Ancient Enemies

In conflict resistless each toil they endur’d
Till their foes shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation.
And pale beam’d the crescent, its splendor obscur’d
By the light of the star-spangl’d flag of our nation.

— Francis Scott Key

guards.jpgThe tribes of Araby and the tribes of Persia have fought since times ancient. When Alexander conquered Egypt the Arabs flung open town gates and flogged the Persians out as he passed for the Persians were more hated than the new conquerers.

Today we see no change — Sunni and Shia are again at odds for ascendency in the Middle East, egged on by prideful despots. As one power rises the other will fall; both held fast in hatred and enthralled to tyranny.

Occasionally there are interlopers in their internecine wars, the Greeks, the Jews, The Romans, The Americans; but when it comes to precedence of place their pride feels its greatest sting when their ancient tribal enemy rises above them.

We are at such at time again — and in four countries the strife between these ancient enemies threatens to overthrow stability and four existing governments. The pattern of these struggles remains constant throughout history — the land always ruled by tyrants, opposed by rebellious mystics wrapping themselves in twisted religion who are abetted by the neighboring tribes driven by timeless emnity.

Centuries ago the west freed themselves from rulers tied to deity with the Magna Carta and many bloody wars that birthed modern liberty, the Reformation, and the Renaissance. In Islamic lands there’s been no reformation, no declaration of individual rights, no rendering unto Ceasar. Instead it’s the dictator, the monarch, the tyrant, the despot tied to Allah who still rules.

When rule is based on Allah’s will, and all are slaves to the state and Allah both, then government is weak, for it takes little to convince ignorant slaves that you know Allah’s will better than the current ruler. All the despotic kingdoms and dictatorships of the Middle East and Asian sub-continent are like feathers upon the sand, awaiting the deathwind of the next religious fanatic.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan we see two parliamentary governments under attack by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their political arm, the MMA. The MMA, upset with passage of the Women’s protection bill, threatens to resign and disable the weak parliamentary government in Pakistan ruled by the party of Musharraf. Musharraf in turn recently escaped three attempts to assassinate him. Neighboring states aid the terrorists, Iran, India, and of course both Pakistan and Afghanistan agitate against each other.

In Lebanon we see fledgeling democracy being throttled by the political thugs of Hizb’Allah, who are also threatening to resign from parliamentary government and hold the citizens of Lebanon hostage. A head of state was assassinated, and Hezb’allah is aided by neighboring states. (Iran and Syria)

In Iraq we see the Sadrists threatening resignation, and holding the fledgling Iraqi democracy hostage, egged on by Al Qaeda. Many heads of state have been assassinated, and the Mahdi Armies are aided by neighboring states. (Iran for the Mahdis, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen for Al Qaeda.)

In “Palestine” we see Fatah and Hamas at civil war, with no real ruling authority. Thanks to the Israelis, the Hamas and FATAH factions don’t have to assassinate each other – a tip to the IDF gains them what they need. Hamas and FATAH are aided by neighboring states. (Most Sunni Arab countries aid Fatah, and HAMAS is funded in large part by Iran.)

In each case above you glimpse the ancient emnity and you see tactics exactly the same. You see a political arm backed by a terrorist militia, aided and abetted by neighboring tyrants and madmen. Do you wonder that the tactics are the same, the timing the same, and the aim the same? You really shouldn’t.

By pointing to external enemies these tyrants survive, they externalize all problems and make others the reason for the dirt, dust, death, and despair in their lands. They point to America and Israel as the great satans, for there are two enemies more ancient even than these and they side with one, while America and Israel side with the other.

Liberty must always oppose tyranny, freedom must always oppose slavery. So you have it that America has fought three wars against these tyrants. The first was at the birth of our nation, and below you see the first famous song written by Francis Scott Key:

“Warrior’s Return”

When the warrior returns from the battle afar
To the home and the country he was nobly defended,
Oh! Warm by the welcome to gladden his ear,
And loud be the Joys that his perils are ended!
In the full tide of song, let his fame roll along.
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng.
Where mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
Columbians a band of thy brothers behold!
Who claim their reward in they heart’s warm emotion:
When thy cause, when thy honour urg’d onward the bold,
In vain frown’d the desert in vain rag’d the ocean.
To a far distant shore to the battle’s wild roar
They rush’d they fair fame and thy right to secure.
Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
In conflict resistless each toil they endur’d
Till their foes shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation:
And pale beam’d the Crescent, its splendor obscured
By the light of the star-spangled flag of our nation.
Where each flaming star gleam’d a meteor of war,
And the turban’d heads bowed to the terrible glare.
Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
Our fathers who stand on the summit of fame,
Shall exultingly hear, of their sons, the proud story,
How their young bosoms glow’d with the patriot flame,
How they fought, how they fell, in the midst of their glory.
How triumphant they rode, o’er the wandering flood,
And stain’d the blue waters with infidel blood;
How mixt with the olive the laurel did wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
Then welcome the warrior return’d from afar,
To the home and the country he so nobly defended.
Let the thanks due to valor now gladden his ear,
And loud be the joy that his perils are ended.
In the full tide of song, let his fame roll along.
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng.
Where mixt with the live the laurel shall wave
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
New York Evening Post, January 9, 1806, Boston Independent Chronicle, December 30, 1805

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Walter Tevis, from whom I borrowed some phrasing above – Walter originally wrote this:

“My life is light, like a feather upon the back of my hand awaiting the deathwind.”

Shadows stand tall at the dusk and the dawn of the day

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