Christopher Tyerman disputes medieval and modern parallels in the conflict between Middle East and West.
There is a popular belief that, because there is conflict between Muslim propagandists and fighters and states that were inheritors of a Christian tradition, that this in a sense is refighting the Crusades. This, of course, is untrue. It’s not factually correct. The equation of modern warfare in the Near East, the equation of modern conflicts with the past, breaks down because the conflicts are different. That the modern Near East is a consequence, if anything, of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The ideas that the Crusades were precursors of Western involvement in the Mediterranean are partly the fault of Western writers in the 19th century who did say that; but partly, of course, because of the failure of secular pan-Arabism, the rise of political Islamism, that is seeking legitimacy from past wars that are easy to package as legitimating their own modern interests. The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 on the same site as the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem obviously encourages this false parallelism.
But the great thing about parallel lines is they tend not to meet. They are separate. But they’re not even a mirror image – that the medieval wars were of their time, of their place. People fought wars for salvation, for advantage, material, spiritual, etc. The Islamic world of the 21st century is wholly different from the Islamic world of the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries. The parallels are there only in propaganda. There’s no good saying to a propagandist, you’re wrong. You’ve got to accept where their propaganda is coming from and tackle it as it is now. It’s a 21st-century trope, not a 12th-century trope.