Religion and War and GFII
I have found that it is commonly perceived by people that religion is dangerous because it causes wars.
Now I do not agree entirely with this proposition. Thinking about this a little more in the last week or so, I have perhaps three reasons for war occuring: moral conviction, religious conviction and political conviction.
By moral convictions, I mean a belief that war should be waged against a foe because of injustice perpetrated by the foe (eg. Britain and Germany in World War II). By religious convictions, I mean war based on a clash between two religions (eg. Christianity and Islam in the case of the Crusades). By political convictions, I mean a clash of political egos or a war based on the political impetus or even economic reasons (eg. Japan versus the Pacific in World War II).
Some have attempted to brand Gulf War II (GFII) as a war based on religious grounds. This is primarily based on the perception that George W. Bush (an openly Christian President of the USA) is on a crusade against the Realm of Islam. Now I have some doubt about this assertion.
If it were a religious war, then why Iraq? Saddam Hussein, despite being a cruel dictator, actually protected the minority Christian population for persecution from the majority Islamic population. Saddam's deputy, Tariq Aziz, was a Christian.
I believe that GFII was a result of mainly political impetus. Most of the Bush team are dubbed as Neo-Cons (short for Neo-Conservatives). Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defense Secretary, is the main ideological character in this group. In his previous academic life, he had been developing theories on how the US should convey its predonderent power across the world to increase the US's economic and military power. Further, this group has also been developing theories to change the face of the Middle East into a Utopia of democracy.
How does Iraq fit in?
First it had a crackpot leader, who could be easily deposed. His military was a mess after the first Gulf War and with no solid defense, could be easily overcome by the US's military might.
Second, it was strategically located between two of the most bitter enemies in the Middle East: Iran and Israel. Providing a buffer between these two would reduce the chase of a land war. Further, Iran is also part of the US's "Axis of Evil". Having the largest US base in the Middle East on the doorstep of the most dangerous regime in the Middle East is an extraordinary positive for the US military.
Third, and I seriously believe, less importantly, Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves. For the US to maintain, in the long run, it's economic power, it must either reduce its reliance on oil, or improve its access to oil. The Saudi regime will fall sooner or later, and when that happens, expect Saudi oil to stop flowing to the US.
Why do I consider oil to be the least important of the three?
Well, steps have already been undertaken by the Bush Administration to reduce the US's reliance on oil. Bush is spending $US80bn on developing technologies which should reduce the US's unsatiable appetite for oil. Further to this, Russia should begin to become a major oil partner with the US (as signalled by the increasing willingness by Russia to allow US interests to become equity partners in state oil groups). In summary, oil (especially in the Middle East) is becoming less interesting for the US.
Back to what I started writing about. Of all of the major wars in recent history, most have been politically or morally motivated. The most recent major religious war I can recall is the Crusades in the middle of the Millenium. These however, cannot be attributed to the aggression of Christian nations. Rather, the Christian offensive was mainly a response to the destruction of a weak Byzantium Empire by Arabs from Saudi Arabia.
I may write more on this topic later.