latest post about the horrendous acts of terrorism in Russia got me thinking. Troy specifically wonders if we are not already in the midst of another world war. I've been thinking about this for a couple of years now, really since 9/11. I must say, based on what I know of history, sociology and the dark pit that is human nature I believe we are engaged in World War III already, whether we are aware of it or not. To be sure, I'm not the first or only person to come to this realization. People much smarter and talented than I have stated this themselves. Take for example renowned and respected NY Times writer Thomas Friedman said as much in the first days after 9/11. I didn't believe it then. I guess reality has taken a few years to set in or perhaps it was blatant denial.
I don't think this war is like any other we've faced and maybe that is why it is so difficult to pinpoint the why, what and where about it. This war I see as more of a clash of civilizations. I don't mean Islamic and Western neccessarily, but Modern versus pre-Modern. Sure there is religious ideology invoked on the part of terrorists. But if you don't know that most Muslims are not terrorists then please stop reading my blog and never come back.
What I mean is that the Modern world with all it's technological and social 'progress' has ultimately head butted with the rest of the world that is not at this particular life stage. Religion tends to be neutralized in the Modern world, thus allowing for the advancement of certain other social instutions that bring additional changes. In short, in the march toward modernity, religion finds a nice little cozy, accomodationg niche in society that helps the members of society deal constructively with radical changes that science, technology and liberalizing politics brings (more about the down side of this later). Equality, prosperity and enfranchisement of the massess follows. Yada, yada, yada.
In the rest of the world where these conditions do not exist, religion becomes the vehicle in which frustration, ignorance, oppression and violence are driven. In these places, religion is used to explain how the infidel overpowered the righteous in struggle of good versus evil and in the process demonizes all those outside the faith. Such is the case in the Middle East. For example, 800 years ago when the Islamic caliphate was the envy of the world this side of China, there were no suicidal religious fantics in that part of the world. Prosperity bred stability and stability bred a healthy worldview of God's role in the world. Today, the M.E. suffers from failed regimes and an inability to adapt to a changing world order (anybody remember the Ottoman Empire?). Where there is no prosperity there is no stability. When instability rears its ugly head all hell breaks loose. Scapegoats are found to explain away failure. If you don't believe me please refer to Germany in the1930's, China between 1969-1976 or Cambodia under Pol Pot. When all this takes place, religion sometimes becomes the destabilizing factor in a pre-Modern society. Such is the case in the Middle East.
In short, it is for these reasons and many others I'm not bright enough to articulate properly, that the current Islamic terrorism has been shaped. An invasion of a Central Asian country by Western Communisits becomes framed in jihad. The Industrial World's thirst for oil like so much crack cocaine is interpreted as Western endorsement of oppressive regimes so long as they keep that light sweet crude a flowin'. Or the U.S.' unadulterated support of Israel(for so many ill conceived reasons it makes me shake), is cast in the shadow of the West supporting a government that prevents Muslims from inhabiting their homeland and thus perpetuating the fanatical nature of resistance. Resistance against all that is perceived to be diametrically opposed to the pre-Modern worldview mangled and twisted through the lense of religion and nationalism.
For all these reasons and more 19 young men will fly jets into iconic buildings. Misguided, dangerous and evil men will brutally behead their fellow human beings for all the world to see via the World Wide Web. The only thing that slows down your observing the madness is your ISP.
For these reasons young men will see the only weapon at their disposal is themselves, and use it. All in the name of nationalism or sicker still, in the name of God. For these reasons women, yes women will take 1500 hostages in a Russian school and murder over 150 of them and injure another 600. Becuase the perception persists that the Modern world order is invading the pre-Modern and everything must be done to stop the future and go back to the past when everything was right.
World War III is like nothing we've seen before. It lacks a specific definition and its foot soldiers are not always clearly distinguished. The challenge for us is not to fall prey to the cycle of pre-emptive strikes in the name of security and in the long run become what we hate. This is what Osama bin Laden and his homies want. And I fear our governemnt is currently giving him exactly what he asked for. Bin laden seeks to polarize the world into two camps and George W. Bush is accomodating him. I firmly believe if Osama bin Laden could vote he would vote for George Bush because another four years of him would continue the road bin laden opened up on 9/11.
We need to pray. We need to think. And then we need to pray more.
Just my unorganized ramblings late at night. Sorry this so long, blame Troy. He started it. Peace to all.