The recent resurgence of radical Islam bent on military conquest in the Middle East, Nigeria, Yemen, and through proxies in immigrant communities in Europe and even in the USA by terrorists is causing our government to develop new strategies to defeat, demolish and to destroy this enemy. I find it instructive to look to history for guidance.
Islam has always been a militaristic creed. From the beginning of the Muslim era Arab armies have sought to conquer Christian lands. They swept across North Africa and into Spain. No one could withstand them until Charles Martel and his Frankish army stood their ground outside Tours in 732. The army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was defeated and their leader killed. In the years following the Arabs and Berbers were driven out of what we now know as France. Charles Martel was praised as the champion of Christianity, and the battle was the decisive turning point in the struggle against Islam, a struggle which preserved Christianity as the religion of Europe.
Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:
“A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassible than the Nile or the Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of Mahomet.”
It took a battle and a determined leader to defeat this enemy. Read about the Battle of Tours online for a full account.
Gradually Muslim rule was driven out of Spain and attention turned to the threat of the Ottoman Empire to Europe. Suleiman the Magnificent tried to capture Vienna, Austria in 1529 but failed due to an alliance of the Holy Roman Empire. This defeat turned the tide against almost a century of conquest throughout eastern and central Europe. Historian Arnold Toynbee commented: “The failure of the first siege of Vienna brought to a standstill the tide of Ottoman conquest which had been flooding up the Danube Valley for a century past.”
In 1683 Vienna was besieged for two months. Again, the siege was seen to be a turning point in history after which the Ottoman Turks ceased to be a menace to the Christian world. The overall command of the troops of the Holy Roman Empire was held by the King of Poland, John III Sobieski. The Ottoman-Habsburg wars took place over 300 years.
The Crusades need to be seen as part of this overall struggle for which culture would dominate Europe and the Byzantine Empire.
This struggle continues today. Who will win? Do we need another Charles Martel or John Sobieski? I believe that we must accept that there will always be a struggle for the heart of Western civilization. We cannot defeat, demolish or destroy the enemy without cost, resolve and strong leadership to unify us.