The modern world is collapsing and political Islam is winning because the international system based on Western political values, with the democratic nation-state at its core, is unraveling, writes Charles Hill, a retired diplomat and Yale University lecturer, in Politico
The future, Hill writes, could see Muslim extremists on the ascendant in the greater Middle East while China and Russia will exercise hegemony in South Central Asia and Eastern Europe, respectively.
Hill, now 78 and a former top aide to George Shultz, Henry Kissinger and Ronald Reagan, posits that "Political Islam may well be incompatible with modernity, but what if it is modernity that is failing in the world today, while political Islam is succeeding?"
The nation-state is an essential element of modernity. Yet Europe — where modernity sprung — has redefined itself as a European Union in which the countries on the continent have ceded their sovereign powers to a shapeless EU that has little international clout.
Political Islam, too, has no use for the nation-state, which it sees as a modern European construct. The modern idea that the people are sovereign is blasphemy under Sharia law. The notion that pluralism is a good is contrary to the Islamic tenet of oneness. Human rights, equality for women, and political tolerance are anathema.
Arab regimes — whether they be monarchies, military juntas, or single-party autocracies — set up along the nation-state model have failed. This sends the message that the modern state system is archaic and that replacing it with a pan-Islamic Caliphate may be sensible, according to Hill.
All the while, the United States is leaning toward pulling back from engagement in the international arena. It has been unwilling to frame the nature of the conflict in the post-9/11 world as anything more than a war on terror.
As a consequence, a new world order is emerging in which universal values shaped by modernity will disappear.
Western-influenced criteria for being welcomed as a legitimate player in the international system are falling by the wayside, writes Hill.
"John Kerry's statement about ISIS having 'no place in the modern world' was oblivious to the possibility that the modern world itself may be coming to an end," writes Hill.
"History is not predetermined to proceed always in a progressive, ever-better direction," he says. "If the current course of events and ideas is not reversed, the coming age will have abandoned its assumptions of open trade, open expression and the ideal of government by consent of the governed.
"Political Islam will be comfortable with itself at last," Hill concludes.
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