War in Gaza Has Made It Clear the World Is in a New State

We are experiencing a global revisionist agenda that — by any means necessary and absent any moral limits — aims to destroy, and ultimately displace, Western society.

Sergey Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin pool via AP
Presidents Putin and Xi talk during their meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum at Beijing, October 17, 2023. Sergey Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin pool via AP

In the days following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine last February, I cautioned that Europe was fast approaching its Lyapunov horizon. The mathematical concept of “Lyapunov time” is the span in which it is possible to predict the state of a chaotic system — beyond which predictability fails and all that remains is but chaos. How far not just Europe but the world has since gone beyond that horizon. This is a new place.

War in Ukraine. Military coups and a French retreat in the Sahel. An assertive Communist China poised for an eventual move on the Republic of China and — together with its comrades in Moscow and Tehran — resolute in its ambition to herald a new global order. A perverse leftist ideology on the march, camouflaged by such platitudes as “diversity” and “equity.” An opioid crisis, a European migrant crisis, an American border crisis.

And now, horror is Israel. It might be months or even years before the full consequences of Hamas’s savagery will be known. It is also presently not clear whether war in Gaza might spread across the Middle East or possibly beyond. Yet what has, in the most horrific of ways, become clear is that the world is in a new state. For none of these events are isolated. All are part of a wider global revisionist agenda that — by any means necessary and absent any moral limits — aims to destroy, and ultimately displace, Western society.

This threat is not new. For decades it has festered beneath the surface of our ostensible peace dividend that followed the supposed end of the Cold War. Occasionally, as on September 11, 2001, and now again in Israel, it would surface, and we would be briefly reminded that, for regimes such as those in China, Russia, Iran, and their proponents, the Cold War did not end. It entered a different phase, and the struggle has continued. 

For the most part, though, Western leaders have misunderstood the threat and underestimated its gravity. It has largely been framed — as it is now by the Biden administration — as a struggle between political systems. “A battle between democracy and autocracy,” as President Biden has said. 

The remedy, then, has been democracy promotion and flawed attempts at integrating rogue regimes into existing international architectures. The hope, as President Clinton remarked on the occasion of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, was that “the genie of freedom [would] not go back into the bottle.”

Yet, as it turns out, the genie never left the bottle. “Western universal values have suffocated diversity in the world,” the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, People’s Daily,  opined in a 2013 editorial. “Western civilization lacks momentum in dealing with an uncertain world … Chinese civilization [could] be a good alternative.” CCP initiatives such as the Community of Common Destiny for Mankind and the more recent Global Civilization Initiative, announced by President Xi in March, push for a world centered around what Mr. Xi has called “a new culture for our times” — an amalgam of Marxism and Xi Jinping thought.

Hamas’s 1988 covenant aims for the establishment of an Islamic state in Palestine, Israel, and beyond. For this, “jihad is its path.” In its mission, it is joined by other Islamic groups that champion the eradication of Western civilization and the creation of an Islamic theocracy. Hamas’s calls for the destruction of the West are also shared, if more tepidly, by the Kremlin. 

President Putin has long held that Western society has been gripped by “chaotic darkness” and “a return to a primitive state.” Like jihadists who spill oceans of blood in the name of a feigned theocratic purity, so the Kremlin takes up arms in the name of feigned mores.

The challenge we face is not one of democracy versus autocracy — though it is that, too. The arc of history does not bend toward justice, if only we would get out of the way. The threat is a civilizational one, unpopular though the premise might be in our current seizure of political correctness. It is about norms, values, and everything we hold dear. The global order, such as we have come to understand it, has also historically proven to be the exception rather than the norm. Order is a jungle to be tended.

For too long we have been complacent or ignorant, or both. It is time we at long last wake up. This does not mean panic or senseless retaliation. Rather, it implies calculated and clear-eyed measures to shore up our defenses — those external as well as internal against unsavory elements that have crossed our borders and the useful idiots who exalt their aims. 

It implies a realization of how far beyond Lyapunov’s horizon we have ventured, and how long the road back is likely to be. It is time we take up the task. Our very way of life turns on it.

The New York Sun

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