The shootings and bombings in Paris are yet another episode in the millenia-long war between Christianity and Islam and appear to be triggering yet another crusade against extremist terrorism.
In the 11th Century, Islam made marked territorial advances into southern and eastern Europe, threatening the supposed sanctuary of Christian European society. Perceived as a threat, kings, princes and popes determined to keep Europe a Christian territory. Additionally, there were incursions into the Holy Land, defaming known Christian and Jewish holy sites. Catholic popes did not have much concern for the Jewish population or faith, save that it was the foundation of Catholicism, so many Jewish sites were also holy to Christians.
It became apparent to the Church and its royal supporters that the Holy Land must be protected. Armies were organized in an effort to protect the Holy Land, but also to limit and prevent the expansion of Islam into Europe.
The war was not only about territorial expansion. It was about wealth and technology. Europe had descended into a dark age following the collapse of the Roman Empire, with little advance in over 700 years. The organization of armies was no easy task, but it resulted in technological advances and financial benefits.
Meanwhile, the Muslim world had economic stability, largely because of trade within its own territories and because of its technological advancements, such as Damascus steel and other inventions. War, became the driving force behind technology, economic growth, financial success and religious faith.
Both faiths become obsessed to the point of madness with their cause, and war became inevitable. This was not a short war, but a world war, in which the whole of Europe was at war with all of known Islam at the time, and it lasted from 1095 to 1291 and realistically, into the 15th Century. Multiple crusades were launched with successive generations from Europe into the Holy Land.
The wars never really ended. Muslims today hate the word “Crusades” and with good cause. These were bloody, savage, and horrific events in the history of the world. The devastation is still seen today in Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. And though nearly 1000 years have passed, the events of those wars have been ingrained in the memories of Muslims and Christians.
Many great things came from the wars, such as banking, transfers of funds, advances in metallurgy, science, technology, medicine, education and one can easily say, Europe’s Renaissance – all directly the result of the Holy Wars. We gained our numeric system, advances in mathematics, astronomy, design and architecture from interaction between Europeans and Muslims. Even laws we know today were rooted in these wars.
In 1215, King John of England faced rebellion of his barons if he did not promulgate the Magna Carta or Great Charter establishing much of English common law, the basis of most European laws later on, and certainly the foundation of American law. Judicial systems developed, enabling the practice of law and the structure of our courts.
The knights, particularly the Templars, established means of transferring funds safely from Europe, creating the first banking system to cross borders. Money transfer was important, but generally unsafe as all money then was gold or silver coin, and thus both heavy and bulky to carry long distances, and subject to highwaymen – thieves who’d happily steal your coins.
The worst part of the Holy Wars was the development of terrorism. Throughout the history of Roman and Greek military campaigns, terrorism was never reported. This outcome of the Crusades was the result of attempts to panic the population and drive potential recruits for military campaigns from joining their leader’s army.
Terrorism turned out to be an exportable commodity, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was reinvented, though it was used by American patriots to a small degree in the Revolutionary War. Terror became a tool of revolutionaries, anarchists and political dissidents, and within the past 60 years, of religious zealots on all sides, who use it as a tool in their arsenal to change public opinion.
Acts of terror get media attention. Terrorists know it. The advent of the 24 hour news channel, and ability for anyone with an Internet connection to publish news makes it impossible to control media coverage of terroristic events. Even major media outlets have a tough time controlling their own news flow, and have to monitor news sources world-wide.
The Paris attacks, the 9/11 attack, Bali, Madrid, London, and the shooting down of passenger aircraft in Malaysia and Egypt among other places, and the failed attempts too numerous to mention have motivated many countries and leaders to join in what is becoming without intent, a new Crusade. Islamic extremist terrorists have declared war on the United States, France, Britain, Spain and most of Europe, as well as Russia. Clearly, the act of hurting Russia was a major mistake – like the Japanese in 1941, they have awakened a sleeping giant.
While the United States and Russia have long been political adversaries, in the face of common enemies, they have proven a fierce determination to work together to defeat a common enemy. Despite all political, economic and cultural differences, during World War II, the two great military nations coordinated efforts to defeat Nazi Germany. The Cold War literally beginning the day after the world war ended. Both countries continued cooperation on the hunting of Nazi leadership, and in many other areas. The leadership of ISIS made a major error in their attack on a Russian passenger airliner in Egypt.
The defeat of ISIS must be swift and absolute, but it must take seriously the concept of ‘an eye for an eye’ and adapt many of the Nazi’s philosophies of no fear of insurgencies or what the news may report. In war, there are always unintended consequences, and people will normally react with sympathy at seeing children and the elderly harmed, but does the enemy concern itself with our children or elderly? Clearly not.
The goal of terror is to make your enemy retrench out of fear that they are in personal danger. That’s exactly the way to defeat terror. While we do not advocate Nazi techniques, they kept the French and German underground in check by making it clear that if people took any action against them, it would be met with severity greater than anything the underground could throw at them. This was the exact same concept that kept the Pax Romana established by Augustus in place for nearly 200 years.
If anyone harmed a Roman citizen, Rome would punish the attackers with swift, severe justice. America was like that in the 19th Century, as was Great Britain. Swift, hard, determined vengeance must be given severe consideration. If ISIS destroys an historic site, destroy 100 mosques in their territory. If they kill anyone through terror, abduct all their women and move them out of country to a foreign prison, out of their reach.
Yes, that sounds terrible, mean, and horrible, but justice and control of terrorism will never be easy, nice or pleasant activities. It will always require a very tough stance, and what may seem like heartless action. Safety of the general population against enemies foreign and domestic is needed.
Banning refugees is not going to prevent any terrorism. If terrorists wish to act, they will, and if they want to sneak people into America, they will do that too, even if every refugee is banned. America must learn the lessons of its own history, and understand that doing such xenophobic things as banning specific groups has never resulted in good news. States governors wanting to prevent crime and terror in their own states say they’ll ban refugees, but how? Once admitted to the United States a tourist or refugee is free to travel within its borders and to stay anywhere they desire. There are no state border controls and none are legal here – only international border checks are legal. These governors are essentially violating the Constitution and international laws, not to mention making themselves look seriously stupid.
Is it necessary to screen each refugee – ABSOLUTELY, but giving them citizenship tests, religious tests and other extreme questioning is pointless. A thorough check of each person, male and female, and the isolation of younger persons 14 to 40 in areas far from anything that could be harmed would be in order, safe and secure. Tracking should be possible. But total denial is a mess and actually will build further terrorism in successive generations.
Let’s not perpetuate, but end the terrorism from radicalized extremists, no matter what their religious fervor may be.