Friday, March 04, 2005

Culture and Natural Resources.

The conflict among nation-states and cultures is a clash of ideas within the context of natural resources. While our “war on terror” and the “clash of civilizations” continue to dominate main street media (MSM) many of us are taking a look at the role of natural resources in increasing the violence and intensity of international conflicts. Bush is not wrong when he describes the “war on terror” as being about a conflict between religious fanaticism and democratic ideals. He just is not communicating the entire story. The left is wrong in reducing the current conflict to just a “war for oil.” Both perspectives are necessary for a better understanding of the conflict. We need oil to fuel our economy and culture, but control of that necessary resource is what causes conflict between cultures that generates war and violence. Thus, the solution to the “war on terror” is not just a defeat of the “evil doers,” nor will peace arrive when the “US Imperialists” withdraw from Iraq and start driving hybrid vehicles. Instead, a solution to this conflict must address the dynamic of cultural conflict and natural resource use at the same time. I wish I had a solution, but I think a couple of books do highlight these issues quite well.

The first book is The Human Web by John Robert McNeill and William Hardy McNeil. What makes this book so interesting is its thesis that economic, political and cultural interconnectedness has been happening since the beginning of history. Thus, our current time has historical precedence. Are we experiencing a world soon to be integrated under a Roman like Imperial System based on military and legal systems, or a trading network like the that of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Indonesia? The McNeills constantly reference various environmental resource issues as the foundation of the rise and fall of civilizations.

The author of The Challenge of Fundamentalisms: Political Islam and the New World Disorder by Bassam Tibi has an excellent treatment of the ideological and religious conflict between Islamic Fundamentalism and non-Muslims. The author describes the subversion of Islam by a political and religious elite trying to recapture an age that never existed.


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