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Tenth Crusade (CounterPunch)

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The Tenth Crusade is a rhetorical device used by Alexander Cockburn in 2002 that built an analogy between the US-led Global War on Terrorism and the medieval Crusades.


The word "crusade" was used by U.S. President George W. Bush first on the day of the September 11, 2001 attacks, quoted below, and on the national day of mourning which honored the death of the more than 3,000 victims of the attacks. He said that "this crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."[1] The use of this figure of speech was criticized in Europe, and Arabic-speaking countries. Supporters of the President's usage of "crusade" argue that from context Bush had used the word in a military, non-religious sense, such as "The Great Crusade" which was the phrase used by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to describe the D-Day invasion of Europe to the Allied troops in his order of the day broadcast.[2]

They point to many modern dictionaries which define crusade (not capitalized) to include any vigorous action aimed at achieving a particular noble goal.[3][4] However, particularly in predominantly Muslim parts of the world, the term crusade produces the same sort of negative reaction as the term jihad does in much of the West.[citation needed]

Tenth Crusade[edit]

In the September 7, 2002 issue of CounterPunch,[5] columnist Alexander Cockburn authored an opinion column titled "The Tenth Crusade"[6] in which he numbered the War on Terrorism to follow nine medieval Crusades between 1095 and 1272, omitting from his count the Alexandrian Crusade of 1365 and the Crusade of Nicopolis of 1396. Cockburn is thus usually credited with coining the term, which is almost exclusively used by critics of the US-led operations.

In a Newsday article issued December 3, 2003, political commentator James Pinkerton offered a more positive interpretation of the crusading analogy. Counting eight crusading expeditions between 1096 and 1270, and characterizing these as "defensive wars", he also likened three intermediate "Christian invasions" of the Middle East to "latter-day Crusades", nominating Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 as a "Ninth Crusade", the British occupation of Egypt in 1882 as a "Tenth Crusade", and the British and French mandates after World War I as an "Eleventh Crusade".[7] However, Pinkerton's renumbering of the War on Terrorism as the "Twelfth Crusade" has been overshadowed by references to the title of the Cockburn column.

Max Fisher in 2014 argued that Pope Francis comments supporting possible military action against ISIS constituted a call for a tenth crusade.[8]

See also[edit]

  • War against Islam


  1. "President: Today We Mourned, Tomorrow We Work". Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. 2001-09-17. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  2. [1] Archived January 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Crusade - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". M-w.com. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  4. "Crusade | Define Crusade at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  5. "Tells the Facts, Names the Names". CounterPunch. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  6. "Alexander Cockburn: The Tenth Crusade". Counterpunch.org. 2001-09-11. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-06-07. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. Pinkerton, James (2003-12-03). "Century In, Century Out - It's Crusade Time". Newsday.com. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  8. "On ISIS, Pope Francis Is No Crusader".

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