Monday, February 28, 2011

Lucia Is Syria still the keystone?

I wonder if this might still hold true.

Hilaire Belloc asks, What would have happened if the First Crusade had taken back Syria from the men of the desert? in his book, The Battleground. At the end of Chapter 14, he answers:

...With the French chivalry permanently established in Syria, Islam would have been cut in two. Its eastern half might have survived, its western would have been doomed. The Mediterranean and its islands, which had fallen into the power of Islam, would have been Roman and Christian again; there would have been done in a fruitful Christian time what is now being attempted in our own sterile time of Apostasy. Roman land would have been recovered in its entirety and Christendom would have become Christendom again.

For Syria is the keystone. To hold Syria permanently, with sufficient recruitment and armament, is to cut the bridge between Asia, including the men of the desert, and North Africa. Syria strongly held makes the enemy hold over Egypt impossible, for Syria strongly held is the holding also of the neck between North Africa and the Levant. Syria strongly held cuts all advance from Asia towards the Bosphorus, for it flanks the highlands of Anatolia. Syria strongly held is the recovery of the Roman East. Had the Roman West been able to conquer Syria and hold it strongly now after this first enthusiasm of the Crusades, Islam would have been thrown back to where those other enemies had been before the defeat of the Byzantines on the Yarmuk. But that splendid effort-the last effort was to fail.

Oh, and check out this pro-Islam clip of a movie on the Battle of Yarmuk.

9 comment(s):

bez999 said...

Well, if one would have said Mesopotamia it would have been closer to accurate I guess.
Note by the way that a US with the balls to actually pursue global interests would still have the capability and strategic basis to relatively simply achieve this, even now.

Lucia Maria said...


Belloc specifically means Damascus, and then the wider Syrian region, which includes Jerusalem. But Jerusalem and where Israel is right now is not enough. Also, Damascus was the first major city taken by Islam before the Yarmuk battle with Eastern Roman Empire.

I fear Israel is in the same position that the Crusaders were when the established the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the twelfth century - when Islam unites, they'll be toast.

bez999 said...

Lucia, I'm not convinced that is the case. Don't forget that muslims are all bleating but little gumption, while the opposite applies to the israelis. Back in the time of the crusades the technological standards were pretty much reversed, or at best somewhat equal. With the crusaders having to rely on extreme supply lines and very little unity on the home front.
In contrast, the israelis are well prepared have huge stockpiles of weaponry, a well-disciplined army, and will literally fight for their lives.
My guess is that a hastily cobbled together league of islamic nations that attacks too quickly will get their asses whooped in a bad way. The real danger for Israel is a drawn out political/diplomatic process and indecisiveness of its allies (or even covert support for its enemies by allies that have been rotted from within).

Murray said...

Why are they fighting 1st centry Romans (who would have wupped them without working up a sweat btw) in the 7th century?

Lucia Maria said...


What would 7th Century Romans (East Romans) look like instead?

hittingmetalwithahammer said...

They had virtually no armour, round shields, had abandoned the priciples of the Marian reforms, become dependant on light misilies like darts, lost their agressive short sword thechniques, ceased to fight in line and adopted the barbarian wedge formation and were largely mercinaries. Soft and lacked the motivation of the citizen soldier.

In the later empire one mother worte to a friend complaining that her son had gone off to join the "barbarians", meaning he had joined the army.

That was 300 years earlier. The eastern Byzantines were NOT Romans. they liked to effect themselves as such, but they were nothing like the Late republican and early empire Romans.

What is being shown is early first century citizen Romans of the regular legions. They don;t leave holes in their lines for people on horses to jump into and didn't wave swords about like they were flags. they got all stabby with locked shields.

Lucia Maria said...


Yet they had recently defeated the Persians in 628, and as my link above states, "the East Roman army of 636 was still one of the most professional military forces on the Earth." I find it amazing that they were defeated.

And to all intents and purposes, they were Romans, as Rome had expanded to a vast area, and therefore been populated for centuries by very civilised people. Much like we are Westerners, even though we are here in NZ.

hittingmetalwithahammer said...

We disagree.

There were certainly not the Roman military of 5900 years early in equipment, training or style of fighting.

We're currently in the territory of my job.

hittingmetalwithahammer said...

Oh yeah they had also stopped equiping the legions with artillery reducing the combat effectiveness by a massive factor.

60 bolt throwers and 10 2- 4 mina stone thrower per legion with regional heavy artillery of 10 - 20 large calibre weapons.

The ability to put 4 arrows a second on the ground out to 300 metres can actually be useful in things like "battles".

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