Posts Tagged ‘Crusaders’

The threat of a global holy war

April 21, 2016

One of the worst thing that could happen is an escalation of the U.S. “war on terror” into a global war between Christendom and Islam.  That is the goal of al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

If it happened, the United States and much of Europe would become as beleaguered as Israel is today.  The devastation that has been visited on Gaza, Palestine, Iraq, Libya and Syria would be spread to the whole world.

That is why Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were careful to distinguish jihadist terrorists from Muslims in general.

Unfortunately, there are Americans, such as Lt. General (ret) William “Jerry” Boykin, who don’t.

President Bush fired him in 2007 from his post as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence for saying that the United States is in a holy war of Christian crusaders against Muslim jihadists.  Even though Boykin was a brave and patriotic soldier, Bush acted in the best interests of the United States.

Boykin has endorsed Ted Cruz for President, and Cruz has appointed him as one of his top advisers.  I think Cruz also wants to make the “war on terror” a religious war.

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Americans want our wars to be crusades

June 27, 2011

Muslims often say the word “jihad” is misunderstood.  They say the word “jihad” means struggle, and the “great jihad” is the struggle against your own sins and weaknesses, while fighting enemies on the battlefield is a “lesser jihad.”

The use of the word “crusade” by Americans is just as broad.  When we Americans use the word “crusade,” we mean a fight for good against evil.  Movements for social reform or religious revival are called crusades.  A “crusading reporter” has a mission to expose corruption and social evils.  General Eisenhower’s memoir of the Second World War was entitled Crusade in Europe.

We Americans like to think of our wars as crusades, as righteous struggles to eliminate evil.  We are reluctant to go to war unless it is a crusade, and we don’t have any staying power unless we convince ourselves we are in a crusade.  We don’t like to think that our government wages war out of economic self-interest or for geopolitical advantage, just like other governments, and we become cynical and angry when we find out that it does.

We were told our Revolutionary War was a crusade against the tyranny of King George III.  We were told the Mexican War was a crusade to extend American freedom from sea to shining sea.  We were told our Civil War was – on both sides –  a crusade against the enemies of American freedom.  We were told that the Spanish-American War was a crusade to liberate the Cubans and Filipinos from the tyranny of Spain.  We were told American intervention in the First World War was a crusade to make the world safe for democracy against the threat of Kaiser Wilhelm’s despotism.

Disillusionment held us back from crusading against Nazi Germany – rather the Germans declared war on us.  But Hitler really was as evil as our government’s propaganda said he was.  The Allies may not have been morally pure, and the Second World War may not have made the world safe for democracy, but we look back on that war as a good war, a war that saved the world from totalitarian barbarism.

After the Second World War came the Cold War.  Stalin arguably was as evil, or nearly as evil, as Hitler, but it was hard to present the Cold War as a crusade because, unlike the Second War War, its aim was only to create a barrier evil, not to eradicate it.   American interventions in Korea and Vietnam quickly became unpopular because they were not crusades.  They did not promise an end to evil.

Nations with an aristocratic tradition regard war as a normal activity.  The purpose of a hereditary aristocracy, after all, is to breed people trained from birth for fighting and military leadership.  They don’t require high moral justifications for war.  But we Americans don’t like to face the fact that we go to war for economic, geopolitical and other morally impure reasons.

During the 1991 Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush said it was about “jobs, jobs, jobs” – meaning that the U.S. economy required us to control the oil of the Persian Gulf.  This explanation met with indifference, and we soon were told that Saddam Hussein was equivalent to Hitler.

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