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Old 07-15-2014   #1
TheCurmudgeon
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Default Islam, Catholisism, religion, and conflict

I start this thread as an open forum. There is a contingent amongst the regular posters that feel that "political correctness" has killed out ability to see the religious aspects of conflict. This seems to be particularly true in the case of attacks on Islam as a religion that fosters insurgency and terrorism. In the interest of an open exchange I would like to explore this topic.

I will start by saying that religion "of the book" - particularly Islam and Catholicism - offer an interesting problem in the world of conflict. This is true because both religions offer life after death. Not just life, but a reward of heavenly bliss for those that follow the edicts of the religion. This creates a body of Soldiers ready to die for their cause because their ultimate reward is not in this life but in the next.

Each of the religions (and sub sects) have their own prerequisites for this "ultimate reward". For example Jesus died on the cross passively for the sins of man. In the ninth century Christian Martyrs did much of the same in Spain. Each religion has its particular historical anomalies.

So I open the question up ... what relevance does religion have to modern day issues in Syria and Iraq? Where should we draw the line between religion and simple hate?
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Old 07-15-2014   #2
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An excellent topic for consideration. Religion can serve as both the casus bellli or merely the facade, or anywhere in between, depending upon the context and the individuals involved.

One thing that is for certain, however, is that the US government has zero credibility when it comes to issuing dictates regarding the interpretation of any given collective religious corpus. The problem, as one sees it, is that US government officials and media derived from the Western secular model have become deluded by their own propaganda (one can almost immediately strike off any government or media utterance that includes the epistemological bias, manifested as framing bias, of 'radical' and 'extremist' - throw in a few ultra- and far- for good measure to enhance the comedic value). One clearly can't rule out the political pandering angle but the mirror image logical fallacy is clearly evident. If Western secularists are the target audience then one is preaching to the choir. If the target audience is from outside this group, then the propaganda is falling on deaf ears. The US government has either volitionally or through myopia failed to grasp the religious roots, specifically in regards to Islam, that predicate the actions of Islamically adherent non-state actors.
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Old 07-15-2014   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I start this thread as an open forum. There is a contingent amongst the regular posters that feel that "political correctness" has killed out ability to see the religious aspects of conflict. This seems to be particularly true in the case of attacks on Islam as a religion that fosters insurgency and terrorism. In the interest of an open exchange I would like to explore this topic.

I will start by saying that religion "of the book" - particularly Islam and Catholicism - offer an interesting problem in the world of conflict. This is true because both religions offer life after death. Not just life, but a reward of heavenly bliss for those that follow the edicts of the religion. This creates a body of Soldiers ready to die for their cause because their ultimate reward is not in this life but in the next.

Each of the religions (and sub sects) have their own prerequisites for this "ultimate reward". For example Jesus died on the cross passively for the sins of man. In the ninth century Christian Martyrs did much of the same in Spain. Each religion has its particular historical anomalies.

So I open the question up ... what relevance does religion have to modern day issues in Syria and Iraq? Where should we draw the line between religion and simple hate?
You have a bad habit of misquoting and taking people's words out of context to support your view. Very few people posting on SWJ have attacked Islam, they have simply pointed out al-Qaeda's principle motivation is religion, and Islam dictates social and political behavior. Yes, al-Qaeda is waging a religious war of sorts, but that sure has hell doesn't mean 90% percent plus Muslims in the world agree with al-Qaeda. We're waging a war against AQ and AQism who are waging a religious war. That doesn't mean we are waging a war against Islam.

Where do we draw the line? It isn't our line to draw when it comes to hate between the various sects, we draw the line when groups or individuals threaten the U.S. or our interests.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 07-15-2014 at 03:59 AM.
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Old 07-15-2014   #4
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
You have a bad habit of misquoting and taking people's words out of context to support your view. Very few people posting on SWJ have attacked Islam, they have simply pointed out al-Qaeda's principle motivation is religion, and Islam dictates social and political behavior. Yes, al-Qaeda is waging a religious war of sorts, but that sure has hell doesn't mean 90% percent plus Muslims in the world agree with al-Qaeda. We're waging a war against AQ and AQism who are waging a religious war. That doesn't mean we are waging a war against Islam.

Where do we draw the line? It isn't our line to draw when it comes to hate between the various sects, we draw the line when groups or individuals threaten the U.S. or our interests.
I have a habit of trying to show people there is more than one way to view a problem. i do that with their own words. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sarcasm doesn't always translate well in this medium. If i offend, I usually apologize.

None-the-less, I open this because I felt that the topic was tangential to many other threads here, and comes up quite often, but is never addressed directly.

I had a conversation with a retired Armor Colonel the other say that one of the reasons Europeans and Americans are such good warriors is because our common faith provides for an afterlife. Eastern religions generally do not. Of course then the topic turned to Samurai suicide and Kamikazes attacks - honor in a martial society. It dawned on us that Islam could call on both these strengths. Its offered an afterlife and its history is far more martial than Christianity (perhaps on par with Judaism?) These social factors complicated first, our understanding of others (Muslims, Buddhists, etc) view the operational environment, and two, the rational these others might use in making tactical decisions. In the case of middle eastern Muslims, the advantage that their religious convictions hold (afterlife, Religion founded by a warrior of sorts) stands in contrast to the less favorable views most of the books I have seen in western literature about the Arab military and the way they fight. Clearly not everything can be answered by religion. ... of course, on the flip side you have a group of religious zealots who take on an armor column and win ... can we say that the fighters faith helped them achieve that victory?

Of course, there is also our biases. America is schizophrenic when it comes to religion. We claim we are secular but we are a deeply Christian country. Our founding documents are based on rights endowed on us by our creator. This sets up an uncomfortable problem, particularly for a country that tries to be multicultural in difficult times. The first instinct when attacked by outsiders is to withdraw and rally around out basic principles. This causes problem for us. It is something I think we do a poor job of confronting, and religion is central to that.

I am actually less interested in fights between different sects of any particular religion. I would like to explore how religion, in general, affects how we view conflict and the operational environment. It may be a large topic, and I may be the wrong person to continue this thread. Bill is right to observe that some may think I have an agenda. I do, but not the one that most would think. In any case, this will be my last post except to ask specific questions.
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Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 07-15-2014 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 07-15-2014   #5
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I will start by saying that religion "of the book" - particularly Islam and Catholicism - offer an interesting problem in the world of conflict. This is true because both religions offer life after death. Not just life, but a reward of heavenly bliss for those that follow the edicts of the religion. This creates a body of Soldiers ready to die for their cause because their ultimate reward is not in this life but in the next.
If this is your premise it is wrong. If you look through history, some armies composed of Muslims fight well and some don't. Some armies composed of Catholics fight well and some run like rabbits at the first shot. So from this I gather that religion doesn't matter nearly as much as training, leadership, organization and whether the men get paid on time.

I would note also that every variation of Christianity that I know of believes in the soul continuing on after death. Which is also what us mackerel snappers are taught.
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Old 07-15-2014   #6
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AQ uses extreme and unrealistic perspectives on religion to sell illegal, violent political activism for the same reason Madison Avenue uses pretty extreme and unrealistic portrayals of beautiful women to sell virtually everything else.

Because it works. Men are pretty simple creatures to manipulate. Particularly young men who are powered more by testosterone than reason.
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Old 07-15-2014   #7
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I am actually less interested in fights between different sects of any particular religion.
I believe it is exactly this fight that poses the greatest residual global security challenge, and we should probably spend some time thinking about what:

1) The non-Islamic world is going to do to address it.
2) Whether there is a particular side the non-Islamic world wants to be on.
3) If there is anything that can or should be done to minimize the fractures in Islam, or at least support proxies working to resolve the problem.
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Old 07-15-2014   #8
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The Enlightenment and Reformation, in the Western experience, started the slow, and with the latter oft bloody, process of gelding religion and making it subservient to secular authority. What passes for the 'religious' in the West can indeed be amusing secondary to 'self-identification' and the 'cafeteria' approach to scripture. Having one's weltanschauung develop in accordance with a Western secular formation makes the objective analysis of events, issues and perceptions that arise from vastly differing sociohistorical strands difficult. It takes a certain amount of effort to not fall into the trap of the mirror image logical fallacy. For such a fall would be extremely far-radical and radically ultra-extreme (framing bias employed for comedic effect).
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Old 07-15-2014   #9
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
AQ uses extreme and unrealistic perspectives on religion...
This isn't really an argument but just an observation. I am not sure that an absolute objective standard of "extreme and unrealistic" exists when it comes to religious belief.
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Old 07-15-2014   #10
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I'm not arguing Carl, just stating the facts as I understand them.

J Singh mentions the enlightenment and reformation.

Better he backs it up a bit and considers the Renaissance in the 1300s-1600; Mr. Guttenburg's printing press in 1445, the Reformation in the 1500s; and then the Enlightenment in 1600s/1700s.

People of Western Europe long held under the ideological and political control of the Holy Roman Empire becoming informed and educated; the political hi-jacking of Martin Luther's religious counter to the Catholic Church by those who sought to overthrow the political control of the Roman Empire.

Those who wished to sustain the status quo remained Catholic; those who sought change became Protestants of that status quo.

Politics and power dressed up in the religious terms necessary to move people to violent and illegal action.

What we see in the Middle East is little different. The keepers of the status quo love to blame some other ideology or religion for the challenges they face. Far easier to swallow than the recognition that the governance they provide is so sorely out of touch.
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Old 07-15-2014   #11
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
The keepers of the status quo love to blame some other ideology or religion for the challenges they face. Far easier to swallow than the recognition that the governance they provide is so sorely out of touch.
True in an absolute sense, that the governance they provide is out of touch. But that leads back to Bill M's point, which as I understand it is the takfiri killer's desired form of government is defined by religious belief; they are upset not because the govs there aren't enlightened, but because they don't conform to their idea of what religion dictates.

No matter how you slice it, religion looms very large as a motivator in and of itself.
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Old 07-15-2014   #12
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
I'm not arguing Carl, just stating the facts as I understand them.

J Singh mentions the enlightenment and reformation.

Better he backs it up a bit and considers the Renaissance in the 1300s-1600; Mr. Guttenburg's printing press in 1445, the Reformation in the 1500s; and then the Enlightenment in 1600s/1700s.

People of Western Europe long held under the ideological and political control of the Holy Roman Empire becoming informed and educated; the political hi-jacking of Martin Luther's religious counter to the Catholic Church by those who sought to overthrow the political control of the Roman Empire.

Those who wished to sustain the status quo remained Catholic; those who sought change became Protestants of that status quo.

Politics and power dressed up in the religious terms necessary to move people to violent and illegal action.

What we see in the Middle East is little different. The keepers of the status quo love to blame some other ideology or religion for the challenges they face. Far easier to swallow than the recognition that the governance they provide is so sorely out of touch.
Here in Berlin is a native born Egyptian (Sunni) with a German passport who has been here over 19 years as a political scientist ---he has written in German a book titled "The Islamic Fascism" where he intensely looked at the Salafist and Takfiri Sunni wings and came to the conclusion that there is no difference between say the European fascism of the 30s/40s and yes even into the present and the current Salafist and Takfiri wings of Sunnism.

Needless to say he is under constant death threats out of that community and is under police protection.

The threats have increased to such a level he is now leaving Germany.
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Old 07-15-2014   #13
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
J Singh mentions the enlightenment and reformation.

Better he backs it up a bit and considers the Renaissance in the 1300s-1600; Mr. Guttenburg's printing press in 1445, the Reformation in the 1500s; and then the Enlightenment in 1600s/1700s.
One could back it up a bit beyond that and extend it to the time of the development of Greek (inclusive of Athenian) democracy. The reason for choosing the Enlightenment (Wikipedia being non-citable for published work but sufficient herein) was the following:

"The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals beginning in late 17th-century Europe emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition.[1] Its purpose was to reform society using reason, to challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and to advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism, and intellectual interchange (emphasis mine)."

The Reformation was specifically included secondary to its predicative basis for the oft violent and bloody sectarian struggles that followed from it. One may back 'it' up to the extent that one chooses without altering the resultant conclusion.

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People of Western Europe long held under the ideological and political control of the Holy Roman Empire becoming informed and educated; the political hi-jacking of Martin Luther's religious counter to the Catholic Church by those who sought to overthrow the political control of the Roman Empire.

Those who wished to sustain the status quo remained Catholic; those who sought change became Protestants of that status quo.

Politics and power dressed up in the religious terms necessary to move people to violent and illegal action.
However one frames it, the resultant is unchanged. The sociohistorical paradigm operative in the West has been, for some time, the triumph of secularism over religion. The interesting conundrum in regards to how the West arrived 'here' from 'there' is that it included the use of violence and acts deemed illegal by the old order. It is not surprising that the new order would deem 'illegal' the mechanism by which it came to power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
What we see in the Middle East is little different. The keepers of the status quo love to blame some other ideology or religion for the challenges they face. Far easier to swallow than the recognition that the governance they provide is so sorely out of touch.
The secular grievance model is nice but misses the boat on why 'they' fight. The latter requires an objective understanding of their worldview (sans the mirror image logical fallacy).
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Old 07-15-2014   #14
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Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
I believe it is exactly this fight that poses the greatest residual global security challenge, and we should probably spend some time thinking about what:

1) The non-Islamic world is going to do to address it.
2) Whether there is a particular side the non-Islamic world wants to be on.
3) If there is anything that can or should be done to minimize the fractures in Islam, or at least support proxies working to resolve the problem.
I have not seen any Catholic,Jewish,Baptist,Buddhist suicide bombers. So I don't see what any other religion has to do with todays situation.
Our Wilsonian "Political Correctness" and this idea that we will go forth and make the world safe for democracy will destroy us. Better to remember and follow the example of the Barbary Wars and why our God created the US Navy and Marine Corps!

Last edited by slapout9; 07-15-2014 at 08:44 PM. Reason: stuff
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Old 07-15-2014   #15
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As an example (the current administration being no better than the previous one in regards to the matter), the following internalized propaganda-speak just makes one shake one's head in disbelief:

Quote:
Don't call them jihadists any more. And don't call al-Qaeda a movement. The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language. Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as "jihadists" or "mujahedeen," according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like "Islamo-fascism" is out, too. The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.
Excluding the cited author's own framing bias, the first rationale makes little sense. The target audience doesn't look to the US government, which has zero religious authority, to define jihadists and the mujahideen as something else. The second rationale is pure politically correct pablum.

Quote:
"Regarding 'jihad,' even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world," the report says.
"Even if it is accurate?" The deceptive halo is one that does not apply to the target audience. Again, the US government is in zero position to determine if the jihadists have religious authority. Completely left out of this is that it is not the lexicon that the US government chooses to use that 'damages relations with Muslims around the world' but rather interventionist neo-Wilsonian foreign policy.

Quote:
"Don't compromise our credibility" by using words and phrases that may ascribe benign motives to terrorists.
This statement is such an epic fail on so many levels.

Reference URL: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...535863,00.html
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Old 07-15-2014   #16
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Default Early Muslim Extremist In America

Glenn Beck interview of David Barton on Jefferson and Islam, Barbary Wars.




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlT1IXSv830
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Old 07-15-2014   #17
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Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
Here in Berlin is a native born Egyptian (Sunni) with a German passport who has been here over 19 years as a political scientist ---he has written in German a book titled "The Islamic Fascism" where he intensely looked at the Salafist and Takfiri Sunni wings and came to the conclusion that there is no difference between say the European fascism of the 30s/40s and yes even into the present and the current Salafist and Takfiri wings of Sunnism.

Needless to say he is under constant death threats out of that community and is under police protection.

The threats have increased to such a level he is now leaving Germany.
Liddel Hart in his book "Strategy" talked about how this could happen with Islam at the end of WW2. Some far sighted people have seen this coming for some time.
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Old 07-16-2014   #18
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Ok, for all of you who are convinced they fight because of their religious differences rather than in pursuit of power or to throw off a system of governance designed and implemented by one group to oppress the other, riddle me this:

Why is it that people of these same diverse religions live together in natural harmony when these inequities of illegitimacy, power and opportunity are resolved??
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Old 07-16-2014   #19
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As jcustis said there various sects now and during the Barbary wars. We found some good Muslims and with God and a few Marines we brought them to the curb and signed a treaty. The Navy helped to. Keep them in line forget about reforming them.
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Old 07-16-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Ok, for all of you who are convinced they fight because of their religious differences rather than in pursuit of power or to throw off a system of governance designed and implemented by one group to oppress the other, riddle me this:

Why is it that people of these same diverse religions live together in natural harmony when these inequities of illegitimacy, power and opportunity are resolved??
One would need an example of where that which is described in the question, actually exists, in order to consider a response to it.
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