Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Let's Call It the Tenth Crusade

What are we going to call the war in the Levant? “The Six Day War” is already taken, and more than six days have passed. And if we’re going to throw in the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascos and call them all one regional “war”, we’re going to need a name that takes it all in.

It has probably never been easy naming wars. The guys who named the “Thirty Years War” were apparently a lot more optimistic than the namers of the “Hundred Years War”. “The War of the Spanish Succession” didn’t take off in the US where it was known as the “French and Indian War”. “The War of 1812” seems pretty unimaginative, and I prefer the more colorful “Second War for American Independence”, not because it’s accurate but because it’s longer. The “War of the Roses” sounds more like a game show than a bloody multigenerational dynastic conflict.

My favorite war name from American history is the “War of Jenkins Ear” where the Georgians fought the Spaniards in retaliation for the loss of one Mr Jenkins’s ear. Of course, it was a little more complicated than that, but the ear lopping is the most memorable of the many casi belli.

I don’t think World War III or IV is appropriate since most of the world is not involved, and I tend to think of World Wars as involving at least a set of European antagonists. Europeans have to fight Europeans to qualify as a World War, and this is not the case here. I would go with the “Tenth Crusade” to lend the whole enterprise some real historical depth. Besides, this captures both the neocons’ wildest dreams and the Middle East’s suspicions. The enterprise has much more in common with the first nine crusades than with any other military adventures, so I nominate “Tenth Crusade” as the official name of the loosely or not at all connected conflicts going on in Muslim countries right now and going forward.

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