In the comment section, Wretchard makes a point in passing that merits further discussion:
Perhaps I should say that the greatest weakness has been the unwonted assumption of superiority that first prevented the West from seeing the rising danger or taking it seriously, then misled it into thinking that a few trinkets administered through traditional diplomatic channels would win the day. What did one European diplomat say about Iran? 'What else do they want?' And now it's 'stop or we'll report you to the United Nations.'This cuts to the heart of the issue. Listening to the attitudes of some with regard to Islamic terror and tyranny, one can often pick out the following subtext: "Here we have some idealistic people motivated by an essentially flawed ideology, i.e. religion and religious justifications for murder. If we play nice and try not to distance them from us, eventually our enlightened philosophy will shine into their hearts and they will find the true faith of benign nihilism."
So it seems to me that part of the solution should be for the West to acquire a real respect for their adversary. Military forces acquire this quickly. But I think that many Western intellectuals still think that in Islam they are dealing with gomers in picturesque clothes, not serious rivals to their own ideas.
That the so-called enlightenment of Western post-modernism has run into a serious competitor never even crosses their mind. That most people want to believe in a higher purpose to life does not occur to the highbrow elite, who are accustomed to proving their sophistication through feigned acceptance of humanity's essential meaninglessness. That religion (and especially a religion like Islam) can gain strength and numbers by preaching submission to a higher cause is inconceivable to people who sneer at patriotism for a tangible homeland, to say nothing of fealty to God.
The West is not doomed, I think; but the only way in which it can survive as an idea for the next two centuries or more is for this misplaced contempt for religion, and for tradition generally, to be discarded. Until we stop replacing our vital ideas with empty shells such as materialism, nonjudgementalism, and the rote defense of country in the name of nothing more lofty than the status quo, we will continue to lose ground to those whose ideas are worth dying for.