Michael Radu, Europe’s Ghost; Tolerance, Jihadism, and the Crisis in the West. Encounter Books, New York, 2009, ISBN -13:978-I-59403-262-2, 773 pp., $35.00.
Radu’s Bio is at https://www.fpri.org/contributor/michael-radu/
Nine years ago I wrote a review (http://americandiplomacy.web.unc.edu/2010/10/europes-ghost/) of a book of critical importance today. I wrote it in an online periodical “American Diplomacy, an excellent periodical managed by mostly retired Foreign Service diplomats and academics from Duke and University of North Carolina. I was able to publish a number of articles in this periodical primarily because my classmate, class of 59 at West Point, was one of the editors, Jim Abrahamson graduated number one academically in my class. He is (now afflicted by a debilitating illness) a towering intellectual giant who could see through the cant of the liberal Left, yet coexist with them….something I find increasingly hard to do. Jim coauthored a book well worth reading entitled Leadership: #Combat Leaders and Lessons. ( On Amazon., $11.95).
The review follows;
“The late Michael Radu was one of a fast disappearing class of intellectuals who could rightly be referred to as a renaissance man. Fluent in several languages, an insightful analyst of contemporary cultural trends, his baleful outlook on contemporary European trends is a cautionary tale for Americans. It is a book not only about the dangers of unchecked and aggressive political Islam taking root in Western civilization, but also the erosion of a once proud and dynamic civilization, retreating into tepid, effete, secular society valuing little other than a comfortable day to day existence.
He describes in painstaking detail the catastrophic consequences of political correctness bordering on the theater of the absurd. He describes the welfare system of the European countries that allows Islamist terrorists to plot their acts of terror in leisure, supported by the state welfare system, not only for themselves but their families as well It is a Europe in which Christianity can be (and is) disparaged and ridiculed but similar attacks on Islam are considered a racist hate crime. It is a Europe in which political asylum is granted a radical who was considered by Saudi authorities as a “religious extremist.” The reader is left to ponder the literal significance of accepting as a refugee someone considered too extreme by one of the most extreme religious states in the world.
The late Shah of Iran frequently spoke of the ‘unholy alliance of the black and the red,” referring to the perverse symbiotic relationship between the left and the religious fanatics. It is ironic but apparently lost on the cognoscenti of the Left that the first victims of a repressive Islamic regime will be them, as was the fate of the Iranian Leftists and communists who clamored for the return of Imam Khomeini from Paris to Iran. But the situation in Europe is not wholly different from the increasing problem of fitting Islamic values and beliefs into the secular American society. We have yet to deal with the attendant problems of promoting free speech versus the national security issues involved by easily inflamed Muslim communities- egged on of course by the Muslim extremists who dominate the Islamic cyberspace, control many mosques and intimidate much of the Muslim community. This issue surfaced spectacularly in the media frenzy surrounding the announced Qur’an burning in an obscure Florida church.
The author painstakingly details the path to radical Islamic jihadism by a number of convicted Muslim terrorists in Europe. Many were following a criminal path when recruited to “re-Islamization.” As has been illustrated many times by analyses of terrorist’s backgrounds, socio-economic status was not a compelling factor, but origins are. The socio-economic status of the Muslim Turks (many of whom are Kurds) is not significantly different from those of the North African and Pakistani immigrants but the overwhelming majority of the terrorists are from the latter group. Radu also takes issue with the “homegrown” theory of European radicalism; these terrorists act spontaneously in response to some perceived affront to Islam and have negligible links to world wide Islamic terror organizations. Radu disabuses the readers of the fallacy of this theory in reviewing the cases of the London Transport Bombers, would be bombers of German trains, and the murderer of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. All the terrorists in these cases had links to terror organizations.
A particularly interesting segment of the book is a critical analysis of the work of Norwegian researcher Petter Nester who examined the social structure of Islamist cells in Europe. Nester concluded that there are four general types of cell members: the entrepreneur, the protégé, the misfit, and the drifter. He defines the first two categories as acting out of devout idealism, while the misfits join to deal with personal problems, and the drifter is influenced of social networks and friends with strong personalities. But Radu asks why so many of the drifters, despite their lack of ideological commitment, would prepare to sacrifice themselves in suicide attacks. Radu believes the answer lies in two factors: the adherence to a version of Islam that gives unity to local and personal grievances, and secondly the strong conviction that only action and violence offer solutions. As an Algerian radical in London put it “ Bin Laden’s skill as an ideologue is to transform particular grievances into a universal struggle.” In the case of the second reason, one might notice the similarity to the “purification of violence” as advocated by the new left guru of the 60’s and 70’s Franz Fanon. In fact, in reading this book the picture of the earlier terrorists as portrayed by Eric Hoffer in his masterpiece The True Believer is an exercise in understanding that all totalitarian belief systems, be they communist, fascist, or Islamist, have many similarities. As Hoffer wrote in 1951:
For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power. They must also have an extravagant conception of the prospects and potentialities of the future.
Another book I bought long ago and have just begun reading is Anti -Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel. Most of it destroys the pseudo intellectual class of European elite of both Right and Left, but primarily of the Left, who habitually use America as the whipping boy for all the many ills of “Old Europe. But he also skerwers the attitude of Europe’s Left those policies toward the Muslim immigrants has set them up for failure. As he writes;
…It goes without saying that genuine bilingualism is a blessing, not a curse; but many young “Beurs” ( term for north Africans) who finish their their adolescence in Academic failure……don’t know Arabic any better than French. Unable to participate in the societies to which these languages are the keys, they are are culturally marginalized
Revel goes on to say that the French policies have resulted in a radicalized Muslim society that sees no future in being French and have lost touch with their own culture beyond sloganeering, e. g., cheering Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Revel makes the points succinctly that French government measures to assist Muslim integration by coddling their demands and avoiding any mention of Islamist terrorism (except the most blatant) have calamitously failed. These French policies were designed to assist in integration of the Muslim community but have resulted in the opposite effect. Virtually parts of the big metropolis areas are lawless and a sort of made up Sharia is observed.
The primary fault i find with Revels book is that he is much too generous to the Americans. For instance he asserts that Americans will never accept socialism, but today we have a major political party that has been largely taken over by socialists, and our tepid policies toward illegal immigrants have begun to mirror Europe’s. Our establishment elite in their defense of the premier terrorist hatchery, the #Muslim Brotherhood is similar to the uneducated and willful blindness of European politicians.