Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Once Again, Failed Crusaders

Today is Tuesday, 2 October 2007.

Jerusalem was ruled by the Roman Empire, and then by its eastern half, the Byzantine Empire, from 6 BCE (Before the Common Era) to 614 CE (Common Era) (save for two short periods of revolt), when the city fell to the Persian Empire. Byzantium recovered it in 628 CE, then lost it again in 637 CE to the armies of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second successor to the Prophet Muhammad.

In 1095 CE, Christian European armies, responding to a plea for assistance from the Byzantine emperor, invaded Palestine in the First Crusade. They captured Jerusalem in 1099 CE, and murdered nearly the entire population of the city.

On this date in 1187 CE, Jerusalem was recaptured by the armies of the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub. (The latter, known to most Europeans as Saladin, was a Kurd born in Tikrit, Iraq, later well-known as the hometown of Saddam Hussein.) European armies would not again control Jerusalem until it was conquered by the British army in 1917.

Most Europeans (and I include Euro-Americans) view the Crusades (which extended fruitlessly to 1291) in one of two ways. Many regard the Crusades as just and holy wars to reclaim the lands of Jesus from the demonic Muslim unbelievers. Others regard the Crusades as conventional wars of conquest and exploitation, carried out under the propaganda guise of the Christian religion.

My evaluation of the Crusades, and of all so-called “wars of religion”, is based on the venerable legal principle of cui bono, “who profits?” Do the spoils of victory wind up in the pockets of the warriors, or of the deity for whom they are allegedly fighting?

The answer is made clear by the indecent haste with which Godfrey (Lord of Bouillon and Duke of Lower Lorraine), one of the principal military commanders of the First Crusade, maneuvered to place himself and his heirs at the head of the newly-created Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Many Muslims regard the Bush-Cheney conquest and attempted neo-colonial annexation of Iraq to be the more-or-less modern equivalent of the Crusades. I agree. Then, the lust for conquest and exploitation was concealed under the veneer of religion. Now, the lust for conquest and exploitation is concealed under the veneer of “spreading freedom and democracy”.

The fundamental test for the sovereignty of a nation and a government is to posses an absolute monopoly of the legitimate use of force. Given that neither the USA/USE military nor its mercenaries (“private security contractors”) are subject to the orders of the Iraqi government or the jurisdiction of the Iraqi courts, the test is obviously failed.

The Maliki regime is a pseudo-government devoted to sectarian, not national, interests, temporarily collaborationist with the USA/USE military dictatorship.

The only course of action which stands even the slightest chance of persuading Iraqis that assistance has replaced exploitation as America’s motivation would be to immediately place all American military and mercenaries under the sole control of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Alas, it will be a frozen evening in Hell before Field Marshals Bush and Cheney surrender their fantasies to “bestride the narrow world/Like a Colossus”, and so they will continue to write their wicked passions in torrents of blood of innocents.


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