A clash of civilizations is at the heart of it a clash of allegiances, for a civilization is defined by its pattern of allegiances. Therefore the clash between Islam and the West, is also the clash between what we give allegiance to and what they give allegiance to. It is also one of the best demonstrations of why Islam is incompatible with Western democracies.
Nationalism in the Muslim world remains a far weaker force than religion and tribal kinship. That is why the post-Saddam Iraq so easily unwound into extended bloody bouts between Sunnis and Shiites. Most Muslim nations are in any case artificial, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria, the Kingdom of Jordan and their like were the products or the afterbirth of European colonialism. Their rulers may cultivate nationalism, but such nationalism is only skin deep.
That is why when Israelis point out that Palestine is an artificial entity, the average Arab will only shrug. He knows quite well that just about any country in the Muslim world is an artificial entity, a set of borders drawn out by England or France or a UN mediator with an ancient name thrown into the bargain. The Muslim has only a short term national history, often under Western backed dictators, or a very long one to the romanticized glory days of ancient history. He does not care nearly as much for his nations, as he does for his religion.
Mohammed's real achievement was to take the Arab tribal system and transcend it with a higher identity, that of Muslim. The resulting wave of bloody conquests would not have been possible without that Muslim identity. And that is the problem now facing the West.
Nationalism among Muslims is a very shallow thing at best, as Iraq has shown. And that nationalism is primarily based on tribal kinship. Yet Western countries seriously expect to convince their Muslim immigrants to give equal weight to being French, English or Dutch or American, as to being Muslim. The idea is all the more absurd, because tribal kinship, the family relationships that underlie political loyalties in the Muslim world, are absent here. Muslim immigrants have no familial ties to the political structures of Western countries. Which means that the prospects of expecting them to identity with those countries are virtually nil.
In trying to integrate Muslim immigrants, Western countries find themselves pitted against the Mohammed's Ghost. Mohammed's supreme idea was that Islam demanded complete submission, transcending all tribal and political bonds. Our supreme idea is that political representation allows law to coexist with human freedom.
The two supreme ideas of Islam and the West are naturally incompatible. Muslims view all political laws as corrupt and Allah's law alone as transcendent. The West preserves political and civil rights by separating civil and religious laws into separate spheres. That is not a compromise that Muslims can truly understand or respect. For all intents and purposes, both sides are speaking different political languages that represent two radically different viewpoints.
Our relationships with Muslim countries are based on tribal ties. When we ask one Muslim country to side with us against another Muslim country, we try to outweigh religious ties with tribal ones, something that naturally touches off a domestic backlash from the general Muslim population. The leaders of the Arab world generally understand the necessity of driving out a Saddam or opposing Iran's nuclear development program, in their own self-interest. But tribal bonds within a country are narrow because only a small portion of the population has direct ties to the government, religious ones however are very wide because most of the population is Muslim.
The same problem recurs in the West with Muslim immigrants, except this time our political system, to which they have no allegiance, is pitted against the network of Mosques and their various Imams and religious leaders. It's no surprise that the West will always lose their showdown for the hearts and minds.
Yet even were we to do things the way they're done in the Third World, it would only make a limited difference. To give up our political system for political tribalism would only further diminish us, and it would not deal with the problem of Mohammed's Ghost. The Islamic Will to Power is rooted in embracing the "transcendence" of Mohammed's perfect law, over the corrupt political laws of governments. Since we cannot declare our political laws to be religious, not without creating our own Mohammeds', and we cannot sell the freedoms that we have already given away to win their tribal loyalty, the problem remains an irresolvable one.
And each time we insist that there is no contradiction between being a Muslim and being a Frenchmen, a Brit or an America-- we make it that much worse. For Islam insists that there is a contradiction, even as we insist that there is none. Having given up our claim, the Western Muslim naturally moves to appease the cleric by resolving any contradictions between Islam and Western society; in Islam's favor. And thus the moderate Muslim becomes a Jihadist enabler, if not a Jihadist himself.
Given enough centuries of residence, the problem might resolve itself. If Islam did not insist on conquering infidels by the sword, but merely on separatism, the problem would be mainly a social one. If Muslims were not swiftly moving from minorities to majorities across Europe, there might still be time. Unfortunately there is very little time left before Europe becomes Eurabia, and much of the rest of the world will follow. The toxic combination of Saudi wealth, a booming birth rate, a decaying West and the industrialized secularism of the First World colliding with the fanatical determinism of the Muslim world, leaves only two ways for this clash of civilizations to end.
One idea, one way of life must win. The other must lose. The great question being decided now in our words and deeds, is which will stand and which will fall.