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Date Posted: 07:17
Author: Eponymous - 4 Jun 2002
Subject: Re: India/Pakistan
In reply to: ketch-4Jun02 's message, "Re: India/Pakistan" on 07:15

If the question is the cause of conflict, then the subsidiary questions shouldn't be based on whether the occupying country would defend against invasion: Any nation obviously would, no matter the religious identity of the foe.

Rather, the appropriate subsidiary question is: Why are the invaders invading? If they are invading out of a predominantly religious motivation, that is sufficient, as I see it, to dub the conflict "religious." If you'd prefer that I say that the conflict was caused by religious idealogy, o.k., fine. In any case, the fact that the defending nation is nominally secular wouldn't make any difference.

Of course this relies on certain psychological assumptions, but they're not the one you've identified. For example, the leaders' actions could be motivated by entirely political reasons - saving their own political skins - while the conflict itself is nonetheless grounded on religion-based political pressures generated by extremist elements, or even by the polity at large.

By the way, I did not say that the Palestian land loss was trivial, and my argument doesn't rest on the triviality of the underlying conflict described in the hypothetical involving A and B. It's really a matter of degree. The Israel-Palestine conflict centers around a relatively small area - Jerusalem. Though not "trivial," one will grant that the area would not be anywhere near so hotly covetted were it not for its religious significance. Thus, I think the heat of the dispute changes the character of what would otherwise be a purely territorial matter into an essentially religious (or "religion-caused," if you like) conflict.

I don't disagree with you that 'religious conflict' in a sense is far too simple a formulation to capture the true nature of these kinds of conflicts. (Even the recent actions of fundamentalist Sharia expansionists are not solely based upon religious beliefs.) But I was countering an equally glib, but far less accurate, characterization of the conflict as merely economic. Perhaps I should have said something more like: "Surely the conflict has a compelling religious dimension to it that distinguishes it from a run-of-the-mill economic or territorial dispute." Perhaps that formulation will satisfy you.

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