Near me at Twickenham on Friday, for the opening match of the Rugby World Cup, was an England supporter attired in a Crusader costume.
Some Muslims are disturbed by such garb.
‘The Crusades are romanticised in the West as heroic battles to win back the Holy Lands in the name of Christianity,’ wrote one complainant to the Guardian after England supporters appeared as Middle-Ages knights.
‘But for Muslims, they are remembered as two centuries of brutal and unprovoked attacks on Arab lands.
‘To celebrate this in fancy dress recalls a bloody and divisive chapter in Muslim-Christian relations.
‘That may not be the intention of those donning the fake chainmail and helmets, but there’s no denying it’s a uniform of war that certainly doesn’t instil a feeling of inclusiveness in me.’
The Crusades, first authorised by Pope Urban II, are topical again. The terrorist group ISIS crusades against Christianity — as well as every other non-Islamic religion.
Their barbarity is compared with that of the original crusaders, who, in the words of Christopher Tyerman, author of How To Plan A Crusade: Reason And Religious War In The High Middle Ages, ‘did not spare the elderly, the women or the sick’.
We in the West don’t know what to do about them. Desperate times call for desperate measures. So the cry goes up ‘Bring on Putin!’
Vladimir Putin is accused of annexing Crimea, destabilising Ukraine and stashing billions in foreign banks to fund a lavish retirement.
The truth about him may be a little more nuanced, but might we have to join his crusade to crush ISIS before the death cult becomes an unstoppable force, killing all unbelievers in its path?
America is now to accept Putin’s offer of ‘military-to-military’ talks on Syria as Russian personnel there lengthen runways for their war jets, ship in heavy weaponry and build up their Syrian presence.
Simultaneously, a U.S. general admits to Congress in Washington that America’s strategy in Syria is ‘near collapse’. A $500 million U.S. training programme for rebels, intended to target ISIS, and other jidadist groups, has failed utterly.
When they were fielded against the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda offshoot, the U.S.-trained fighters either fled or were killed.
Our own Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond sought to convey a rosier scenario to MPs, saying ‘thousands’ of the rebels we want to fight Isis on our behalf had graduated from the training scheme. His staff later ‘clarified’ the figure, bringing it down to 54.
Putin is determined (at present) to back Syria’s unpopular leader, Bashar al-Assad. He suggests new elections there as well as establishing a healthy opposition — all in consultation with Assad.
His ulterior motives: destroying jihadist groups threatening Russia’s southern flank; strengthening his nation’s global projection via its Syrian naval base; and putting himself on an equal (at least) footing with whoever is President of the United States after the 2016 election.
If his ‘democracy for Syria’ scheme fails, Assad faces death, jail or exile. Putin might then look for an acceptable puppet.
Why is a pact with Russia’s macho leader necessary? Because America is increasingly self-sufficient in oil and gas. They’ve little appetite for foreign wars against regimes that do not threaten the homeland directly.
Pulverising ISIS fighters from drones is cheaper in terms of spilling blood and spending treasure.
The same is true for Britain, whatever Hammond says. MPs accuse him of ‘lacking grip’ on Syria, but that’s true of our political class generally.
Our Government can’t get Parliamentary agreement to intervene in Syria, or anywhere else ISIS rules, with boots on the ground. So we settle for picking off individuals identified as ‘threats to our national security’ and destroy them from RAF-controlled drones.
We needed Russia and its mad leader Joe Stalin to help destroy the Nazis. Perhaps we now need Putin to finish off ISIS.
Our pact with Stalin ended badly, leading to the enforced Communist annexation of half of Europe and the Cold War. Perhaps there’ll be a downside to hooking up with Vlad, but do we have any better options?
Source: Daily Mail