The Wars of the 21st Century
This observer has long held the view that the wars of the 21st Century will not be fought over energy sources, such as oil, but over potable water. We can, and will, invent environmentally acceptable replacements for fossil-based fuels. Inventing a replacement for clean drinking water is highly unlikely.
But now it appears the more immediate threat is a renewal of an ancient, and presumably once settled, war between Islam and Christendom.
In his fascinating book, The Battle 100: The Stories Behind History’s Most Influential Battles, Lt. Colonel Michael Lee Lanning, USA (Ret.), details two key battles between Islam and Christendom: the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D. and the Battle of Vienna in 1529 A.D.
According to Colonel Lanning, “ The victory of the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 732 stopped the Muslim advance into Europe and ensured that Christianity would remain the dominant religion of the region… At the end of the battle, the defeated Muslims retreated to Spain…and never again mounted a substantial invasion.”
Well, not again until the Ottoman Turks swept through the Balkans and tried to overrun Vienna in 1529. As Colonel Lanning puts it: “The Ottoman Turks’ unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1529 marked the beginning of the long decline of their empire. It also stopped the advance of Islam into central and western Europe, and ensured that the Christian rather than the Muslim religion and culture would dominate the region… “If Vienna had fallen…there is a strong possibility that Suleiman’s Empire might have eventually reached all the way to the North Sea.”
But to understand what was driving the Muslim forces against France in 732 A.D. and against Austria in 1529 A.D., one should go back in time to 630 A.D. and to the Battle of Mecca.
While the proponents of Islam claim their Prophet Muhammad was merely a religious figure, he was, first and foremost, a highly capable military leader. As Muhammad was formulating what would become the Holy Book of Islam, the Koran, he drew on two sources of income. First, like Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, he married a rich widow. Secondly, he trained his growing number of followers to plunder the caravans coming out of Mecca.
By 624 A.D., the merchants of Mecca were weary of Muhammad’s raids. The Meccans sent an army of 1,300 to kill Muhammad. But, at the Battle of the Badr Oasis, Muhammad handed the Meccans the first of a series of defeats culminating in the Battle of Mecca which, in 630 A.D., completed Muhammad’s conquest of Arabia.
Muhammad’s personal triumph was short lived. He died only two years after the Battle of Mecca. But, within the ten years following his death, the Islamic armies overran: Jerusalem, Syria, Iran, Egypt and Iraq. Eventually, the Arabic Muslims swept across Spain and into Europe, not stopping until their defeat at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D.
Christians, Jews and Muslims claim Jerusalem as historically essential. Thousands of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faithful have died fighting over possession of or access to Jerusalem. The Muslims claim Muhammad ascended into Heaven from Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock. Ironically, there is no evidence Muhammad ever visited Jerusalem. If so, he ascended from Jerusalem at least six years after his death. Talk about delayed gratification.
Islam, which spread based on the sword rather than gentle persuasion, peaked in the 14th Century and by the 16th Century was in geographic retreat and economic decline. In the 20th Century, only the oil-rich Islamic nations showed any economic vitality and then only due to western oil extraction and refining technology.
Today, we see the frustrated suicide bombers of Hamas and al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups trying to impose a 14th Century vision of Islam on a 21st Century world. But, in the end, they will fail -- just as their forefathers failed at Tours in 732 and at Vienna in 1529.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – novels about terrorist attacks on Colorado’s water supply and on the Panama Canal, respectively.
©2003. William Hamilton