Polemics & Exchanges

On Crusading

Kudos to Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, whose “New Grand Strategy” (American Interest, December) tells us what sensibly ought to be.  The stooges inhabiting Foggy Bottom will never look up from their feed troughs to show half the intelligence of your master diplomat.  I wish him Godspeed on his new ventures, and wish that Obama had the sense and courage to defy his masters and adopt that column’s strategy—and the strategist—as his own.

Fr. Hugh Barbour’s inquiry into the “theological case for the Crusades” (“Sola Scriptura,” Views), with its anchor on indulgences, has some merit, but there was much more to the initial impetus to the crusading movement than that.  Indeed, as the theological essence became more dominant in the later “Crusades,” they became more like religious “statements” and increasingly less successful militarily.

The only Crusade that was in any true measure a success was the first, while the rhetoric of Urban II was more a trigger setting in motion a militant wave that had been building for generations.  As Father Hugh noted, the Norman conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily, and the burgeoning Reconquista, preceded the crusading effort directed into the Middle East.

Just one factor illustrating that the Crusades had less a theological than a political and economic basis is the role played by the Normans...

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