Right. Let's see where this train goes.
Three movements at war.
One side: Medievalist Islam.
Another side: idealism.
Another another side: materialism.
There are problems: first, lumping atheist Stalin-Saddam in with religious bin Laden is a gargantuan error. Also, isn't 14th century Islam very teleological? As in, God makes our enemies so that we might fight them and prove ourselves? Hmm. But we'll move on- the basic idea makes sense if you further chop it up into Western/non-western, which is obviously what he is getting at. This appears, after all, to be a sort of inside analysis of who us Westerners are, as opposed to those guys we don't understand.
OK, moving on.
The medievalists' motivation is that, the way they figure it, God wants them to rule the world.
The idealists are driven by the conceit that the world has a perfect set of workings contained within, and we're just reaching for them.
The empiricists are driven by their own existence. Their relationship with the universe is one of exploration- there aren't any pre-conceived answers.
Now that the pieces are on the board, how did we get here?
Protestantism (and the printing press) encouraged empirical thought, since it was easy to let your heretical concepts get around. To a guy who thinks he has the direct line to God, anything he doesn't agree with is either sadly misguided or devilishly dangerous. Another step along the way was humanism, which presented the concept of natural rights. Humanism was fed by technical development, which prizes seeing the world as it is and in such a way that we can act and react with it (saying that pi=3.0 because a calculation of some cubits in the Bible said so will not give you very accurate engineering.) So empiricism kicked ass, and is still kicking ass.
Apparently the idealists and the islamists are a little miffed at this, as they always are, and keep on telling you that pi=3.0. For the record, the idealists and the Islamists hate each other like the Nazis hated the Communists. So they may agree some times, but they really want to kill each other. The idealists have been getting in the way of the real fighting of Islamists for a good long while now.
So who are all these guys?
The islamists, are, well, you know who. Bin Laden et al. The "insurgents." 9/11 guys. The folks who are looking for a new Grand Caliphate.
The idealists are the United States, and the pro-Iraq war side. We Americans brought our neocon folktales and unrealistic expectations of how the world works to Iraq, and look where that got us. Oh well!
The empiricists are the people who said this pig wouldn't fly, the ones who are still saying it to this day.
Actually, if you read the article, you will realize that I told you a fib.
But my fib is true. Isn't it a funny world we live in?