Friday, December 08, 2006

What Causes War?

Over the past year I have heard time and again, "the main cause of war has always been religion". Now, being a professional religionist, I have resented that statement. The thing is, it is bandied about without question; we simply accept it as de facto truth.

So, I started by thinking about the recent major conflicts in which the US has been involved.

OIF. Most people would agree that the roots of Iraqi Freedom go back to the Gulf War - regardless of what you think the administration's justification was. You may say that the "real" reason is oil, or pride, or WMD, or failure to abide by dozens of UN resolutions. But, they go back to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, a sovereign nation with treaties with the US and other coalition forces.

Vietnam. It took 15 years, from 1950-1965 for the US to become incrementally involved in the conflict in Vietnam. We started off assisting the French, and before we knew it we had advisors, then Special Forces, then the 1964 Tonkin Gulf resolution. What do you call that? War by accident?

Korea. North Korea invaded South Korea in June, 1950.

WWII. Hitler breaks several treaties including Versailles, St. Germain, and the Munich Agreement. Oh yeah, don't forget the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

WWI. A tangle of alliances, sparked by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and Austria-Hungary's ultimatum that Serbia bring the assassins to justice, effectively nullifying their sovereignty.

Civil War. If you're north of the Mason-Dixon line it's about slavery; south and it's about States rights.

Revolutionary War. "Americans" saw themselves as worthy of full democratic rights as Englishmen; Britain saw us as a colony to be used and exploited.

Crusades. This is the big one people point to, in utter ignorance. Remember the Saracens? They were invading from Turkey to Egypt, including parts of the Byzantine Empire. Western Europe was threatened, and responded. The Western feudal structure responded to the Saracens invasion; regardless of religion this would have transpired.

As I have tried to explain to my Soldiers, authorities regularly use the patina of religion to cover their own seeking after power and gain. It is easier to use patriotism and religion to convince young men and women to die than what is usually at the heart of conflict: economics.

In his essay "War and Religion: Is Religion to Blame?" MAJ John P. Conway writes, "The clear distinction and premise of this essay is that, while religion may motivate, and in fact may become the essential ingredient for the sustainment of war, it is seldom the cause. "

So what is the answer to the question "What Causes War?" It is as varied and deep as human motivation. But, usually, it is about power and money. And unscrupulous leaders will try to make it about something more meaningful.

Don't fall for it.


At 4:15 AM, Blogger Amy said...

Great post. Thanks.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger rocksalive777 said...

One of the annoying things about being a college student is that we all think we have the answers, and for half the people here at UGA, the answer of blame is easily answered by religion. With a few notable exceptions, many wars can be pointed contributed to greed (the Crusdades and WWI included), but human nature isn't as convenient of a scapegoat as God.


At 10:29 PM, Blogger Barb said...

"usually, it's about power and money"
Yes. And the debate going on in Washington these last few weeks is all about wielding that power, perceived or real. I just wish the folks who are exercising their power would quite throwing the troops under the bus as part of the exercise.

Good post -- thanks :-)

At 2:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the thing which causes wars is what Dimitar Zahariev refers to as the Emotional Breakdown Syndrome or EBS. Its characteristic mark(s) is usually red and situated in the nape of the neck. If I understood Dimitar Zahariev correctly, EBS is caused by egological pollution or egological smog. Dimitar Zahariev has created a methodology that aims to help people ignore EBS.


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