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Old 10-06-2003, 03:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Religion and the Nature and Causes of War

It is often alledged that religion is teh core cause of most wars, or most severe wars.

First, i posit that not every war in which religion is invoked is a religious war. We can understand the spread of the Islamic Empires outside of the context of religion started a war. Religion provided organization which provided for a state, which then made war. There is a differnce, IMO. Continueing clashes between the Islamic World and the Christian world can be better understood as the conflicts of cultural boundaries rather than religious ones. East/West conflict greatly predates the rise of either of those religions.

Second, in the ancient world, culture and religion are hard to separate. What we might see as a war of religion may be more about national identity-a war of liberation, which in modern times would be seen as political.

Anyhow, a listing of wars and their primary causes, which i will add to if you all remember ones i don't. For instance, i know only a little of non-Western wars...

Greco Persian Wars: Territorial/Economic
Pelloponesian Wars: Political/Economic
Macedonian Campaigns (Alexander the Great): Territorial
Maccabean Revolt: Political/Religious
Punic Wars: Economic/Political
Other Roman Campaigns: Territorial/Economic
Sack of Rome and Hunnic Invasion: Territorial/Economic
Carolingian Campaigns (Charlemange): Territorial/Political with nominal Religious overtones
Islamic Expansion (Ummayid): Territorial with religious overtones
Crusades/Islamic Reaction (Seljuk): Territorial/Religious
Infighting amongst Res Publica Christiana (Middle Age European wars): Political/Economic/Territorial
100 Years War: Political/Territorial
War of the Roses: Political
Hapsburg Campaigns (Holy Roman Empire circa 1500): Political/Territorial with Religious overtones
Naval Campaign for Meditteranean (Lepanto, et al): Political/Cultural/Religious
Conquest of Americas: Economic/Territorial with Religious overtones
30 Years War and Associated Dynastic Conflicts: Economic/Political/Religious
English Civil War: Religious/Poltical/Economic
Ottoman Campaigns: Territorial/Cultural/Religious
Northern Wars (Peter the Great): Political/territorial/Economic
Franco-Spainish Wars: Political/Territorial
Sepoy Wars: Political/Economic
Seven Years War: Economic/Territorial
Revolitionary War: Political/Economic
French Revolution and Associated Campaigns: Political
Napolionic Wars: Political/Territorial
Crimean War: Economic/Territorial/Political
American Civil War: Economic/Political
Prussian Wars (Bismark): Poltical/Economic
Mahadist Campaigns: Anti-Imperialist/Religious
Indian Wars of American West: Territorial/Economic
Boxer Rebellion: Anti-Imperialist
Russo-Japanese War: Territorial/Political
WWI: Political
Russian Revolution and Red/White Wars: Political
Spanish Civil War: Political
WW2: Political/Ethnic
Korea: Political
Vietnam: Anti-Imperialist/Poltical
Cambodia: Political/Economic
Algerian War: Anti-Imperialist
Arab-Israeli Wars: Political/Religious
Gulf War I: Political/Territorial/Economic
Somalia: Economic/Political
Rwanda: Ethnic
Balkans: Religious/Political
Afganistan: Political/Religious
Gulf War II: Political
Intifada: Religious/National Liberation
Sudanese Civil War: Religious/Political

So, to those who say most wars are over religion...don't say it. It's not true. The major conflicts are primarly economic, political, etc...with some smatterings of religious conflict thrown in for good measure. But most of the recent outbreaks since the Islamic/Christian fighting are small brush fires in comparison to the political wars that were fought.

Edit: I re-did the section on arab and muslim expansion, using better labeling of the factions.

Last edited by chavos; 11-17-2003 at 05:10 PM..
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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WWII, only political? Is that a joke?

Religion played a huge part. How can anyone possibly say that Hitler killing Jews had nothing to do with religion?

Check out the link below. Too much stuff to copy and paste.

LINKY

Don't forget that the United States was created by people seeking religious freedom. How can the Revolutionary War have nothing to do with religion?

I never said that all wars are over religion, but to deny that some wars have nothing to do with religion seems a bit ridiculous to me.
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Religion and the Nature and Causes of War

Quote:
Originally posted by chavos
Revolitionary[sic] War: Political/Economic
I disagree with this. The primary reason for immigration to the "New World" was to flee religious persecution -- I think that this would make the American Revolution at least partially of a religious nature.
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by sixate
Religion played a huge part. How can anyone possibly say that Hitler killing Jews had nothing to do with religion?
I think Hitler had more beef with the Jewish "race", not the religion itself.

I'd also like to state that while I think it's silly to think that religion causes wars, it is most certainly used to attempt to justify war. To suggest that it causes war is.. well.. just as ignorant as accusing guns of causing murder.
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Last edited by seretogis; 10-06-2003 at 04:10 PM..
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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WW2 should get an ethnic tagging to it. That was oversight...i wrote this in a half hour, so excuse my haste. But the Russian/German fighting, which had most of the causualties was politcal and idological. Also i would cite lucy davidowicz's "War against the Jews" to support my contention that it was not "about" religion, since secular Jews were killed along religious ones with the same zeal.

The Revolutionary war was faught between a primarily protestant america and protestant england, and became a proxy war of france and england. Just becase immigration had in part been religiously motivated obsures the issue greatly. Cite contempoary documents which support your thesis, and it may be worth taking a look.
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by seretogis
I'd also like to state that while I think it's silly to think that religion causes wars, it is most certainly used to attempt to justify war. To suggest that it causes war is.. well.. just as ignorant as accusing guns of causing murder.
Now I agree with that, but religion has played a part in some wars, but after thinking a bit more I can't think of a war caused by religion.
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by sixate
Now I agree with that, but religion has played a part in some wars, but after thinking a bit more I can't think of a war caused by religion.
Now that we're in agreement, how about some huggles?
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Old 10-06-2003, 04:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Amen...
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Old 10-06-2003, 10:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well, heck!

I was all ready to start a thread like this and not only did chavos beat me to it (and do a better job, I might add) but also it's come to a conclusion before I could make one of my usual long winded comments!!!

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Old 10-07-2003, 12:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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It's a great list and I agree that it's hard to distinguish between religion and culture or politics in some of the ancient wars. I would say this is because religion was often used back then as the ultimate source for political authority.

The thirty year war is one I find really interesting because out of the protracted conflict between Protestants and Catholics emerged the Treaty of Westphalia - the basis for sovereignty and the system of nation states that forms the international order today.

It was religious in a sense that the Catholic Holy Roman Empire was really the only entity that challenged the sovereignty of states and in doing so brought the modern concept of sovereignty itself into existence.

At the time, one of the key principles of the treaty was cujus regio, ejus religio (whoever rules determines the religion of his subjects). Nowdays we understand it as "don't interfere in the domestic policy of another state" but in that time, the very idea of domestic policy as distinct from international relations was expressed in religious terms - as religion was then the most powerful tool for undermining the authority of a state.
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Old 10-07-2003, 02:32 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Less typing, more huggles.
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Old 10-07-2003, 04:24 AM   #12 (permalink)
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lets look at the conflicts around the world now.

kashmir - territorial, but religion is a big factor.
afghanistan - moderate vs hardline muslims
pslestine - territorial, but w/ huge religious involvement
nigeria - christian south vs muslim north (look @ other civil wars in africa)
indonesia - fundamentalists vs rest
[joke]USA - christian coalition vs rest[/joke]

does this mean that the world is gettin more n more regiously fanatic?
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Old 10-07-2003, 05:47 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I understand kashmir as the debris of colonial interferance. There's no reason to suspect that the conflict would be as heated if not for the bad blood dating from the british partition....

Nigeria is not yet again in civil war. We have yet to see if the state is capable of handling the tensions that you mention.

Indonesia-Again, not in civil war. Its one thing to say that religion can create conflicts-i think that differing world views are pretty much always the source of conflict, and religions is one of them. But to cite all the examples where religion is a method of opposing a central goverment or expressing ethnic idenity, where there hasn't even been a war yet, and i think you confuse the issue.

Fanaticism is pretty much a modern invention though...one not limited to religious life. i guess it remains to be seen if political structures and more moderate religious influences can effectively check that.
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Old 10-07-2003, 10:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
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unlike most threads i intend to read all of the replies and what not, but i am cut off short and simply wish to throw in a word.

Religion as war material is a crutch for insecure nitwitted control freaks.

i try to not blame religion so much as the idiots who use it to control the massess. . . and most people want to be lead. the two go together, cruel shepherds make war fast.

i am a Christia nand i hate the past deeds done in Christ's name. it's bullshit.

it's a crutch. it's like me starting a cult of Ghandi and then calling on a war. Christ = pacifist . Ghandi = pacifist. people use it to gain power.

oh and the country was founded on freedom of religion? heheeeeeheheheh
sure!

the whole witches thing and what not were a hoax
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Old 10-07-2003, 12:32 PM   #15 (permalink)
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In this day in age Muslim extremism and fanatacism is becoming a problem, that will definently one day lead to major armed conflicts.
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Old 10-07-2003, 02:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by chavos
I understand kashmir as the debris of colonial interferance. There's no reason to suspect that the conflict would be as heated if not for the bad blood dating from the british partition....

what was the #1 reason for partition?

A: Religion
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Old 11-17-2003, 03:08 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The Crusades seem like a fairly important omission from this list of western wars, especially in the context of the subject (not to mention the first set of religious wars that popped into my head).
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Old 11-17-2003, 05:02 PM   #18 (permalink)
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My bad...i mislabed on that one, and will edit to reflect. The Selucids were a Greek dynasty that followed Alexander...the Seljuks were the turk/arabs who fought back the invasion of the crusades. Too many S words...

That said, i stand by lumping the Seljuk wars and the Crusades in to one. It's all one war, invasion and counter invasion, but i will include the label "crusades" along with Seljuk Expansion.

Edit-in fact, i ended up redoing the whole section...it didn't make sense to differentiate the Moors and Berbers from the Ummayids...the latter carried out the invasion of spain. Anyhow...it's all better now.

Last edited by chavos; 11-17-2003 at 05:20 PM..
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