Beginning a Modern Religious War



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George W. Bush's Iraq war will be America's first religious war, one inspired by groups of Christian fundamentalists and Jewish neoconservatives, a coalition whose zeal for war is as great as that of the original crusaders.

The origin of the crusades was a 1095 meeting in Autun, France, where 36 bishops made the first vows to "go to Jerusalem." Four years later, the crusaders took Jerusalem, only to see it recaptured by Saladin. The First Crusade launched centuries of war between crusaders and indigenous peoples from North Africa to Russia.

Today, the idea is to "go to Baghdad," but is rooted in a the same desire: to serve Jerusalem (Israel) and remake the Middle East. Like the crusaders, the new coalition represents the wedding of religious zeal and military power, always a fatal connection.

A central difference with the crusades is that Bush's war will be waged over opposition from organized religion. For weeks now, mainstream church leaders in America and abroad have been speaking out against war with a unity they seldom show.

Church opposition has made the crusade harder for Bush and Tony Blair, his comrade in arms. Blair's efforts to paint the war as a high moral cause was directly refuted a few days ago in an unusual joint statement by the heads of the Anglican and Catholic churches in England. Blair's assertions, said the two church leaders, "lacked moral legitimacy."

The British churchmen are part of a wide church movement against this war. Pope John Paul II has spoken out, as have leaders of most Protestant churches. The National Council of Churches, America's leading ecumenical agency representing 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches with 50 million adherents, opposes war, as does the World Council of Churches, the body grouping national church councils in 100 nations.

Asked why the pope opposed war, John Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, replied, "because he does not think this would be a just war. Both because the relationship between the good to be achieved and the harm that would be done is not there, and also because the imminence of the threat posed by Iraq is not at present convincing."

Yet both Blair and Bush paint their war in religious terms. In his State of the Union message, Bush, a "born-again" Methodist, told soldiers facing war to put faith in "the loving God." Bush's invocation of God to justify war was protested by Jim Winkler, head of the United Methodist Church, and led to a dispute between the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, and the former President Bush, an Episcopalian, who objected to Griswold's remarks about his son's "reprehensible rhetoric" about war.

Unlike Europe and the Middle East, America does not wage religious wars. Founded by immigrants escaping religious conflict, our forebears wrote a Constitution separating church and state. Americans go to war over peace and security, not over God.

Bush's war has nothing to do with peace and security. It is the brainchild of a handful of neoconservatives in the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle above all, who have argued for years that Iraq was the main threat to Israel. Feith and Perle have advised Israel's right-wing Likud Party and both have opposed U.S. Middle East peace initiatives, including those of President Bush I. 

The Pentagon's zeal for war comes from these civilian neoconservatives, not from the military. This was well described by Anthony Zinni, the retired Marine Corps general who served as Bush's special envoy to the Middle East. "All the generals see this (Iraq) the same way," said Zinni, "and all those that never fired a shot in anger are really hell-bent to go to war."

The Pentagon neocons are joined by Elliot Abrams at the White House and David Wurmser at the State Department. Their influence reaches deeply into the neocon media through such outlets as Fox News, the Weekly Standard and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and into Congress, where the influence of television evangelicals such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell is strong. 

"Neoconservative" is an unfamiliar term in the West. Writer Sidney Blumenthal defines them as "second-generation Jews torn between cultures." Sociologist David Riesman calls them New York provincials "whose knowledge of American history is slim and who see only each other." They are far from the Jewish mainstream.

With Bush, the extremists have found their Richard I, to lead a 21st century crusade against infidels. The Sept. 11 attacks gave them the chance they had sought for a decade, though no credible connection between Iraq and Sept. 11 has been made.

To study the crusades is to see how illusory were the triumphs. In his history of the First Crusade, Steven Runciman wrote words that every Bush fundamentalist should memorize:

"Faith without wisdom is a dangerous thing. In the long sequence of interaction and fusion between Orient and Occident out of which our civilization has grown, the Crusades were a tragic and destructive episode. There was so much courage and so little honor, so much devotion and so little understanding."

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune


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Older Comments:
KELELAWAR FROM MALAYSIA said:
'the just about to begin' but we already warn them enough.
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UMMTAYYAB FROM CANADA said:
I'm not sure why no-one has speculated at the possibility of this attack against Iraq as the beginning (or continuation) of Israel's desire to possess the Euphrates River.

I've been hearing Muslims from the Middle East making reference for the last decade about Israel's attempts to divert the Nile River and it's coalition with Syria to divert the Euphrates. Israel has very little fresh water left! There has been a desire on Israel's part to create the ever elusive "Greater Israel" that would extend "...from the Nile to the Euphrates...", (this moto is even posted above the doorway of one of the Mossad buildings in Israel).

Bush has changed his tune from the mantra of "Weapons Of Mass Destruction" to the new chant "regime change", now that the old spell has worn off. Yea, we all cry "No blood for oil", but is this just another red herring? Why is America beginning to groan about Iran's "WOMD" now? Who's next???

And why isn't anyone sending thousands of troops to North Korea, aren't they Communist for crying out loud???!!! Things that make you go hmmmmmm......

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MAZINKAISER FROM USA said:
..mike trying to advertize a Turkish fraud who promotes myths and lies about the Middle East in line with the thinking of "conservatives christians" and other similar creatures, how typical and pathetic.
Its amazing how low Jerry Springer trailer park types will go in their hatred of others. As if Klan rags aren't enough...what a loser.
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RAHMATOOLA RUJEEDAWA FROM CANADA said:
I see the election of George W Bush jr against the odds - since he did not obtain a majority - as fitting God's plan for the demise of both USA and Israel.
A wise man once told me that when God wants to punish a person He makes him stupid so that every illogical decision seems fair. By the same token I deduce that when God wants to destroy a nation He gives it a stupid leader who uses any twisted logic as an excuse to achieve what he wants. In the end the product of his action may be beyond his nation's control.

R.Rujeedawa
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JAMES HARPER FROM USA said:
Dear Reader,

I would like to post my partial disagreement with this article. I understand that even in the USA
there are widly differing opinons about this war that is rapidly coming to be. Like all, I have my own opiniion, but it doesnt matter at this point. The Question about whether this is a new "religious war" deserves an answer from this
White Anglo Saxon Person of the Book.

My major point for this posting is that the claim that this would be a religioius war is simply not true. There exists in many parts of Islam the feeling that the Crusaders wish to come back and dystroy islam. This may have been true during the middle ages, but frankly, for the last four hundred years, no westerner has really given a damn about dystroying islam. I think this aspect of contemporary Islamic thinking is not correct and in fact makes it appear to Westerners that you are hiding behind religion as an excuse for war and not looking at the real issues .. which when push comes to shove involve the so called WMD, but more importantly an effort to establish a peace in the middle east that will enable all nations of the region rise in peace and prosperity. Is this an "Oil War?" Not in terms of traditioal "Western Imperialism." It is, howver, a war that will be fought to allow fully free markets and access to the regions oil through the vehicle of the marketplace. Lastly,
there is great distate for Saddam's Baathist Party. It seems that they are the true Nazi-Stalin Fascists of the region. Look at the wars he started against Iran and Kuwait. I believe he is gettting his just comuppance now. Surely the world will be better off without him and will allow, after some adjustments, a new flourishing of the people and economy and yes..the culture and religion of the region.

Such are my thoughts, anyway. God bless you all.

JHames Harper
P.O. Box 87394
Carol Sream IL 60188
[email protected]
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MIKE HALE FROM USA said:
A man by the name of Ergun Caner is a gentleman who converted from Muslim to Christianity. His dad built Mosque's all over the Middle East. He lectures all over the world and has written many things about the Middle East and from 1st person experience he details the constant crusades the Middle East finds itself involved in. A very interesting man that can understand the difference between war and peace and how one can achieve the other.
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SHARIF FROM SWEDEN said:
We are worrying this unjust war against Irak people.One thing is clear that the Unjust will desappear soon .USA and Briten will get the lesson that they vill never forget.
we all know that the Americans aggrassion against Muslims i Afgainstan, Somalia, Irak
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SAGAL FROM USA said:
Great article, I wish all the muslims would wake up; and stand up to the muslim haters.
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SHUJA SYED FROM TORONTO, CANADA said:
Fine, what are the preperations made to check the relgious war. None. Muslims are sleeping. Their writers, their relgious and political leaders are keeping the Muslim massess busy blaming others. Muslims do not even a plan for the next one hour. Muslim journalists should play a more practical role by instigating the self-confidence in Muslims. Instead of writing artilces against zionism or captalism, one should focus on the development of Muslims as a viable force. That is not happening. Very unfortunate. It is become a fashion to blame others for our current dileimma. Sorry. We are on the wrong path.

Shuja Syed
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REGINALD BAUER FROM USA said:
Congratulations on a solid and meaningful analysis that only confirms what I have known since studying history at Harvard 30 years ago. I could see the momentum of what your article conveys developing is strength in the 1970's and irrationally progressing eversince. The outcome will be worse thanks to arrogance and technology.
Duing the crusades there was only the basics instruments of distructions compared to the WMDs of which 99.9999% are in our hands.
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KELELAWAR FROM MALAYSIA said:
'the different between Osama Laden and bush is the willingness to confiscated others land like what he did in Afghanistan, while the different between Saddam Hussain and bush is the religion'
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LIGHTUPONLIGHT FROM US said:
This is a wonderful article. And I wish to recommend it to all of my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.
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ANSARI FROM GUYANA(SOUTH AMERICA) said:
peace be with you.i think this war is against the muslims.you muslims in america need to continue to oppose what bush is doing.
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GARAM FROM UK said:
mebrocky: I find myself in absolute agreement with yourself...I believe in this conflict of faith, power, greed, whatever it maybe...no side has its hands completely clean..

I believe that the vast majority of GOD FEARING (muslims, christians and jews) ppl do have this commandment as their fundamental reference point but i fear to say these are not the ppl who hold the grip on the reins of power....
My friend..Allah/ Jehova or whatever you want to call Him..will continue to guide the ppl unto Him, those that He sees making the effort to be better...the rest with their lust of power, wealth status etc etc will ultimately reap the rewards of their labour and their loyalties to these things..I just pray that Allah guides them to a better way and guides us to be grateful for His mercy upon us, Amin.
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SHIBA FROM CANADA said:
I would like to say Arabs have no religion. They are not Muslims they are not Christian they are not Zionist. ... Their religion is provided by (bush) Arabs are black spot on Islam's beautiful face. Why we are falling in humiliation because Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are corrupted countries. Muslims are doing every thing wrong in the name of Allah. In other words Muslims used God's name for their benefits. (Especially Mullahs)That is the reason God sent upon Muslims humiliation and destruction. Now Muslim's recognition is terrorist. Islam means terrorism. Allah gave us very beautiful and clean religion but Muslims did not recognize it and misused of it.
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ZAINAL, SAMSULHAK B FROM MALAYSIA said:
Assalammualaikum to my fellow Muslims...we should not despair at the thoughts of the Great Anglo-American threat...instead we should take this as a cue to revert to the true teachings of the Holy Quraan & the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH)....please remember that in the Year of the Elephant, Abrahah's hordes would the equivalent of the present day US military in terms of threat but..through the will of Allah the Most High, it met with an ignominous end..so let us all supplicate with 'duas' accordingly...!!!
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MEBROCKY FROM USA said:
It isn't often that an article makes such a hugely wrong assumption, and then proves it is wrong in the same article. If this was a religious war then why do you say, "For weeks now, mainstream church leaders in America and abroad have been speaking out against war with a unity they seldom show." In addition, the latest poll in America shows that people of faith oppose this war in greater numbers than those who say they are,"secular".
Besides, we all beleive in the same principles:
Islam: 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 13: Not one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.
Christianity & Judaism: Leviticus 19.18 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Talmud, Shabbat 31a When he (a proselyte)went to Hillel, he said to him, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn."
This, "golden rule", exists in some form in all of the religions of the world. There is but one God, and people should stop offending him.
As a Christian, I care deeply about what happens to my fellow man, whatever religion he follows. I am offended by people, my own president included, that say they know the only way. I suppose that in order to save many lives, some may have to take another life, but this can only be A VERY LAST RESORT!!! COME ON PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, IF WE WORSHIP THE SAME GOD, LET US FIND A WAY TO WORK TOGETHER. No one in these conflicts has clean hands, so we aLL CAN STOP PRETENDING WE DO. Peace can come if people forget about what is past, forget about what people in authority are preaching, and do what we all know is right.




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DAVE FROM CANADA said:
I totally agree with the contents of the article. However my question here is that I cannot see any difference between Bush and Bin Laden.Bin Laden killed thousands of civilians on 9/11 just to take revenge of American government. Now Bush is trying to kill millions of civilians in Iraq just to get rid of one single person in Saddam. So, what is the difference between both these characters?
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KELELAWAR FROM MALAYSIA said:
'in this era, we have different war and we use different weapon' ... pls tell mr. bush, his weapons were obsolete.
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SHUJA SYED FROM TORONTO, CANADA said:
Muslims are becoming weaker because of their own practical reasons. I don't believe anybody has the capacity to weaken Muslims. Muslims have no plans. We don't have plan for just next one hour, forget about 5 years. Emulating Salaheddin, we should first wipe out Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states and should unite this area under the khilafat. Salaheddin had wiped out 22 mini Muslim states before taking over Jeruselum. The enemy is within, not outside. An outside enemy will not be effective without internal cooperation. All the Muslim countries, except Iran are sold out. The leading nation is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the only country which insists taking money in US dollar instead of Eruo. Saudi Arabia is financing US deficit. Saudi Arabia is responsible for falsely stablising the oil price under 25 dollars for 10 years, which boosted the American Business Enterprise. American economy has jumped from 7 to 10.5 trillion today. America has become the TIGER, thanks to Saudi Arabia! Muslims should wake up. They should go after the real enemies. Shuja
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KHALED FROM UNKNOWN said:
Muslims must not be deterred by thier great army and hi tech destroyer , or even a nuclear bomb , Allah given hundreds of example in the Quran , to be steadfast & faithful in him . In time of Hijrah , Prophet Muhammad PBUH & Abu Bakr , while hiding in a cave , were saved only by a breakable bird egg and thin thread spider web, the weakest of the weakest .. ..against great seraching army of Quraish & without any fight , the army were beaten totally in shambles..Allah had disgrace & humiliated the Army Quraish ..
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SALIM AL HAWARI FROM YEMEN said:
I belive that the West and Armika in particular are waging a war to weaken and finally defeat Islam. They see Islam as a threat to their ambitions of world dominations. But, the muslims should know tat they cannot be defeated by anyone unless they lose faith in Allah and his messenger. As long as we have faith we will be strong!
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DAVIDC FROM USA said:
Does the author really think either Bush or Saddam
believe in God? Laughable!
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ALIREZA FROM UNITED STATES said:
I think this war has religouse motives but has other motives. Regional and world domination, oil, and etc.
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CHRIS FROM USA said:
sorry disagree with the crusade theory, this a war on stoping a mad man that has his own counrty to rule over if you pay a tention to world his you would see how unjust saddum hasan is. the way he treates his people. and why would he not support ben laden , who set up such a blow on sep 11. to his most fear ememy. knowning him he probly had a party over it. i think it could be do peacefully but saddam has to come pliy to nuclear disarment not dis arm lower weapons he could have what ever he needed to protect his country. we have them yes but do we tell people we are use them on "no" whe just have them. do you want a nother north korea tell avery body they going use there bombs if noone will play nice with them did the usa nuke afigan when sep 11 happen no, this has nothing to do with religion you need to ask your self were would like to live and what it should be thanks for you time may we have peace after this chris
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MONTANA SKIES FROM USA said:
The same God who sent Saladin who soaked the plains of Hitteen with crusader blood can easily send another who will spell doom even for Israel - someone not unlike Nebuchednezzar, of whose heart was stripped every shred of mercy, then, like a juggernaut, descended upon Jerusalem; the rest was history. The story is in the Quran, Ch.17: 4-8. They were well requited for their breaking God's covenant.

Deut. 9:
.. do not say to yourself, "The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness. 4
Deut. 28:
The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51... They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you. 52. This may have happened or it will happen.

Abraha came to destroy the Ka'aba and we all know what happened to him and his unopposed, mighty army; his story is in Chapter 105 in the Quran. The point is: nations and empires rise and fall. And certainly Jews' existence in the holy land throughout history was on a Ferris wheel.

The Zionist have chosen, may be poorly, to live by the sword. They have expressed a desire for conquest, collectively, through their choice of their leaders. They do not want peace as their actions reveal, and this will be remembered by Muslims.

Their situation now is no different from when they lived in Arabia in the 7th century in Khaiber, Quraida and Nadeer; these were fortresses -literally. And what happened? What did their renowned military might do for them -their 10,000 warriors and war machines? Their story is in Chapter 56: 1 - 5. They were well-requited for their treachery, perfidy, and intrigue -time-tested techniques still used to this day by them.

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AMY MIDYA FROM BRITAIN said:
I totally agree with the statements made in the article, there is so much hipocracy in the west it makes me feel ashamed, the western governments should be using their power and wealth to bring peace to the world and to help the less fortunate, not distruct every nation which does things differently to them.Although I do feel Saddam hussein is a distructive and hypocritical political leader, Bush and Blair are both being as bad as Saddam Hussein.I think it is up to the Iraqi people to get rid of Saddam.Personally I don't feel Saddam has the capability of launching a particularly large attack on the west anyway, and most terrorists hate him and see him as an apostate, if they think that they are not exactly going to team up with him are they?If Bush and Blair sent military forces in there they are more likely to kill 1000's maybe even 1000,000's of innocent Iraqi civilians then they are to aust or kill Saddam.I know it may sound cliche but the world needs peace, true equality and true justice not war, poverty, misunderstanding and hypocracy.
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ADAM IBRAHIM MUHAMMAD FROM NIGERIA said:
At last! The truth is coming out! This time not from a Muslim "Terrorist" but from a Christian "evangelist" or is it? Please...

I hope this serve as an eye opener to all those naive Muslims who thinks the war is just to get rid of a Tyrant ruler. And who say to get rid of Sadam Muslims must turn to the Kafiroon to do this for them. A new revelation? Inna Lillahi wa Inna 'alaihi raji'un.

Summum, Bukumum Fahum La ya'akilun.
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MN SUNGKAR FROM AUSTRALIA said:
if iraq attack by u.s.a and british and the war will spread to other part of world which open the door of hell the holly war will begin from midlle east which america and its allay will pay a high prize this war is not for america and its ally claim that weapon mess dustractiom it dangerous to world in fact george w bush is the most dangerous man ever and to serve jews state(israel)
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JOHN NORMAN FROM UK said:
The usual farrago of nonsense by someone (one of the usual suspects) who edits out of European history those elements which are inimical to his main theme: that it is Europe that has been the aggressor against the Arabs. Unfortunately, the record is clear: the Arabs burst out of Arabia in the 7th century, waged war against the Roman-Greek Empire, spread like a cancer across North Africa, Persia, Afghanistan, India, Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Italy, Sicily, Cyprus, Hungary, the Caucasus. It was the burning down of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by Hakim "the Mad", that brought the Crusaders to Palestine. The Twin Towers of the time. No Arab-muslim aggression, no war, no terror. Once again, Arab imperialism is excused and glossed over. One wonders who pays this writer to write such egregious nonsense.
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