The Crusades are suddenly popular again.
Well, at least in the United States of America. Mind you, Americans are not cheering for the historic crusades of Christendom in the Holy Land. Instead, a significant number of Americans are now cheering for Bush the Crusader in his war against al Qaeda.
It is mystifying that there are those who will cheer for the American crusade against al Qaeda while condemning the crusades of Christendom.
First, which of the historical situations is more serious?
By far, we live in safer times today. Even after September 11, when a bunch of terrorists finally did what any terrorist could have done for a very long time, we live in safer times than did many continental Europeans from 1096 to 1697.
Consider the situation in the West only 319 years ago. In 1683, the armies of the Ottoman Turks were laying siege to Vienna. Vienna, in the center of Europe, nearly fell to the Turks. It was Jan Sobieski and his Polish cavalry who helped to break the siege of Vienna and preserve the West.
The Ottoman wars, by the way, continued until the Turks were defeated in northern Serbia in 1697.
In short, Americans should not wonder why the former Yugoslavia was and is such a mess. Of course, one suspects that many Americans have already forgotten about the Balkans.
Americans likely also have forgotten that Spain only evicted Arab invaders around the time of Christopher Columbus, i.e., 200 years before the siege of Vienna. Perhaps the Arab peoples were serious about conquering Western Europe? In which case, maybe the historical crusades of Christendom should be celebrated in the West, rather than the subject of apologies.
Second, where Christians, and religious believers generally, are concerned, the American crusade of Bush the Second is wholly secular. The federal government of the United States is nothing if not hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular. There is a certain irony in a secular American regime seeking to topple a secular Iraqi regime while claiming to defend "the West."
Thank God, the atheist Left-wing elites must be thinking, that we no longer fight wars of religion! Now we fight for money, oil, and geopolitical power! This is "historical progress."
If nothing else, the American power elites and their lackeys in Washington are dedicated to turning Boy Scouts into Sodomy Scouts, a free nation into a militaristic empire (query whether this hasn't already been done), and free men into serfs (same query).
In order to fully evaluate the crusades of Bush II, assume, for the sake of argument, that the United States defeats Iraq in a military fashion, and eliminates not only al Qaeda, but every other terrorist organization in existence. What will the United States have gained? At most, it will have expended millions upon millions of dollars to: (a) alienate the Islamic world, and foreign nations generally; and (b) eliminate a nebulous risk of vague future harm. An American war on Iraq is as sensible as a Chinese war on Belgium.
The military threat which Iraq and al Qaeda pose to American national interests, properly understood, is minimal. The risk is especially minimal in comparison to the risks posed by the Communists during the Cold War. And yet, in the name of eliminating this minimal threat, the Bush Administration is seeking to effectively shred the Bill of Rights and to tax America into an impoverished future. In short, American liberty is being restricted to an even greater degree than it was restricted to fight the Communists. This is foolish.
Forget the Bush crusades against al Qaeda and Iraq. At best, they will be Pyrrhic victories.
September 2, 2002
Mr. Dieteman [send him mail] is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.
© 2002 David Dieteman