Since September 11, 2001 I have been obsessed in my attempt to understand the mind of an enemy that has been a threat to Western Civilization in one way or another for almost fourteen centuries. The latest books I am reading on the subject, The Legacy of Jihad by Andrew Bostom and Chechen Jihad by Yosef Bodansky are two more links in a chain to my education on this vitally important subject.
Gates of Vienna is one of the blogs that I visit daily. Maintained by Baron Boddissey and Dymphna, it provides a varied, but generally Euro-centric, view of the war against Islamo-Fascism. In fact the epigraph below their masthead reads: “At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war.”
On Saturday, they posted an article entitled “Sir Edward Grey Revisited”:
Sir Edward Grey was Foreign Secretary in the Asquith government at the start of the Great War in 1914. His name is well known, not because he was a remarkable or accomplished Foreign Secretary, but simply because he had the misfortune to occupy his office at the historical moment when European civilization decided to destroy itself.
In fact, through his ineptness and miscalculations during the prodromal period of 1905 to 1914, Sir Edward helped contribute to the catastrophe. It’s doubtful whether even Gladstone or Palmerston could have staved off the inevitable, but Sir Edward Grey was no Gladstone or Palmerston.
He did, however, leave us with a statement which became an epitaph for Europe prior to 1914. Just before the war began he said to a friend, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
He was quite right; the lamps were not re-lit within his lifetime, nor within the several lifetimes that have elapsed since. In fact, it is doubtful that they can be rekindled in time to illuminate a continent that could recognizably be called “Europe”.
The Great War gutted the vital core from Europe. Western Civilization still manages to lurch along, but its beating heart no longer resides within Europe.
Sir Edward Grey comes to mind because the year 2008 is starting to look a lot like 1911 or 1913. Events in disparate parts of the globe, but particularly in Europe, are converging again. Another grand spectacle seems to be in the offing, but this time it doesn’t promise mud and trenches and military stalemate. There won’t be any mobilization or declarations of war on this occasion. No Western Front or armistice will make the coming conflict neat and well-defined.
Civilization will collapse piecemeal and in slow motion, but collapse it will.
Are the lights to be extinguished here as well? Read the whole piece. It’s well worth your time.