Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses Russia’s stance toward the global jihad:
In the mental subset of many Russians the murder, by a maddened Muslim mob, of the greatest Russian playwright Griboyedov (author of “Woe from Wit, or The Misfortune of Being Clever”) in 1829, cannot be effaced or erased. With his knowledge of Oriental languages, Griboyedov had been posted to Persia and Georgia, and was in the legation in Tehran, serving as minister-plenipotentiary.
Some Christians, including women — Armenians and Georgians — had sought to escape from pursuing Muslims by finding what they thought might be refuge in the Russian embassy. The fanatical mob — plus ca change — naturally ignored the rules about the sanctity of embassies (like all supposedly international rules of war and peace, as the American soldiers have discovered and the Israelis discovered before them, these rules do not apply to Muslims, who have their own guidebooks — Qur’an and hadith and sira — which tell them all they know, and all they need to know).
The place was stormed by the chanting fanatics (“Allahu Akbar” was not invented in Iraq yesterday), Griboyedov killed, and for three days his body was “so ill-treated by the mob” as the entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica (11th, and therefore still well-written, edition) states, that “it was at last recognized only by an old scar on the hand, due to a wound received in a duel.”
Now this killing of someone whose work is taught to every Russian schoolchild has had its impact on Russian consciousnesses. So, of course, have the memories of the wild fanatical tribes in the Caucasus. The very phrase “vostochnij narod” — an “Eastern people,” readily evokes this wildness and fanaticism. But in Soviet times, while Islam was seen as a “religion” and therefore to be treated with as much ferocity as other “religions” — no quarter was given — in post-Soviet times Islam continues to be seen as a “religion” and has been allowed to flourish, and mosques to be built again, without a clear understanding that the only thing that permitted what development of science there has been in Central Asia was accomplished not despite, but because, Islam had been tamed. It will be instructive to compare the results between, for example, Kazakhstan (with its very large non-Muslim population, and its supposed Muslims often nominally so) and Uzbekistan, where the forces of Islam, naturally supported by Saudi and other Arabs, are helping to bring the country into disarray and to undo possibly the best thing the Soviet power ever managed to achieve — the de-islamization of the elites, defined not economically but intellectually, of Central Asia.
Meanwhile, the demographic problem in Russia proper remains, grows, and ought to — but still does not — preoccupy all those who care about the continued existence of a place called Russia. And who, in Russian history, was more sparkling, amusing, frivolous, altogether wonderful and completely un-Islamic in every way, than Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin? So it will be a contest in Russia: the spirit of Pushkin, or the spirit of the sheikhs, mullahs, imams, of the Bin Ladens and Al-Qaradawis, and ultimately, of what is in Qur’an and hadith and sira.
Which will intelligent Russians prefer? And will they act to protect their own heritage, which gives meaning and life to their language — or will they allow here, as in parts of Western Europe, demographic trends to continue unchecked, and that demography to be destiny?
The Russian government, the Russian press, and many people in Russia persist in wallowing in resentment of the United States. They appear to believe that we are delighted that Russia is no longer as powerful as it once was, and are delighted at its disarray. Nonsense. The United States is hardly paying attention to Russia, and there is no gloating. Yet Putin, perhaps still jousting at Cold War windmills, plays up to the Iranians and the Chechen jihadists rather than make common cause with the United States against the jihadists — an option, of course, that the U.S. is not offering.
Yet now that Arabs, including Saudis, are in Chechnya, now that planes are blown up, and in a Moscow theatre 800 people taken hostage, and the Muslims allowed to leave while the Infidels are kept under guard, now that the vocabulary of the Chechens has become classically Islamic, one wonders how long Putin’s disconnection from reality can last.
Russian policy should be based on a realistic assessment of threats. Americans are not planning to flood across the border into Siberia, or to take over the Caucasus. Islam contains a clear geopolitical program: the dar al-Islam must swallow up the dar al-Harb. It can be achieved slowly. It need not be achieved by military conquest; in fact, at this point, it is demographic conquest, without terrorism or other forms of qital, combat, that are already proving so effective in Western Europe.
Instead of resentment about “losing” the Cold War — the Russians did not “lose” it, they simply came to realize, helped along by American resolve, that Communism itself was a failure — there needs to be a sober assessment of present-day realities. There is no reason to keep America at a distance.
Surely Putin should be able to see by now what Islam is all about. Surely he can see, just in Moscow itself, that there is a demographic problem. Soviet Islamists were often very acute. They were not held in check by any undue respect for something called a “religion.” They were more willing to see a political ideology, to which some features of worship were attached. They should be helping to fashion a policy that will prevent a second Zolotaya Orda, Golden Horde. One hopes they come to their senses sooner than Western Europeans give any sign of doing. Perhaps they should remind themselves of, to begin with, the Bulgarian atrocities committed by the Turks between 1875-76. Start with a little pan-Slavism, with Serbs and Bulgarians, and work forward from that.
Russians want a task equal to their putative power, and what they see as their rightful place in the world. Helping the Old World come to its senses about Islam is such a worthy task. They might just consider it.