I don’t worry about much, but I do wonder how things could play out.
I wonder how long you can push and poke the European nations before they react with unmitigated fury. It is just over two generations since the biggest conflict in human history. A conflict initiated by Europeans when they were pushed far enough. I wonder what it would take to rile them again.
There will be a lot of blog posts written about Paris. A lot will send sympathy, a lot will call for peace and reconciliation. More still will remind their readers that all Muslims are not terrorists, all of Islam is not evil. They will draw comparisons, such as all white Christians are not the Klu-Klux-Klan.
That’s true. Yet when the media comes to play any conflict out, the neat pigeon-holes make the reporting easier. The general mindset of people will be formed and they will hold stereotypes, misconceptions, bigotry. All the hashtags in the world will not change that. People who are more and more scared by their adversary will become narrower and narrower in their perceptions of the enemy.
Perhaps a better comparison might be that not all Germans were Nazis. They certainly were not. Many were absolutely against the ideals of the Fascists. But, the majority did not stand up and stop the fanatics taking over. They did not prevent the madness and the violence, the intimidation and the bullying tactics. Nations with interests near to the Fascist ideals didn’t intervene. In fact they assisted them. They did nothing real to prevent the expanding reach of Nazism. A reach that encroached on the lives and nations surrounding them. In the end, to the rest of the world, all Germans were the enemy. All of them. Even the ones living in other nations. Peacefully living without posing threats to anyone. They were interned without trial by nations that had had enough.
There’s another point for consideration. The fanatics always, always seems to underestimate the ability of the Great Nations of the world to finally act. They seem to mistakenly believe that the Great Nations are soft. Scared of conflict and loss. Even the Nazis banked on the fact that Great Britain and her Empire, the French, the USA and Russia would not have the stomach for a fight so soon after the First World War. They underestimated the ability of these Great Nations to wage total war. They forgot that it was these Great Nations who invented the concept.
Likewise, now the fanatics forget that the dead of ten years in Afghanistan was less than some single days on the battlefields of Europe in 1944. The Great Nations can and will spill the blood of their youth if the belief in the cause is great enough. Threaten them enough and the Great Nations can and will unleash hell on earth like no others can. They can and will completely dismantle a society and build it back up in their image – they did it to Germany and Japan. They could do it again. It just takes a little imagination.
Imagine if those Great Nations were pushed to breaking point by the latest in a series of mass terrorist attacks. Attacks on Russian theatres and US buildings, UK transport and Parisian nightlife. Imagine if they decided those acts of terrorism were actually acts of war. Imagine if Russia and the US were already deployed, fighting alongside each other, for the bigger picture. Imagine if the French, the UK and other old Allies were willing to unleash all of their military force, without boundaries. These nations swept the world’s most powerful militaries into oblivion in 6 years. Imagine what they could do against a bunch of fanatics armed with rifles and suicide belts. True, the consideration for innocents would become less important. Not of no importance, for they will be guided by a moral sense, but it will become less, much less. The nations who are surrounding the fanatics will quickly distance themselves. For nations have a major vulnerability, they can be engaged and occupied as easily as the next.
Imagine taking it further. No more trying to form coalitions of the willing. It would be easier to simply walk in, take it all, occupy with overwhelming force and re-educate from the ground up. Dismantle the religious schools teaching intolerance and fundamentalism and teach understanding, pacifism and tolerance. It is the equivalent of what was done to Japan by the US in 1945. It worked. Imagine deciding that Islamic Fundamentalism has gone on long enough. Imagine wiping it out, once and for all. Imagine no more Paris nights, or New York mornings. Imagine a new world order.
But of course, people will say I’m a dreamer. It will be much easier not to imagine. It will be easier, yet more painful, to simply wait for the next set of headlines from the next massacre.
Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purpose, the detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media: