Tom Banchoff’s essay raises important insights and deepens the discussion about the historical relations between organized religion now and in the future with secular forms of power, governance, and authority structures. Banchoff rightly warns that ignoring these trends is a grave mistake in assessing the future, in tracking what kind of balance and shift in balance of powers may be taking place. There is no question that political Islam has had an enormous impact on contemporary history, even though it is too early to say where this will lead.
I want to focus my thoughts and response on two aspects of religion that are often not distinguished sufficiently in terms of our subjects of power and religion as well as secular and religious sources of authority in history and going forward.
There are two essentially different elements of religion as a human phenomenon that often have little …
Nonviolent statecraft is a difficult proposition because policy makers act in the national interest, which will not consider nonviolence as its priority. Nations often pursue war and embrace violent regimes as allies because the benefits economically and politically of the military/industrial complex are irresistible. As a result it is hard for peace-oriented policy makers and bureaucrats to persuade their own institutions to commit to nonviolent statecraft.
Let’s take an example. An oil-producing regime upon which the U.S. economy depends eagerly courts the United States, promises to build free U.S. military bases, offers full cooperation militarily and in intelligence, and offers generous contracts to American companies in a wide range of congressional districts. Aligning with that regime’s interests appears advantageous, but doing so forces the United States to view the oil-producing regime’s adversaries as the adversaries of the United States.
Military Experiments in Conflict ResolutionThat is the bad news. The
A version of this essay appeared recently in the Jerusalem Report on November 21, 2011.
The Arab Awakening is facing serious challenges, and some new strategic decisions are required that will end up being good for all the revolutionary movements afoot this year, in the Middle East, in Israel and beyond.
The essential point is this: The Arab Street has demonstrated incredible heroism and nonviolent principles in the face of torture and death, and even Libya began as a very peaceful revolution, even if Libyans felt at some point that they had no choice but to fight. This is a paradigm shift of ethical and political values that will be remembered for generations. It may also signify a broad-based Middle Eastern democratic shift.
The going is tough, however, because no revolution easily dislodges corrupt structures of power. The temptation is just too great for those immediately below the revolution’s chosen …
(A version of this essay was recently published in The Jerusalem Report.)
Across the world in the last 40 years politically organized religious forces have played an increasingly important role in national politics. From India to Indonesia, from Lebanon to Israel, from the United States to Russia, organized religion has increased its impact on politics.
We are also aware of the frightening rise of very violent religion, expressed through terror groups. For this reason, it is easy to misunderstand the relationship between religion on the one hand and between states and ethnic groups and their very secular interests, on the other hand.
Precisely because so many millions of people care about religion, religion has become an essential tool of secular state and ethnic interests. Indeed, what may seem to be a religious issue often turns out to be very secular state interests. Missing this relationship, it becomes easy
The recent news of a rogue group of American military personnel murdering Afghans for sport is a sign of America’s war fatigue. The more the war drags on without attainable goals the worse the “quality control” of American troops. American troops are exhausted and over-stretched, and we must ask, what is there to be done?
The clear answer is deep engagement with the people of Afghanistan, engagement that wins the war through winning the people from the insurgents, and even winning over many of the insurgents. Here is how:
Vastly Expand CERP Funds
CERP stands for Commanders’ Emergency Response Program. These funds are being used by forward thinking commanders to reconstruct mosques and other basic construction needs. General Petreaus should significantly increase the quantity of these funds and the flexibility of their usage, particularly supporting commanders and chaplains in particular regions that have engaged the community, tribal and religious leaders …
WASHINGTON – Marc Gopin from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University joined us with more.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton formally opened the first direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in nearly two years on Thursday, imploring the parties to ignore the long history of failed negotiations and make needed compromises to forge an agreement.
At a ceremony in the State Department’s ornate Benjamin Franklin room, Clinton said the Obama administration was committed to forging a settlement in a year’s time. But, she stressed that the heavy lifting must be done by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We will be an active and sustained partner,” she said. “But we cannot and we will not impose a solution. Only you …
States defined as religious or ethnic are almost always injurious to human rights, and injurious to the moral integrity of either religious or cultural traditions. Citizens who do not belong to the designated official religion or culture have customarily been mistreated in history. This is true of Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Hindu states.
But the fact is that Israel has been defined as religious or ethnic, and this will not change any time soon. Therefore, a new social contract is required in order to negotiate the circumstances under which an extremely diverse population of Jews and non-Jews can coexist in both safety and equality.
An earnest process of negotiation and compromise would include some of everyone’s interests and needs, but is particularly essential for enabling a rule of …