learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...


learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...

the U.S. government have personal and private religious preferences. It is assumed, that

given the power of religious belief, personal agendas might interfere with the task at hand

and thereby corrupt or misuse information. There is a contention that finding the ‘right’

people who are balanced, informed, with integrity and evenhandedness would be difficult

if not impossible. 497

The fourth reason that the U.S. government has been reluctant to take on religious

issues is the basic sensitivity of religious matters where they overlap politics. There is a

wide divergence of views within the United States as to the role of religion, politics, and

warfare and anyone taking a visible or strong stand is risking political or professional suicide.

There is also a divergence of views in the rest of the world about what U.S. or international

military forces “should” and “should not” take on with the use of force. There are

some who contend that that the U.S. should take on injustice whenever and wherever it is

found — environmental warfare, all systematic abuses of human rights, preemptive

strikes against “rogue” states, and elimination of tyrants. Others argue that U.S. military

force should be used only in defense of territorial borders. To find anything resembling

agreement on engaging in conflict that has a religious component would be ephemeral.

There is a tendency to over-attribution i.e. the tendency to attribute all hostility to the

theology, practice, or even cooptation of a major religion. 498 The singular focus on theology

has tended to blind many to the complex relationships between religion, culture,

politics, and war in global conflict environments: Aum Shinrikyo is found in Australia,

New Zealand, and Japan where there is a great divergence in political, cultural, and economic

factors. Likewise, these factors are found in different configurations for Akali

Dal in India, the Christian militia in the U.S., a new and virulent form of Hindu nationalism

in India, Hezbollah and Hamas in the eastern Mediterranean, and millenarian

movements throughout Africa and the Pacific. The range of diversity and complexity

seems overwhelming. All religions provide reason for living and dying within their

respective theologies. How this is applied varies in specific contextual arrangements.

The cultural application of religious principles seems to indicate more about violence

than basic theology. 499

Even with these explanations and cautionary notes, the United States is now a mature

hegemonic power so it is important to “take the risk” in a self-conscious and systematic

manner. The Christian community has no alternative but to think these things through

very carefully and understand and hold to basic faith systems, but interpret behaviors in

their social, economic, and political context before making spurious judgments.

497 See Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, and Jaap de Wilde’s sophisticated treatment of this subject in Security: a

New Framework for Analysis, published in 1998 by Lynne Rienner.

498 This does NOT imply that individuals “give up” their own deeply held religious convictions to be of

value to U.S. security. It DOES mean that balance, integrity, and objectivity are guiding principles.

499 For example, violence is assumed to be intrinsic to the theology, practice, and even cooptation of Islam.

This basically negates the truth that over 1 billion people are at least nominally Islamic and only a few are also

terrorists. It also is in denial of the fact that the major religious wars of history have occurred in the Christian

countries of Western Europe.


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