September 11th… 1565

The fifth anniversary of September 11th 2001 is upon us. It is fitting that the day should see both a solemn remembrance of the dead and the renewal of a cold-hearted resolve to win the war that was declared on us.

There is however, another September 11th that we should also remember, and from which we can take heart in our own struggle. It is September 11th 1565; the scene was different and so were the actors too, but the nature of the battle was all too familiar. On that day, a small force of European knights and the entire population of Malta dealt Ottoman Turkey a decisive defeat, and in doing so probably saved western civilization.


In May of that year, a Turkish invasion force landed on the island of Malta, held only by a combined force of knights, their hired soldiers, and the mobilized population of the island. The Turkish aim was to seize the strategically located island and clear the way for the expansion of the crescent flag of Islam into the western Mediterranean and western Europe. The Turks, under Sultan Suleiman the Great, also sought to exterminate the last vestige of a crusading order that was still proving to be a dangerous foe.

Those old crusaders were the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John, of Jerusalem of Rhodes, and of Malta. Originally founded in the eleventh century as a hospital order to provide relief to Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land, they quickly grew into a formidable military force that also protected those Christian pilgrims. (They still exist as hospitallers, but if they existed today in the same form as in 1565, they would surely be the strangest NGO in the world. Imagine a merger of Catholic Charities and Blackwater; imagine Mother Teresa with a .45 and the will and skill to use it.)

The Knights of St John were by 1565 already living anachronisms. (Today, wouldn’t they be called warmongers and the religious right?) The crusades from they derived were old history even then; the Order had been expelled first from the Holy Land and then from the fertile island of Rhodes. They were given the rock of Malta as much to keep them away from Europe as to allow them to get at the Turks, who they saw as mortal enemies. They waged ceaseless war against the Sultan in the form of commerce raiding and other operations.

The Knights knew their enemy well. The Order’s intelligence network gave early warning of the Turkish Sultan’s preparations for a massive attack to crush the Knights for good. Under the Grand Master, Jean de la Vallette, they prepared their defenses and called in their brethren from estates across Europe.

The Knights and the Maltese were virtually on their own in the fight for Malta. The Europe they sought to defend was going to provide little help. The Protestant powers of northern Europe were content to let the Catholic knights fight this battle. Imperial Spain, technically the order’s patron, would prove dilatory at best in sending aid. France had signed a treaty with Turkey some years before, and although much of the Order was of French descent, that country was neither able nor inclined to ride to its rescue.

The siege was brutal. After weeks of attack and counterattack under the hot Mediterranean sun, the Turks took a small position, Fort St Elmo, which guarded the approaches to the main citadels of Fort St Angelo and Fort St Michael. Despite having taken enormous losses, they then hurled their forces against the twin defenses around the grand harbor. More than once their fanatical assaults nearly overwhelmed the defenders; at one point the Turkish assault on St Michael was about to succeed when a surprise attack on the Turkish rear area by the Order’s cavalry caused them to retreat. In June a small relief force of about 700, sent from Sicily, arrived and crept into the fortress under the cover of a fog, and the reinforcement proved just enough to bolster the tired defenders at a critical point.

By the end of summer it was clear that the Turks had shot their bolt, despite their having come very close to victory more than once and having inflicted severe losses on the Knights and the Maltese. The Order had made them pay a very heavy price for their gains, and they could not sustain the campaign. The defenders likewise were on their last legs, but their faith and the leadership and iron resolve of the Grand Master held them firm.

On September 8th, when at last a relief force from Sicily appeared bearing 8,000 Knights and soldiers from across Europe, the Turks began to withdraw. But they left a force ashore, hoping to draw the Knights and their soldiers into an ambush that would secure them the victory in the open that they could not gain in the siege. Their fleet was still mostly intact, and even with the arrival of a relief force the issue was still in doubt. The Grand Master recognized what was afoot but was determined to finish them off; he gave orders to sortie a force to meet the Turks and push them into the sea.

One of the soldiers in that force, Francisco Balbi di Correggio, who left a first-hand account of the siege, tells us about that last battle. The force was made of defenders, nearly worn out by months of combat and privation, and the soldiers of the relief, who sought action after months of waiting in Sicily. Tthey advanced on the Turks and seized a commanding height. With an officer shouting, “Santiago, and at them!” they fought a pitched battle but finally beat the enemy down, stopping only when the guns of the Turkish fleet covered the withdrawal. Yet not all Turks made it off. Balbi tells us that hundreds were left on the island; no quarter was shown to them, save one Turk who was sold into slavery.

And so it was that on Tuesday, September 11th 1565, the Ottoman Turks were driven from the Malta by the stalwart defense of a small group of living anachronisms and the island’s own brave inhabitants. The greatest military force in the Mediterranean was broken on the walls of the island’s fortresses, and the swords, spears and shields of the islanders and the Knights.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the battle. In modern terms, it was not only a great victory in and of itself, it was also a critical shaping operation. In 1571, the Turkish fleet met the combined fleet of the now-mobilized European powers under the Venetian Andrea Doria at Lepanto. The Turks were crushed, and their naval power never again threatened Europe.

The lessons for us today, almost five centuries hence, are equally important. The same enemy exists today. Instead of galleys he uses airliners, and instead of Janissaries he uses suicide bombers. He hates and fears western civilization, and seeks to convert or enslave us. We have to meet him and engage him everywhere he is, just as the Knights did. What it will take to win against him is what it took to win at Malta: preparation, skill at arms, leadership, and above all faith and an iron will.

While I remember our dead, I’ll also remember the Knights of St John.

Comments

  1. pat says:

    You better watch out before CAIR has your clearance yanked for preferring Western Christian civilization over Islam.

  2. John says:

    OUTSTANDING PIECE!

  3. Rankin says:

    I'm ready for another crusade.

    BTW, I'm sensing a pattern here. Google Oct. 10 and "Tours."

    How many times in 1500 years do we have to fight these guys off?

  4. Rich says:

    Well, no, we don't face even remotely the same enemy today. Back then, the Ottoman Empire, for all its many flaws, was the meritocratic, open, tolerant and efficient side. Today, we're facing an Islamic enemy that seeks to build a closed, intolerant, backward and dismal society. Only a fool with side with the forces of modern extremist Islam, but back then many of the most talented Europeans left Christendom for a brighter, better life under the Caliphate. Indeed, Ottoman Empire even offered a sanctuary for many of the Jews expelled from Spain, who then made Ottoman Thessalonica into a thriving commercial centre.

    Why the Ottoman Empire later stagnated and disintegrated (or was dismembered) while Christian Europe flourished is an interesting question. Certainly nobody in the 16th century really expected such an outcome. It seems to me that the key factor is the shift in trade routes associated with the discovery of North America and the rise of mercantile, maritime powers in western Europe. European merchants with oceangoing ships could cut out the Muslim middlemen and trade directly with the east Indies. This in turn fatally undermined the basis of Ottoman prosperity (and also, although less drastically that of the great Italian trading cities, whose fortunes were tied to the same trade routes through the Levant).

    (Comment cross-posted to Transterrestrial Musings.)

  5. John says:

    I *think* it was Bernard Shaw who wrote on that exact subject Rich. Excellent book, as I vaguely recall….will have to go to Amazon and try to track down the name…

    anyone know what I'm talking about? "What Went Wrong" or something to that effect?

  6. Sir Ron says:

    I think you mean Bernard Lewis? Look his name up on Amazon and it shows a book titled "What went Wrong."

  7. John says:

    ha! who was Bernard Shaw? A British playwright maybe?

    My brain is focused on football today, heh.

  8. Peter says:

    I particularly recommend Ernle Bradford's outstanding account of the siege of Malta, entitled "The Great Siege". It's long out of print, but can be found by searching at used book sites (try http://www.abebooks.com). An excellent, thoroughly-researched account by a former British naval officer who fought through the Mediterranean in WW2, and knows Malta well.

  9. So were the Jews also playing extremist idiots from both Christinaity and Islam against each other then, too?

    Fucking manipulative kikes.

  10. John says:

    Boris, weren't you on like a 60 Minutes interview or something? Jew Watch sounds familiar…

    Not a very insightful point, though I suppose racism never is…

  11. Lisa says:

    Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

  12. Sean says:

    I would have to disagree with the final point of this little polemic. The "enemy" we face is nothing like the Ottoman Empire. Mainly because the Ottoman Empire, you see, was a STATE (and an imperially expansionist one at that), and the loose affiliation of ideologically linked extremists aren't.

    As well, the only ideologues of the Ottoman Empire (generally orthodox Sunni) were the Janissaries, and they were solely as a result of a psychological indoctrinaton program successfully run by the Ottoman rulers. Today's terrorists are generally of the Shia persuasion, and heavily influenced by Wahabbi-type teachings, which would be rejected by most 16th century Sunnis.

    The reason for the expansionism of Ottoman Empire is the same reason for the expansionism of any empire: acquisition. In the case of the Ottoman Empire, since Suleiman was in theory the caliph of all Islam, he was in part bound by the tenets of his faith to spread the religion. But to assert that the only reason for Ottoman expansionism is religious fervor is facile; other equally important motives were at play (territory, population, and wealth acquisition to name a few). There is a very good case to be made that current Isalmic extremists are reacting defensively (in an immoral and illicit fashion, by the tenets of their own faith, it must be said) to a perceived cultural, social, and economic threats to their way of life.

    So, the only point of comparison between the Ottoman Empire and Islamist extremists today is that both are Muslim in some fashion or other. No other viable comparison can be drawn.

  13. Duh says:

    Are you kidding me? Couple of thugs taking over a few planes counts as a major civilization assaulting the US????

    hahahahaha….hahahahhahahah what a joke.

  14. Andrea Doria says:

    Sorry Military.com, Andrea Doria was Genoese not Venetian. How many other things to you get wrong?

  15. Valarius says:

    I can't help but compare this whole thing to a modification of a very popular computer game.

    If you own a copy of StarCraft, log on to Battle.net and look up a Use Map Settings game called "Crown Of Glory". Essentially it takes place during Napoleon's rise to power and the Ottoman Empire's decline in the late 1700s or so.

    Every player except the O.E. is given Terran Ghost units designated as "Jagers"; essentially they're riflemen that serve as the bulk of a player's army.

    The O.E., by contrast, get Protoss Templar units called "Janissaries". For all intents and purposes, they suck.

    Now, most people who play O.E. see the units they get and compare them to Europe, and they tend to leave the game. But you can upgrade the O.E.

    First, you have to kill all the Janissaries. Every single one. Then you have to manufacture 12 Artillery units and take over the bottom half of the map, from the Middle East to the tip of Northern Africa. And then you take over two trade routes with some ships.

    And you need the cooperation of all of Europe to not fight you before you become strong. You make informal non-aggression pacts and keep your word to be peaceful.

    If you do that, the O.E. becomes a real power. It becomes a strong and united nation. And you get to make the same riflemen as the European players.

    It strikes me how that easily the lessons in that game could apply to real life.

  16. crni says:

    Funny, I was always taught that the victory at siege of Vienna in 1529 was the battle that saved Western Europe. Sure that little rock at Malta is pretty nice for controlling the Mediterranean, but not as crucial as Gibraltar or Sicilly. Certainly not as important as Vienna.

  17. Steve says:

    So during the Crusades when we decided to cruise around and push our religion on people, we decide to defend ourselves against people that came for "payback" and we're heroes? No..we were the cowards just like today. "Islam" means "Of peace". If we would have not interfered with their lives in the first place, we wouldn't be in the situation we are today. Whether it was the 1500's or the 1990's, we made the wrong choice and it's time we live up to it.

  18. steve says:

    sorry guys i am a total douchbag ~steve

  19. Speaker says:

    Steve:

    Sorry, but the Mohammedans were the ones who opened hostilities. See the Battles of Poitiers in 732 and Roncesvalles in 778 — invasions of France that came almost 300 years before the First Crusade. The "Religion of Peace" was warlike from its very beginnings and as adept as Christianity at cruising around and imposing its religion on people.

  20. Eric B. says:

    So, can the Christian fundamentalists and the Muslim fundamentalists just kill each other and leave the rest of us alone?

  21. pat says:

    Funny, but the Christian fundamentalists, like Todd Beamer, were the ones who were PRAYING on the hijacked airlines; not the Muslim fundamentalists who HIJACKED the planes. Christian fundamentalists also have yet to videotape any beheadings of Muslims that I know of; nor have they bombed a US Navy ship, nor any Embassy's, nor any skyscrapers in the US. They may drive people nuts, they may say stupid things (see Falwell, Robertson), but, no, today's Christian fundamentalists will more than likely not be killing innocent people indiscriminately with IED's either.

  22. Joel says:

    I think I read somewhere an article on religion in which the author postulated that every religion goes through a "war" phase. Christianity got it out of its system during the Crusades. Islam, being several hundred years behind Christianity in its founding, is now going through that stage as well.

    Much safer with swords and arrows rather than nukes.

    Oh, and Wahhabism is Sunni, not Shi'ia. Although wahhabis are just as dangerous as Shi'ia (al Qaeda subscribes to Wahhabism), it is the Sunni/Shi'ia split that probably helps us from facing a truly united and much more dangerous enemy than we already do.

  23. Effeminem says:

    Personally I have nothing against Islam, but I don't see why the Crusades are so vilified. They were as moral as any other war back then, or even more so.

  24. TheAvalanche says:

    Oh the world would be so much better if everyone was agnostic.

  25. just visiting says:

    "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

    Lisa · September 10, 2006 02:12 PM"

    Do you always type in cliche? Next time you should repeat "Iraq is arabic for Vietnam". It would be as stupid as your last comment.

    "Couple of thugs taking over a few planes counts as a major civilization assaulting the US????"

    What major civilization do you speak of? Since when were third world countries considered major or "civilization"?

  26. pat says:

    Oh, I know that the nutjobs were babbling about Allah, but that is one of my points. In the Christian religion, one of the major tenets from Christ is, "love your neighbor as yourself." In the Islamic religion, one of the major tenets, in the later writings in the Koran, is to kill infidels, even those "people of the book." There are, have been and probably will continue to be people who pervert Christianity for their own selfish goals. But if the central tenets of one's faith calls you to kill others, simply because they are not like you, then is that a perverted faith, or an example of those who pervert that faith?

  27. 9/11: FIVE YEARS AFTER

    New Media Don't Commemorate Sept. 11: Fewer flags, please, and more grit. (Christopher Hitchens @ Slate) The last five years: "I am filled with rage at the mainstream media and my old comrades on the left, but my reaction…

  28. Anonymous says:

    "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

    Lisa · September 10, 2006 02:12 PM"

    I agree with "just visiting" above. 'She' probably heard this on campus somewhere, and throw away one-liners are the best form of argument 'she' can comprehend.

    And of course, the irony is that in each syllogistic pair the latter would not exist without the former, so 'she's' actually correct though for reasons 'she' was not even aware!

  29. Sam says:

    Excellent post, and mostly excellent comment – excusing the few nut jobs that always show up. A couple of details, however.

    The commander at Lepanto was actually Don John of Austria and Doria was Genoese, but in Austro – Spanish (Hapsburg)service – not an unusual event for Italians or others in those days (Henry Hudson was English, but in Dutch service, etc.)

    It might be better to thnk that Malta stopped the main western expansion of the Turkish fleet into the Med. Lepanto destroyed the main naval movement north into the Adriatic while the breaking of the siege of wein endedthe first phase of the land expansion into the west.

  30. Eric Blair says:

    Malta, while a notable battle, wasn't the linchpin made out here. If the Turks 'shot their bolt' on Malta, against not even the full power of Spain, France and the rest, what makes you think that that the Ottomans could project their power further? Its possible even Lepanto or Vienna in 1683 were not turning points. There's only so much a state organized like the Ottomans could do. In fact, if it were not for various Western European powers selling materiel and technology to the Ottomans, they would have collapsed faster than they did. See John Guilmartin's "Gunpowder and Galleys" for a more detailed discussion of the period.

    As was pointed out above, the Ottomans were a state, not the amphorous entity A-Q is, and could be brought to battle, and even treated with.

    Salute the knights all you want, but the enemy isn't the same, and the methods of the 16th century may not serve as well in the 21st.

    What may be a better lesson is that any solution is going to be long term, multifaceted, and not necessarily totally military.

  31. Rob Read says:

    Surrendering for peace is like being raped for chastity.

  32. Don Ciccio says:

    Just curious: did anybody ask the galley slaves – both on the Turksih and St. John galleys – how their life was?

  33. Meatball says:

    I thought one of the things we believed set us apart from the Islamists is that we don't nurse hundreds-of-years-old grudges?

    Viewing every fight as part of an epic ongoing struggle of civilizations locks you into wars you don't need to fight, blinds you to potential allies, and yields escalation where containment is the best stratge. Terrorists have to be eliminated. But we won't do that by taking on all muslims, indiscriminately, or imagining that the war in Iraq is part of a long struggle of civilizations that began in 732. It's not helpful.

    We don't, for example, need to conquer the Holy Land as the Crusaders thought they had to do. Nor need we fear an invasion by the Ottomans (who are about to join the EU!)

    Metaphors about world-historical struggles stir the blood, but they mislead and entertain far more than they instruct.

  34. Rob Mandel says:

    First, the jihadists today desire to reestablish the caliphate. Though they haven't a state now, they seek one. They cannot accomplish goal 1 without defeating or at least keeping western aggression at bay.

    Second, the OE is analogous to today's threats. They sought to expand Islamic influence and subjugate the west. It has been a continuous war sine the 7th century. They have never stopped their desire for conquest, and have never stopped their assaults. Their time frame is far different from ours. We sometimes forget how the Sedan in 1871 was a direst cause of WW1, as somehow killing a petulant archduke got all of Europe in a tizzy. Please, go read a little more history.

    Third, until we admit that Islam is nothing more than nazism with a god (little g intended), that it is merely a cult of death, the war will continue. Sure there are peaceful Muslims, few and far between. But what other religion has, at its core, the dicta of infidel and jihad? Not even the despised Christianity of the modern left does. No, the Church has at times used it as such, but it's not doctrinal but rather institutional. There's the big difference.

    I don't know what's worse, failing to know the truth, failing to see the truth, or knowing and seeing and failing to accept it.

  35. point five says:

    OK, fine, but it's not like the morality of either side of that conflict was pristine.

    Remember, it was the Catholic Kings who killed, tortured, and drove Jews out of Spain after the completion of the reconquista in 1492.

    Those Jews went to the Ottoman Empire for refuge.

    The Catholic Kings then went on to massacre and enslave millions in America, all in hoc signo: +

  36. GW Crawford says:

    Re: Lisa's pithy one liner:

    Notice how the left (Left) tries to end every discussion? By using some tired, old worn out catchphrase

    FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, Lisa. Fiour legs good.

    As to the Crusades; Western civilization had been under assault for 500 years when the Crusades began. We had very few wins to a whole mess of losses. Then we struck into the heartland of the foe, retaking what had once been Western civilization's holy land too. We had military operations at the end of our logistical rope and held on for over 200 years

    Then the Muslims did us all a favour and took out Constantinople. From that moment the West stopped looking back to Rome for everything and began looking for new ways (if we could still trade through the Big C we would not have ventured West looking for new passages to the Spice bearing orient)

  37. Porkov says:

    You really need to provide a way for us to delete embarassing posts.

  38. M. Dragon says:

    Hmm…… The Ottoman Empire was indeed a an organized, powerfull, and fairly open (for the era) civilization. That, I suspect, is the genesis of our current problem.

    When the Western Roman empire collapsed, western Europe fell into a Dark age for nearly a thousand years. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, the other major civilizations chugged along just fine.

    The Ottoman empire only collapsed relatively recently, historically speaking, namely after WWI. What we are seeing now is the Dark Age after the Fall of the Muslim Empire.

    Like the european Dark Age before it, it will be full of uncomprehending zealots viciously trying to resurrect a lost golden age.

  39. Ian Thorpe says:

    September 11 is also a the anniversary of a very significant battle in the Indian mutiny of 1857.

  40. --Chuck says:

    Lt. Col P

    Excellent writing. Although some have pointed out minor errors in attribution, the slient points are more than valid and an overwhelming analogy to what is currently happening in the war on Islam.

    Yes, it is a war on Islam, not terror. If you look at this "religeon", any comment made by a fundamentalist is easily attributed to a radical, and vice-versa, and any division between the two are so fuzzy as to be non-existant.

    Again, an excellent piece on the outcome of Iron will.

  41. CDC' says:

    Lisa wrote: "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity."

    My daughter is a virgin. How do you suppose my wife and I made her?

    Peace follows victory.

  42. Anonymous says:

    "Islam" does not mean "Peace".

    "Islam" means "Submit".

    Q: How do you spot a dhimmi?

    A: Ask what "Islam" means….

  43. Citizen Deux says:

    We are engaged, regardless of origins, in World War IV. The conflict between the Enlightened Free World (EFW) and the Islamo-Fascist Allaince (IFA). This alliance is comprised of three tiers, nation states (Iran, Syria, etc.), trans-national organizations (Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Queda) and individual actors who seek to simply spread their own personal vendetta under the guise of a larger ideological context.

    The conflict may have some roots in ancient struggles, but at its heart, it is about the quest by some (the IFA) for power and control.

    Power and control over society, land, people and resources. And this is what we must fight against.

  44. David says:

    Steve,

    The Mohammedans started it well before 732. While the Mohammedans like to think the Middle East belongs to them, remember, that before Mohmmad came along, most of the Middle East was Christian. And very few of those Middle Eastern Christians converted to Islam of their own free will. They were forced by losing wars to Islam.

    Early Christians were persecuted for over a hundred years in the beginning and then even after Constantine converted to Christianity, he didn't force the rest of the Roman Empire to convert. Certainly, there were political and financial reasons to convert, but you didn't have to pay a special tax, and you didn't lose any rights, and you certainly didn't get beheaded or thrown off a tall building if you didn't convert to Christianity.

    That is not to say that Christianity was alway tolerate, especailly to Jews. But most of the religous wars Christianity fought was between Catholics and Protestants. The Crusades were is some respects a defensive action and in another sense taking back control of wholly places that had previously been taken by force by Islam.

  45. Brian Macker says:

    So, can the Christian fundamentalists and the Muslim fundamentalists just kill each other and leave the rest of us alone?

    No, Eric, the Muslims can't. Their rules state that they merely have to enslave the Christians. Non-Christians like you need to be slaughtered or converted. Not that every muslim follows the rules.

    BTW, I don't see Christian Fundamentalists doing anything remotely like what the Muslims are doing.

  46. Rich says:

    David,

    I think that your first two paragraphs somewhat misrepresent the situations. Although Constantine's Edict of Toleration was the high point of religious toleration in the Roman world, it didn't last for long. His heirs soon attempted to stamp out paganism. Within a century of the reign of Constantine, Roman emperors had banned pagan festivals and sacrifices, closed and destroyed pagan temples, banned pagans from holding posts in the administration and encouraged acts of mob violence against pagans. By Justinian's reign in the sixth century, paganism itself, rather than just its external forms, had been made illegal. If none of this was quite as bad as the intermittent persecutions of Christians under the pagan Empire, it was still far from enlightened toleration.

    As for conversion to Islam, I don't think it's fair to say that peoples were converted to Islam by conquest. Certainly, the Muslim armies expanded explosively into the vacuum left by the mutual devastation of Rome and Persia, but for the first centuries of Muslim rule Islam was clearly the religion of the political elites and the masses in the former Roman provinces remained largely Christian. So long as they paid the jizya, this was just fine with the Muslims.

    It was just fine with most of the Christians themselves too. Many of the leading Christian families remained powerful under the Caliphs, and in fact large parts of the Monophysite clergy found their new Islamic overlords preferable to the emperors of Constantinople who had persecuted them as heretics. This situation largely continued until the fall of the Ummayad Caliphate to the Abbasids in AD750. Thereafter, a combination of economic hardship – which increased the relative weight of the jizya – and the allure of Arabic culture and political power drove the conversion of Christians to the new religion.

    Even under the Abbasids, though, Christian missionaries used the protection of the Caliphate and the vast new perspectives opened up by the eastward-facing stance of the the new dynasty to spread their religion into Central Asia and beyond to China.

    (The Zoroastrians fared much worse under Islamic conquest as they weren't "peoples of the book". But I don't suppose anyone today much cares about them.)

  47. Brian Macker says:

    Sean,

    Today's terrorists are generally of the Shia persuasion, and heavily influenced by Wahabbi-type teachings, which would be rejected by most 16th century Sunnis.

    No, the terrorists are both Shia and Sunni and the Wahabbis are Sunni.

    Don't fool yourself about the terrorists not having state sponsors either. Once the Iraqi bounty money for their families dried up the suicide bombings in Israel abated. State sponsors are not always so open however. It's already damn hard to survive in those countries without the additional burden of having to operate terrorist operations. That takes money. Even the supposedly cheap operation on 9/11 required flight school training and behind the scenes propaganda operations to get someone to the point where they are willing to sacrifice themselves.

  48. Meatball says:

    What does it mean to say we are involved in a war against Islam? Do you mean we must kill or convert every Islamic person? Wipe out the faith?

    I certainly hope not. What I believe we must do is to capture or kill those planning terrorism against the United States or its allies, and to seek cooperation with more moderate Muslims who are willing to coexist peacefully or at least do not see violence against us as being in their interest.

    If your reply is to scoff at the idea of peaceful coexistence, because true adherence to Islam requires killing or enslaving the infidels, then you have nothing to offer but the formula, "kill or convert them all."

    That position is demonstrably false — witness the millions of muslims who live in American without doing any harm to this country — and morally repellent.

  49. Sept. 11, 1565

    The great guys over at Officer's Club (now Op For) have some thoughts on the other 9/11, which occured in 1565:There is however, another September 11th that we should also remember, and from which we can take heart in our

  50. Candide says:

    "The Knights of St John were by 1565 already living anachronisms. (Today, wouldn’t they be called warmongers and the religious right?) The crusades from they derived were old history even then; the Order had been expelled first from the Holy Land and then from the fertile island of Rhodes. They were given the rock of Malta as much to keep them away from Europe as to allow them to get at the Turks, who they saw as mortal enemies. They waged ceaseless war against the Sultan in the form of commerce raiding and other operations."

    One must be always very careful with analogies. Those knights, officially rejected by European powers and still waging "ceaseless war against the Sultan in the form of commerce raiding and other operations", look more like present day terrorists, while mighty Turkish empire looks more like present day superpower.

    As to the conclusion that determined band of devoted warriors can defeat a superpower,… frankly I find it unsettling.

    So I sincerely hope your analogy doesn't hold true.

  51. David says:

    Rich,

    Thanks for history lesson. I'll try to have my facts straight next time.

  52. Rich says:

    David,

    Two good books on the subject are Freeman's The Closing of the Western Mind and, especially, Brown's The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity AD200-1000

  53. David says:

    Meatball,

    If you think Bush & company think, and have been saying, that we are at war with Islam, then I don't think you have been paying attention. We are at war with radical Islam. We have no desire to kill or convert all Muslims, and we have never said anything even remotely close to that. The United States has coexisted peacefully with Islam for most of its history.

    You are right that there are many, many Muslims who live peacefully in the U.S. and they will continue to do so, as long as they obey the laws of the land just like everybody else.

  54. Simon says:

    "And so it was that on Tuesday, September 11th 1565, the Ottoman Turks were driven from the Malta by the stalwart defense of a small group of living anachronisms and the island’s own brave inhabitants. The greatest military force in the Mediterranean was broken on the walls of the island’s fortresses, and the swords, spears and shields of the islanders and the Knights."

    Not to belittle the efforts of the Knights and the Maltese (and, btw, Malta is a fabulous place to take a holiday – beautiful and historic), but the Knights were not anachronistic in 1565: they used advanced gunnery, defensive tactics, and guerilla warfare. As well as their swords and spears, they also used flamethrowers, a kind of napalm, bombs, many many cannon and handguns of various types. Malta was very strategic, the Knights inflicted huge damage on Turkish shipping in the Western Med, just as in the 1940s Malta was used a base to sink many ships from Italy reinforcing Rommel's armies in Africa. It's a small place – about the same area as Manhatten, but like Manhattan it's historically punched well above its weight!

  55. Meatball says:

    David –

    You're right that Bush hasn't been talking about a clash between civilizations – my comments were addressed to commenters who were talking in those terms. There are a distressing number of people who believe that Islam is an inherently violent religion, and that all muslims are suspect. That's wrong, and it causes us to see people who are friendly or neutral as enemies.

    Is it helpful to talk about war with "radical Islam"? I'm less sure, but on balance I don't think so. What is a muslim who wants to be our friend supposed to say? Well, it's true I'm muslim, but I'm only lukewarm about it? Or, I'm a moderate muslim? Tepid? Mainstream?

    You put them in a box. Why not make clearer who the enemy is. Why not war against "false muslims" or "terrorists"? I believe (though I can't recall now) that there is a term that muslims have used in internal disputes to describe false prophets or a jihad that is called for wrong reasons. That's another candidate.

    Choosing the exact words isn't so very important. What matters is to identify exactly who our enemy is. And for us, the enemy is only those who take up arms against us and those who would aid them. Those who pursue a false jihad.

  56. just visiting says:

    Meatball, what the hell would these nutters have to do to finally earn the false prophet label for starting a crappy jihad? People in the M.E. only seem to care if they are killed by jews someone from the west. If you say your a muslim you can kill everyone you want and still end up a hero to these people.

  57. MIke E. says:

    They still exist as hospitallers, but if they existed today in the same form as in 1565, they would surely be the strangest NGO in the world. Imagine a merger of Catholic Charities and Blackwater; imagine Mother Teresa with a .45 and the will and skill to use it.)

    Actually, that sounds a lot like Hamas or Hezbollah. I'm not sure what that means…

  58. BT says:

    Great, another misguided historical analogy.

    This religious conflict started way before 1565 A.D. The West can blame it on Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in 1009 A.D. He started it all by destroying the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

    FYI: there were nine major Crusades from 1091 to 1271 A.D.

    It’s all interesting, but none this has anything to do with our modern struggle against Islamic extremism. Anyone that kills in the name of “God” or a god is danger to human race, regardless of their religious affiliation, and as such should be shunned by the general populous.

  59. Chris Ford says:

    Point 5 writes: OK, fine, but it's not like the morality of either side of that conflict was pristine. Remember, it was the Catholic Kings who killed, tortured, and drove Jews out of Spain after the completion of the reconquista in 1492.

    Those Jews went to the Ottoman Empire for refuge.

    The Jews were eager collaborators and middlemen for the Moors in Spain. When it became clear that the Moors were losing, they tried to switch sides to avoid the fate reserved for most collaborators. The Spanish kingdoms thought the Jews treacherous and untrustworthy, but offered them a chance to stay if they committed to loyalty to a Christian Spain by converting. Otherwise, they were to leave as allies of the Muslim invader. The majority of Jews DID initially convert to preserve the wealth they had gained as agents of the Muslims, but a number of the "conversos" as they were called were fairly readily found to have no sincerity in conversion. The Inquisition was set up to root out the deception. Jews left in droves.

    And have tried ever since to claim that they were the "victims" of the Reconquista rather than the Moors sidekicks.

    If there was any injustice, it was to the Moors of Granada who had made peace with Christians under treaty, who had abandoned Jihad, but were expelled anyways. The Christian writings of the time were open in their admiration for certain Muslim settlements, but not for the Jews – who were thought to be collaborators of the Moors, oppressing Christians while being without loyalty to the Moors, purely doing it to gain personal wealth and power ( bad things in medieval Christian thought).

    Many wanted the Jews expelled without the chance to convert, but an "enlightened" Pope thought it right to offer a chance at conversion.

    The Jews were not "offered refuge" in the Ummah after 1492. That is where they came from – some accompanying the initial invading Muslim armies back in 710-720 AD, then others travelling to Spain for job opportunities under the Moors. They simply went back the same way they arrived, but gave up wealth, which is now in "reparations" litigation as well as some Jewish groups trying to negotiate with Zapatero for Spanish passports as partial compense.

  60. just visiting for th says:

    "This religious conflict started way before 1565 A.D"

    Really? Maybe the author of the post noticed that 11 September might matter to insane muslims. I think it is funny that you and the rest of the morons in the thread assumed that the original post had something to do with a religious war.(not that you would project your annoying bullshit on something as serious as a war;)

    FYI: think before you type.

  61. Lance says:

    Great read. I posted a lead-in to this with a link back to you at our site. Hope you don't mind.

  62. BT says:

    Just Visiting, why are all of your comments so vitriolic? Maybe you have an idea worth posting?

    I read the post, and know more history than most. You are right that this post is not about a religious war; nevertheless, the historical parallel to 9/11/1565 to 9/11/2001 is ridiculous. It is nothing more than small minds attempting to apply perspectives on complex issues. I think all historical parallels are farcical and I am tired of hearing about them, so I rant.

    “Annoying bullshit” is required because fighting without a strategy to end the conflicts with some acceptable outcomes is the dumbest thing we as nation can do. That is what we are doing now. A war of attrition is a complete waste of American lives. If a positive solution is not found then they all died for nothing. Is that serious enough?

  63. La Vallette says:

    It was because the Knights Of St.John and the people of Malta fought in 1565, the Great Seige of Malta, even if not the most critical, was the key event in halting the western spread of the Turkish Caliphate into the Western Mediterranean and the first major blow in the beginning of its decline. It

    is the courage of the Knights and of the Maltese that continued to fight that they could rightly boast on the main gate (Portes des Bombes)to the approaches to the Valletta defences

    "DUM THRACES UBIQUE PUGNO

    IN SEDE SIC TUTA CONSTO"

    that is "While I fight the Turks wherever they may be, I live in confort in this safe place "

    If you dont fight you lose.!!!!!!

  64. Ken says:

    Back then, the Ottoman Empire, for all its many flaws, was the meritocratic, open, tolerant and efficient side.

    Under this Sultan.

    But what about the next Sultan?

  65. ftm29 says:

    Sometimes I wonder if the Commies didn't have it correct when Lenin stated that "Religion is the opiate of the masses." I almost miss the days when we were facing down the "Evil Empire." At least we had some common ground like the fact that we all wanted to live. You never heard of a commie VBIED.

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