Suppose Islam lost a great war. What would the consequences be? Some believe it will cause terrorism to erupt, disrupt the globe's largest reserves of oil - the life-blood of the modern age - and plunge the Arab world into an age of fanaticism and darkness. But as we verge on a controversial war with Iraq, there is a fascinating - and surprising - lesson to be learned from another great battle in history.
On May 28, 1453, two of the greatest armies in the world ended an epic 52-day battle on the border of Europe and Asia. On one side the 100,000-man army of Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire and the forces of Islam were attempting to capture one of the world's greatest cities - Constantinople (now Istanbul). On the other side, behind the supposedly impenetrable walls of the city, were the defensive forces of the west - the 10,000 man force led by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI.
Dragases. The battle for Constantinople is considered one of the greatest and most important confrontations in history.
Constantinople was one of the most vital possessions of the Christian world. The city was the capital of the East Roman - or Byzantine - Empire ever since the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great selected it as his new capital in 324 AD. Constantinople was the gateway between Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam.
The city rested by the Bosporus, a watery straight which was the most important artery of international trade. Trade ships from Venice, Genoa, England, France, and much of Europe traveled past Constantinople to the eastern Black Sea ports which connected the European continent to the major trade centers of India and China. The wealth that traveled on this route built the economic power of the Western world - a 15th century version of today's globalization of trade.
As the battle for Constantinople began, the Ottomans unleashed man's newest weapon, artillery, to breach the city's massive walls. Shortly after the shocking breakthrough, the Ottomans accomplished what had been deemed impossible for over a millennium - the fall of Constantinople. There was horror and disbelief as the forces of Islam routed the Western army. Panic swept across Europe. The vital trade routes to the East were now under enemy control, and an alien army with strange beliefs threatened to march through Europe.
Was this the end of the Western world? Quite the opposite. What seemed at the moment a knockout punch to Europe ended up causing great change. It literally forced the discovery of a new world.
Constantinople had been Europe's center for intellectual studies for centuries. Its leaders promoted and encouraged classical studies and art. Many who lived inside the city's walls devoted their lives to studying and preserving history's classical past. When the Ottomans conquered the city, many of these intellectuals fled to Italy. This flight from war was directly responsible for the acceleration of one of the most important periods in Europe's history, the Renaissance.
Classic ideas, locked inside the walls of Constantinople for centuries, broke free and spread out across Europe. Isolated city-states began to gradually dissolve. For the first time in history, nation states - like Spain and Portugal - emerged. The Renaissance brought Europe into an age of light after an age of darkness.
It also changed the shape of the world.
Since Constantinople's fall blocked overland trade routes to the spice markets of South and East Asia, the emerging nation states needed new routes to the riches of the East. The Great Age of Exploration began. Brave men such as Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and Magellan circumnavigated the globe to find new routes across vast, unknown oceans. In the process they discovered the world - and many of its secrets, treasures and mysteries.
Now we face another important battle. Hopefully it can be avoided. But in the long run the result of a victory for the US and its allies may not cause havoc and a new dark age in the Arab world as many fear. As with the battle for Constantinople, it may in fact cause the opposite.
If liberated from their intellectual and physical imprisonment, the Iraqi people may well take full advantage of their new-found freedom. Iraq has the potential to become the center of a Renaissance for the Middle East. With a new regime focused on human rights and freedom, and with the financial security of 100 billion barrels of oil beneath their desert, a new Iraq can lead the Islamic world into an age of cultural and intellectual renewal. From repression can emerge an age of ingenuity and invention worthy of a country that was once the cradle of civilization.
Repression creates anger. Anger with little hope of change creates radicalism. Radicalism can destroy civilizations. The liberation of Iraq could break this dangerous cycle. Like the movement of Constantinople's intellectuals coming into Italy in 1453, a liberated Iraq's influence on the people throughout the region could be tremendous.
As with Europe in the 15th century Renaissance, Iraq's people could begin to focus on the freedom, dignity and worth of the individual, man or woman. These ideals would spread through the Arab world.
The fall of Constantinople triggered some of the greatest changes in human history. Though both sides suffered great human loses, defeat at the hands of the Ottomans ushered in Europe's great age of reason and the exploration of the world. The same might well occur in the Middle East as a post-Saddam Iraq leads the exploration of a brave new world of human freedom.
Source: Arab News
Nick Robertson is a 17-year-old junior at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon, U.S.
what is the matter with you..
who is going to save Iraq? the Delapidated secularist Muslim hating regeme of Saddam?
You really need to look at the facts.
Saddam is no more muslim than any other atheist in the world
You call phony acussations of being "Anti-American" and "hate" building a "bridge between cultures" ? So much for logic on your part.
Your inability to transcend your pettiness and fuzzy logic is the problem here.
Oh and thanks Ryo.....good to know we have atleast one REAL American patriot here.
Golf war is going to be the end of the Western world!
I see that my offer to have a civil discussion of our differences has fallen on deaf ears. It is clear that you are not capable or, chose not to have, a logical airing of differences without venting your spleen and demeaning the person with, in your mind, the opposing view. Your concept of "discussion" is about as useful as Bush's concept of diplomacy.
I came to this site to exchange thoughts and ideas with people of other cultures - a bridge, if you will in this time of tension and misunderstanding. That is certainly not occuring with you. I shall focus my attention elsewhere.
What an irony that two people from the same country cannot even have a civil discussion. It's a pity but I suspect you could care less. Bye.
All the "name-calling" aside, let me make something very clear to you...I dont have to prove my patriotism to any intellectually-challenged fascist hack or go thru some right wing frauds litmus test. That being said, your contempt for those who disagree is quite apparent. So the author of the article is "probably some young man blah blah blah" b/c of an opinion counter to your own. You want this guy to go some other country like Pakistan, Yemen, or whatever country whose name you learnt this week ?
You claim to have read the constitution several times...but you have no appreciation for it. This is all too common in people who know no history or believe in social justice, not to mention trying in vain to refute reality. And yes, venom should directed against those who are the REAL anti-Americans. Since these issues are beyond the scope of your understanding you should honestly invest in a game system....who says you cant teach an old dog new tricks ? It may serve as a good outlet for your childish hatred.....
You are reading too much into this article. It was written by a young man, probably for a history lesson, where he draws a hypothetical conclusion from something he has read. It is only speculation, nothing more...
I see you moved! A couple of points. I do not have a Playstation, Xbox or whatever. Never will. I am not a jingoist. If you actually read ALL of what I wrote you would see that. I have read the Constitution several times, thanks for the suggestion. Perhaps the use of "hate" was a bit harsh but considering the venom in your rhetoric, it seemed appropriate. And my question about remaining in the US was just a question. No more. No less. On the basis of your response, I would assume that there is something about the US you like. Would you care to share that? I am not a fascist. I despise the Klan, White Supremicists (or any other kind for that matter) as well as the Rush Limbaugh clones on the radio. Right wing preachers like Falwell make me sick. But, just like you, they get to have their say. I am not a Junior. I am 48 and a card carrying registered Independent.
I think that this could be a useful discussion if you could get past the name calling. A measure of civility would be refreshing. Are you up to it?
As for moving to another country, why should I ? because you're uncomfortable with my freedom of speech ? This is your advice for those who dont agree and offer a view based on facts instead of spoon fed media propoganda. What a lowly hypocrite you are.
I was born here and I have every right to speak my mind...which to you is "hate" since it doesnt conform to your immature and uninformed worldview. The good folks in the antiwar movement have been treated similarly by fascists pretending to be patriots. Its apparent Arjay that its you who is hate-filled and should move to a different country, preferable Israel or some other fascist state where your type are not laughed at. If not, go read the Constitution junior, you might learn something.
The history tell us the reason for the war was the crusader keep attacking the Muslims. So Saultan Muhammad, decided to put an end to their aggression and when he conquered the Constantinople, he ordered to fix the entire wall and anything that was destroyed during of the war. Saultan Muhammad's intention was to bring peace and justice to both Muslim and non Muslims.
However as we all seen the result of war in Afghanistan, it is hard to believe that US will accomplish what Saultan Muhammad did. Over a year still Afghanistan suffer from the destroyed hospitals, destroyed schools, home, roads and etc. Till today people in Afghanistan are dying due to not having shelter in the winter, food, clean water, or access to hospitals. Yes US might fix things that they need for example they build new bases, they will build roads and airport for their own purpose, but they will never buil the house the poor person whom they destoryed.
So to say that US will bring Democracy to the people of Iraq and help them is just a bunch of lies. I will believe when I see it happening.
If you are so disenchanted with your life in the US - I just noticed your country on your post - why are you still here? You clearly hate the US so the fact you are still here is hypocritical, isn't it? You are so filled with hate for the US, why don't you move to Yemen or Pakistan or Somalia or wherever you would feel more comfortable. It makes no sense to stay in a country you hate does it?
Is it jingoism to state facts? I never said that the US invented medicine. I never said that the US has only done good things. I never said that the US was the source of all good in the world. I did say that the US has contributed great benefits to the world. Your failing is that you hate so much that you cannot acknowledge the truth. I admited that the US has also made mistakes. Can you be so objective about your country? Apparently not. It is a pity that there are inflexible, hate-filled people like yourself. We have them here in the US as well. It is people like you and them who cannot see the humanity in others who are the cause of so much hardship in the world.
it was just another slaughter of western innocents by ..Islam.
17 years old....it shows!..
How about a discussion instead of you dispensing one line responses that don't say anything?
You might want to read up a bit on the history of the UN before challenging others with nothing but 8th grade myths. Start with a "People's History of the United States." If not, resign back to your playstation.
This is a very interesting piece. However I ask to differ. "The liberation of Iraq could break this dangerous cycle", is very unlikely, it is true that Saddam the Iraqi leader lacks humanity but they who liberate have no respect for Iraqi peoples humanity when bombing the Iraqi people from the sky using 90,000 tons of bombs equal to that of 7 and half Hiroshima bombs(dessert operation). You have mentioned the "finacial security of 100 Billions barrels of oil" but Tony Blair recently stated that "the oil will go to UN and the Iraqi people, that the U.S and United Kingdom will not access the money without the UN approval" lets be a bit realistic the U.S punches the UN left and right and will use the oil for their own interests. How is it that "repression creates anger" but yet forcing democracy is simply repression with a new face, besides forcing democracy is not democray. Most people see it as "we hate because we do not understand, and what we do not understand we fear, and we always try to over power our fears", just as the West overpowers the third world countries and their ideologies. Those who you believe will liberate, only orphan the children and widow the wifes. The Iraqi people have a choose of Saddam Hussein or George Bush in other words the devil or the deep blue sea. This "liberation" destroys internal repression but only creates external repression. In other words it is like chemotherapy, it destroys the disease but kills you in the process. Liberation should be left in the hands of the Iraqi people.
I have to admit that, for someone most of us seem to assume is not a Muslim, you certainly do seem to be polite. Thank you for sharing your point of view with us.
All praise to God, Lord of the Worlds. (Quran 1:2)
this theory can be applied to today armypower country like america/israel. study shows the mightier usually throw it first, and the ball hit the soft spot (civilian) is predictable, maybe its time to throw flowers instead?
Do you mean the UN that is so clearly following US orders now?
If you truely believe that Isreal and the US are only "brutal" and must be "eradicated" then you are misguided and ignorant. Despite the mistakes the US has made, the world is a better place for the US's generosity and the medicine and technology it has developed. Your own country has benefited greatly from advances in computer technology and has become a major player in the world economy to the benefit of your people. As long as you can only see one side than you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Just as the Israelis cannot subdue the Palestinians and the Palestinians cannot subdue the Israelis, Saddam and Bin Laden cannot subdue the US or the US Bin Laden. It is time that people acknowledged each others right to exist and work together in harmony towards that goal.
The US is a huge place, full of many different people - people of different faiths and beliefs. You cannot say that all of the US is brutal and should be exterminated any more than the US can say that about Islam.
The past Gulf War has been linked to increased cancer cases in children, especially in the Nejaf region in the southeast, probably from depleted uranium shells. Serious diseases have doubled in the last 10 years in children because of the Gulf War. More than 1/3 of Iraqi children are malnurished, 8 million children depend on state rations, and 1/4 of babies are born underweight, all because of the residue left over from the last war. There is already not enough medicine to go around, and many still suffer from extreme psychological trauma. Iraq has begun to rebuild its economy, but with another war, it will be again flattened and destroyed.
As for the 100 billion barrels of oil Iraq has buried in the desert, as soon as the U.S. takes over and "liberates Iraq" most will be stolen by the U.S. and sold at rediculous prices. The new Iraq, based on "human rights and freedom", will be occupied by U.S. soldiers for many years to come, much like the Israeli soldiers (or should I say terrorists) who put sanctions on the Palestinian people and control their lives. I can't think of anything more repressive than that. The Iraqi people aren't afraid of Saddam; they're afraid of America and Bush. If they wanted to be "liberated" by the U.S., don't you think they would welcome the war? Now, I'm not saying that I support Saddam or his regime, but it's not Saddam who will suffer; no, he'll get by scot free. It'll be the millions of Iraqi people who will be inevitably slaughtered, all because of the U.S.'s puppy, Israel and the Bush Administration's hate of Islam.
As for "brave" men like Christopher Columbus, hasn't Robertson done any reading on the real story of the war king? (Who, by the way, did not discover America, but did create a lot of chaos!)
This is one of many facets of the glorious Islamic history that illuminates the world with its monumental achievements.
Great to know that some are actually studying to evaluate for themselves.
Whatever the author intended and whatever knowledge he intended to impart, his analysis misses the mark and his naivete is exposed. This essay glosses over the single drive of the west, to encircle and suffocate Islam. All the while dragging millions down in their evil-doing.
I live in america and I know what it gave the to the native people and we all should know how it freed the africans that was enslaved. All under the red white and blue. The consituion the bill of rights and the lord and savior Jesus Christ.
To compair the u.s.a. and the rule of ALLAH is like honey and vinager.
The reason turkey is in the condision its in now is because they traded the honey for vinager.
As amatter fact the whole muslim world suffers from the same trade.
You all are way to influenced by te Conservative Christian fatalism that seems to have crept into your Muslim mindsets.
Since when is it Haram to voice a political opinion in Islam that is different from the main stream?
The Islamic world IS in a dark age. The reason it is a dark age is because most are ignorant of the fact that it is a dark age and are happy with the status quo much like the Christians were in their own. We are too doped up with oportunistic media to realize it.
You all look at one side of the coin. Most everyone here is doing nothing but complain. If all you want to do is debate than look at the other side of the issue rather than the irrational blindness you are most suffering.
Of course war is bad and innocents will die. I would rather be dead than opressed by the Kufr Saddam, I would fight to my last drop of blood. I would sacrifice my life my home and my family to rid the world of his disgusting existance, and replace his with a leader chosen by the brothers. He hit us, killed so many of us. It was only a matter of tie before he helped any of us. Any one here who was old enough and didn't declare to fight Jihad against Saddam when he attacked Iran is worse than the American onslaught.
Where were all of you when Saddam slaughtered millions of Muslims for his own personal gain in Iran? Who lifted a finger to help Iran and to get rid of this enemy of Islam Saddam?
If you support Saddam, or say he doesn't deserve to be ousted, than you are his accomplice. If you care about the Iraqi people only than good, more power to you from Allah,
But many here just say no not because the love and care for the Iraqi people, but rather simply because of their irrational hate for all things American and Israeli, when the real slaughterers of modern Muslim claim Islam themselves.
Mat. Finally a response from someone out there! Of course Israel is responsible for some of the problems in the Mid-east and so is the US. But so are Palestinians who target civilians. There was a peace process underway that could have gone a long way to settling the Palestinian/Israel problem. Hamas and Hezbolla saw to it that the peace process was stopped. As long as the TWO sides continue to kill each other and extract revenge peace will never come.
Both Muslims and the West must work to gether to seek a solution to these problems. As long as Muslims blame the west (the USA) for everything, nothing will be solved.
You cry for the poor Afganis who perished in the battles. So do I. What about the Americans who died? Do you think that they deserved it? They were mothers and fathers and sons and daughters as well. Was Bin Laden justified in killing them?
The truer point is that the Middle East has been fighting since the beginning of time and will probably continue to do until the end.
The answers I find in the letters that the US is Imperialist, colonizers, morally depraved, unelected leaders, and mass murderers is crazy.
the america will spoil the muslim power
the only solution is unity among us
everybody hate saddam, an oppresive maniac.how he got WMD? don't asked me.iraqi tried, but failed miserablely, maybe its time for american to assassinate him.with creme de la creme in spies and hitmans, i think they can get in and out of baghdad with breeze.or maybe we should call james bond to get back in action.
but the idea of "shock and awe" just overwhelmed me, hit right on my nerve and i felt like crying, its remind me of those poor afghan peasants who killed in crossfire.its also remind me of how vulnerable US army are.
However,i would like to bring to your attention that this war is not meant to free the Iraqis. No America seems to have lost its morals to actually walk around doing good with no gain. Its reason behind the war for greed of oil. And this is a known fact all around the world as well as right here in America.
Also, the American gov't occupying Iraq cannot teach morals, freedom, and individuality while it occupies Iraq by force killing children by the thousands, some still suffering from depleted Uranium used in the Gulf War. If Iraq needs to learn freedom and human rights, Islam can teach the epitome of human rights for both sexes to Iraq, the Middle East, and the rest of the world.
Thank you for your article again, but please don't ever think that by harming everyone in Iraq now and for years to come is ever going to help. Iraq never called out to America, "Yeah we want YOU to help us by killing us, our children, and placing sactions on our country." No matter what, this is not going to help in anyway on the long run. Iraq can always go back and follow true Islam, just as anyone would and learn the true meaning of justice and humanity, thats one thing America should also learn.
As long as Muslims blame all these problems on oil and Israel instead of thinking about how they have fostered a feeling of fear and hatred in the West, then war is what will happen. It wasn't Isreal that attacked the US. It wasn't Isreal that attacked the USS Cole or executed missonary workers in Yemen. Wake up. You talk about the true Islamic people rising up to fight the "Crusaders". You should have been fighting Saddam years ago. What has Bin Laden brought you? He brings you the satisfaction of killing Westerners. Is that truely what you desire? Does Bin Laden feed the hungry? Does he educate the poor.Like it or not, Bin Laden has brought this war upon you. Even if Bush is not jusified in this, and I do not think that he is, Bin Laden gave Bush the perfect opportunity. When will the Muslim community police itself? At least here in the US we can protest without the fear of being killed along with our families. I promise you Bush will not get reelected. Try that in your own countries.
Mr. Robertson, I've just taken your Oh-so-rational thought process one step further. Wallow in it now!
ITS I S L A M!!
You may be right in more ways than one. But the irony in here is that you are wrong in many more ways too. Liberation is a very bad choice if it is at a cost of so many lives, so many of those who have the same desire to breathe as we here have. The Constantinopoleans were killed in thousands and so were the Muslims. If Renaissance was a result of so many lives, as you wrongly came to this ill conclusion, then the world would have been a far better place without it. If you build a beautiful monument on somebody's dead body, then such a thing did better not be in this world of Allah, where the life of a human being ( and also other creations of Allah ) is of more importance than anything else. If the Middle-East is being promised a Renaissance of sorts after so many Iraqi Brothers ans Sisters are deprived their very Divine Right to live, then the Middle_East would better be as such until something peaceful dawns some holy day to change them, if at all they need a change. And speaking on a change, let me use the same logic for killing, as this young writer has put forth in this article, on the American population as a whole. The first and foremost change that must happen in this country is something that God Himself wants. This population is, although superficially free, very much in the ugly chains of everything that God has forbidden in The Holy Bible. The Trinity is now given a new meaning with the three new pillars being Sex, Money and The Former Trinity. The Religion of God is given lip service on all matters in which this population fears to go back to. They are no more in God's definition of Human Beings.And this Most-of_Them have to be liberated from their self_dug pit of human disgrace and dishonor. And this thing is something to be accomplished before you build anything over it. And I know that nobody would accept this fruitful change until they are forced to. And if they reject, they must be taken to War and forced to change for Good. May God Help
Just Say NO to war on Iraq.
You Arabs will be under the western devide and conqur rule again.
You will see more cry baby states like Kwait, Qatar & UAE. And of course there will be UN resolution to suck your resources for ever.
And Iraq will be 12th large oil producing country not 2nd.
Your way of thinking gives me a glimpse of hope although I dont believe that the makers of America's foreign policy think along the same lines as yours. They unfortunately dont and I know well from facts that your governments double standard policies in the middle East and the Gulf region has many goals: On the one hand it wants to insure the security of Israel, making it the sole superpower in the region and enlarge its size on the expense of its Arab neighbors territory. Thus, making the dream of the great Israel come true. The great Israel spans from Egypt, the land of Moses to Iraq, the land of Ibraham. This may be done the same way America expanded its territories on the expense of Northern Mexico. On the other hand, your governments intends to maintain its support of Israel in its historical project that is the indianisation of the Palestinians. To also kill the dream of a stateless nation of building a nation state in their homeland. Not to forget the US economic interests in the Middle East and the Gulf region. To add water to mud, the Ottomans failed to invade Western Europe thru the siege of Vienna and were defeated in Eastern Morocco at the hand of the Moroccan King Mulay Ismael. This shattered their dream of finding a western route to invade western Europe through the Iberian Peninsula. In other words, the Ottomans failed in their attempts to control the world's economy by controling the new routes namely the Atlantic Ocean's that led to the discovery of America. I am hopeful that you will grow to learn that your government is a stumbling block to democracy in the Muslim World simply because allowing democratic rules in most muslim country if not all... will lead to the rise of islamic fundamentalist governments. Your government's number 1 ennemy. Therefore the white house still supports different dictatorial regimes in all muslim countries to remain subserviant to it and to weaken the forces of Islam.
It seems to me that the ones who most stand to lose from Saddam's overthrow are his fellow Middle East despots. The ones who most stand to gain are the ordinary people. Am I wrong? Am I naive? I am a Jew, not a Muslim. So I would welcome reaction from Muslims to my comments.