World War Three has been much talked about in the seven decades since World War Two ended. At that time, almost all of Europe and large parts of Asia were in ruins, scourged by years of brutal, mechanised, industrial war.
Since the beginning of that peace, war has raged incessantly throughout the world. It has never stopped. The killing, the butchery, the rapes, the genocides, the ethnic cleansings. Mass rapes, murders, enslavements. Whole cities destroyed, nations impoverished or obliterated.
Has World War Three begun?
As I write, war is raging in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia. Why? If the end of World War Two heralded in an ‘era of peace’, then why is there so much war? And how fragile is that peace?
After the close of World War Two the West became obsessed with two things: repairing itself and combating Communism. The first was a normal reaction to the cessation of bombing. The second was an ideologically-driven agenda promoted principally by the United States. No European nation went through the catharsis of the McCarthy Era and, while national ‘security’ agencies did monitor politically-active individuals, the level of intrusion was never anything like what Americans had to suffer.
Yet the overall understanding was common to both sides of the Atlantic: the Enemy was dead, long live the Enemy — but now this was the traditional one of the Capitalist West: Communism, embodied in the USSR, the Warsaw Pact, China, Cuba, Vietnam and a handful of other states.
The old enemy.
We were led to believe that protecting ourselves and our freedoms — hard won, it is true — against the relentless meat-grinder of Communism was the most important function of our collective foreign policies. This caused us to focus on the war against Communism to the exclusion of all others.
We regarded as inconsequential, or at least diversionary, the increasing levels of violence that had nothing to do with Communism at all. This lulled us into thinking that, when the old Soviet Union began to crumble, war itself would become a thing of the past.
We were misled. Another World War, which no-one wants to talk about — is ongoing now, more viciously and ferociously than ever before. It is spreading like wildfire across the areas it already affects, and, like a cancer it has metastasised and implanted itself in the heartlands of the West in a way that Communism never even approached.
It is only now, seven decades after the end of World War Two, we can begin to see who exactly the promulgators of global conflict are. We can see that ‘peace’ has been an illusion, a mass deception that suits the warmongers. This book will explain how this happened and why.
The beginning: a difficult birth.
Western culture was born the product of a peculiar set of circumstances that have come together only once. These caused the establishment of something unique and surprising.
After the Fall of Rome, Europe was governed by a totalitarian oligarchy with the Catholic Church in control and the Pope at its head. It was, in any analysis, a theocracy. While in the early centuries, religious authorities tended to be relatively disinclined towards harshness, this was to change.
Perhaps the crowning glory of this theocracy was the liberation and governance of the Holy Land and particularly Jerusalem, by the Crusaders. It’s often forgotten, today, that this period lasted for almost two centuries.
The rise of Islam.
Since 632 CE, the year after the alleged death of Mohammed, Islam had expanded its sphere of influence and became, under the Rashidun Caliphate, the greatest empire, by land area, the world had ever seen. From its original base in southern Arabia, it had spread west into North Africa, consuming Egypt, east as far as Afghanistan and north to claim much of Anatolia.
The Rashidun Caliphate was supplanted by the Ummayad Caliphate in 661 CE and further spread the Islamic power-base across North Africa and even into Europe, overpowering southern Spain. To the east and north, however, its ambitions were checked, other than in the Caucasus, which it over-ran.
The first century of Islamic conquest had been carried out, almost exclusively, by Arab tribesmen. However, the greatly expanded territory that the Caliphate now occupied meant that it was simply too big to rely solely on Arab soldiery. Other peoples, previously conquered and forced to submit to Islam, became the basis of the imperial armies. In the West, it was Berbers, not Arabs, who led the invasion of Christian Spain.
The Ummayad Caliphate succumbed, not to external but internal pressures. By the 8th century, the Caliphate had been established as the most important military power in the world. As such, however, it had become riven by family and dynastic feuds and in 747 CE another revolt broke out, this time led by Abu Mulim. His claim — as ever — to the right to rule was based in his argument that he was more closely related to Mohammed than the incumbent. This led to the Abbasid Revolution of 750 CE.
This revolution established the Third Caliphate, which was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty and ruled from Baghdad. The Caliphate was subject to the same pressures that led to the fracturing of the Roman Empire, as well as others. Caliphs faced the difficulty of governing a huge empire from a central capital with no modern communications. Their forces were both far away and often had powerful, local political identities and interests. Soon the Caliphate began to break up into smaller, autonomous caliphates, ruled by local warlords.
The bloodline issue.
Unfortunately, Mohammed had not provided for this in his alleged sayings. These were written down eighty years after his death and collected more or less accurately into the Qu’ran. This presumed a unique, universal Caliphate. It would encompass the whole world and be ruled over by the descendants of Mohammed himself.
As time passes, the number of individuals with a claim to be the ‘closest descendant’ of a particular man, increases dramatically. This was exacerbated because Islam permitted Muslim men to have four wives.
The resulting chaos fractured the Caliphate and is, essentially, the root of the conflict between various factions within Islam to this day.
‘The house of Islam was divided into three households. The Turks championed the Abbasids in Baghdad, the Fatimids in Cairo controlled North Africa and Syria and the Spanish Umayyads ruled from Cordoba. Each claimed to be the sole legitimate heir to the Caliphate.’
In the Holy Land, the ancient city of Jerusalem had been conquered by the Arabs under the Abbasid caliph Umar around 638. The city was sacred to all three Abrahamic faiths, and in the early part of their occupation the Caliphs permitted free access to pilgrims. In addition, they permitted the Jews, who had been banished from the city by its Christian rulers, to return to Jerusalem and establish a community there. Despite this and the building of Muslim monuments, the city remained predominantly Christian, and the major focus of Christian pilgrimage. This was also tolerated under the early Caliphs.
In southern Europe, Islamic conquest had met only limited resistance. Much of the continent was fractured and had not recovered from the collapse of the Roman Empire. This itself was hastened by Muslim control of trade routes, the collapse of Egypt’s supply of grain and Islamic piracy in the eastern Mediterranean.
Rise of the Germans.
In this era, the remnants of the Empire were essentially supine. It came to an end in the last century of the first millennium, when the Germanic peoples became Christian. Their much more warlike approach galvanised Europe. Very quickly, resistance to Islam was organised and mounted.
In 996, Pope Gregory V, himself a German, spearheaded the counter-attack. This was not directed, initially, at the distant Holy Land, but at those parts of Europe which had already been captured by Islam. This proved highly effective and although Gregory himself died suddenly in 999, the drive to liberate Europe continued. Over the next hundred years, Islamic occupations were rolled back with all the unpitying violence they had been imposed with.
‘By 1020, the Muslims who had occupied southern France and the mountain passes in Switzerland were ejected. The island of Sardinia was lost in 1016. In 1072, Palermo fell and by 1091 all of Sicily was lost. The end of the Umayyad Caliphate in Spain was an open invitation to the Christians. Spain split up into warring emirates, which fell one after the other to the Christian onslaught. The Visigoth capital city of Toledo fell in the year 1085. In 1087, the old Fatimid capital of Mahdiya (in modern Tunisia) was sacked. In 1090, Malta was captured, providing a base for transportation to Palestine and the Syrian coast.’
A triumphant hegemony.
By the end of the 11th century, then, Islamic expansion into southern Europe had been checked and rolled back. The Christian hegemony was triumphant. The whole of Europe was now a unitary theocracy ruled by the Pope, with monarchs being appointed by Papal edict. The temporal empire of Rome had not died, it had instead morphed itself into a far more flexible and efficient political structure. It was bound together by a single religion and governed over by the Pope. The Emperor Constantine, had he been able to see how well his project would turn out, would have been delighted.
With Western Europe consolidated, interest shifted to the east. Here, the equivalent to the Catholic Church’s hierarchical theocracy was the Orthodox Church, nominally based in Constantinople.
This had been far less successful in resisting Islamic expansionism and by the end of the 11th century was under enormous pressure. There was a real risk that Islam would break out of the Middle East and Anatolia. It might rampage along the Urals to the Baltic, or push up through the Balkans to menace the heart of Europe, as it was to do hundreds of years later under the Ottomans.
The Abbasid Caliphate was supplanted in Jerusalem by the Fatimids, whose power-base was in Egypt. Their Caliph al-Hakim reversed the Abbasid policies of religious toleration and began to destroy the churches, temples and shrines of all other faiths. Over 2000 churches were destroyed in the eleventh century alone. Pilgrims to Jerusalem were abused or killed and the city was closed.
The First Crusade.
This spurred the Papacy to retaliation. With Spain and Southern Europe liberated, the next target of a resurgent European theocracy would be Jerusalem, and its re-establishment as a Christian city at the centre of a Christian world. With that intent, Pope Gregory VII announced the First Crusade. This was not a war of defence or liberation within Europe, but an expedition deep into the heartland of the greatest empire in the world.
We do not know what Gregory’s long-term thinking was; on the one hand he clearly did wish to see Jerusalem recovered for Christianity. On the other, he had inherited the mantle of the Western Roman Emperors. Those who had the same role in the east were the Orthodox Church and its Patriarch. They had proven far less capable at resisting Islamic military expansion. Was Gregory simply attempting to come to the aid of fellow-Christians or did he have some hidden motive?
In any case, Gregory’s sheer hubris must be savoured. The Christian conquests on mainland Europe had mostly been against pockets of resistance long separated from support. The exception was Spain, where Islam was well established and controlled much land. Yet despite its bold conception, a strike hundreds of miles into enemy-occupied territory, the First Crusade was a huge success.
In 1099, after a long and debilitating siege in the arid semi-desert around the city, the Crusaders finally stormed Jerusalem and returned it to Christian control, along with the rest of the Holy Land. Sadly, almost the first act of the Crusaders was to butcher the non-Christian citizens, the Muslims and Jews.
Non-Christians were forbidden to enter or live in the city. Jerusalem, from a relatively unimportant, small desert city, became a powerful economic and political centre. It was the focus of immense amounts of lucrative pilgrimage and one of the most important Christian cities in the world.
The Theocratic Zenith.
It would be fair to say, then, that in the twelfth century, the Catholic theocracy of Europe was at its zenith. The Papacy had united the continent . It had reversed the Islamic invasion and liberated the territory it claimed. Not only had it snubbed the Caliphate, the Papacy had attacked it in its very heartland. It had established a Christian state on Jerusalem and maintained it by military force. Meanwhile the Orthodox Patriarchy, which had signally been unable to achieve such things, was on the back foot, looking inward and not out.
It must have seemed, to the Popes and the millions of Europeans who looked to them for spiritual guidance as well as temporal leadership, that God was indeed on their side. This was not a situation that would last.
Copyright 2016 Rod Fleming’s World