It's no secret that large chunks of the Western world are in demographic decline. Mark Steyn has focused on the fact relentlessly in a series of articles (with the most recent being an article, first published in the New Criterion and then republished in the WSJ). The most recent article I read on the subject is Eric Cohn's "Why Have Children," in Commentary. The numbers Cohn cites are familiar and striking:
Since the 1950’s, the total fertility rate (TFR) in Europe has fallen from 2.7 to 1.38—an astounding 34 percent below the replacement rate of 2.1, which is the average number of children per couple needed for a society to sustain itself. Japan’s fertility rate is 1.32, and its average age is already forty-two years and climbing. (The world average, by comparison, is in the mid-twenties.) A large number of nations, including Russia, Spain, Italy, South Korea, and the Czech Republic, have TFR’s between 1.0 and 1.3; some of these nations (most notably Russia) are already experiencing rapid population decline. Generations of children are growing up without brothers or sisters, and a sizable percentage of men and women in the most advanced nations will never have any children at all.
Two conspicuous exceptions are America, which is holding its own, but only slightly, and third world and Middle Eastern countries — especially Muslim countries. Muslims are also doing their bit within Europe, where their birth rate is three times higher than the average European birth rate.
What all this means for the spread of Islam is that patient Islamists can say, as the Stones used to say, "Time is on my side." If they just wait around another 40 or so years, the world will be theirs demographically. That being the case, I'm wondering why the sudden rush to Islamicization now?
Events such as 9/11, or the London subway/bus bombings, or the Spanish train bombing, or the Theo Van Gogh slaughter are ever so slowly making the world aware of the threat. Indeed, there's even a possibility that, with this awareness, the Western world still has the ability to stop the threat. If recent headlines coming out of Europe are true, the Europeans, while still mouthing multicultural platitudes, are beginning to react. France, for example, has toughened its immigration laws. Canada and England are beginning to be aware of, and to crack down on, terrorists in their midst. America, of course, is at full scale war with two countries housing these extreme practitioners of the "Religion of Peace."
Two answers occur to me when I think about the Islamic rush to war. First, they think the numbers are already sufficiently on their side to make waiting necessary. If they're right, that's a really scary thought; if they're wrong, we benefit from their miscalculation. The second is that, because radical Islamists are fundamentalists, and don't function in a world of rational thinking, they couldn't care less about demographics. Their pot has boiled, and they're ready to explode, regardless of the strategic benefits of time.