“The Third Muslim Invasion of Europe is entering its mature stage by sea,” I observed in these pages in June, as thousands of Middle Eastern and African illegal immigrants sailed from Libya to Italy day after day.  In the intervening four months, in a dramatic development, a new southeastern land route was stormed by a quarter of a million people—mostly Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghanis—who made their way from Turkey to Greece, and then across Macedonia, Serbia, and Hungary to the wealthy E.U. core.  The total influx for 2015 by land and sea will likely exceed one million souls.

The term invasion is not hyperbole.  Europe’s old core does not lack the technical means, but it lacks the moral fiber to defend itself.  Its political elites treat the process as inevitable, demonize all resistance as “xenophobic” or “racist,” and exert pressure on the periphery—e.g., the fence-building Hungary—to give up any pretense of border control.

A demographically vibrant rival civilization, inherently hostile to all that Europe stands for and unburdened by self-doubt, senses the weakness and is taking audacious advantage of the situation.  “Tell Brussels we are coming, no matter what,” a young man from Syria told news agencies last August, as he pushed his way into Macedonia.  It was not an idle boast.  As some Western European refugee officials note off the record, there is a new and deeply disturbing quality to the overwhelmingly Muslim wave.  We see iron determination to force one’s way in and brazen disregard for the target countries’ traditions of law and order—atypical of genuine refugees.  Young men are the largest group, and there is a homogeneous air about them, regardless of ethnic origin.  They are self-assured, almost commanding.  They act as if they are on a mission.

To understand the sense of mission it is important to note that most invaders are not “refugees”—as suggested by the media and many politicians—since they are travelling from safe (albeit unpleasant) countries in western and central Africa, or from refugee camps in safe countries such as Turkey.  They are illegal immigrants who act as if it were their birthright to come to Europe as they please.  They arrive well-versed in the narrative of “human rights” and victimhood.

An indicator of premeditated strategy is the fact that the megarich monarchies in the Persian Gulf are refusing to accept any Syrian or Iraqi refugees, while at the same time quietly bankrolling Islamic charities that aid the migrants in travel.  This is unsurprising: The notion of jihad by immigration has always been at the heart of Islam.  The Islamic calendar itself begins not with Muhammad’s birth or the beginning of his “revelation,” but with his migration (Hijra) in a.d. 622 from Mecca to Yathrib, which he later renamed Medina.  Once in his new abode Muhammad proceeded to establish an Islamic theocracy in which he was the master of life and death, to exterminate previously numerous local Jews, and to attack neighboring “infidels.”

A huge Islamic diaspora is already well established throughout Europe.  It refuses integration and has its own infidel-free zones in thousands of locations.  Accelerating the process is in line with the long-term objectives of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, and Kuwait, which have been paying for the construction of mosques and Islamic centers all over the Western world for decades.  The strategic leitmotif was stated in 2000 by Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islamic studies at Oxford and a grandson of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: Muslims in the West should conduct themselves not as hyphenated citizens seeking to live by “common values,” but as though they were already living in a Muslim-majority society and were exempt from having to make concessions.  Muslims are entitled to live on their own terms, Ramadan insists, while, “under the terms of Western liberal tolerance,” host societies are obliged to respect that choice.

The only E.U. country whose leaders are willing to spell out the nature and implications of the deluge is Hungary.  Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on September 2 that Europe is in the grip of madness, refusing to see that most of those who are now arriving represent a radically different culture.  “Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian?” Orbán asked.  His is a lonely voice.  Germany is prepared to accept 800,000 migrants.  The Brussels bureaucrats are insisting on imposing quotas on all member countries.  Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila will accommodate refugees in his own home.  In his Sunday homily on September 6, Pope Francis called on “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe” to house one refugee family that has fled “death from war and hunger.”  If each of the 122,000 Catholic parishes in Europe housed a family of four, that would account for half a million people.

The comparison of the ongoing deluge with the barbarian invasions of Rome is not apt.  However uncouth, the barbarians generally respected Rome’s culture and institutions.  They wanted to take over, rather than destroy, the imperial legacy.  Over the centuries their heirs proved capable of creating Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance paintings, and Baroque madrigals.  No such potential is present among the multitudes pouring into Europe today.

The Old Continent’s apparently terminal decrepitude raises concerns as to whether the civilization fathered by it can go on if its heartland is overrun, as now seems tragically imminent.  Byzantium did survive the fall of Rome by a thousand years, but after Justinian it was no longer “Rome.”  Does today’s America, as the obvious heir to “the West” once Europe is subjected to sharia, have the wherewithal to carry the torch?  The question is legitimate, because recent events are compressing many decades of ancient processes into mere weeks.  A sober answer may not be encouraging.