Mailbox: War and religion

TP writes: Can you really justify this claim? “Most wars are not caused by religion. Read the Chronicles of the Assyrian Kings or Chinese history if you think war and religion are synonymous. War is about power, plain and simple.”

Yes, easily. None of the wars of the Roman Empire, the Persian empire, the wars between the Greek city-states, the wars between the various Chinese kingdoms (7?),the wars of Assyria, Babylon, the Mongols, the Huns or in pre-Reformation Europe (with the exception of the Crusades) were the least bit religious in nature. To make the statement that most wars are caused by religion, much less all wars, requires an ignorance of military history that is almost complete. Those that are religious, such as the Islamic conquests or the 30-Years War, are the exception.

Sparta and Athens weren’t at war because of the latter’s devotion to Athena, they were at war for control of the Greek peninsula. Likewise, the long rivalry between France and England had virtually nothing to do with anything religious – Joan of Arc notwithstanding, the war had far more to do with the English King’s legitimate claim to the French throne.

Even the Crusades were not completely religious in nature, or the Crusaders would not have allied with various Islamic principalities as they did. The fact that the same two examples are always cited while much more historically significant wars are ignored tends to prove this point. And consider the notion from an American perspective. Was World War I about religion? World War II? The Civil War? The Revolutionary War? The Spanish-American War? The Korean War? The Vietnam War? The War of 1812? The misnamed War on Terror, yes, I’ll give you that. This one’s about religion, for all that our leadership insists it isn’t.

The fact that only one of nine American wars have anything to do with religion should be your first clue. But the same holds true of nearly every other country’s history, with the exception of wherever Islam is involved. But, since Islam is a religion of the sword, this should come as no surprise.