Dr Walter Russel Mead, whom I admire and whose columns I follow, has an interesting take on the decline of islam here.
I’m not at all sure I agree with Dr Mead’s conclusion, however: “… the failure of the Arab world to … find a way to be economically and politically successful under modern economic conditions without losing the core cultural and social values.”
If one is to see these values as only those propagated over the past few centuries as islam has been overtaken by its fundamentalists and declined into an obvious cult of death, barbarity and savagery, sure. But if one defines its “core cultural and social values” as those which earlier caused it to rise among nations, then, no.
The “core” values of a civilization can be seen as those which cause it to succeed as a civilization, which islam did for many centuries, at which time it was able, through those “core” values to be “economically and politically successful,” to tolerate others within its midst, to reach heights in art, math and science.
When a civilization is in decline, as islam has been for the last couple of centuries (see Lewis, Bernard, “What Went Wrong, The Clash between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East”), then it becomes difficult to argue or conclude, as has Dr Mead, that its “core… values” are the problem.
No. The problem, and the reason it can no longer compete, is because it allowed its far-right fundamentalists to overthrow those core values, and turn them into what drives the savagery of a formerly successful civilization to failure.
Interesting as it may be, however, to discuss WHY it cannot compete with the modern world, the WHY is not concerning to us today – only the THAT: It – provably – CANNOT compete with modernity, and its descent into savagery only is accelerating. Eradicating it is the only civilized alternative for the billion people trapped in it – and the 5 billion at risk from it.