Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Dubya's Crusade Accomplished

Remember that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner that George W. Bush put up on an aircraft carrier in 2003? It has to be one of the iconic symbols of his presidency, along with his sitting in a primary school classroom being read to by a five year old while New York was being attacked by terrorists on 9/11. His response to the attack was a tad slow, his claims of victory a tad premature, so the two events between them really define his contribution to history.

You may also recall that when he first set out to achieve his glorious victory in Iraq he called what he was doing a ‘Crusade’.

The Crusades were expeditions by the flower of Christian chivalry, travelling to the Holy Land to win over the locals, primarily Moslem, to a gospel of love and peace. So committed were they to spreading goodwill to all men that they were more than happy to put anyone who resisted them to the sword or occasionally the flame, or even both if the spirit so moved them. Indeed, to make sure no-one got left out, they didn’t limit themselves to people who resisted them and were frequently happy to massacre anyone who just happened to be there. Just like today, in fact.

In the sack of Jerusalem, for example, to underline their reverence for this holiest of sites, they wiped out most of the Moslems and also the majority of the Jews, for good measure.

But in case you were thinking that they were actuated by a desire to persecute only non-Christians, think again: they also sacked the great Christian city of Constantinople. Indeed, they did such a good job of breaking that last remaining outpost of Christendom in a region increasingly conquered by Islam, that within a couple of generations it too had fallen to the Moslems.

That pretty much sums up the Crusades: bloody, indiscriminate and ultimately counter-productive.

However, Moslem folk consciousness tends to perceive the Crusades as being directed specifically against them, ignoring the fine work they did of wiping out anybody else they could get their hands on. So it was slightly inappropriate for Dubya to use the word to describe what the Bushmen claimed was not simply an anti-Islamic action. Fairly soon he learned to drop the word.

I maintain, though, that it might actually have been perfectly accurate.

You see, on Sunday I heard a leading figure of the refugee Iraqi Christian community in London on the radio. He was appealing to other Christians in Iraq to come and join his exile in England. There is no safety, he was claiming, for Christians in his home country.

Sounds pretty much like what the Crusades achieved. In their wars against the Moslem infidels, they put an end to the last remaining Christian bulwark against the advance of Islam. So given the collapse of modern day Christianity in Iraq, maybe it’s time for Bush to put up another ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.

After all, he seems to have accomplished pretty much the same kind of success as the Fourth Crusade.

Postscript. They used to say that there'd been a terrible catastrophe during the second Bush presidency when the White House Library was consumed by fire. What made the event so ghastly was that Dubya's book got burned. And he hadn't even finished colouring it in.

So it's fascinating to see that he's actually written one now. Or at any rate published one. I enjoyed reading accounts of Bush’s autobiography, Decision Points, though I think I might skip reading the book itself. It seems that when his mother had a miscarriage, she showed the teenage Dubya the foetus in a jar. He cites this experience ‘to show how my mom and I developed a relationship.’

Yes. Things fall into place. If that’s how he built his relationship with his mother, one can understand why it might have been a comfort that a child was reading to him when his country was under attack. The alternative of facing up to his duties as Commander-in-Chief might just have been far too painful.

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