Author Topic: Paper: Rethinking Role of Religious Conflict in Doctrine  (Read 3391 times)

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Offline Bread Guy

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Attached find a copy (26 page .pdf) of "Religion and Resistance: Examining the Role of Religion in Irregular Warfare" by Matthew A. Lauder, Defence R&D Canada – Toronto.

The US counter-insurgency manual (FM 3-24) has been criticised by several theorists for a lack of attention paid to the issue of religion. For example, critics of the manual indicate that religion is mentioned only a handful of times, and merely in-passing or as a secondary factor within a broader appreciation of the cultural context of the operating environment. The superficial treatment of religion in counter-insurgency doctrine, and a trend of dismissing the grievances of religiously-inspired antagonists as illegitimate, serves to illustrate a general lack of appreciation for the mingling of the religious and the political that exists outside of Western society. In other words, there is an overall lack of recognition of, and appreciation for, the ways in which religion underlies social, cultural, political, and economic discourse and action, and, more specifically, the role of religion in conflict. The aim of this paper is two-fold: (1) it will critically examine the treatment of religion and religious concepts in US and Canadian  counter-insurgency doctrine; and (2) by drawing upon Religious Studies scholars, and by comparing historical and contemporary examples of religious conflict between states and non-state actors, it will argue that spiritual insurgencies are forms of violent new religious movements. The objective of this paper is to encourage the re-thinking of the problem-space and a reassessment of how we classify and treat religious conflict in doctrine and engage religious antagonists in the contemporary operating environment.
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Offline Teeps74

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Re: Paper: Rethinking Role of Religious Conflict in Doctrine
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 09:00:56 »
I am going to be pouring over this document in depth... It is along the same lines of my own thinking on the subject.

On a seperate note, PM in bound. I need something from ya Tony.
"... to fight and conquer in all your battles
    is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists
    in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Offline agenteagle

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Re: Paper: Rethinking Role of Religious Conflict in Doctrine
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 09:16:22 »
I hope they address this because ignoring religion or the effect of religion in a so called holy war will get us no where. The fact that Islam extremists use religion to recruit, fund, and draw support is something that can't be ignored. Also the US, Canada, and the British have not done enough in exposing the fact that extremists pervert their own religion.

As a Christian who has studied religion and Islam I realize that religious scholars should be consulted in how to deal with a religious war. We hate to bring up that we are a war with a religion because that has serious consequences. Islam is not the problem the perverted ideology of OBL and his kind are the problem.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Paper: Rethinking Role of Religious Conflict in Doctrine
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2009, 09:19:43 »
I have gone on, at some length, about the vital role of culture in conflicts and of religion in culture.

But it is a tricky argument to manage because religion is a highly emotional, as opposed to rational, issue. I am not in a position to argue for or against religion, per se, because I am, quite simply, too ignorant, too poorly informed. But I can, I believe, make he case that religions are tightly tied to cultures and that some of the fundamental differences between e.g. Western liberalism and Asian conservatism and Islamic (what? outrage? despair? ambition?)  fervour are tied, more or less, directly, to religious beliefs – religious to the extent that e.g. Confucianism morphed into something akin to a religion with temples, prayers and the like.

I have also argued – and will continue to say – that in (and after) the 21st century there is “room” for liberals and conservatives but not for the fervid. Liberal and conservative values are, broadly, “open.” For example, most American self-described “conservatives” (à la Rush Limbaugh, for example) are, really, only at the buffoonish fringe of modern, Euro-American liberalism, while most Chinese “liberals” remain, firmly, in a conservative philosophic frame. But both “frames” encompass a wide range of opinion and, like a Venn diagram, cover much of the same ground: respect for the rule of law, property rights and free enterprise, and so on. Those espousing Islamist fervour, on the other hand, want to stand apart. As I understand the Islamists’ views (and my understanding may be deeply flawed) they reject “our” (liberal and conservative) view of the rule of law, which must be respected. Their view is that their god’s laws must be obeyed as a matter of faith and that their god’s laws are all that is required for governance of the family, the economy and society, itself. That view is so remote from both liberal and conservative values that coexistence is impossible. I argue, therefore, that Islam – the Arab/Persian form of Islam wherein such views are found, in any event – needs to undergo a reformation and an enlightenment, as did Christianity (a similarly monotheistic and politically “active” religion) in the 16th and 18th centuries. I suspect that modern “communications” might allow the Arab/Persian/West Asian “world” to reform and enlighten itself – because it is not something anyone else can do for or to them – in less than 250 years but it will still be a long process: the work of generations.

But, I am not convinced that Islam, itself, is the or even a problem. It is, I think, the Arab/Persian/West Asian cultural predispositions which influence their version of Islam which is the problem. Just as it was the Latin culture’s interpretation of Christianity that was incompatible with more liberal Northern European social mores.

We need to be very careful to not make Islam into an enemy. We (in the American led West) are already being (successfully) demonized for attacking Islam; it’s an unfair charge which is fairly easily refuted but we must not give it any real credence. Islam is NOT our enemy even though most of our enemies are adherents of that faith. Our enemy is ignorance and extremism and cultural rigidity.

We need to be careful. People, I have learned over a lifespan approaching seven decades spent living, working or ravelling extensively, on seven continents, are all pretty much alike. Cultures are not. They differ. Some are “better" than others in that they allow their peoples to fully exploit the world without creating discord. Modern Western liberals and modern Asian conservatives, for example, can live, side by side, trade, prosper and remain “different.” Other cultures – strong ones like Islam and weak ones like Southern Christianity and the African cultures – must adapt because the consequences of remaining apart are too violent to bear for very long. We can, and should, try to change cultures; we cannot and need not try to change people or their religions.

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Paper: Rethinking Role of Religious Conflict in Doctrine
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2009, 10:01:32 »
Here, here!

Culture, not religion is indeed the key factor (notice the Islamist Jihadis are not so successful in stirring up religious fervor in places like Indonesisa, despite the vast islamic population; Indonesian culture dosn't suport the sort of values the Jihadis want to impose on them). Civic Nationalism, the practice of assimilating newcomers to "our" culture was a successful practice in the past, modern multiculturalism simply allows alien cultures to take root and flourish here, along with incompatable values (expressed in the form of calls for Sharia law and the practice of "honour killings" appearing in Canada).

The three authors that I would put on the reading list are Samuel Huntington (The clash of Civilizations and the making of a new world order), Thomas P.M. Barnett (The Pentagon's new map) and Robert Kaplan (Start with "The coming Anarchy" and read his pieces in Atlantic Monthly. Balken Ghosts, The Ends of the Earth and An Empire Wilderness are good background, and Imperial Grunts outlines some of the current responses to the issue).
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.