Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Winning a war about ideology means killing the ideology

The beginning of the end for Syria ..and.. Fight a democracy, kill the people .. discusses the current Lebanon/Hezbollah/Israel war. That war is part of the broader conflict in the Middle East, and is very likely going to merge with the broader conflict to make the war cover the whole of the Middle East.

There's a very interesting point to ponder: Conventional armies can defeat guerrilla forces with broad popular support, for it is perfectly feasible to dismantle a people, destroy its morale, and if need be expel them. It has happened in history on occasions beyond count. The British did it to the Scots Highlanders after the 1745 rising, and to the Acadians of Canada after the Seven Years' War; Ataturk did it to the Greeks of Asia Minor in 1922; and the Czechs did it to the Sudeten Germans after 1945. It seems to be happening again, as half or more of Lebanon's 1.2 million Shi'ites flee their homes. To de-fang Hezbollah implies the effective dissolution of the Shi'ite community, a third of whom live within Katyusha range of Israel.

I remember reading how President Roosevelt had strategized about how to end World War II. They had an offer of surrender early on, but his strategy was to thoroughly demoralize the German People so that they would not later rise up to be a threat.

In the case of Hezbollah we have a million people in southern Lebanon who thoroughly believe in their leader. They hold a set of beliefs that are incompatible with the beliefs held by Israel. So the idea is, winning this war means killing the ideology. But ideologies tend to live on and on and on. Ideologies are carried by people in their beliefs.

Hmm... So, they're waging war because of a disagreement over beliefs?

Maybe it's that the fundamentalist mindset can only see their fundamentals as being the correct ones?

What that means is ... the U.S. is currently in the grip of Christain fundamentalism. The Middle East is seeing a rise in Islamic Fundamentalism, with whole countries like Iran and pre-invasion-Afghanistan being in the grip of Islamic Fundamentalist Law. The war can be seen as a battle between Christain and Islamic fundamentalists. They both seem to share a belief that society is corrupt and the way to decorruptize society is to return to the religious teachings. But where they differ is on the content of those teachings, the beliefs taught by those teachings.

Sigh, why can't those teachings live side by side? Don't they both teach to love thy neighbor? But, unfortunately, when you combine fundamentalist religion with political power, they tend to make the fundamentals of their religion into law. We're seeing that in the U.S. with various faith based laws being enacted or proposed, and in the Middle East it's gone even further where the countries have adopted Shariah Law in whole.

But I think trying to kill an ideology by killing the people who hold that ideology is a fools journey. It's interesting that the article mentioned the Scottish uprising and what the English did to the Scottish. I was just in Scotland, and they are a very proud people, very proud of their difference from the British, very proud of the times they successfully fought off the British, very sad over the Land Clearances that bordered on what we now call "Ethnic Cleansing", and they recently reestablished their own Parliament. What I take from that is you might be able to suppress a people and their ideology for a generation or so, but they'll eventually find their power again and rise up against you over the grievances done upon their ancestors.

We saw that with the Kosovo conflict a few years ago. That conflict was based on a battle fought several hundred years ago, which was still simmering beneath the surface of the people living in that area.

I think it's better for us to seek ways to live together in harmony, and celebrate our differences. But that would mean having laws that allow each of us to be different from the other. Laws that give equal weight to us all despite our creed.

For example ... laws that allow homosexuals to marry. That particular issue I chose because the Christain fundamentalists in the U.S. are currently making a lot of noise about this issue. What's at issue is a conflict of ideas between what is the right or wrong way to live. The Christain fundamentalists in the U.S. see homosexual marraige as completely offensive, claiming that God said that was a sin. But, think, didn't Jesus teach to love everybody, to love thy neighbor as thyself? Doesn't that apply to homosexuals just as everybody else? How can these fundamentalists get away with their fire and brimstone, where they condemn certain kinds of people to hell and damnation? Is it loving thy neighbor to do so? Yet, that's what they're doing in the name of God under the banner of their religion.

I see that the Christian teachings, to love thy neighbor as thyself, etc, would be very compatible with, for example, allowing homosexuals to marry, and in general to living in harmony with your neighbor who believes differently from yourself.