by Alexandre del Valle
Lausanne: L'Age d'Homme, 1997. 327 pp. SFr. 45.
Reviewed by Bat Ye'or
Middle East Quarterly
The author attempts to prove that the U.S. government is deliberately using Islamism to destroy Europe. The first of two parts analyzes the geopolitical and cultural context of Islam, advancing the notion that Islamism is just mainstream Islam stripped of innovations introduced by the West since the nineteenth century. Del Valle concludes that "Westernized, secularized" Islam was a fictional creation of modern French propagandists. In the second part, he denounces U.S. support for Islamist movements. He detects a natural alliance between Islamism and what he calls "Biblical Protestant Puritanism," which he contrasts with Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the latter two being freed from their Jewish origins by having integrated the pagan heritage. Against America, with its roots in the Bible, the author looks for an alliance of secular Europeans, Orthodox Christians, and Arabs (such as Saddam Husayn).
This preposterous analysis of U.S. policy can only be understood in its French context of anti-American fervor. Religiously, del Valle expresses an old Catholic and Orthodox aversion against puritan Protestants, faithful readers of the Bible. Ideologically, he draws on a deep-seated Anglophobic chauvinism. Politically, his anger is rooted in the Kuwait war which dragged a recalcitrant France to stand by a United States allied with Israel, causing the whole of France's Arab policy, built on a Paris-Algiers-Baghdad-Palestinian axis, to collapse. It is precisely this Franco-Arab alliance against America and Israel that the author dreams of rehabilitating by invoking a U.S. war to destroy Europe. Revealingly, General Pierre-Marie Gallois, the artisan of Iraq's nuclear power, wrote the book's preface; and in a postscript, the journalist J.-P. Péroncel-Hugoz entreats Paris to resume its policy against "Islamérique!"
Despite the prejudice of this analysis, del Valle does courageously expose the dangers of Islamism. But rather than seek its sources in a U.S. conspiracy, the author should blame it, in part anyway, on the very Franco-Arab alliance that he seeks to build up.