[A]s the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the Islamist enemy, far from being annihilated or discredited, let alone ground into the dust, is alive and kicking. Some of its heads have been cut off, including one named Osama bin Laden that stuck out its hideous neck more than the others, but like the monster Hydra of Greek mythology, Islamism continues to grow new ones. Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists managed to launch other urban attacks after 9/11 in London, Madrid, Moscow and Mumbai, even if on a smaller scale. The Taliban hasn’t only fought the Western coalition to a standstill in Afghanistan, but seems on the verge of taking the country over again. Nation-building, a hit in post-war Japan, Italy and (West) Germany, is a flop in Mesopotamia and the Hindu Kush.
As we reach the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, terrorists seem to have the upper hand. They make us practise defensive stripping at airports from Brussels to Seattle. Far from retreating, the Islamists are boldly developing nuclear capability in Iran, a country they own, while manoeuvring to take over countries that already have nuclear weapons, such as Pakistan, or strong military traditions, such as Turkey.
If this isn’t enough of a witch’s brew, add a dash of the unfathomable “Arab Spring” that may yet result in the replacement of nasty tyrants with even nastier ones who despise us in addition to despising their own people; then throw in a feeble democracy flopping about like a fish on dry land in Iraq, and that’s what the West has to show for 10 years of continuous warfare, thousands of casualties and a ballast of billions about to capsize the world’s economy.
With this track record, far from being able to export our institutions, our previously exported institutions are losing their grip. As the American commentator Clifford D. May has observed, the Islamists of ostensibly Westernized Turkey are “positioning Turkey as a contender for leadership of the Muslim world, making it both an ally and a rival of Arabs and Persians eager for the same role.”
Ten years of war after 9/11 has made us sponsors of a competition among would-be Caliphs. As impresarios of resurgent Islam, we’re doing a great job.Yay, us. ;)