Among circulated theories referring to the massive terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, committed by the US branch of the network Al-Qaeda, there is one that considers we are facing the presence of an explicit hegemonic challenge. In other words, the American hegemon of the system, installed at the lead of the world order right after the victorious end of WWII, is challenged at its own home, for the first time, as the very symbols of its power are attacked (Wall Street, Pentagon, The White House).
The terrorist aggression / challenge was carried on with tools determined by the asymmetry in the forces of the hegemon and those of the challenger, but all the more powerful was the world impact of public opinion. The American administration understood – what many other people refused to see, as many prostested frantically against American responses – that the Al-Qaeda attack represented a hegemonic challenge and acted accordingly, launching a global war “against terrorism”.
It did not matter that the disparity daringly launched towards the systemic leadership was not supported by adequate resources and capabilities. As one of the adepts of this “interpretation” of events recently said: “There is a huge gap between the Islamist aspiration of dominating the world and the reality of the relatively poor political, economic, and educational status of Muslims in contemporary times. Muslims comprise 22 percent of the world’s population but account for only 7 percent of its economic output. The number of new book titles published every year in Arabic, the language of 360 million, is the same as those published in Romanian, the mother tongue of only 24 million people. The annual figure for new book titles in Urdu, spoken by some 325 million South Asian Muslims, is comparable to that for Danish, spoken by some 5.6 million.” (Husain Haqqani, After Paris Fighting Just ISIS May Not Be Enough, “The American Interest”, November 17, 2015, http://www.the-american-interest.com/2015/11/17/fighting-just-isis-may-not-be-enough/ ).
This war on terrorism is still ongoing today, and one of the tools used by the USA is the beheading of enemy leadership by usage of drones (there are plenty of people protesting against this action considered illegal). Terrorist attacks in Paris by the half of this month, according to this theory, represent a continuation of the mentioned hegemonic challenge, yet with a changed strategy (this time, the so-called “lone wolfs” were used, and the proof is both the natural and common response by the main representatives of Western civilisation (France, the US, the UK, Germany, Russia), as well as the announcement of their decision to destroy the Islamic state (Daesh).
Obviously, there are other theories as well attempting to define the present terrorist phenomenon. The common one, similarly, is of wide circulation. According to this theory, terrorism is a radical branch of Islamism, promoting Jihad, in other words the historical revenge religiously based on Crusade oppression, justified by a different interpretation of the Quran.
Islam – this theory claims – is not factually involved in this unprecedented rise of Jihad-based radicalism, which is a guilty misinterpretation of its own religion, a phenomenon that may be encountered with other religions, too. Based on this perception, numerous European states consider that the application of multiculturalism is possible, which means that the numerous Islamic communities, shattered in the last few decades in continental metropolises may be assimilated and it is possible to live by their side.
The responses to recent attacks once again showed this variety of perceptions related to the international terrorist phenomenon. In France, President F. Hollande declared that the present war against terrorism is one initiated in order to defend one’s own values, not for territories or other gains, as fundamental values, that need to be defended, are common both to the Christian and to the Islamic religion. According to the United States, the present attacks in Paris, as well as the ulterior warnings in Brussels or in other regions may be considered from a different angle.
As Gideon Rachman wrote on November 20 on his blog: “Watching the debate on terrorism from the US this week has been a bizarre experience. The attacks took place in France – but it seems to be the US where the political demands for ever-tougher border controls are taking hold.” The editorialist of “Financial Times” pointed out that Europeans were fully aware that Europe can never feel completely safe against terrorists, considering the proximity of the Middle East, therefore, they are forced to permanently conform this malformation of Islam, which is the Jihad (the fight against non-Muslims).
On the other hand, Americans appreciate that they can rest assured about the danger posed by Islamic radicalism, as they are protected by the two oceans – an old myth, inapplicable in the present digital era – only if they adopt according measures. Which is what happens today, when the table of the Congress gathers proposals suggesting the banning of Syrian or Islamic emigration in the US, which is precisely the expression of this conviction. This difference of evaluation on the two shores of the Atlantic seems “bizarre” to Rachman.
Differences do not stop here. A famous British historian, Niall Ferguson, teaching at Yale University in the USA, shows that things happening today have an equivalent in time in… the fall of Rome in the fifth century after Christ. For Ferguson, the fall of the Roman Empire occurred in similar circumstances to the ones the European Union is confronted with at this point: “Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.” This terrifying fresco that details the fall of an Empire also includes the great “Volkervanderung”, which is the massive Germanic migration of the fifth century, that started today, in 2015, just like then, in the outskirts of the Empire (North Africa, Levant, South Asia), which not only reaches a number of millions, but it is always contaminated by the “political malaise” in original locations. Therefore, Ferguson emphasises, the fall of the Western empire of Rome occurs again, fifteen centuries later, in all its major data – from the decadence of the Empire to the shocks of migrations, from the loss of Imperial instinct to the bitter sweetness of accumulated wealth – in a strange historical cycle that ends all imperial attempts by the Old Continent.
Undoubtedly, many people considered that this position revealed by Ferguson and shared immediately all over the Western world, as a perfectly suitable one to the process of the West’s irreversible decadence, which has benefited of centrality in the world politics until very recently. In an analysis of the differences between the United Kingdom and France, concerning the treatment of minority-induced extremism, the author does not hesitate to consider writers such as Ferguson Conservatives pessimists, who question the Imperial durability of the European Union. “Conservatives pessimists like the not-so-modest expat historian Niall Ferguson (in the ‘Sunday Times’) and Edward Lucas (‘Economist’ and ‘Times’) are already busy since Friday saying we Europeans are all heading towards sudden collapse like the Roman empire in the fifth century – lazy and soft, ready to be taken over.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/16/france-and-britain-the-differences-in-their-struggle-with-extremism-paris-attacks ).
The responses to this historical interpretation – therefore a similarity of the present complacency of the West with the state of spirit that has sealed the fate of the Western Empire of Rome in the fifth century AD had to appear as well.