Culture and Religion

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This collection of topics, a brief view of life, could be used to teach an adolescent the basics about life.


War has always been present in human society. Our two closest genetic relatives have interesting opposing conflict resolution techniques: the bonobo uses nonviolent mutual physical gratification while the chimpanzee uses roles of dominance/submission and often violence. Unfortunately for some in human society, mankind tends to follow the pattern of the chimpanzee more often than the bonobo.

Ancient primitive human hunter-gatherer communities had to compete for sparse local resources so a battle between the two groups could result in one or the other group taking possession of that desired resource. As some communities became larger, their numeric advantage enabled the conquest of lesser competing groups. The fascinating book Guns, Germs, and Steel (GGS) describes how various cultures were able to take over other competing cultures, based on their better management of local resources, where some cultures had a better diversity of plant and animal resources than other cultures.

As communities grew in size and merged with others to form nation states, the available resources enabled the support for armies to wage these wars of conquest. The book GGS also describes why some states were able to foster colonial empires while other states did not.

In earlier times, even as recently as the Napoleon era the armies were used by competing states to determine the winner of the conflict, where the winning army would take control of the area vacated by the losing army. That style of warfare has been replaced in the last 200 years by another, where the conflict between states also brings the civilian population into the battle. The American Civil War began as one between armies, where the initial Battle of Bull Run was conducted between opposing armies in a field while civilians from the Washington area watched from a distance, but ended only a few months after Sherman's March to the Sea where Sherman's army, by the plan accepted by both Grant and Lincoln, destroyed the civilian infrastructure along its path of 300 miles covered in about 5 weeks.

World War I included many battles between opposing armies along lines of trenches. However a British naval blockade attempted to prevent military and civilian supplies from reaching its opponent in Germany while Germany had cruisers and later submarines attack Allied merchant shipping, including a passenger ship the Lusitania whose sinking lead to those liners no longer being targets. Beyond those military related activities, there were also a number of attacks strictly targeting civilians, such as the Armenian genocide, the destruction in Belgium, and the anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia.

World War II also included many battles between opposing armies. With the technological advances in aircraft and missiles, the carnage could be brought to the civilian populations even without direct contact by the army's soldiers. The Allied powers brought a sustained bombing campaign to Europe (mostly Germany but other locations as well), seeking both military and civilian targets (like Dresden) while Germany sent its missile attacks to mostly civilian targets in England as it conducted the Holocaust in Europe. America brought a sustained bombing campaign to Japan as well, including both fire bombs and even two nuclear bombs, where one attack by a number of planes could devastate an entire city, while Japan brought death and destruction to China.

In the 21st Century, the conduct of war has certainly changed. Only the few largest countries can still afford a large standing army and navy. Those forces were useful in the original conquest of foreign lands and when maintaining control over the colonies being occupied. Now that few colonies remain and most of the world's countries have some form of self government, wars of conquest have been replaced by wars of domination, to maintain the existing world order.

Afghanistan was invaded in 2002 for America to be capable of exerting more influence in Iran (a foreign policy ever since the 1979 overthrow of our Shah) and in both Russia and the nations to its South. Iraq was invaded in 2003 to remove Saddam Hussein who was no longer a useful ally (he had invaded Iran in the 1980's with American support) but had become too independent. The destabilization of Iraq was deemed useful to Israel's continued military dominance in the region (A Clean Break).

The Gaddafi government in Libya was overthrown in 2011 by Western special forces allied with Al Qaeda. Gaddafi has been a supporter of various groups in Africa and had recently been working to bring energy supplies to China and so both activities were counter to American interests.

At the time of this writing (early 2013), American special forces are again allied with Al Qaeda to foment civil unrest leading to an overthrow of the government in Syria. This will also follow the plan in the Clean Break.

I find it quite appalling that our American leaders attempt to maintain bloodshed in the Middle East, just to maintain our (and Israeli) dominance in the region, as in the recent report we will attempt to get our Al Qaeda allies to take on Hezbollah to weaken that force in Lebanon.

The United States has often been involved in the opposition to the interests of local populations, resulting in disruption of the local (democratic) governance but also in the subsequent deaths and misery for the people, such as the CIA in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, as well as in Europe and Asia.

The CIA created and backed the mujahideen in Afghanistan to disrupt the communist government in the late 1970s and later its Russian occupation. This group then later evolved into Al Qaeda, so someone can claim a) the USA did not create Al Qaeda, or b) USA did not back bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but that is just a matter of semantics, when the group created by the USA later changes its name. Links about this connection can be found before 9/11: 1998, 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, as well as in near by countries: Pakistan in 2011, Libya, Chechnya, Syria.

There were encouraging times immediately after the first world war, with the League of Nations, and after the second world war, with the United Nations, when the world leaders made it seem world peace might be achieved but now it is quite clear that there are still prominent world leaders who rely on death and destruction to maintain the current world order. Even massive public demonstrations, like before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, are unable to deter these abominable actions. A democracy in no way inhibits inhumane actions by its leaders. Apparently either the world democracies require a new adaptation to enable the prevention of such decisions (bringing bloodshed to so many) or the political structures of the large countries (whether a democracy or dictatorship or something in between) require a critical change to save humanity from their ruinous leadership.

created - Apr. 2013
last change - 05/19/2013
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