|Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's|
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These pages contain the complete manuscript of the new book
Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny,
written by John J. Xenakis.
This text is fully copyrighted. You may copy or print out this
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Let's face it: Most Americans know almost nothing about Eastern Europe, and if they think about it at all, they think it's pretty much the same as Western Europe.
And many Americans don't even know that Orthodox Christianity exists, and if they think about it at all, they think that it's just a simple variation of Catholic and Protestant Christianity.
Neither of these beliefs could be farther from the truth.
First, Orthodox Christians and Western Christians have never been particularly friendly ever since the Roman Empire collapsed, and later they became bitter enemies. That bitterness still exists today, and could be seen in 2000 in the anti-Catholic riots and demonstrations when the Pope visited Greece. It could be seen again in 2003, when the Pope was greeted with similar riots when visiting Serbia.
Second, Eastern Europe cannot be understood except through the centuries-old conflict between Orthodox Christianity and Islam, a struggle that's still being fought in wars today, especially in the Mideast.
In recent history, the fault line between Islam and Orthodox Christianity is being expressed through conflict in the following geographical areas:
Of these three regions, there is one that is even more volatile than the others are, because it's where "east meets west": In the Balkans, Western Christianity, Orthodox Christianity and Islam all meet.
Having noted that, we'd have to add one more fault line region, perhaps the most volatile of all: Jerusalem. Among Christians, there has been a historic struggle between Catholics and Orthodox over who is the primary protector of Jerusalem.
Considering Eastern Europe as a whole over the past 2000 years, the struggle between Orthodox Christianity and Islam has led to massive invasions and wars that caused the rise and fall of huge empires. There are cultural memories of those wars on both sides, and the desire on both for revenge for actions committed centuries ago has not abated. From our America-centric point of view, we have little understanding of how deep this struggle goes, and why it's far from over.
So, as you read this chapter, and see how Islam changed the map of the world, keep in mind that the map of the world is going to change again in the next 20 years. Even if the United States once again escapes massive invasion on its soil, as it always has in the past because of its isolation from the rest of the world, there will still be major changes to the map of the world in Africa, the Mideast, and the region between Pakistan and India, and probably also to the region of eastern Europe and western Asia. It doesn't take rocket science to figure this out -- just look at the explosion in the population of Muslim adherents that's occurred in the last few decades. In a world where we know few things with certainly, we can be fairly certain that these country boundaries are going to change in the next 20 years.
In chapter 7, we showed how the Golden Age of Greece was an awakening that led to the spread of Greek culture, and we showed how Judaism grew from ancient times, leading to the ministry of Jesus as an awakening that led to the spread of Christianity -- and by that we mean what today is called Orthodox Christianity.
The life of Mohammed and the birth of Islam was yet another awakening, as we showed, creating a new empire that clashed with the existing empire based on Judaism and Orthodox Christianity.
Let's begin by putting all the events before the birth of Mohammed into perspective.
Because of the scope of the conflict we're describing, it's worthwhile taking just a moment to get a big picture. Let's briefly go back tens of thousands of years to the origins of our human species.
Anatomically modern human beings began to appear in North Africa around 100,000 years ago. From there they spread around the world -- south into Africa, into Europe 35,000 years ago, south to Australia 50,000 years ago, north to Russia, and then east across what is now the Bering Strait (there used to be a land bridge there), to populate the Americas 40,000 years ago.
Eventually, these migrations created the thousands of civilizations that have merged into the nine civilizations we know today. The adjoining map shows today's major civilizations, and where they're located. Any region on the boundary of two of these civilizations has the potential for a major war, or at least a battle site.
We begin with the history of several empires that existed before Mohammed's birth. Then we'll be able to continue by showing how Islam affected these civilizations.
Let's start with something we've seen before (chapter 7): The empire created by Alexander the Great.
The significance of Alexander's empire is that it spread Greek culture and the Greek language throughout the Mideast, northern Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, and even further east into western Asia. This provided the region with a cultural cohesion that later resulted in one empire after another -- the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Islamic empire.
It's one thing to create an empire, it's an entirely different thing to maintain it and administer it. You have to set up a local government in each region to collect taxes and provide public services, and you have to have an army to protect each region from attack by other empire builders.
Under Alexander the Great, the Macedonians weren't too good at long-term administration, and so Alexander's empire didn't last long after his death. But when the Romans started moving in a century later, things were different. The Romans were masters at administration and in maintaining an empire.
As shown in this map, the Roman Empire was quite extended. To the east, the Romans conquered Greece and Macedonia, and from there went on to conquer much of Alexander's old empire. However, the Romans went west as well, conquering much of northern Africa, all of Western Europe, even extending into the British Isles.
However, the Germanic regions were not subjugated, and those peoples became the downfall of the Roman Empire. The Romans used the word "barbarians" to describe the uncivilized hordes with colorful names that poured in from other regions, especially Germany, starting in the 200s.
As we've already said, it's hard to administer and protect a far-flung empire, and in 285, the Roman Empire was administratively split into an eastern and western region.
The western Romans held off the hordes for a long time, but finally the Visigoths, under the leader Alaric, sacked Rome in 410. The Romans recaptured Rome, but then succumbed to the Huns, under Attila the Hun. The Huns were driven off, but in 476, the Roman Empire collapsed under attack from the Vandals out of Germany. There were just so many "barbarians" that the Roman Empire could withstand.
The split of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western regions was not just purely administrative; it was the beginning of a fateful split in Christianity that has enormous effects in today's world.
The collapse of Rome and the Western Roman Empire was also the end of the original Orthodox Christian religion in Western Europe.
That left the Eastern Roman Empire, much of which still spoke Greek from Alexander's days.
The city that we know today as Istanbul, Turkey, had the Greek name of Byzantium in Alexander's days, and was renamed Constantinople by the Romans, after Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor. Constantinople became the center of the new Byzantine Empire, which was based on the old East Roman Empire.
By 600, there was no longer any recognizable Roman Empire, although there was still the Pope and Catholicism in the West. As the above map shows, the Byzantine Empire, centered in Constantinople, held sway in the East and northern Africa.
This period also produced doctrinal splits between the Catholic and Orthodox Christian religions. The major difference between the two was a philosophical difference, having to do with the separation of Church and State.
The Byzantine Church was based on Greek culture, and an old pagan religion where the Greek gods were immortal, but had the same weaknesses and foibles as regular human beings. The pagan Greek gods were heavily involved in human affairs and affairs of state as well. The Greek cultural view was that religion and politics are intertwined. That's why today there's a Greek Orthodox Church, closely related to the Greek government, and a Russian Orthodox Church, closely related to the Russian government.
This is related to the concepts of "top-down" and "bottom-up" religions that we discussed in chapter 7.
The Catholic Church evolved quite differently. When the barbarian hordes were sacking Rome, the view of the Catholics was that Rome was one thing, but the Church was quite another thing. Sacking Rome shouldn't mean sacking the Church. So the Catholic view, that Church and state should be completely separate, was quite different from the Byzantine view which intermingled them. That's why the Catholic religion today, and also its Protestant offshoots, are considered to be stateless religions (except insofar as Vatican City can be considered a "state").
A final note on the last map: The Byzantine Empire had spread into Africa as far south as Ethiopia. Although the Muslims soon pushed the Byzantines out of Africa, an Ethiopian Orthodox church remained, creating a fault line between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in eastern Africa. Today, there is still a war going on across that fault line.
Following Mohammed's death in 632, his followers conquered and converted many people. The resulting empire grew, then pulled back, and then grew again under the Turks, and them pulled back again. The final Muslim empire ended with the destruction of the Turkish Ottoman Empire after World War I. The following pages describe this in more detail.
It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that Islam spread like wildfire. As early as 12 years after Mohammed's death, Islamic warriors had taken over most of the Arabian Peninsula, including some lands formerly under control of the Byzantine Empire.
The main problems faced by the early Muslims were determining who would be "caliph," the man inheriting Mohammed's mantle of leadership. There were three groups of contenders: Those who had been with Mohammed in his early days in Mecca, those who converted when he went to Medina, and those who converted later, when he returned to Mecca.
A crisis civil war within the community occurred in 656 among different followers, resulting in the selection of Ali ibn Abi Talib, an early convert and distant relative of Mohammed, as the fourth caliph. His victory did not end the battle, however. He was assassinated in 661, giving power to another clan, the descendants of al-Abbas, an uncle of Mohammed. This resolved the civil war, but when Ali's son was killed during a rebellion in 680, a new movement within the community was formed: The "partisans of Ali" or "shi'at Ali," called "Shi'a" for short, to distinguish themselves from the Abbasids, the descendants of al-Abbas.
This was the beginning of the division of Muslims into two groups, known today as Shi'a and Sunni Muslims.
Differences between the two groups differed along geographical and philosophical lines. The geographical differences were resolved with the center of Islam was transferred to Baghdad.
This quarreling does not seem to have hindered the spread of Islam at all. By 750, Islam had spread much farther than some of early partisans probably believed could even be possible. To the north, the Byzantine Empire in the Mideast was squeezed closer to its capital in Constantinople. To the west, all former Byzantine possessions in northern Africa were conquered, and in eastern Africa, Islam even jumped over to Europe and took control of much of Spain. To the east, Islam spread far into what is India today, challenging the Hindu culture, and setting the stage for the wars between Pakistan and India today.
However, the philosophical differences that grew out this family went much deeper, and have not really been resolved to this day.
The philosophical quarrels were over which theologians, besides Mohammed himself, could define Islamic doctrine. Could doctrine change with the times, or even be redefined by new theologians who came on the scene, claiming the mantle of Mohammed?
The philosophical differences were resolved by a sort of "holier than thou" argument. The Abbasids challenged the Shi'as by asserting that only the prophet Mohammed could be a source of Islamic doctrine. This meant that the only valid sources of spiritual guidance are the Quran itself, and also the "sunna," the habitual behaviors of Mohammed himself, as recorded by his contemporaries. This created a mode of thought that came to be known as Sunnism, as distinct from Shi'ism.
This battle reverberates to today in two different ways.
First, the Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims form a sometimes violent fault line within the Islamic community itself. This fault line was exploited in the extremely violent Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s.
Second, this philosophical difference gives rise to Islamic extremism and terrorism today. The Quran is a fixed, well defined work, but how well defined are the Sunna, Mohammed's habitual behaviors? Ahhh, that's not so clear, and is subject to all sorts of interpretations.
All of these philosophical discusses were lost, of course, on the ordinary farmer or merchant trying to get through the day and feed his family. In fact, it's not likely that belief in Islam went deep at first, even in regions conquered by Muslim warriors. For example, Muslims paid lower taxes than non-Muslims did, and so anyone could save money simply by converting to Islam, whether he really believed in it or not, by simply reciting a few words ("There is no God except Allah, and Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah").
However, Islamic culture spread to the conquered areas, and became deeper with time, for two reasons.
First, because it was the official religion and people could gain political favor by public prayer and attending mosques. In the course of several generations, the Islamic culture became the common culture.
The second reason for the spread of Islamic culture was the spread of the Arabic language. Conversion to Muslim may be easy, but it carried with it the acceptance that Arabic was the language in which the revelation had been given. Since Arab rulers spoke Arabic, the easiest way to deal with the government was to do so in Arabic, and so Arabic became the language of everyday life, as part of the general spread of Islamic culture.
By 1100, both Islam and Orthodox Christianity were on the ropes, threatened with extinction, or at least marginalization to a few enclaves. As we'll now see, both religions experienced resurgence based on conversions by large populations from the vast steppes of central Asia.
In the process, numerous hostile regions came into existence, regions where the two religions faced each over fault lines, and where these hostilities continue to the present day.
The adjoining map shows four important regions in 1100 AD:
These regions contained fault lines that are still hostile today.
This allows us to illustrate an important fact: That the fault lines that may lead us into war today were troubled regions 900 years ago.
So let's take a look at what happened.
Starting from around the year 1000, the Islamic Empire was under attack from all sides, in Europe, Africa and Asia; furthermore, the state was becoming increasingly inefficient, bureaucratic and disrespected.
The thing that confuses many people about this period is that they think that the Turks came from Turkey. Actually, the country that we call Turkey today is so called because the Turks came to occupy it. The Turks originated in central Asia, and they attacked, conquered and occupied the region now known as Turkey, which is the reason it's come to be known as Turkey.
Actually, the Turks were not new to the Arabs. The Turkish Empire had spanned much of Asia, from end to end, in the 600s, and was attacked in East Asia by the Chinese and in west Asia by the Arabs. By the 800s, the Arabs were using Turks as slaves and mercenaries, even entire armies of Turkish mercenaries.
|The thing that confuses many people about this period is that they think that the Turks came from Turkey|
Eventually, the Turks poured into the region in waves, and an incredible thing happened that changed the course of history: The Turks wholeheartedly adopted the religion of Islam, becoming Sunni Muslims, and in some ways were more Muslim than the Arabs.
The most important of the invading waves was known as the Seljuks, after the name of the family that led them. Under their leadership, the entire Islamic Empire was brought under control, and the empire itself was expanded.
On the eastern end of the Islamic Empire, there were created two religious fault lines that are of importance today: On the border with India, the Kashmir region has remained an area of major contention, today between Islamic Pakistan and Hindu India. And on the northern border, the region of Chechnya is a fault line within today's Russia between the Muslims and (as we'll see below) the Orthodox Christians.
Speaking of fault lines, the champion fault line of them all, that perennial, enduring, never ending region of hostility is the line separating Jerusalem from the Arab community around it. Time after time after time, throughout history, every major war in western civilization, going back thousands of years, seems to involve Jerusalem in one way or another.
The arrival of the Turks created a ping-pong effect of attacks and counter-attacks between Christians and Muslims, and bitter feelings between Roman Christians and Orthodox Christians. As we'll see, the bitter feelings among these three populations continue to the present day, resulting in World War I in the 1910s, and the genocidal war in the Balkans in the 1990s.
The Christians in Europe became increasingly aware and nervous about the Muslim Turks pouring into East Asia, pushing back the Byzantine Empire, especially when the Turks won a major victory against the Byzantines in 1075.
The Pope called for European Catholics to form an army to recapture Jerusalem. The first Crusade left in 1095, and by 1099, the Kingdom of Jerusalem had been established.
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was under constant attack by the Muslim Turks, and finally collapsed in 1187. Subsequent Crusades were all disastrous, and Jerusalem has remained in Muslim hands ever since -- until the 1967 war following Israel's creation in 1948.
The split between the Catholic and Orthodox Christians is called a "schism" because it was basically a political split, not a major difference over religious doctrine; such doctrinal differences as there were were minor, or not fundamental to the Church. The schism is contrasted to the later split between the Catholics and the Protestants, called a "heresy" because religious doctrine was fundamentally changed by the Protestants.
|The split between the Catholic and Orthodox Christians is called a|
Many scholars claim that the schism was nothing more than a kind of lovers' quarrel that could have been avoided if the two parties had simply been a little more sensitive to each other needs, but in my opinion a break could never have been avoided, for reasons given earlier in this chapter.
The Romans had captured Greece centuries earlier, but now the Roman Empire was gone and the Byzantine Empire still survived. The sacking of Rome had made Catholicism an intentionally stateless religion, with a religious leader, the Pope, having dominion over all Christians everywhere. By contrast, the Byzantine Emperor was both a head of the Church and a head of state. There was no way that they wouldn't clash, or that either would give in to the other when their spheres of influence overlapped.
Political differences created bitter hostilities between the Pope and the Emperor. In 1054, the Emperor closed all the Catholic churches in Constantinople, which provoked the Great Schism, when the Pope excommunicated the Emperor, and the other Byzantine bishops supported the Emperor against the Pope. The two Churches were officially separate.
The Crusades were not welcomed by the Byzantines, who feared that crusading armies, traveling on their way to capture Jerusalem, would try to subdue Constantinople along the way.
That didn't happen in the first Crusade, but it did later, after the Kingdom of Jerusalem had come and gone. In 1204, a new Crusade was heading back to recapture Jerusalem back again from the Muslim Turks. Along the way, the Christian army sacked Constantinople, starving and murdering its citizens, and plundering the Church's treasures accumulated over the centuries. The deed was capped by placing a prostitute on the Emperor's throne at the church of St. Sophia, at that time the most beautiful church in Christendom.
There's a commonly used English phrase, "forgive and forget," and I've found that many people seem to have a romantic notion that the human psyche embraces this phrase, despite the enormous body of human experience to the contrary.
Acts of savagery that occur when two people divorce can cause hatred that lasts for decades, and atrocities that occur when two Churches divorce can cause desires for vengeance and retribution that last for century. Even though the Church was restored to the Byzantines a few decades later, "forgive and forget" never really happened throughout the following centuries.
Orthodox Russia and Catholic/Protestant Germany were bitter enemies in both World War I and World War II. And in the Balkans in the 1990s when the Orthodox Serbs attempted ethnic cleansing against the Catholic and Protestant Croats and Muslim Bosnians, there's little doubt that they were at least partially motivated by the Catholic sacking of Constantinople in 1204 and the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453 (see p. [easteurope#110]).
It's worth remembering this if, as this book predicts, we find ourselves in the midst of a major world war in the next few years, the fault lines over which that war will be fought were created centuries ago. If the world is a train hurtling towards world war, then that train left the station long ago and nothing can be done to stop it today.
One more note about the atrocities of 1204: Tensions between the Catholic and Orthodox communities were reduced when the Pope finally apologized for the first time -- in 2001! Pope John Paul's visit to Athens in May, 2001, generated vocal anti-Catholic demonstrations among the Greek priests and citizens, until finally the Pope said, "For occasions past and present, when the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by actions and omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him."
This is a story of one of those events of history that would be simply cute or amusing if it weren't for the fact that it changed the world.
In 980, a pagan named Vladimir became ruling prince of the Slavs, headquartered in Kiev (see previous map). And Vladimir went religion shopping.
According to legend, he rejected Islam, because it forbade alcoholic drink. He sent commissions to visit the Christian Churches. The Bulgarians, they reported, smelt. The Germans had nothing to offer. But Constantinople had won their hearts. There, they said in words often to be quoted, "we knew not whether we were in heaven or earth, for on earth there is no such vision nor beauty, and we do not know how to describe it; we know only that there God dwells among men." Around 986-8, Vladimir accepted Orthodox Christianity for himself and his people.
In the centuries to come, the Slav culture moved east and formed the Russian Empire.
Vladimir might have chosen Catholicism, and thus would one man have changed the history and the map of the world. Then the Orthodox religion might have disappeared completely. It wouldn't have prevented religious wars, however, as the later wars between the Catholics and the Protestants showed.
As things stood, two major separate Christian civilizations have come about. The Western civilization, combining the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religions; and the Orthodox civilization, comprising mainly Russia and Greece, but with numerous other smaller ethnic Orthodox churches.
Even more important, Russia became separate from Western Europe, and thus did not usually become involved in the west European war timeline. Russia, along with Muslim Turks and later the Ottoman Empire, formed their own timelines which included World War I.
Around 1300, a Muslim Turkish tribe led by its chieftain, Osman, started to expand beyond its original border. It became the Ottoman Empire, and was ruled by Osman's descendants in unbroken succession through the 1600s, when it became the greatest empire in the world, and continuing until it was destroyed shortly after World War I.
Even the early days were not without defeats. In 1402, the central Asian conqueror Timur defeated the Ottomans, and almost destroyed them completely. After Timur died in 1405, the Ottomans recovered, and went on to more conquests. However, Timur's victory over the Ottomans had one major unintentional effect: It delayed for several decades the final destruction of the Byzantine Empire.
If someone were to compile a list of the major events of the last millennium, the fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Turks in 1453 would have to be right near the top.
The Byzantine Empire had been getting weaker and smaller anyway, but this was its final destruction. It was the destruction of a Hellenistic culture dating back to antiquity, and it was also the final destruction of the remains of the Roman Empire. Nothing quite like it had happened for a long time.
The Ottomans and Islam were definitely on a roll. Islam had spread around the known world, and even countries that were not controlled by Islamic governments had substantial Muslim populations. This visibility extended from Western Europe to eastern Asia, and south to Indonesia.
By 1600, the world had changed enormously. The heart of Islam was now the Ottoman Empire, headquartered at Istanbul, the new name for Constantinople. St. Sophia's Church was now a mosque. In a long line of great empires -- Alexander's empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire -- the Ottoman Empire was now the greatest empire in the world.
We'll come back to the Ottomans later, but first we'll shift our point of view to the north -- to Russia.
Much of Russia's history falls out of the cataclysmic fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, destroying the Byzantine Empire.
The Orthodox Church would have been completely extinguished, had it not been for the Slavs whose Prince Vladimir, as previously described, had selected the Orthodox religion for himself and his people.
When the Roman Empire was destroyed, Constantinople believed that it had inherited the mantle of being the true (or "orthodox") Christian Church, the Church that could be traced back to the original teachings of Jesus. Now that the Byzantine Empire was destroyed, it fell to Moscow to take the mantle for itself.
The Catholic Pope had a different idea. In 1472, he arranged for Grand Prince Ivan III ("Ivan the Great") to marry Sophia, the orphan niece of the last Greek Emperor of Constantinople, in the hope of bringing the Russians back into the Roman Church. Undoubtedly the two Churches were so far apart by then that they never could have merged anyway. In fact, submission to the pope was for most Greeks a renegade act, denying the true Church, whose tradition Orthodoxy had conserved. In the end, the Pope's gesture backfired.
Ivan immediately took the title of Tsar, and thus became the first Tsar of the new Tsarist Russia. ("Tsar," or "Czar," was derived from the name of the Roman Emperor Caesar, as is the German word "Kaiser.") Thus, Ivan would be not only the head of Russia, he would also be head of the Orthodox Church -- and never part of the Roman Church.
Russia made great territorial expansions under Ivan the Great, especially the huge territory of Novgorod after a series of wars ending in 1485.
Ivan the Great's grandson, Ivan IV assumed power as Tsar in 1547. In generational terms, this was an "unraveling" period, where problems are typically handled using compromise and containment. The problem was the power struggle between the tsar and boyars, the wealthy landowners who owned most of the land (as well as the peasants living on the land).
He really began living up to his nickname, Ivan the Terrible, when the crisis period began around 1557, and he began a war to annex Livonia, a region north of Poland on the shores of the Baltic Sea. This conflict drew in Poland, Sweden and Denmark. Russia ended up with a portion of Livonia.
By 1564, he was at war with the boyars (landowners), and executed a reign of terror that took the lives of many boyars. He would have violent rages (during one of which he killed his own son), alternating with deep repentances. In 1570, he ravaged Novgorod, and massacred many of the inhabitants, whom he suspected of sympathy for the Poles.
This was the first time we see the Crimea playing an important role in Russian history.
The Tatars were a tribe of Mongols with a glorious history: Under the leadership of Genghis Kahn, probably the greatest conqueror in the history of the world, they had defeated China in 1215, and then turned westward and conquered much of southern Russia by 1227.
The Crimean Tatars had intermingled with the central Asian Turks, and spoke a Turkish language. By the 1400s, they adopted Islam as their religion.
Russia drove the Tatars back, and by the time of Ivan the Terrible, they occupied only three remaining regions. Two of those regions (Kazan, Astrakhan) were conquered by Ivan in 1552-56, thus uniting all of southern Russia. But one region remained under Tatar control: the Crimea.
It was in 1571 that the Crimean Tatars attacked and sacked Moscow. Ivan's adventures in Livonia received a response from the Swedes, who defeated Ivan in 1578. In 1581, Poland invaded western Russia. In 1582, Ivan was forced to sign a peace treaty with Sweden and Poland, giving up all the territory he had gained.
Almost 20 years of war had been for nothing, but that's not atypical of crisis war periods; as this book shows over and over, war is like sex: societies go to war regularly, whether the wars make sense or not.
When looking at Russian conflicts over the last few centuries, several fault line themes thread through them:
All of these fault lines came into play during the Livonian War period of Ivan the Terrible.
Because of Russia's huge size, the Principle of Localization indicates that different regions of Russia will have different timelines until the timelines merge. We have a simplified Moscow-centric view in this discussion, but cycle lengths are affected by the merging of timelines.
In 1642, an enemy (the Cossacks) of the Crimean Tatars offered to Moscow a fortress that they had captured from the Tatars -- and Moscow refused it, to avoid conflict with the Ottoman Turks. This is interesting to us because it's a typical conflict-avoidance strategy during an unraveling period.
However, the mood changed to "let's solve this problem once and for all" by 1649 in a different arena -- the control of peasants.
During Ivan the Terrible's 1564 reign of terror against the landowners, many large estates had been destroyed, and the peasants who had formerly worked on those lands had fled to other regions, especially Siberia. The Moscow region lost half its peasants. As a result, Moscow imposed stronger and stronger laws restricting freedom of movement of the peasants.
In 1649, a new law (Ulozhenie) essentially turned all peasants into ordinary slaves, who were bound to their masters and could be bought or sold. This triggered a series of peasant rebellions, starting in the central regions in 1655, and reaching Moscow by 1662, where 7,000 peasants were executed. In 1669, an army of 200,000 rebels led by Stephen Razin overran large regions of the South, killing landowners and middle class people as they went. The rebels were finally defeated in 1671.
During this same crisis period, there was a major battle for supremacy between the Russian Orthodox Church and the state, and between their respective heads, Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Alexis. That issue was resolved in 1666 when Nikon was deposed, but then the Church went to war with itself, creating a schism with a secessionist group called the Old Believers which has never been entirely healed. By 1691, some 20,000 of the faithful had burned themselves in huge fires. Church was forever weakened in relation to the Tsar.
Is Russia an Asian country or a European country? Obviously, the answer is both, but Russia's relationship with Asia is more intimate, more familial, while Russia's attitude towards Europe is more as a celebrity to be admired in the distance.
This attitude toward Europe translated into a fascinating result with regard to Western Europe's crisis wars: In most cases, a crisis war in Western Europe resulted in a significant mid-cycle war for Russia. We see this, for example, in the Napoleonic Wars and World War II, where France and Germany, respectively, invaded Russia in (and were defeated) in crisis wars for them, but mid-cycle wars for Russia.
At Russia's end of Europe, the great power in the 1500s and 1600s was Sweden. The wars over Livonia were fought on Sweden's timeline, not on Russia's timeline, and Sweden's timeline was Western Europe's timeline.
The Livonian War (1557-82), which gave Russia a piece of Livonia, took place while the major religious wars were going on in Europe. Sweden entered the Thirty Years' War along with France in 1635 (till the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648), and won back all of Livonia.
So Western Europe's next crisis war was the War of Spanish Succession (1701-14), and again Russia fought a major mid-cycle war with a European country -- Sweden.
It was Tsar Peter the Great who led Russia through this "awakening" period that included the Great Northern War against Sweden.
Peter's vision was to expand to become a great world power, modeled on the great European powers.
Peter had always been aware of Europe. He had been educated by foreigners in a German suburb of Moscow, and became acquainted with western techniques.
Peter felt that a connection with Europe required sea routes for trade. For the south, in 1695, he launched an attack against the Ottomans, hoping to get a trading route through the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, but failed after an initial success. (Mid-cycle wars are seldom fought with much energy.)
Separately, he sought a northern trade route through the Baltic Sea, resulting in the Great Northern War. He was initially defeated by Sweden, and might have lost the war completely, but Sweden became preoccupied fighting with Poland in the War of Spanish Succession. Peter won after many years, and established his seaport on the Baltic Sea: St. Petersburg.
During this "awakening" period, Peter instituted many other reforms. simplified both the alphabet and the calendar. He consolidated the changes made in the last crisis, strengthening the power of the Tsar, by demanding service to the government for life. These demands were made of serfs and nobility alike, and even extended to the Church, made possible by the diminished power of the Church following its wrenching internal struggles. From Peter's time until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Church was an arm of the state.
The next crisis period began in 1762 when a military revolution deposed and killed Peter the Great's grandson, Peter III, and replaced him with his wife, Catherine the Great.
A war with the Ottomans ensued, starting in 1768. Russia captured the whole northern shore of the Black Sea, and annexed the Crimea in 1783.
The peace treaty (at Kuchuk Kaynarja) that Catherine signed with the Ottomans was one of the most important of the whole century. Russia gained the right to build an Orthodox church in Istanbul and protect the Orthodox in Istanbul. This right to protect "the church to be built in Constantinople and those who service it" was used by the Russians to become the protector of all Orthodox Christians living under Ottoman control. This proved to be a blank check for Russian interference in Ottoman affairs.
However, the most notorious episodes of Catherine's reign were the dozens of bloody rebellions of the 1760s, culminating in the savage Pugachev's Rebellion of 1773-75. 30,000 rebel peasants plundered southern Russia, until they were brutally put down by Catherine's army, with many of the rebels beheaded, dismembered and burned.
Just as the Great Northern War was a mid-cycle war for Russia but a crisis war for Sweden during the War of Spanish Succession, Napoleon's invasion of Russia was a mid-cycle war for Russia but a crisis war for France. It's been described in chapter 5.
Tsar Alexander I, on the throne from 1801-25, instituted many reforms during this "awakening" period, by granting amnesty to political prisoners and exiles, abolishing torture, and passing the first laws leading (during the next crisis period) to the abolition of serfdom.
The Crimean War is little known today, but was like World War I in that it brought big changes to Russia, not to mention nearly a million deaths from battle and disease. It also had a big cultural effect on Western Europe, with some effects still felt today:
As is often the case, this crisis war grew out of the compromises enforced by the previous crisis war -- specifically, the agreement that Russia was the protector of Orthodox Christians living under Ottoman control.
Under this agreement, Russia sent troops into an Ottoman region (now Romania) in 1853. In response, the Ottomans declared war on Russia, and England and France joined on the Ottomans' side.
None of the participants exhibited any exemplary skill, but the war was a disaster for Russia, which had to admit a humiliating defeat, losing territories on the Black Sea, and was exposed for all to see as an increasingly weak power, having been a military powerhouse at the beginning of the century.
Losing a war is a traumatic experience for any country and, as we discussed in chapter 4, it often leads to an internal revolution and scapegoating. In the case of Russia, the internal revolution was simplified by the fact that Tsar Nicholas I died in 1855 and was replaced by Alexander II.
The loss of the Crimean War ended up being blamed on Nicholas' support of serfdom, or at least his reluctance to end it. The previous years had been marked by increasingly frequent rebellions, including attacks on landlords, crop-burning and cattle-maiming. Slavery had become almost completely eliminated in the West (and was just about to be eliminated in America), and Alexander decided that the time had come to end it in Russia. The Emancipation Edict, issued in 1861, ended serfdom.
The United States freed its own slaves at almost the same time the Russians did, but it was a smaller proportion of the population, and in a single geographic region. America already had an industrialized North with institutions to support the poor.
Russia was much larger, and the overwhelming majority of its citizens had been slaves (serfs). It's not surprising that the transition was difficult.
Occasional rebellions continued, but as Russia entered the "awakening" period, the rebellions increased and became radicalized. The weaknesses exposed by the Crimean War caused the country to industrialize, and the rebellions extended to an industrial proletariat working for the railroads, the coal mines, and the iron fields.
The awakening period was intensified by a mid-cycle war against the Ottomans in 1875-78. The indecisive results of the war led to an antiwar movement that caused increasing opposition to the tsarist regime.
Karl Marx had written the Communist Manifesto in 1848, and it had taken the intellectuals by storm, and the strikes, riots and demonstrations became tied to socialism and communism. In 1904, Russia lost a war it had initiated against the Japanese, and this triggered a massive series of strikes, demands and demonstrations.
Russia's next crisis period began for real on Bloody Sunday, January 22, 1905, when troops fired on workers demonstrating workers making demands in St. Petersburg, resulting in hundreds of casualties. This was followed by a general strike of workers across the country. Riots increased, and spread to external war as Russia played a major part in the Balkan wars of 1912-13. World War I began in 1914, and Germany and Austria declared war on Russia.
The government's management of the war was disastrously wild and frenzied, and led to one defeat after another. To all this was added a grave economic problem: shortage of labor, due to repeated mobilizations; disorganization of railroad transport; and failure of food and fuel supplies in the cities.
The 500-year-old tsarist government collapsed, leading to the Bolshevik (Communist) revolution of 1917, and to a new government headed by Nicolai Lenin, and further civil war.
|Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong are the three most violent murderers of the 20th century, each responsible for massacring tens of millions of people.|
The Russian Orthodox Church was reduced to near wreckage. Since Peter the Great's reforms centuries earlier, the Church had lost its independence, and was under the control of the Tsar, and so had no support when the Tsarist government ended. Lenin's militant atheism destroyed thousands of churches and monasteries, and massacred thousands of monks and priests.
Lenin's strategy has only recently been confirmed by the release of previously secret Russian document archives from the Lenin era. In a letter to the Politburo, Lenin wrote:
Lenin's rejection of the Church had an important symbolic consequence: Russia was also abandoning its role as the successor to the Roman Empire, the protector of the Orthodox Religion.
Lenin suffered a stroke in 1922, and died in 1924. A power struggle ensued between Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin. The crisis era was resolved in 1927 when Stalin defeated Trotsky.
Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong are the three most violent murderers of the 20th century, each responsible for massacring tens of millions of people.
Russia had been humiliated in World War I, as it had been humiliated in the Crimean War, and Josef Stalin was determined to improve the country's industrial and military capabilities through socialism. In 1928, Stalin implemented a five-year plan: All farms were collectivized, and any peasants who refused would be executed: five million peasants were killed. To resist collectivization, crops were burned and livestock were slaughtered, resulting in 10-15 million peasants dying of starvation. The "gulag" death camps that Stalin and his successors used were described years later in The Gulag Archipelago by the famous dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Special mention should be made of Ukraine: First, 7 million peasants died in Stalin's collectivization campaign in the 1930s. Next, when World War II began, Hitler invaded and occupied Ukraine, killing 5 million more people. Hitler withdrew from Ukraine in 1944, but then Stalin deported 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Siberia. Today, descendants of the deported Crimeans are demanding the right to reclaim their grandparents' land in Crimea, making the Crimea a possible future battlefield.
The Great Patriotic War (known as World War II to the rest of us) was a mid-cycle war for the Russians. Stalin tried to stay neutral, but was forced into the war when Hitler invaded Russia. The people of Russia had never really given up their religion, and even attended religious services in secret. During the "awakening" period whose beginning coincided with WW II, Stalin was forced to reconcile with the Church and reinstate many of its rights. This reconciliation with religion even extended to the point that Russia was the second country (after America) to officially recognize the new state of Israel in 1948.
Communism in Russia lasted one and only one 80-year cycle, ending in 1991.
However, there's been no major war, no peasant rebellion. One possible scenario is that Russia's crisis period will pass with no violence.
History tells us that there will be a new war for Russia, during the current crisis period. It's impossible to predict the exact timing, but we note that there are repeated terrorist attacks from Chechnyan based terrorists in Moscow and other parts of Russia.
Any American who remembers the impact of our own 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks knows the impact that one attack had on America, and how ready we were to go to war in Afghanistan, once President Bush suggested it.
The most likely scenario for Russia is that at some point the Russians will demand to "solve the terrorism problem once and for all," and that will lead to the next war.
With regard to religion, in 1990 the Russian Duma passed a law granting freedom of religion to all citizens and all religions. However, the 1990 law was rescinded in 1997 by a new law, "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations," that re-established a special relationship between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church. It's fairly safe to predict that there will continue to be further changes in the relationship between Church and state in Russia.
For centuries after the time of Mohammed, Islamic empires had their ups and downs, but they generally coexisted with the Christians and the Jews. There were many wars, of course, but these were regional wars, without identity group expansion (see chapter 3).
However, by the 1600s, Islam had identified itself as a religious identity group, and Christianity (both Western and Orthodox) as a major opposing identity group. Furthermore, Christianity was unique in this regard, since the civilizations of India and China had never seriously threatened Islam to anything like the extent Christianity did, for Christianity was a world faith, with a sense of mission much like their own, and a duty to proselytize.
From 1300 to 1600, the Ottomans' history was one of almost unbroken successes and expansion against Christianity. By that time, the empire had grown so large that it had become hard to manage and hard to defend. Its large size became a weakness, and gave the opportunity the Western and Eastern Christians to consolidate their gains and nibble away at the edges of the Ottoman Empire.
At what point in history did the balance of power shift from Islam to Christianity? There are several candidates for the crucial moment, but the best choice is the defeat of the Muslims by the Habsburgs (Germans) in 1683. In a siege of Vienna, the Habsburg capital, a large Ottoman army was assaulting the city walls in a renewed attempt to spread the forces of Islam deeper into Europe.
The Ottomans had had to withdraw from sieges before, but this one was different. Their army was almost destroyed when Polish reinforcements arrived to help the Habsburgs, forcing the Ottoman army to retreat in disarray.
This led immediately to the War with the Holy League, where an alliance of the Habsburgs, Venice, Poland and Russia attacked the Ottomans on several fronts and inflicted unprecedented territorial losses.
|At what point in history did the balance of power shift from Islam to Christianity?|
In 1699, the Ottomans and the Habsburgs signed the Treaty at Karlowitz that clearly signaled a change between Europe and the Ottomans, and also a change between Islam and Christendom. Whereas the Ottomans had dictated the terms of peace treaties in the past, in this case the Ottomans were forced to accept peace terms dictated by the Habsburgs. "This was a calamitous defeat of such magnitude that there has never been its like since the first appearance of the Ottoman state," according to a contemporary Turkish writer.
This reversal in 1699 stunned the Muslim world in much the same way that the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans had stunned the Christian world two centuries earlier. After having sustained victory after victory for centuries, Muslim writers were now asking why the miserable infidels were suddenly winning over the formerly victorious armies of Islam. However, the worst was yet to come.
A series of mid-cycle clashes throughout the 1700s between the Russians and Ottomans didn't have much effect on the status quo, until the next crisis war, a major rout occurred starting in 1768, 85 years after the start of the War with the Holy League. The Russians began a new offensive against the Ottomans, this time with overwhelming superiority and success.
The resulting treaty at Kuchuk Kaynarja was a huge humiliation for the Ottomans, and not just because of the additional territory ceded to the Russians.
The Ottomans were forced to withdraw their forces from the Crimean peninsula, still inhabited by Muslim Tatars, permitting Russia to annex the Crimea in 1783. The Ottomans had been forced to withdraw before, but only from recently captured Christian lands; but this was the first time that they had to withdraw from a Muslim land.
Capping the humiliation, the treaty permitted the Russians to build an Orthodox church in Istanbul, and granted Russia the right to "protect" those of the Orthodox faith throughout the Ottoman Empire.
A new major invasion by Russia against the Ottomans occurred in 1853, when the Crimean War began. The Ottomans pushed the Russians back, but only with the help of the English and French.
This was very significant because it was the first time that a significant number of European forces were present on Ottoman soil. This resulted in enormous changes in the decades to come, for it led to the way European forces encroaching on Ottoman lands throughout the empire.
Following their stunning defeat with the Treaty at Karlowitz in 1699, the Ottomans began more and more to imitate the victors. At first the imitation was primarily in the area of military technique and weaponry, but by the 1800s began to include some cultural imitation.
However, the Wars of German Unification and Italian Unification that occurred in the 1860s and 1870s also had a significant effect on the Ottomans in the awakening period following the Crimean War: A "pan-Islamic" movement began among the Muslims to unify all Muslims along a common front, and Istanbul would be center of this worldwide identity group.
Instead of becoming larger and more unified, however, the Ottoman Empire continued to lose large parts of their former empire. By 1914, Egypt, Cyprus, Aden and all of North Africa were being occupied by European powers. Furthermore, the Europeans were exerting influence in the Balkans, and Russia was exerting control in Iran and Afghanistan.
These losses caused increasing discontent among the Ottoman people. The most significant development occurred in 1889, when students of the military medical school in Istanbul formed a secret society to fight the government. Similar secret societies sprang up in other colleges and among junior officers in the army, despite crackdowns by the authorities. The best-known group was the Ottoman Freedom Society, founded in 1906. It united with other groups and became the Committee of Union and Progress in 1907.
The Committee of Union and Progress was the leading faction in the Young Turk Revolution.
In 1908, the Young Turks launched a rebellion in the Balkans that soon engulfed the entire empire. In 1914, the Ottomans entered World War I on the side of Germany, resulting in enormous dislocations. Of the three million men drafted for the army, half of them deserted. Inflation was enormous, resulting in a 2500 percent increase in cost of living between 1914 and 1918. A famine in Syria and Lebanon (still part of the empire) in 1915-16 claimed 100,000 lives.
In the late 1800s, a Turkish identity movement had begun to form, promoting Turkish (as opposed to Ottoman) literature and culture. However, the Turkish nationalism movement didn't gain much traction with the public at that time, mainly because for 1,400 years the great strength of the Ottoman Empire, and indeed all of the Islamic empires, was that they were all multi-ethnic and the Muslim rulers were really very good at preserving the rights and meeting the needs of their various ethnic minorities.
Turkish nationalism began to grow during World War I because it was becoming clear that only the Turkish people would remain from the Ottoman Empire, and furthermore, some Europeans wanted to even break off even pieces of Turkey. By 1919, there were so many Allied forces in Istanbul that the Ottomans feared that the Allies intended to keep Istanbul for themselves.
Actually, there were three separate Muslim identities within the Ottoman Empire that formed in the Mideast around this time: The Turkish identity (in what is now Turkey), the Arab identity (Saudi Arabia), and the Persian identity (Iran).
With the encouragement of the English, the Arab nationalists turned against the Ottomans.
Another group that turned against the Ottomans must be mentioned: The Armenians. This Orthodox Christian population lives in the midst of the Muslim population of what was the eastern portion of the Ottoman Empire. An Armenian uprising that occurred in Istanbul in 1894-96 was brutally put down, with a large-scale massacre of Armenians in Istanbul.
In 1914, Russia organized four large Armenian volunteer guerrilla units to support the war effort against the Ottomans. In reaction, the Ottomans began deporting the entire Armenian population -- millions of people -- resulting in deaths of over a million Armenians in what amounted to a death march.
Finally, in October, 1922, the Turkish Republic was declared, putting an official end to the Ottoman Empire after 600 years. The president of the new nation was Mustafa Kemal, an activist who had led the fight to keep Turkey from being split up among the Europeans.
Mustafa Kemal, who later took the name Attaturk (father of the Turks), led the new country in a distinctly Turkish direction. He did everything he could to sweep away the Ottoman past. He abandoned the Ottoman policy of territorial expansion, required Turks to wear Western-style clothing, abolished polygamy, adopted the Christian Gregorian calendar, and adopted the Latin alphabet for writing in the Turkish language, which had previously been done in Arabic script. He even sought to purge Arabic and Persian words from the Turkish language.
Perhaps most important is that he sought to secularize Turkish society. The caliphate, the office of the supreme spiritual leader for Sunni Muslims worldwide, was abolished. Religious schools were closed, and Islamic law courts were dismantled. A new constitution separated religion from the state, and gave all male Turkish citizens over 21 the right to vote,
As for the other pieces of the Ottoman Empire, they were turned into independent nations: Iraq in 1924, Saudi Arabia in 1932, Syria in 1945, Lebanon and Jordan in 1946.
Because of Russian persecution, Russian Jews began migrating to the Palestine area in the late 1800s. Perhaps also inspired by the Wars of Unification in Germany and Italy, the first Zionist Congress met in 1897 to advocate a Jewish homeland in Palestine. By 1917, the British issued the Balfour Declaration, which called for a Jewish state in Palestine.
Historically, Jews and Arabs had always been peaceful and friendly with one another, but this changed with the call for a separate Jewish state in Palestine.
In 1917, there were ten times as many Arabs as Jews in Palestine: 700,000 Arabs, and 70,000 Jews.
The Zionists encouraged Jewish migration to Palestine, and the migration of European Jews became a flood in the 1930s, thanks to Nazi persecution of Jews. By 1939, Arabs outnumbered Jews by only two to one.
Rioting between Jews and Arabs began in 1936, and continued through the 1940s. In May 1948, Palestine was partitioned, creating an independent state of Israel. Following statehood, there was a full-scale war between Israel and the neighboring Arab states. In 1949, an armistice was declared.
Ever since the 1989 intifada began, the Mideast appears to be replaying the Mideast wars of 1936-1949. If history is any guide (and it is), then the next generational change will bring a new major war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. This generational change can only be predicted approximately, but it's expected that it will be signaled by the disappearance of Yasser Arafat from the scene.