Resurrecting Christendom: A BlueprintNews Abroad
Last September Jim Pinkerton penned a brilliant cover story for the American Conservative entitled “The Once & Future Christendom,”1 wherein he argued that Western civilization could only be saved from the onslaught of global radical Islam by uniting under the umbrella of its shared Christian heritage. He illuminated his thesis with trenchant examples taken from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and in fact named his plan the “Shire strategy,” after the homeland of the hobbit heroes of the trilogy.2 This essay constitutes a sequel, fine-tuning of Pinkerton’s ideas and a further laying of the groundwork for re-establishing a political Christendom.
One major reason that immediately springs to mind for doing so is the threat of the creeping Islamization of Western civilization’s original home, Europe—a process no less a figure than the Archbishop of Canterbury deems inevitable.3 How much solace, then, might be found in the fact that on a global scale the world’s largest religion will continue to be, for many years, Christianity? Apologists with their incessant braying about “Islam, the world’s fastest growing religion” fail to recognize the explosive growth of “Southern Christianity” in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Currently there are some 2.1 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims, worldwide. By 2025 Christians will number about 2.6 billion, still hundreds of millions ahead of the Muslim headcount.4 Even so, as Pinkerton points out, an Islamic Europe would be a serious, if not mortal, blow to the political survival of the West.5 What would it profit Christian civilization to hold on to (most of) the whole world and yet lose its European soul?
But is a modern-day Holy League—originally created in the 16th century to stave off the jihad-driven Ottoman Empire—really necessary to save Europe and defend the Christian West? Why not find some less offensive (at least to secularists) and archaic basis for unity? Other bases have been proposed, after all. Last fall Christopher Hitchens in the Wall Street Journal argued for the creation of an “Anglosphere,”6 an idea he in turn borrowed from Robert Conquest.7 In this view the English language could serve as the glue for an alliance of not just the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Conquest) but also even India and South Africa (Hitchens). The Anglosphere, as envisioned by Hitchens, is basically the former British Commonwealth writ larger.8
But could a mere linguistic league hope to survive, let alone counter, a religious and political ideology as potent as Islam? Remember, the Islamic world is already united, to some extent, politically. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, a common front of some 60 majority-Muslim nations, was created almost 40 years ago. The OIC regularly speaks up on behalf of this planet’s Muslims, making political demands on their behalf.9 As Bernard Lewis has pointed out, there is to date no other such religious bloc on earth—in fact, the very idea seems “anachronistic, and even absurd.” But is it? We are in a war of ideas, every bit as much as IEDs, interrogations and Predator drones. Linguistic unity, while not to be dismissed, bespeaks process, not substance. I’m not sure anyone will fight and die for the English language—even if the agenda did include the prohibition of “press 1 for English” by businesses.
What about the United Nations? As Pinkerton points out, “the Blue Helmets have fallen and they can’t get up.” For every alleged U.N. “success,” like Congo, there’s a resounding failure like Somalia or Bosnia. But even if the U.N. were hitting 1.000 in peace keeping, that would be beside the point: the U.N., like the hapless League of Nations before it, was intended to be a world parliamentary body—and thus, by definition, is no more obligated to defend the West than it is the Islamic, Sino, Indic or any of the other potentially clashing global civilizations which Samuel Huntington was so pilloried for correctly identifying.11 In fact, it often seems to operate as an anti-Western body.
We’ll always have NATO, it seems—so why not rely on that organization? It was created to keep Soviet armor from reaching Paris via the Fulda Gap and yet still exists, almost two decades after the USSR was consigned to the ash heap of history—and it’s bigger than ever, the original 12 states now having grown to 26. And since 25 of NATO’s 26 member countries are majority Christian—Turkey being the lone exception—why not make Bin Ladin’s day and declare NATO a de facto Christian alliance? It is, after all, assisting the U.S. in Afghanistan, if not in Iraq.
Because NATO writ large is too Eurocentric. And that would undercut the struggle against the jihadists and caliphists in two ways: it would lay the alliance open to charges of neo-colonialism; and, more importantly, it would geographically limit the trans-continental front required to deal with an Islamic world that stretches from Morocco to Malaysia. Indeed, as distasteful as it may be to secular fundamentalists, the only global civilization with the geographical expanse, politico-economic clout and—face it—military heft to put the genie of Islamic expansionism back into its Middle Eastern lamp, and keep it there, is the Christian one. Furthermore, while Europe’s assumption of post-Christian status may be overstated, the fact is that of the world’s nations with the 22 largest Christian populations,12 only seven are east of the Atlantic and west of the Urals:
- U.S.: 235 million
- Brazil: 170 million
- Mexico: 103 million
- Russia: 99 million
- Philippines: 84 million
- France: 57 million
- Germany: 56 million
- Nigeria: 54 million
- China: 53 million
- Italy: 51 million
- Ethiopia: 47 million
- Congo: 46 million
- UK: 43 million
- Colombia: 42 million
- Ukraine: 42 million
- Spain: 38 million
- Argentina: 38 million
- Poland: 37 million
- South Africa: 35 million
- Kenya: 29 million
- Venezuela: 26 million
- Canada: 23 million
Here’s how this data translates onto the world map:13
The orange Islamic world may control the “heartland” of the Afro-Eurasian landmass, but the blue Christian world dominates most of the rest of the planet (“atheist” China and Hindu India excepted), as well as the seas.
Again, as Pinkerton points out, the purpose of the majority-Christian parts of the planet uniting against the Muslim world would NOT be to impose democracy or in any way to change that civilization—much less to wage a new “Crusade” (although we’d better inure ourselves to that inevitable charge): “not conquest, not occupation, not ‘liberation’” but rather “feasible strategies of containment, even quarantine.” A cordon sanitaire would be created around the Islamic sandbox until Muslims learn to play nice and stop inflicting both their near and far neighbors with anti-democratic, anti-women, anti-tolerance, and anti-modernist ideology—not to mention IEDs, assassinations and plane-bombs. And until that violent minority of Muslims obsessed with creating a global caliphate is eliminated, or at least convinced of the fruitlessness of their quest—hopefully by their own co-religionists, backed up by the resolve and non-interventionist support of the larger Christian world.
Pinkerton calls this the “Shire Strategy”—but there’s a better analogy from Tolkien. Other than four hobbits who rode off to help in the war against the arch-expansionist Sauron, the Shire folk stayed home—fat, happy and clueless about the serious and deadly conflict being fought to protect them. Even Frodo, the hobbit who eventually destroyed the Ring of Power, would never have been able to do so had not Men—dedicated survivors of the destroyed Kingdom of Arnor (called, fortuitously by Tolkien, Rangers!) and committed soldiers from the extant kingdom of Gondor—engaged Sauron’s legions in both covert and overt ops. As Boromir put it at the Council of Elrond: “it is by the blood of our people that your lands are kept safe.” Rather than Pinkerton’s Shire Strategy, we should envision the rather more muscular Gondor Strategy, which would entail setting a “Watchful Peace” upon the bloody borders of Islam, as in Tolkien the most poweful human kingdom did against Sauron’s land of Mordor.
This strategy would be implemented by a Global Christian Alliance, formed by representatives from the aforementioned countries with the largest Christian populations, minus the problematic ones: Nigeria (as many Muslims as Christians, thus on the fault line between the civilizations); China (officially Marxist); Congo (too politically weak and unstable); and Kenya (see “Congo”). At first perhaps only one or two official delegates from each nation would be sent to the formative meetings in the de facto, working “capital” of the GCA. Rome is undoubtedly the best location, since the only other truly viable candidate, Jerusalem, might be deemed too hot a political potato (although meeting there would demonstrate the GCA’s dedication to the preservation of Israel). Eventually, as the mechanics of the alliance are ironed out, some sort of proportional representation might well be incorporated, with the U.S. getting the most delegates, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Russia, etc. This would acknowledge the reality of the power differential between the nation-states involved—for this is not a revamped World Council of Churches, but a political and military alliance grounded in a shared Christian culture.
Note, too, that Pinkerton’s four main Christian blocs—Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and African—would all be represented (as, for that matter, would the Mormons, largely subsumed under the Protestant American category). The foundational membership for the GCA would, under this plan, include a majority of Roman Catholic nations, several Protestant ones (including the largest and most powerful, the U.S.) and two Orthodox ones (Russia, Ethiopia), with African Christianity represented by South Africa as well as Ethiopia. Also, borrowing boldly from Conquest, very early on the GCA would create both permanent Foreign Policy and Military Committees, each of which would have as its purview, unlike NATO, the entire planet14—or at least the non-Muslim parts of it. Perhaps most importantly “these two committees would also provide a unified approach to political warfare—concentrating information and expertise and insisting on the major role of this side of the struggle.” Indeed, the GCA, like Conquest’s posited Anglosphere, “might eventually…raise or sponsor its own forces on a limited scale.”15 Unlike Conquest’s Anglosphere, however, the GCA would not have as its stated ultimate aim the total political unification of its constituent members—although it would not rule that out—but rather the goal would be to preserve, protect and defend Christian civilization against those who would destroy or subvert it, primarily Muslim enemies. Other civilizational blocs, as they continue to unite politically—the Indian/Hindu one most obviously, but also the Buddhist one—could be accorded “observer status” at GCA meetings for discussing joint counter-Islamic strategies.
But it would be the GCA, in effect, protecting itself and the rest of the planet from the one civilizational bloc that contains powerful elements opposed to modernity. Won’t the Muslim umma feel itself surrounded and marked out by the rest of the world? Perhaps. But the cold, hard, irrefutable fact is that the Islamic world’s jihadists drew the religious scimitar first, with too many of their co-religionists standing by and—still--holding the scabbard. And as Eowyn, the only martial heroine of The Lord of the Rings, said “the women of our country learned long ago that those without swords can still die upon them.” (Indeed, it should be women most staunchly in favor of a GCA, since it is Christian civilization that has accorded women more rights than any in history.) It is time for the Christian West to draw its own broadsword, first and foremost to defend itself but also to defend the rest of this planet from the threat of the caliphate. But make no mistake, there will be blood before the idea of a global caliphate is abandoned.
This politically-reunited Christendom would, at a minimum, be worth the effort required to create it for the following reasons:
- most importantly, staving off the creation of a global caliphate and the destruction of Western civilization as we know it that would follow
- marrying the superior ELINT (electronic intelligence) and SIGINT (signals intelligence) of the U.S. to the better HUMINT (human intelligence) of member states more used to dealing with the Islamic threat on the ground, such as Russia and Ethiopia
- reducing tensions and possible hostilities between member states, in general between the four Christian sub-blocs and in particular between neo-Orthodox Russia and the rest of the West
- subsuming, to some extent, American foreign policy into a joint GCA one might help tame the interventionist, “cowboy” strain of the world’s only hyperpower and allays fears of the dreaded “American Empire” on both the domestic Left and Right and in the rest of the world.
In the final book of Tolkien’s trilogy Aragorn, once enthroned as King of the West, did not launch reprisal counterattacks on the East and the South for those lands having supported Sauron’s invasions. Rather “the King pardoned the Easterlings that had given themselves up, and sent them away free and he made peace….”16 But that was only after such violent fighting that to the former belligerents “came only a tale from far off: a rumour of the wrath and terror of Gondor.”17 The disparate factions of the Christian world can no longer afford to stumble through history politically scattered, divided and leaderless. We must rally around our common religious core and demonstrate to the followers of Muhammad that we are determined, as fellow monotheists, to become their good friends—even if we must, to get there, first become their unvanquishable enemies.
2 I will assume some familiarity on the reader’s part with the trilogy, either the books or the blockbuster movies, lest this article turn into a disquisition on Middle-earth.
4 See Philip Jenkins’ writings, in particular The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (2007), especially pp. 2-6.
5 The “West” of course encompasses parts of the planet that really aren’t, geographically, such as Australia and Russia—the term having become primarily a cultural one now.
7The Dragons of Expectation ( 2005), Appendix B, “An Anglo sphere in the Neosphere (A Political Exercise),” pp. 221ff.
8 “When Your Only Weapon Is Shame,” The Economist, Nov. 24, 2007.
10The Crisis of Islam (2003), pp. 13-14.
11The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1993)
14 Conquest, p. 223
15Ibid., pp. 223-24
16The Return of the King (1955), p. 305.
17Ibid., p. 151.