It’s an over-used formula, but this time it really does seem appropriate. If this analysis can be trusted — and it looks at least superficially plausible — ISIS has broken the soul of evangelical democratization. Once the Cathedral’s universalistic faith has been defeated (“the freedom agenda in the Muslim world is dead”), how long can it be before the gathering ebb tide tears apart its internal ideological structure? “This is something only for us” requires an ‘us’ — and that acknowledgement marks the cresting of a crisis that has been centuries — if not millennia — in the making.
Syria represents the culmination of this trend. The moderate rebels of 2011 stood no chance of survival against the hard liners who managed to rapidly mobilize foreign fighters and take over the majority of the insurgency. The result is that, post-Paris, Western capitals will be skeptical of regime change of any sort. It will be clear that when intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign (albeit repressive) states becomes a vehicle for democratic change, that vehicle will probably be hijacked by radical Islamists, and will arrive at a substantially worse political destination than intended.
The post-Paris war on terror will affirm the West’s commitment to fighting radical Islamic terrorism, but, in the process, it will reject the idiom of revolutionary, moralizing democratic change inherited from President Bush. Syria was the end of the line for that approach.
The revolution has come right back around to Hobbes, and thus to the systematically-cynical origin of the modern state system, the author (Emile Simpson) argues. What a long strange trip it’s been.
ADDED: “… jihadis have come to inhabit a different moral universe …” — Multiversalism it is, then.