I believe the neocons and the Wahhabis have successfully pushed the world to the brink of a cycle of conflict that may dominate the rest of the 21st century. All over, I see that the two sides are closing ranks: On one side, we have 'Western' right-wingers and conservatives who are more vocal than ever about closing borders and about how Islam means trouble; on the other, we have more and more Middle Easterners and Muslims who are convinced that ISIS is the West's creation or, worse, part of a Zionist plot to undermine Islam by portraying Muslims as barbarians. Meanwhile, the moderates are confused. Most of them want people to make distinction between Muslims and Islamists. However, not all can agree on to what extent Islam is implicated. Some say that implicating Islam as a whole invariably leads to bigotry and ignores the fact that the same criticisms can be made of other religions; others say that there is a need to recognise that Islam is part of the problem if solutions are to be found. So the moderates are arguing amongst themselves, and since they style themselves (and are indeed often sadly) the cooler heads around, I believe this will translate into a deadlock in actual policy debates - wherever the nutjobs have not hijacked a large part of the political debate altogether (like they seem to have in the USA). So is a clash of civilizations inevitable? If you think so, is it inevitable because there are simply no good solutions, or because people just can't be expected to put the solutions into practice? If you think there are solutions, what are they? And how you do envision them being implemented? Or, perhaps, you think a clash of civilisations is a good thing? --- Here's my take: Personally, I think people just can't be expected to put good solutions into practice. How so? I do think the moderates have something to offer, but they need to get their house in order. They need to realise that nuance or dialogue for the sake of it is not going to magically lead anywhere. They need to make a distinction not just between Muslims and Islamism, but also between criticising ideologies and criticising faith; the former is specific and the latter is all-encompassing. Trying to draw Muslims, especially moderate Muslims, into a debate on how Islam can be improved will likely only alienate them and lead to no resolution - most Muslims have no influence whatsoever on fundamentalist theology, and most would naturally refuse to see their faith as part of the problem. This is the exact same thing that would happen if you try it on Christians. So what can be done? First and foremost, moderates need to get behind moderate Muslims and focus on criticising interpretations rather than criticising scripture. Criticising scripture is just going to cause people to get defensive because they feel ownership over scripture, and therefore arguing that there is a problem with scripture implies that there is a problem with their faith. This is an unfair assertion to make about peaceful adherents and moderate Muslims, and naturally they will be indignant. You end up nowhere and, as a consequence, some would start thinking, "Hey, why aren't moderate Muslims agreeing to discuss this with me rationally? Maybe they're part of the problem." Now, the trouble is plenty of moderates who want to criticise scripture think of themselves as rational, nuanced thinkers. And so they believe that their criticism is right, that they should be listened to because they are making rational arguments, that the moderate Muslims who get offended are being irrational and unhelpful. The worst thing is people believe them, and so this group of moderates is likely to command an influential share of the rational debate. I guess we're screwed.