Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Convert or Cut a Deal


Convert or Die is a Waste of a Good Axe.

Convert Or Die is a waste of a good axe.  Those who convert are unreliable, and the rest are worth more sold as slaves.  Those who must die are those whose death sets an example, one will do.  Better convert or Cut a Deal.  Machiavelli:

Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or

crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge. Machiavelli, The Prince


Machiavelli also warns that one must kill all of those in need, executed all at once by one of their own, whose body is displayed as an apology once done.  Chicago style.

The act of conversion (or surrender) must be credible and readily recognized by the capturing force.   In WW2, the Germans would surrender only with a duly signed certificate and delivered with specific places, times and manner of surrender. 

WW 2 Surrender Leaflets/ Safe Passes


In order to facilitate surrender or conversion of non-Muslim forces and places facing a Muslim force, only the Shahada need be pronounced:


These words are central to the faith that in various forms of calligraphy are found everywhere.   It is a commitment to the rules and regulations of Islam.    One sentence. 

This facilitated the imposition of what we call today “Stability Operations” which includes Civil Affairs and Military Governance.   Islam grew as either a religiously motivated army or a militarily motivated religion.  The two are inseparable.  As well as religion and the state. 


Conquests of the first Caliphates

This undoubtedly facilitated the rapid expansion of Islam under Mohammed, and his immediate successors from Arabia to Kabul to Spain.  In addition was the ability of the Commanders of Islamic forces to negotiate with those who might have resisted or remained as a hostile presence in the rear.  This allowed those “conquered” to maintain that part of their culture most commonly known in the West as family law, and the customs of the village. 

This is particularly noted by Khalid ibn-al Walid on his conquest of Damascus in 635 AD:

“In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful. This is what Khalid ibn al-Walid would Grant to the inhabitants of Damascus if he enters therein:


He promises to give them security for their lives, property, and churches. Their city shall not be demolished, neither shall any Muslim be quartered in their houses. Thereunto we give them the pact of Allah and the protection of his Prophet, the caliphs, and the believers.


So long as they pay the poll tax, nothing but good shall befall them.”11



This was particularly applied those whose religion is “of the book” of Abraham. Christians and Jews were able to rise to positions of wealth and power within the realm of Islam, particularly with reference to Arab Muslim polities (nations are a recent development).  When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1500, they either went to Protestant nations (Holland, England) or to Ottoman Turkey.  There they served as valuable intelligence assets. 

 The Napoleonic Wars marked the he reversal of these accommodations by extreme nationalism or by extreme religious oppression, a process that began to be expressed in the face of the growth of Western Imperialism in Africa and the Middle East.   That villages and communities of other faiths and customs that are now being destroyed lasted over a thousand years under a far more amendable rule.  If Islam was inherently intolerant, these would have disappeared centuries ago. 


Places where tolerance was officially observed in the Ottoman Empire

The Crusades and the Crusader states existed in a Muslim world under these rules of tolerance, give or take a massacre or two. 

Massacre, Pillage and Plunder.

The use of excessive violence as part of military or political execution comes under several reoccurring circumstances:

Richard I leading the counter attack at the Battle of Arsuf
A Rout of Retreating Forces.  The fled became the dead in most battles fought at close quarters. This included the not so ancient practice of bayonetting the wounded.  The key to success is to keep the enemy running unable to form a defense and urgently in need of getting away.  This is where the cavalry is let loose. 


The Turks break into Constantinople in 1451

The Sack of a City.  This occurs when the walls of the city or main defenses have been penetrated allowing the assault force full or rage and blood lust had their way in most messy a fashion.  The plunder taken was traditionally a part of the wage and benefits package in olden days.  Shown: The Fall of Constantinople 1451.



Execution of the Usual Suspects.  These are those on the other side for whom special enmity is bestowed plus those whose mere presence is a clear and present danger, less those who can be turned to advantage. 

After the Battle of Hattin, Saladin had all the Knights of the Hospital and the Temple executed, save for the Templar Grandmaster Girard de Rideford whose incompetence lead the Army into the valley of death.  Along with him was the King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan whose incompetence as King broke the Kingdom as a major player.  Saving the dud can do good works.


Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem surrenders to Saladin

Blackmail.  This is the threat of massacre, pillage and/or plunder to achieve a political or military objective.  Sometimes one has to make one’s point, give a head or two.


Massacre at Acre under Richard I's orders

Richard I executed the population of Acre in retaliation for what he thought was stalling on ransom by Saladin. 

Saladin established a reputation with the Crusaders as an upstanding and honorable man, right or wrong. This respect in terms of the rules of war, migrated back to Europe to found the basis of what later became Chivalry.

There was a specific punishment for Templar Knights who said the Sahada consisted of a year of the silent treatment and eating on the floor like the dogs.  Some other knights stayed on in Muslim forces to be heard of now and then.

The Crusader cities had commercial and political alliances with each other which alliances were often wrecked by outsiders full of piss and vinegar.  Tiberias and Ibelin of the Army of Jerusalem were on the verge on signing an alliance under the protection of Saladin.  This was wrecked by the Grandmaster, and the Templars up to the Horns of Hattin.

Since then, much has been made of the bloody passages in the Koran and other Muslim books as “proof” of inherent Islamic bloodiness. Likewise are found the same in the Old and New Testament, from which traditions the Koran was written.  Like the Ten Commandments, they are applied as much in the breach as the observation. 

Students and practitioners of the profession at arms must objectively assess the circumstances lest the subjective swallow them whole.  The Romans did at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 against Khalid and the die was cast.


Gordon S Fowkes, LTC USA RET, KCTJ





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