Perspective

Jihad's Fifth Column

No one on the planet, by now, has not heard of the violence that greeted Pope Benedict’s references to Emperor Manuel II and his reflections on Islam.  Manuel, invariably (and unfairly) described as “obscure” or “forgotten,” lived in one of those interesting ages of the world that teach lessons to those who are not blind and deaf.  In his father’s lifetime, the Eastern Roman Empire’s powers of resistance had sunk so low that John V had to swear fealty to Murad I, the Ottoman sultan.  Manuel had himself been a hostage at Sultan Bayezid’s court and was forced to fight against his own empire.  His old host, Bayezid, laid siege to Constantinople from 1394 to 1402, and, like his father, Manuel went on a fruitless journey to the West in search of support.  Fortunately, Timur and his Tartar horde defeated and killed Bayezid, giving the empire a short breathing space.

Manuel married a Serbian noblewoman, Jelena, the daughter of Constantine Draga.  Constantine had been a wise statesman who fully understood the Ottoman threat to Europe.  He survived the disastrous battle of the Marica River that doomed the northern Balkans to the Ottoman yoke, but, forced to become Bayezid’s vassal, he died fighting the Christian Wallachians.  This was ever the Turkish tactic: to keep the West divided against itself.

To understand the suicidal conduct of...

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