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Howard's End: The History Of Christianity Vs Islam

As the Western world prepares for strikes against Afghanistan we can take little comfort from the U.S. Government's assertion that "this is not a war against Islam." For more than 1,000 years the Christian West and the Muslim world have been entangled in a long series of wars. Maree Howard writes.

If history teaches us lessons there is no doubt that a Western-led coalition can be easily interpreted as an attack on Islam, no matter what George Bush says.

In 700AD Muslim forces were involved in war with Spain, Italy and the south of France.

The first Crusade in 1094 saw Christians dispatched from Europe to recapture Jerusalem. Later, King Richard spent more time out of England than in it fighting in the Crusades.

Down through history Muslims and the Christian West have been entangled in turbulent relations. In 1492 the expulsion of the Moors from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella is widely seen by historians as a landmark between Islam and the Christian-dominated world.

The pirates of the Barbary Coast, now Tunisia, Libya etc., conducted a religious war against the trading ships of the West.

The Muslim world has known little but defeat since their long retreat from the siege of Vienna began in the 17th century.

What Osama bin Laden has done is to promise victory. The Russians were defeated in the Afghan mountains and the U.S. fled from Somalia. The Israelis withdrew from south Lebanon.

Bin Laden has positioned himself as the apostle of the Islamic comeback and throughout the Arab world new-born babies are now being named after him.

But Jane's Intelligence Review says bin Laden is a mere schoolboy by comparison to others like Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah's (Party of God) head of social operations.

Israel Intelligence says, "This guy is a sick man, a genius, someone who has refined the art of terrorism to the utmost level."

"We studied Mughniyeh and reached the conclusion that he is a clinical psychopath motivated by uncontrollable psychological reasons which we have given up trying to understand." intelligence sources told Scoop.

Of course, one of the major problems a Western-led coalition faces is that if moderate Arab states join it, then there's likely to be enormous eruptions from within. To the point where revolutions and overthrow of moderate Arab leaders will be assured.

Already the Saudi royal family has fled from Saudi Arabia to Switzerland. It also appears that the Egyptian leadership is siding with Iraq.

Osama Bin Laden is not so much an active terrorist but a pan-Muslim politician dedicated to unifying the various national and regional militants of the Islamic world into a single campaign.

Even if a war coalition gets bin Laden he will not die because his name has become an instantly familiar battle cry. He is now a brand name in the radical parts of the Muslim world no different to, say, Coca-Cola.

In my humble view there will be no outright victory for the Christian West from this latest foray - a thousand years of history has shown that.

The United Nations is not serving its function - it has become the quietest place on earth. It has been mute. Where are the resolutions, where is its outrage, where is the General Assembly's collective and heartfelt expressions of regret?

According to Harvey Kushner, a terrorism expert, the UN provides cover as the laboratory for incendiary rhetoric against the West in almost the same way the Taleban does.

Be that as it may, this whole fiasco is degenerating into a war the world must have. The only real winners, like in every war, are the ones who finance both sides and provide the arms and machinery of war.

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli observed, " The world is governed by very different persons from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes."

In those words Disraeli, a Jew proud of his descent, publicly affirmed that real government is by the hidden hand. His comments on public affairs and human events are refreshing to read today, when politicians shun the truth a s the devil might shun holy water.

I cannot believe that it's our duty to support politicians who indulge in a spirit of smoke and mirrors. The British/US forces bombed Iraq three times last week but you didn't see the death and casualties on CNN, ABC, MSNBC or CBS.

America is almost guaranteed to be in a perpetual state of conflict because of the electoral system. The Presidential elections are held and then two years later the Congress is elected. The Congressional elections are due next year and Bush will again want to capture the mandate for the Republicans. War is always good for the American economy and the patriotic vote - until the people see the body-bags coming home in large numbers.

This war with sophisticated weaponry fired from a thousand kilometres away from the target is unlikely to see too many Americans in body bags. For those underneath the missile it will be far different - but we're unlikely to see that devastation and death on our Western television screens.

Before the missiles, bombs and bullets start to fly on a global scale cooler heads must prevail and dialogue must commence.


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