Friday, November 13, 2009

War and Failure in North Africa

This week’s sections open with a description of two battles in North Africa which occurred in 1511.  The first battle described is the one led by the Sultan of Fez to recapture the city of Tangier, which is met with great resistance and a large number of dead Muslim warriors.  The second appears to be more successful.  This is an campaign led by the Lame Sharif to siege the city of Agadir, which seems to meet much more success in the beginning.  Both, however, end in failure ( ).  As our constant narrator tells us, not a single line of his writings deal with the battle, but rather entirely with the reactions of their leaders.  This is very interesting to me, as often the reaction to failure is more important than the actual failure itself.

First, we see the reaction to the defeat at Tangier by the Sultan of Fez.  This reaction is typical of what is seen in today’s political world.  The Sultan attempts to spin the defeat to show it as less severe than it was.  The Sultan claims that the number of dead is not that bad, and that it has shown that the Muslims are willing to fight, can rally the population of the Muslim world, while not attracting the attention of vengeful Portuguese leaders.  However, outside the Sultan’s tent the dead number more than three hundred and the soldiers who remain alive are distraught.  Included in great detail is the account of one man whose son was killed in the battle.

Later, we see the account of the Lame Sharif and his reactions to the battle at Agadir.  There the Muslim forces were met with greater success in their siege.  However, the attack is called off seemingly prematurely, and the Portuguese hold the city.  When confronted and asked to explain why the siege was lifted, the Lame Sharif explains that he had no desire to take the city, as it would require his army to remain there to resist Portuguese attempts to retake the city from him.  He explains that his goal is not to take a single city, but rather to take over as the head of all the Muslim states.  This is a goal that is clearly self-serving and does not have the best interests of the Muslim world at heart.  Yet when that is pointed out to him, the Sharif merely becomes angry.

My question pretty much boils down to looking for your reactions to failure, comments on theirs, etc…

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