Are modern wars not holy wars?

Any major reading of history is testimony of the fact that Mankind since its evolution has remained embroiled in a relentless competition with its own members of race. Unlike world of primitive times where religious dissension had been the major bone of contention and so had witnessed groups and varying classes of people waging wars against their religious adversaries, a critical appraisal of the modern wars showcase that no such decisive role of religion exist behind their instigation. Some other factors which had remained dormant and ancillary and whose roots lie in social, political, and economic ambit, had rather taken the place of religion. Subversion of religious element by these multitudes of forces has secularized the entire concept of modern war, where role of religion is merely recognized as a mean to a temporal end not an end itself.

By the time treaty of Westphalia was concluded, the history of the primordial wars had documented several instances of wars marked by its true Holy character and purpose. Wars which took place during the reign of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his Khulafa-e- Rashida are one such indication of it— where no other ulterior motive other than the Holy cause of the supremacy and propagation of Islam were supposed to be their raison d’être.

To elucidate, these include: Battles of Gahzwa Badr, Uhud & Khyber, Conquest of Masjid Aqsa, and Wars with Persian & Roman empire. This divine spur, however as manifested with time subsequently waxed and waned and rather supplemented by self centered political and economic interests. Since then, Consolidation of despotic rulers autocratic regimes and furtherance of their imperialistic ambitions had then begun to serve as the pretext of wars.

Capitalism and Communism narratives were taken shape to push the humankind on the path of pursuing this formidable goal of socio-economic reformation. Nevertheless ultimate destination of these ideologies have been the same, the strategies, course of action and methods as propounded by their respective advocates have differed so widely that it sparked skepticism and cynicism amongst their stalwarts, which subsequently intensified and culminated in to conflicts.

Post Westphalian International history is replete with numerous warring events fought with such ambitions. The despots had to resort to battlefields whenever they were retarded or impeded from the pursuance of their self centered.

Whereas Treaty of Westphalia caused to diminish the sway, religious clergy had till then wielded to exercise over the affairs of the state for a long time, the European wars of the post-Westphalia period among Britain, French, Dutch and Portuguese despotic monarchs further substantiate the shifted unholy paradigms of modern wars. The tragic and horrific conflicts of world war 1 and world war 2 are another important case in-point, where the power-play of non religious forces were more pronounce and explicit, hence lending more credence to the realist dimensions of present wars.

As humanity political realms evolve with times, the birth of nationalism precepts, reinforced by jingoistic and xenophobic skepticism left the nations in to tragic competition. Securing national dominance over one another through development of economic, colonial and military might became the ultimate destiny of those warring factions. These so called tangible motives were either dormant or not were so audible prior to beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. The holy battles of first, second and third crusade between two opposing religious factions with the pre-dominant motives of the occupation of the sacrilegious land of Palestine and the establishment of hegemony of their professed faith in that region supply veracity to the claim of dormant role of non-religious factors in wars of pre-modern times.

Since enlightenment ideas evolved and spread, the pursuit of human welfare social freedom and economic good have become the core object of humanity. Inspired and motivated by these secular values, their proponents introduced conflicting ideologies. Capitalism and Communism narratives were taken shape to push the humankind on the path of pursuing this formidable goal of socio-economic reformation. Nevertheless ultimate destination of these ideologies have been the same, the strategies, course of action and methods as propounded by their respective advocates have differed so widely that it sparked skepticism and cynicism amongst their stalwarts, which subsequently intensified and culminated in to conflicts.

World which was yet to recover from the ravages of world war, Cold War between Soviet Union and the United States jeopardized again the international world order. The attendant tragic consequences soon followed were the emergence of crisis and outbreak of sub-regional wars. Cuban missile crisis, US incursion of Vietnam, Soviet-US shadow war in Afghanistan, Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Arms race reflect the overwhelming role of irreligious contesting ideologies in modern wars.

Given the fact that ideological cover and tutelage have always been needed by all warmongers to legitimize their action and mobilize public outrage against their prospective enemies, the history of modern war revealed that reliance were instrumentally being made over religion to do this nasty job of providing ideological anchorage to their warring ambitions.

Contrary to what were largely constituted by geopolitical landscape of medieval period comprising vast kingdoms whose edifice were once underpinned by imperialistic tendencies and notions and its boundaries spanned across continents and regions, the geo-political terrain of modern world today poses a complete different outlook as it has undergone significant transformation with the tides of time.

The modern world is rather now comprises of sovereign and independent nation-states, that by and large attribute their political identity towards nationalistic ideals and enlightenment precepts. These man-made principles virtually remain the cornerstone of almost every modern nation state system and this is manifested from the fact that today national interest precedes all other considerations in their overall conduct and affairs. These states thus channelize and harness their energies and resources towards the pursuance, furtherance and maintenance of those pre-determined interests.

Notwithstanding the states either pursue hawkish and aggressive or friendly and conciliatory foreign policies in respect of their relations to one another, it is national interest not any religious fervor that now enjoys sweeping monopoly over them. Whether be it US war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, Civil War in Syria and Yemen, Indo-Pak conflicts, Ukrainian crisis, Insurgency in Central African republics and Kashmir, deteriorating political climate of middle east or Sino-Pak, Indo-US and Indo-Iran forged strategic partnership, the ambitions, targets and goals outlined and underpinned by nations pre-specified national interest is supposed to be the rationale behind the occurrence of these geo-political events.

The Modern world now conceives war as its ultimate coercive strategic tool after diplomacy, which it prefers to employ only when its other elements of power failed to secure and protect its those interests whose non fulfillment in one or the other way threaten or attempt to threaten their national pride, national honor, national aspirations and national security. Hence it could be aptly said from the above discussion that contemporary wars are wars whose motive and purpose has become apparently secular rendering religion either redundant or ancillary. Thus maintenance and attainance of geo-political leverage, hegemony and resources serve as more credible alibi of modern wars.

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