“Two Romes have fallen. The third stands. And there will be no fourth. No one shall replace your Christian Tsardom!”
Letter composed by the Russian monk Philotheus in 1510 to their son Grand Duke Vasilli III
Templar is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side,
for his soul is protected by the armor of faith,
just as his body is protected by the armor of steel.
He is thus doubly armed and need fear neither demons nor men.
AD 1135 by Bernard de Clairvax
As the old saying goes, history may not repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes…
One thousand years ago, faced with declining influence and power against a stronger Byzantine empire to the east, and expanding Muslim armies to the south, the fading papacy in what is now Western Europe launched a move to expand influence and push back enemy forces; it was all couched in religion and called the Crusades.
The Christian armies fought mainly against the somewhat newly arrived Shia empires in the Levant, temporarily conquering Jerusalem, and later battled Sunni forces in Central Asia, and Southern Europe.
Today, we see a version of history repeating itself. Unable to project power globally, the Orthodox Christian army of the Russian Federation, which is closely aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, launched an expeditionary force several years ago in the Levant to maintain and expand Russian access and influence in the region. They have been largely successful in their quest. Russian President Vladimir Putin has played a weak hand well.
Today Christianity is aligned with the Shia Islamic forces of Iran, and fighting against the remnants of the Sunni Ottoman Empire (Which eventually defeated Byzantium), President Erdogan and his Turkish military, and Sunni Islamist forces.
When the Byzantine Empire fell, Vladimir the Great of Ukraine had already Christianized the Rus Slavic lands and established the Russian Orthodox Church, a spinoff of its Greek cousin, which was eventually ruled by the tsars in Moscow, who used its divine blessing as a way to maintain power. The tsars believe they were the Third Holy Roman Empire after Constantinople fell to the Muslims, which is now called Istanbul. Putin has followed in the tsar’s footsteps with this strategy.
As the song goes…
Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night
Every gal in Constantinople
Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you’ve a date in Constantinople
She’ll be waiting in Istanbul..
Now Russia and Turkey are shooting down each others jets, drones, and bombing each others soldiers. For most of the conflict, proxy forces have born the brunt of the violence, but now Turkish troops are dying en masse and the world is on the brink of a conflict between Putin’s Modernized military and Turkey, the guardian of NATO’s southern flank.
The weak link in Putin’s strategy is the approaching collapse of the Islamic Republic in Iran, which has been weakened significantly by direct pressure from the Trump administration, in contrast to the appeasement of Obama.
The question on the mind of analysts around the world is — did President Donald Tump do harm or do good with respect to American interests by pulling U.S. forces out of Syria?
We think the geopolitical players in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Southern Europe have been fighting each other literally for millennia.
It will be interesting to see if Moscow has the stomach for a fight against Turkey, which sees a demilitarized zone along its border with Syria as an existential issue, in short, one it is willing to fight for. Moscow is also being squeezed by a robust Israeli effort to the south to ensure Jerusalem’s security against rabid Shia militias and Iranian pressure.
However, the obvious fact is…this is not America’s fight.
Trump was right.
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