Commentary Magazine


Topic: Tony Blankley

Re: Eurabia Debunked

Mark Steyn and Tony Blankley, both commentators for whom I have considerable respect, have responded to my “Eurabia Debunked” and a few other articles taking exception to their warnings about the Muslimization of Europe.

Mark cherry-picks data showing Muslims are supposedly 10 percent of the population in France, that one-fifth of British university students are Muslim, that Brussels’ governing socialist caucus is majority Muslim, etc. Actually, there is considerable uncertainty about these numbers because there is no definitive accounting of Muslims in Europe (or anywhere else). Consider this Pew study, which finds Muslims are only 6 percent of the French population, 5 perccent in Germany, and 2.7 percent in the United Kingdom. Overall, Europe has about 38 million Muslims, or 5 percent of the population, but most of them are concentrated in Russia, Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia.

If there is uncertainty about how many Muslims are in Europe today, there is even greater cloudiness about how many there will be in the future. As this Newsweek article notes, the case made by Mark and other alarmists is based on the worst-case reading of long-term population projections, which are notoriously unreliable. As William Underhill writes in Newsweek:

For the number of Muslims to outnumber non-Muslims by midcentury, it would require either breeding on a scale rarely seen in history or for immigration to continue at a pace that’s now politically unacceptable. More likely, new controls will slow Muslim immigration. The birthrate for Muslim immigrants is also likely to continue to decline, as it has tended to do, with greater affluence and better health care.

That doesn’t mean we have nothing to worry about. Blankley is right to note the “powerful impact of even very small numbers of determined people in a host country riddled with guilt and political correctness.” David Frum makes a powerful point about how Britain has become a center of Muslim radicalization. That obviously is of great concern to us because of the easy access that British subject have to the U.S.

I agree with Steyn, Blankley, et al. that radical Muslims will continue to be a major problem in Europe. I just don’t think they will take over and turn the continent into “Eurabia.” In fact, there are already many signs of a backlash building — for instance, the Swiss banning the construction of new minarets, the French banning the veil in school and now proposing to ban burkas in public, and the British banning the radical group Islam4UK. I still see considerable resiliency in European civilization and great latent power that can and will be deployed against Muslim radicals who seriously threaten internal order.

Mark Steyn and Tony Blankley, both commentators for whom I have considerable respect, have responded to my “Eurabia Debunked” and a few other articles taking exception to their warnings about the Muslimization of Europe.

Mark cherry-picks data showing Muslims are supposedly 10 percent of the population in France, that one-fifth of British university students are Muslim, that Brussels’ governing socialist caucus is majority Muslim, etc. Actually, there is considerable uncertainty about these numbers because there is no definitive accounting of Muslims in Europe (or anywhere else). Consider this Pew study, which finds Muslims are only 6 percent of the French population, 5 perccent in Germany, and 2.7 percent in the United Kingdom. Overall, Europe has about 38 million Muslims, or 5 percent of the population, but most of them are concentrated in Russia, Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia.

If there is uncertainty about how many Muslims are in Europe today, there is even greater cloudiness about how many there will be in the future. As this Newsweek article notes, the case made by Mark and other alarmists is based on the worst-case reading of long-term population projections, which are notoriously unreliable. As William Underhill writes in Newsweek:

For the number of Muslims to outnumber non-Muslims by midcentury, it would require either breeding on a scale rarely seen in history or for immigration to continue at a pace that’s now politically unacceptable. More likely, new controls will slow Muslim immigration. The birthrate for Muslim immigrants is also likely to continue to decline, as it has tended to do, with greater affluence and better health care.

That doesn’t mean we have nothing to worry about. Blankley is right to note the “powerful impact of even very small numbers of determined people in a host country riddled with guilt and political correctness.” David Frum makes a powerful point about how Britain has become a center of Muslim radicalization. That obviously is of great concern to us because of the easy access that British subject have to the U.S.

I agree with Steyn, Blankley, et al. that radical Muslims will continue to be a major problem in Europe. I just don’t think they will take over and turn the continent into “Eurabia.” In fact, there are already many signs of a backlash building — for instance, the Swiss banning the construction of new minarets, the French banning the veil in school and now proposing to ban burkas in public, and the British banning the radical group Islam4UK. I still see considerable resiliency in European civilization and great latent power that can and will be deployed against Muslim radicals who seriously threaten internal order.

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“Eurabia” Debunked

Is Europe committing demographic and cultural suicide? Is the continent turning into “Eurabia” — a land populated primarily by Muslims? That is the case made in a series of popular books by the likes of Bernard Lewis, Mark Steyn, Tony Blankley, and Oriana Fallaci. Personally I’m skeptical. For much the same reason that I was skeptical about the prospects of a Y2K or avian-flu catastrophe: disasters that are so widely predicted seldom occur because corrective action can usually be taken in time. Justin Vaisse of the Brookings Institution, formerly a French Foreign Ministry staffer, suggests some other reasons for skepticism in this Foreign Policy article.

He points out that, while there are currently 18 million Muslims in Western Europe, or 4.5% of the population, and there will be increases in the future, “it’s hard to imagine that Europe will even reach the 10 percent mark (except in some countries or cities).” Why not? Because “fertility rates among Muslims are sharply declining as children of immigrants gradually conform to prevailing social and economic norms. Nor is immigration still a major source of newly minted European Muslims. Only about 500,000 people a year come legally to Europe from Muslim-majority countries, with an even smaller number coming illegally — meaning that the annual influx is a fraction of a percent of the European population.”

Moreover, he writes, fertility rates are actually rising in European countries: “In 2008, fertility rates in France and Ireland were more than two children per woman, close to the U.S. (and replacement) level; in Britain and Sweden they were above 1.9. And though in the 1990s European countries set an all-time record for low fertility rates, figures are now rising in all EU states except Germany.” And, no, those increasing fertility figures are not due to Muslims alone. Although Muslim migrant women have a lot of children, overall they “have a negligible impact on overall fertility rates, adding a maximum of 0.1 to any country’s average.”

Vaisse adds another reason we shouldn’t worry. He cites polling data to show that “to large majorities of Europe’s Muslims, Islam is neither an exclusive identity nor a marching order. Recent poll data from Gallup show that most European Muslims happily combine their national and religious identities, and a 2009 Harvard University working paper by Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris demonstrates that in the long term, the basic cultural values of Muslim migrants evolve to conform to the predominant culture of the European society in which they live.”

I would add another point: that continental societies have more resiliency than it may appear on the surface to Americans who caricature Europeans as effete surrender monkeys. While most European nations are not willing to engage in vigorous military action overseas (France and Britain are partial exceptions) they have shown far more ruthlessness in policing their own borders. France, in particular, as this AEI study notes, has been extremely aggressive in going after Islamist terror cells, giving their law enforcement and judicial authorities more power than in the U.S. Islamist excesses such as the killing of Theo van Gogh or the attempted murder of the Muhammad cartoonist are triggering a backlash. Europe, I predict, will not be subsumed into the umma as so many alarmists claim, based on worst-case projections.

Is Europe committing demographic and cultural suicide? Is the continent turning into “Eurabia” — a land populated primarily by Muslims? That is the case made in a series of popular books by the likes of Bernard Lewis, Mark Steyn, Tony Blankley, and Oriana Fallaci. Personally I’m skeptical. For much the same reason that I was skeptical about the prospects of a Y2K or avian-flu catastrophe: disasters that are so widely predicted seldom occur because corrective action can usually be taken in time. Justin Vaisse of the Brookings Institution, formerly a French Foreign Ministry staffer, suggests some other reasons for skepticism in this Foreign Policy article.

He points out that, while there are currently 18 million Muslims in Western Europe, or 4.5% of the population, and there will be increases in the future, “it’s hard to imagine that Europe will even reach the 10 percent mark (except in some countries or cities).” Why not? Because “fertility rates among Muslims are sharply declining as children of immigrants gradually conform to prevailing social and economic norms. Nor is immigration still a major source of newly minted European Muslims. Only about 500,000 people a year come legally to Europe from Muslim-majority countries, with an even smaller number coming illegally — meaning that the annual influx is a fraction of a percent of the European population.”

Moreover, he writes, fertility rates are actually rising in European countries: “In 2008, fertility rates in France and Ireland were more than two children per woman, close to the U.S. (and replacement) level; in Britain and Sweden they were above 1.9. And though in the 1990s European countries set an all-time record for low fertility rates, figures are now rising in all EU states except Germany.” And, no, those increasing fertility figures are not due to Muslims alone. Although Muslim migrant women have a lot of children, overall they “have a negligible impact on overall fertility rates, adding a maximum of 0.1 to any country’s average.”

Vaisse adds another reason we shouldn’t worry. He cites polling data to show that “to large majorities of Europe’s Muslims, Islam is neither an exclusive identity nor a marching order. Recent poll data from Gallup show that most European Muslims happily combine their national and religious identities, and a 2009 Harvard University working paper by Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris demonstrates that in the long term, the basic cultural values of Muslim migrants evolve to conform to the predominant culture of the European society in which they live.”

I would add another point: that continental societies have more resiliency than it may appear on the surface to Americans who caricature Europeans as effete surrender monkeys. While most European nations are not willing to engage in vigorous military action overseas (France and Britain are partial exceptions) they have shown far more ruthlessness in policing their own borders. France, in particular, as this AEI study notes, has been extremely aggressive in going after Islamist terror cells, giving their law enforcement and judicial authorities more power than in the U.S. Islamist excesses such as the killing of Theo van Gogh or the attempted murder of the Muhammad cartoonist are triggering a backlash. Europe, I predict, will not be subsumed into the umma as so many alarmists claim, based on worst-case projections.

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Despite the Dithering, We Mustn’t Quit the Fight in Afghanistan

Tony Blankley, in a column headlined “If We’re Not in to Win, Bring Our Troops Home,” gives voice to what I suspect will be an increasingly common viewpoint on the Right. He begins by expressing frustration with President Obama’s doubts and hesitations over Afghanistan — as exemplified by leaks from the White House, according to which it would be too expensive to send enough troops. This, at a time when Democrats are avidly pushing multi-trillion-dollar health-care bills. He concludes:

This president and this White House do not have it in them to lead our troops to victory in Afghanistan. So they shouldn’t try. The price will be high for whatever foreign policy failures we will endure in the next three years. Let’s not add to that price the pointless murder of our finest young troops in a war their leader does not believe in.

I sympathize with his viewpoint and share his frustration, but I have to dissent from his conclusion. As discouraging as the White House deliberations have become, Barack Obama is the commander in chief and will be so at least until 2013. We don’t have the luxury of giving up the war effort now and hope for the best in the future. A more hawkish successor, if there is one, will have, to put it mildly, a difficult time dealing with a situation in which the Taliban have taken over most of Afghanistan — which is what would happen if we pulled our troops out. That result would be a catastrophe on many levels. It would not only be a betrayal of our commitment to the people of Afghanistan; it would also create terrorist safe havens in that country and give fresh impetus to Islamist militants seeking to overthrow the government of Pakistan.

We as conservatives don’t have the luxury of saying that if Obama won’t fight the war as vigorously as we want, we shouldn’t fight at all. Even a reduced level of commitment can help to stave off a catastrophe. But it would be far, far better for the president to make the necessary commitment to win — an objective within our power to achieve, but only if the White House provides the resources and commitment necessary.

The danger here is that we may wind up re-enacting the final stages of the Korean War — the period from 1951 to 1953, which followed the initial push by American-led forces to the Yalu River and then the devastating counterattack by Chinese troops, which was just barely halted north of Seoul. Thereafter, U.S. and other United Nations troops slogged it out for two years in a miserable deadlock that resulted in copious casualties but did not change the results on the ground.

Would it have been better for President Truman or his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, to have said that, since we aren’t seeking total victory over North Korea and China, we should just pull out? Clearly not, because even a deadlock was better than a Communist triumph. But the final two years of the war were still a miserable experience that killed and maimed far too many people. We should do whatever we can to avoid such a scenario in Afghanistan, short of actually conceding defeat.

Tony Blankley, in a column headlined “If We’re Not in to Win, Bring Our Troops Home,” gives voice to what I suspect will be an increasingly common viewpoint on the Right. He begins by expressing frustration with President Obama’s doubts and hesitations over Afghanistan — as exemplified by leaks from the White House, according to which it would be too expensive to send enough troops. This, at a time when Democrats are avidly pushing multi-trillion-dollar health-care bills. He concludes:

This president and this White House do not have it in them to lead our troops to victory in Afghanistan. So they shouldn’t try. The price will be high for whatever foreign policy failures we will endure in the next three years. Let’s not add to that price the pointless murder of our finest young troops in a war their leader does not believe in.

I sympathize with his viewpoint and share his frustration, but I have to dissent from his conclusion. As discouraging as the White House deliberations have become, Barack Obama is the commander in chief and will be so at least until 2013. We don’t have the luxury of giving up the war effort now and hope for the best in the future. A more hawkish successor, if there is one, will have, to put it mildly, a difficult time dealing with a situation in which the Taliban have taken over most of Afghanistan — which is what would happen if we pulled our troops out. That result would be a catastrophe on many levels. It would not only be a betrayal of our commitment to the people of Afghanistan; it would also create terrorist safe havens in that country and give fresh impetus to Islamist militants seeking to overthrow the government of Pakistan.

We as conservatives don’t have the luxury of saying that if Obama won’t fight the war as vigorously as we want, we shouldn’t fight at all. Even a reduced level of commitment can help to stave off a catastrophe. But it would be far, far better for the president to make the necessary commitment to win — an objective within our power to achieve, but only if the White House provides the resources and commitment necessary.

The danger here is that we may wind up re-enacting the final stages of the Korean War — the period from 1951 to 1953, which followed the initial push by American-led forces to the Yalu River and then the devastating counterattack by Chinese troops, which was just barely halted north of Seoul. Thereafter, U.S. and other United Nations troops slogged it out for two years in a miserable deadlock that resulted in copious casualties but did not change the results on the ground.

Would it have been better for President Truman or his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, to have said that, since we aren’t seeking total victory over North Korea and China, we should just pull out? Clearly not, because even a deadlock was better than a Communist triumph. But the final two years of the war were still a miserable experience that killed and maimed far too many people. We should do whatever we can to avoid such a scenario in Afghanistan, short of actually conceding defeat.

Read Less




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