive imperialism isn’t new (although adherents of this view are rarely so critical of revisionist powers’ military and commercial exploits). What is both new and worrisome is that this impulse among prohibitively self-critical Westerners has not abated even as revisionist powers like Russia are presenting as clear and unattractive a contrast with the West as they have in a generation.
Moscow is a unique threat to Western intellectual life, in part, because it is so interested in engaging in it. Unlike China, which makes no pretense toward democratic aspirations, Russia pretends to be a representative republic. It devotes extensive effort and vast sums to influencing the Democratic process in the West and to courting its agents of influence (or, in the Soviet parlance, “subconscious multiplicators,” aka “useful idiots”) to advance its self-serving propaganda. As its active measures campaigns intensify, so, too, do its abuses and crimes.
On the international stage, Moscow has become the first European power to invade and summarily annex territory in a neighboring country since Stalin absorbed portions of Poland in 1945. Those sovereign territories it does not seize and appropriate outright it destabilizes and gradually reintegrates into the Russian sphere (the Donbas region of Ukraine now joins the mock sovereignties of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are being integrated into the Russian Federation). Moscow has discovered that it doesn’t need to invade and occupy whole nations in its near abroad to paralyze them and enjoy a veto over their political evolution.
The West often pursues its geopolitical interests in ways that trouble its critics on the populist right and the socialist left, but neither can convincingly draw a moral or strategic equivalence between these actions and those of Western capitals.
These are only the most destabilizing actions taken by Moscow that threatens to topple the post-War order. The way in which Moscow has partnered with its illiberal allies in Damascus and Tehran provide us with a window into what a “post-West” world would look like. In Syria, Moscow directed and participated in direct attacks on civilians, hospitals, and first responders, including the alleged use of bunker-buster and incendiary munitions on civilian targets. There is clear evidence that Russia has abetted in and facilitated starvation campaigns targeting whole cities. The United States has provided evidence implicating Russia in an attack on a United Nations aid convoy that would have relieved the siege on rebel-held Aleppo.
Moscow’s disregard for civilian life in a warzone is as much deliberate is it is careless. The not-so-frozen conflict in Ukraine’s East opened with an attack by Russian-armed-and-funded “separatists” on a civilian airliner using a sophisticated surface-to-air missile, killing over two hundred Western civilians. The most recent flare-ups along the contact line between Ukrainian troops and separatists have often been preceded by OSCE monitors suddenly discovering truckloads of grad rockets headed for the front. These deliberate violations of the so-called “Minsk process” and the lives that are lost are of strategic value for the Kremlin. No international agreement or multilateral framework prevents Russia from pursuing its near-term objectives.
This is to say nothing of how Moscow treats dissenters on the home front. Modern-day Moscow is a place where prominent opposition figures are repeatedly shot within eyesight of the Kremlin, where auditors who allege government-sanctioned corruption are imprisoned on trumped-up charges and tortured to death, and where reporters who investigate the conduct of military campaigns are targeted for assassination. It is a place where homosexuals are attacked for their deviancy, where church life is regulated, and evangelism is legally prohibited. It is a place where abortions are prolific, and life expectancy is short.
Given all this, it boggles the mind that any classically liberal Westerner would even entertain the notion that a “post-West world order” is a desirable alternative to the order stewarded by the West and the United States, in particular. American voters flirting with the prospect of shrugging off the burdens bequeathed to them by the ambitious, self-sacrificing predecessors are playing with fire. Though they might imagine it as such, a “Post-West world order” is not one that absolves Americans of thankless responsibilities to global peace. Indeed, it would be one that would demand of them sacrifices they cannot possibly imagine.
Gatestone Institute, Mar. 14, 2017
Europe, so many years after the Cold War, is ideologically divided into a new East and a West. This time, the schism is over multiculturalism. What Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has termed "liberal babble" continues to govern Western Europe's response to the challenges that migration and Islamic terrorism have brought, especially to personal security. The Western European establishment considers arming oneself against terrorists, rapists and other ill-wishers outlandish, even in the face of the inability of Europe's security establishments to prevent mass terrorist atrocities, such as those that took place in Paris at the Bataclan Theater or the July14 truck-ramming in Nice.
The European Union's reaction to terror has been to make Europe's already restrictive gun laws even more restrictive. The problem is that this restrictiveness contradicts the EU's own reports: these show that homicides committed in Europe are mainly committed with illegal firearms. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, it is still normal to want to defend yourself. Last summer, Czech President Milos Zeman even encouraged citizens to arm themselves against Islamic terrorism. "I really think that citizens should arm themselves against terrorists. And I honestly admit that I changed my mind, because previously I was against [citizens] having too many weapons. After these attacks, I don't think so".
Since the president's remarks, the Czech Interior Minister, Milan Chovanec, has proposed extending the use of arms in the event of a terrorist attack. He explained that despite strict security measures, it is not always possible for the police to guarantee a fast and effective intervention. Fast action from a member of the public could prevent the loss of many lives. Such reasoning, often seen as laughable in Western Europe, reflects an understanding of the fear that has become a recurring theme on the continent. In Germany, a recent poll showed that two out of three Germans are afraid of becoming the victim of a terrorist attack and 10% perceive an "acute threat" to their safety. Among women, the figures were even higher. 74% responded that they sometimes feel unsafe in crowded places, and 9% said they felt permanently threatened and scared.
Western European leaders, on the other hand, pretend not to understand this fear. In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was asked how Europe could be protected against Islamization. Merkel, who does not move without her own personal security team consisting of 15-20 armed bodyguards around her, working in shifts, answered: "Fear is not a good adviser. It is better that we should have the courage once again to deal more strongly with our own Christian roots." In December, she told members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who were asking how to reassure the public about integrating migrants, "This could also broaden your horizons." (This is the same Merkel, who in 2010 said that multiculturalism had "utterly failed").
As Western Europeans are discovering, however, that the state is increasingly unable to protect them, they have begun acting on their fears: In France, a survey showed an increase of almost 40% in gun license requests since 2011. "Before the beginning of 2015, it was only a vague trend. Since the 'Charlie Hebdo', Bataclan and Nice attacks, [gun license requests] have become a growing phenomenon", wrote Le Nouvel Observateur.
In Belgium, requests for gun license applications soared in one major province, Liège, doubling in just five years. "The explanation may lie in the current security context, which generates feelings of insecurity among the population", said officials from Liège's Arms Service, the state body in charge of granting gun licenses in the province. In the wake of mass sexual attacks by migrants in Cologne, major German cities all reported an increase of requests for weapons permits. Cologne police estimated that they received at least 304 applications within just two weeks of the mass sexual assaults. In 2015, the city's police force saw only 408 applications total over the entire year.
Switzerland has also seen a drastic rise in gun permit applications, with all 12 cantons reporting an increase from 2015. Interim 2016 figures show a further escalation. "There's no official explanation for the rise, but in general we see a connection to Europe's terrorist attacks," said Hanspeter Kruesi, a police spokesman in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. Gun sellers in Austria also said that interest in weapons grew after a large number of refugees arrived. "Fear is very much a driving force," said Robert Siegert, a gun maker and the weapons trade spokesman at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.
Uninhibited by the obvious alarm of their citizens, the EU nevertheless carries on its immigration policies. "I believe Europeans should understand that we need migration for our economies and for our welfare systems, with the current demographic trend we have to be sustainable," said Federica Mogherini, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. She added that the continent "does not and will not close its doors" to migrants. Mogherini is probably not interested in a recent Chatham House study, in which an average of 55% of the people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries. Only two of the countries surveyed were from Eastern Europe. A ban was supported by 71% of people in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy. In the UK, 47% supported a ban.
Ironically, Western political elites consider this clearly widespread sentiment against Muslim immigration "racist" and "Islamophobic" and consequently disregard it — thereby empowering anti-immigration political parties. Several countries in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, have refused to take in more migrants, and several Balkan countries have completely closed their borders. Czech President Milos Zeman has openly stated, "The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible"…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Whose West?: Daniel Larison, American Conservative, Feb. 21, 2017—Bret Stephens thinks Western societies lack the “civilizational self-belief” that others have: Mr. Lavrov understands something that ought to be increasingly clear to American and European audiences: The West—as a geopolitical bloc, a cultural expression, a moral ideal—is in deep trouble.
It's OK to Say Western Civilization is Superior: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, Mar. 14, 2017—Are those of us who believe contemporary Western civilization, rooted in Europe’s Enlightenment, is superior to what, say, modern China or Egypt have to offer, racist?
"Celebrating" Orientalism: Richard Landes, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2017—Whether one views the impact of Edward Said (1935-2003) on academia as a brilliant triumph or a catastrophic tragedy, few can question the astonishing scope and penetration of his magnum opus, Orientalism.
The West has Finally Woken Up: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 17, 2017—Sometimes it's a good idea to take a step backwards, look at reality from a distance, and see the larger picture, taking in the whole forest rather than just the individual trees.