"War and Rumors of..."
"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 1:1)
by Ben Kinchlow
Few things of significance "just happen". There are forces that generate actions and reactions, and there is a time and a season for almost every significant purpose or activity.
Following the successful prosecution of a war to liberate the Iraqi people, there is much discussion of the need to establish some form of "democratic government".
The reason for the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and prior to that, Vietnam and Korea, is a failure of western diplomats to comprehend the difference between eastern and western civilizations.
Cultures arise as a result of the basic principles of a "parent civilization". The various cultures of India, China, Japan, and the Middle East derive their purpose from the basic philosophies of the east. Conversely, England, France, Germany, and the United States, adhere to the basic philosophies of western civilization, which is basically a re-statement of Biblical values. An in-depth examination is not our purpose, but here is a basic point that is critical to any attempt to "achieve peace or establish democracies in the Middle East "loss of face".
To Orientals, death is often preferable to loss of face. "Losing face" was dramatically brought to our attention in WWII, when the Japanese introduced us to "harikari". There is no moral equivalency in the West. Losing face holds little terror for us, a viewpoint predicated on a Judeo-Christian perspective that allows for "forgiveness". Forgiveness, forbearance, mercy, "turning the other cheek", are integral parts of our cultural and intellectual processes. Not consciously practiced, they are simply "there". In the East, absent the basic Judeo-Christian principles, these concepts are foreign at best. Most generally, they simply do not exist. Mercy, forgiveness, tolerance, forbearance, etc., are not part of their unconscious mindset. To "lose face" is a major issue. The critical point is, therefore, not just loss of land but "loss of face".
No faithful adherent of any Middle or Far Eastern culture can allow himself, his tribe, his culture, his religion, or his country to "lose face". Such insults demand swift and implacable vengeance, usually with bloodshed. Consequently, some conflicts (blood feuds), as between the Turks and the Kurds, the Chinese and the Japanese, the Serbians and the Bosnians, the Hindus and the Moslems, have existed for centuries.
After a successful intervention in Eastern conflicts, the West will often partition territories (as in the division of Europe) in anticipation that once these boundaries are established, peace will ensue. These geographical boundaries, to the Eastern mind, do not exist. "Kurdish territory" remains "Kurdish territory" regardless of any externally imposed boundaries.
This is a grave danger of Western intervention in such Middle East conflicts as Serbia/Bosnia, Israel/Palestine, Iraq/Iran, and various African countries. Their lives are inextricably bound up with the land, custom, tradition, and the resultant blood feuds.
The conflict between Ishmael and Isaac has raged for millennia. While it is the longest standing, it is no less bloody than other conflicts that have raged for centuries among the tribes and peoples of the East.
Without this insight, the West in general, and America in particular, can find themselves in a quagmire, hated by both sides. Any attempt to placate either side will be seen as an act of hostility by the other. For example, to placate the Shiites is to alienate the Sunnis, not only in Iraq, but also throughout the Muslim world.
"Wars and rumors of wars" are the result of sharp divisions between groups that have no common set of absolutes. Without a common set of absolutes, we lack the means of conflict resolution. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, because He embodies a set of absolutes common to all.
Without Him, there will be no peace and a continuous perpetuation of "wars and rumors of"
Note: This article first ran in the May 2002 issue of your national award-winning, Connection Magazine.