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Old 08-20-2011, 08:48 AM   #51
Morris King
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

No mention of Midway yet? Turning point of WW2 Pacific theater? Is the assumption that USA eventually would have beat down the Japanese ACs somewhere else anyway?
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Old 08-20-2011, 10:49 PM   #52
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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No mention of Midway yet? Turning point of WW2 Pacific theater? Is the assumption that USA eventually would have beat down the Japanese ACs somewhere else anyway?
I believe it was generally accepted that the Japanese had an advantage in naval power at the beginning but there would be no way they could stay ahead of the US in terms of production. A prediction was made that in approx 6 months the US would be able to outproduce the Japanese, and it was very close to correct from what I read.

In other words, the Japanese were doomed from the beginning, it was just a matter of time.
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:24 PM   #53
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Fabius using a war of attrition to stop Hannibal was key. A new concept that was used many times in the modern world.
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Old 08-22-2011, 03:25 PM   #54
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

The Battle of Arausio in 105 BC. Rome lost 80,000 of its soldiers at this battle. At the time there were property requirements to become a Roman soldier, which limited the size of its Army. After the Battle, Romes' Army was decimated and the loss cleared the way for Gaius Marius to become Consul.

Marius did away with the property requirements and recruited from Romes poor. He also implemented a ton of changes to the Legions, from how they were equipped, to how they fought.

I always wondered, had Rome not lost the Battle of Arausio, would they have remained a regional power?

Battle of Arausio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arausio

Gaius Marius: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaius_Marius

Marian Reforms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Reforms

Explains the Roman Army Changes: http://romans.etrusia.co.uk/roman_army_intro.php

If you want to read an excellent piece of historical fiction, pick up Coleen McCulloughs The First Man in Rome. It covers this entire period.

Last edited by bronx bomber; 08-22-2011 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:39 PM   #55
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Do you have anything else to add? It is pretty annoying to have to respond to an unsubstantiated, conclusory statement. It would be much more interesting to see you explain your opinions so that we might have a chance to learn something new.
Major war action in 1942 started with Russian massive attack on Kharkov, where Russians tried to expand upon their strategic initiative gained in the winter of 1941. After failing go gain much against heavily fortified German position and without air superiority to speak of that offensive push quickly lost steam and resulted in enormous losses in manpower. That opened huge holes in Russian defenses that Germans just had explore hence they were carrying strategic initiative for much of 1942. Lets make no mistakes about it, that initiative was a byproduct of failed Russian offensive push and Russian failed strategy. Hence my statement that Russians spend entire 1942 either dying while storming German fortified positions or trying to stop panzer attack with side arms but that didn't and couldn't change outcome of the war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Kharkov

Things didn't change much 1943 in terms of mass casualties inflicted to Russians while trying suicidal strategic offensives.
1942-1943 1,5 million lost in one battle

Last edited by Ahigh; 08-22-2011 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 08-22-2011, 10:18 PM   #56
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Major war action in 1942 started with Russian massive attack on Kharkov, where Russians tried to expand upon their strategic initiative gained in the winter of 1941. After failing go gain much against heavily fortified German position and without air superiority to speak of that offensive push quickly lost steam and resulted in enormous losses in manpower. That opened huge holes in Russian defenses that Germans just had explore hence they were carrying strategic initiative for much of 1942. Lets make no mistakes about it, that initiative was a byproduct of failed Russian offensive push and Russian failed strategy. Hence my statement that Russians spend entire 1942 either dying while storming German fortified positions or trying to stop panzer attack with side arms but that didn't and couldn't change outcome of the war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Kharkov

Things didn't change much 1943 in terms of mass casualties inflicted to Russians while trying suicidal strategic offensives.
1942-1943 1,5 million lost in one battle
I much appreciate you explaining your argument. Thank you.

I already accounted for these battles as counter-offensives.

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Aside from conducting counter-attacks (and at least two counter-offensives), the Russians were not on the offensive until August 1943. Even in the battle of Kursk, the Germans were on the offensive, not the Russians.
Indeed, it is my position that a counter-offensive, despite the passage of time, is an attack against lines in flux from an earlier battle. That is what we see here. Hitler had a standing order that his armies could not straighten their lines, thus a lot of salients remained. Each salient remaining represented an ongoing opportunity presented by the preceding battle.

Accordingly, I do not consider the early battles of 1942 to be proper offensives as opposed to counter-offensives and counter-attacks.

In any event, should you reject my definitions, I still assert that such is not really relevant to my original point. My original point in response to the question asked is that if the Germans would have conducted an orderly retreat (either prior to the siege of Moscow or right after - I wasn't entirely clear from the questions) to the lines proposed by the question, they would have dug in and held.

Fortifying and defending a fixed position is quite different than being the "de facto" defender on an ever-changing battle front. You point to the fact that the Russians were attacking and the Germans were defending, yet it did them no good, etc. Yes, despite the fact that when the Germans were "defending" they were actually in a state of "non-attack" (meaning they were just in between attacks and did not prepare their positions for maximum defense) the Germans inflicted very heavy losses to the Russians.

That is my point. If you take this dynamic and apply it to a fixed defensive line, the results would be even more in favor of the Germans. Also, because of the time line given, we must also take out the millions of troops and thousands of guns, tanks, and airplanes lost before Hitler realized he should have listened to his Generals and bunkered down 20 months prior to Kursk, and add that to the defense on the line.

Instead, after Kursk, the Germans did not have anything beyond a token defense force on the entire front.
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Old 08-22-2011, 11:04 PM   #57
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

I think you oversimplifying strategic offensives and overestimate tactical once. For about 3 month in the beginning of 1942 there was practically total strategic standstill. But overall i actually think that it would be a good idea for Germans to banker down completely but strategic mistakes that were made by Russian somewhat forced Germans hand in continuing to attack.

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That is my point. If you take this dynamic and apply it to a fixed defensive line, the results would be even more in favor of the Germans
Are we talking about German version of mannerheim line?I am sure you realize that something like (or even 10 times lighter then that) was not possible to built during winter of 1942?
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Instead, after Kursk, the Germans did not have anything beyond a token defense force on the entire front
The problem with this line of thinking is working yourself into mistaking believe that Nazi could somehow win the war of attrition but they couldn't and Hitler knew about it as well as anyone else. Even if it would be prudent from the prospective of military command to take a strategic defense, from the prospective of the nation they had only one choice and it was to attack.

Last edited by Ahigh; 08-22-2011 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 08-23-2011, 04:10 AM   #58
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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I think you oversimplifying strategic offensives and overestimate tactical once. For about 3 month in the beginning of 1942 there was practically total strategic standstill. But overall i actually think that it would be a good idea for Germans to banker down completely but strategic mistakes that were made by Russian somewhat forced Germans hand in continuing to attack.
Yeah. The weather was a major factor as was Germany's need to regroup. I am not talking about the German's bunkering down in place. I have clearly stated in answer to the original question that yes, if the Germans retreated to form a defensive line before wasting all of their troops, they could have held the Russians. I appreciate your arguments, but they are not properly embracing the hypothetical that is at issue. You keep reverting to battle conditions and lines as they actually existed.

The question in play requires an organized retreat and establishment of a defensive line at a specific time in the war. You keep addressing situations that happened after the hypothetical and keep placing troops in places other than required by the hypothetical.

Quote:
Are we talking about German version of mannerheim line?I am sure you realize that something like (or even 10 times lighter then that) was not possible to built during winter of 1942?
No kidding. Given the relevant factors, however, the initial establishment of the line would have been more than sufficient to knock back anything Russia could bring at that time. Over the ensuing months, the scenario anticipates fortification.

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The problem with this line of thinking is working yourself into mistaking believe that Nazi could somehow win the war of attrition but they couldn't and Hitler knew about it as well as anyone else. Even if it would be prudent from the prospective of military command to take a strategic defense, from the prospective of the nation they had only one choice and it was to attack.
This is absolutely, demonstrably false. Hitler is the one who kept putting his armies INTO battles of attrition while his generals were begging for him to let them manuver out of it to the point where prior to invading Moscow, there was a growing call to establish a defensive line (which is where I believe the hypothetical came from to begin with). Hitler was probably one of about a dozen military commanders in the world that actually believed Germany would prevail against Russia in a war of attrition. Your comments stating the exact oppisite are dumbfounding and serve to discredit (unfortunately because you demonstrate a good background for certain aspects of the campaign) your entire statement on the war.

Honestly, to me, saying "Hitler knew Germany could not win a war of attrition against Russia" is on par with claiming the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

Your conclusion that follows your blatantly false premise is totally flawed. The only way the Germans defeat Russia is explained in detail in my earlier posts in this thread. Once Germany missed its chance to storm Moscow practically unopposed in August/September 1941, the prudent option was to withdraw and hold most of Germany's substantial gains.

Given the forces available to it and the more manageable supply lines, it would have been no problem, really NO PROBLEM, for Germany to hold that line until the end of the war at which time, either Germany develops nuclear weapons and uses them on Russia, Hitler is deposed and Germany negotiates peace with Russia, or Germany continues fighting until the other Allieds somehow break through or are able to use atomic weapons. The fact that Germany would be settled in on the Eastern Front would have made an allied invasion in the West many times more difficult, if not impossible without atomic weapons.
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Old 08-25-2011, 12:45 PM   #59
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Normandy. If invasion fails Germany still loses to Soviets but the Russian army probably goes all the way to the English Channel.
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:12 PM   #60
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Normandy. If invasion fails Germany still loses to Soviets but the Russian army probably goes all the way to the English Channel.
Probably true. Ironically, the main impetus behind the Normandy Invasion was Stalin's constant demand to have the Allieds open a second front.
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:44 PM   #61
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Poltava

Introduced Russia as a European power - and had two fascinating leaders at the helms of each force.
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Old 08-26-2011, 12:09 AM   #62
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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It is too easy to assume that a battle is more significant than it really was.

Sure history would have been different, but only in the details perhaps
Unless the battle in question is the one which started on 9/11, in the year 1683. The "Battle of Vienna".
Poland-Lithuania and the Holy Roman Empire vs. The Ottomans.

Europe's history from that point on would've been completely different, not just in detail.
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:21 AM   #63
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Saratoga or Yorktown seem damn important. I would tilt towards saratoga, as this got France involed and pretty much tipped the war into america's favor.

Hastings and Alesia seem crucial for the franco-english world.

Whoever mentionned the Gaius Marius era battles - good choice.

The seven years war also has a few important which sealed the deal to make to create the anglo saxon world -

a) Plains of abraham(there goes canada)
b) The various battles of India, who's names escape me now but are crucial for obvious later reasons.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:43 PM   #64
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

I vote the " Battle of Midway " especially if we are talking about the last 100 years...
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:40 PM   #65
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

what about the battle of tannenburg in WW1? if germany fails to stop russia in east prussia they would be forced to pull more troops from the western front and eventually the french and british would have overwhelmed the west, while the russians come in from the east with 1million plus men. Germany would have been sol which would lead to a number of things. Most important, the likelyhood of a revolution in russia(which changed the course of 20th century history), and US entry into the war(which solified their postition as a world power)
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:17 AM   #66
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Battle of Yorktown in 1781 has to be up there, ensuring the independence of the United States, without which today's geopolitical map would look very different indeed.

TT
Not that convinced by this. Britain and France were moving towards liberalism and a model of liberal democracy albeit slowly, without the War of Independence. Many brits (including MPs) had much sympathy with the US Colonies position before it turned to war, then 18th Century patriotism kicked in. Even then many still supported the US (Tom Paine for eg). IF Britan had defeated the US my suspicion is that not that far down the road consession would have been made to the bcolonoes and democracy and in the long term the US would have pretty much ended up as the force for Liberal democracy and certainly the economic powerhouse it became anyway. Not trying to detract from the importance of this to US history, the US idea of itself and the ideals that the war of independence cemented in the american pysche but just saying that geopolitically I still think western liberal democracy and US economic and political power would have emerged without Yorktown.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:33 PM   #67
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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While a great victory for USN, Midway didn't really change anything, it just speed it up. Japan would be defeated either way.
What?
It was the turning point of the Pacific War.
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:55 PM   #68
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Turning as in without it Japan would won?
Turning as in: After the victory, It allowed the USA to take a offensive position and put Japan on the defensive for the rest of the war.
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:34 AM   #69
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

I came to say the battle of tours, but seeing how many times it has been mentioned already, i'll have to generalize and say ANY battle that was fought victoriously and kept islam out of Europe, if only the battles to keep islam out of the christian levant and Judeo-Christian Jerusalem had also succeeded, keeping the islamic hoardes (not referring to the religion in particular, but the armies seeking to spread islam by the sword) confined to arabia would have prevented a lot of the aggravation we see today not to mention the genocide of so many hindus in what is now "pakistan", the genocide of the native egyptians, occupation of the holy land, etc.
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:44 AM   #70
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

I was always taught when I was younger that the Battle of Waterloo is what was the decisive blow to Napoleon. While it can certainly be considered the nail in the coffin, most NB scholars will point to the Battle of Leipzig, AKA the Battle of the Nations as when Napoleon started his decent into his inevitable exile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_leipzig

The sheer size of this is nothing to sneeze at. I have read up to 500,000 combatants though the Wiki link above says 600k (Europe would not see a battle this size until nearly 100 years later in WW1). Either way it was a culmination type event where the coalitions that had failed to defeat Napoleon multiple times before finally showed they had the upper hand. They continued on into France and forced NB to Elba. Even though he came back, he never regained the lands or power he had prior to Leipzig.

Also, Blucher was involved and I always love reading about him. The guy was in his 70s and still mixing it up on the battle field for the Prussians.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:41 PM   #71
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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Originally Posted by Lagtastic View Post
I was always taught when I was younger that the Battle of Waterloo is what was the decisive blow to Napoleon. While it can certainly be considered the nail in the coffin, most NB scholars will point to the Battle of Leipzig, AKA the Battle of the Nations as when Napoleon started his decent into his inevitable exile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_leipzig

The sheer size of this is nothing to sneeze at. I have read up to 500,000 combatants though the Wiki link above says 600k (Europe would not see a battle this size until nearly 100 years later in WW1). Either way it was a culmination type event where the coalitions that had failed to defeat Napoleon multiple times before finally showed they had the upper hand. They continued on into France and forced NB to Elba. Even though he came back, he never regained the lands or power he had prior to Leipzig.

Also, Blucher was involved and I always love reading about him. The guy was in his 70s and still mixing it up on the battle field for the Prussians.
Even with a complete victory at waterloo, there was all of europe after Nappy. He wasn't going to get out of this one. Austria's alliance swithc doomed napoleon, which in turn gave Leipzig. On a side note, Napoleon's six day campaign in France is one of the most impressive feat he's done.

On a side note - nobody talked of the Mongol invasion of Japan, which could have really changed things up for Japan's future(and we know how much Japan was a game changer in the 20th century)
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:01 PM   #72
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Quote:
On a side note - nobody talked of the Mongol invasion of Japan, which could have really changed things up for Japan's future(and we know how much Japan was a game changer in the 20th century)
hmm, this is new to me.
The only asian entity I knew of that held back Genghis/Kubla Khan was Vietnam [with, you guessed it, punji spikes].
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:37 PM   #73
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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hmm, this is new to me.
The only asian entity I knew of that held back Genghis/Kubla Khan was Vietnam [with, you guessed it, punji spikes].
The Japanese had the help of the Kamikaze ("Divine Wind")--no, not guys who rammed their vessels into stuff, but an actual storm system, similar to the "Protestant Wind" that helped blow the Spanish Armada off course.
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Old 12-27-2011, 04:28 AM   #74
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

Instead of not using the Maginot Line at all, French forces follow De Gaulle's defensive plan by placing several of France's armies in reserve instead of on the Line itself. When Germany invades France through Belgium, these reserve armies are sent to stop the German blitzkrieg effectively stopping World War 2 in 1940.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:27 PM   #75
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Re: Battles Which Shaped the Course of History.

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I came to say the battle of tours, but seeing how many times it has been mentioned already, i'll have to generalize and say ANY battle that was fought victoriously and kept islam out of Europe, if only the battles to keep islam out of the christian levant and Judeo-Christian Jerusalem had also succeeded, keeping the islamic hoardes (not referring to the religion in particular, but the armies seeking to spread islam by the sword) confined to arabia would have prevented a lot of the aggravation we see today not to mention the genocide of so many hindus in what is now "pakistan", the genocide of the native egyptians, occupation of the holy land, etc.
I know this view is fashionable today, but it's really anachronistic. Most of the "aggravation we see today" is the product of 19th and 20th century European and Ottoman foreign policy, not 7th and 8th century Arabic expansion. I object to the characterization of the bolded events as "genocides," as that is a much larger accusation that does not really fit the historical trend. It's correct to say that the expansion of Islam was a violent process in parts of the Middle East, but to characterize it as a "genocide" is inaccurate. It's worth noting that the treatment of Syriac and Assyrian Christians, as well as the Jews, was considerably improved by the transition from Byzantine Christian to Islamic rule, particularly after the rise of the multicultural Abbasid Caliphate.
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