As we have pointed out here many times, so much strategic thinking about the challenge of the global jihad is dominated by sclerotic thinking — not only a refusal to face reality (as pandemic as that is), but also by an apparent inability to digest the evidence of the last few decades. Witness the rather offhanded remark by the great historian Paul Johnson in his essay “The Biggest Threat We Face” in National Review:
International terrorism, in its Muslim-extremist variety, is a world phenomenon. In my view it will eventually blow itself out, probably by the collapse of the Muslim world into secularism. But in the meantime it constitutes the biggest threat that Western civilization faces.
The “collapse of the Muslim world into secularism”? Dr. Johnson, I’m terribly sorry to disappoint you, but the Muslim world was much more secular 100 years ago and fifty years ago than it is now. Early in the twentieth century Muslim reformers such as Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida gave rise to widespread hope that Islam could be brought into line with Western principles of human rights. Political systems based to varying degrees on Western models, not Sharia, were established all over the Islamic world in the 20th century; now they are everywhere under pressure by increasingly numerous and powerful adherents of Islamic law. Even 35 years ago in Cairo or Karachi it was much more common to see women in Western dress than it is now.
No, Dr. Johnson, the Islamic world at this point is much less likely to “collapse” into secularism than it is to do away in due course with non-Islamic government altogether.