Sometimes what goes on in international politics these days seems incredibly puzzling. If you look at contemporary wars as an example it seems that the “bad guys” are fighting other “bad guys”, while both sides are claiming to be fighting for a righteous cause. In this article I will attempt to give an explanation as to what the underlying reason for these wars is.
Modern War & Ideology.
Most of the readers of this blog are aware of the fact that there were no “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq and that the American government knew it before invading Iraq. The so-called weapons were just a pretext. They were part of the rhetoric about protecting the ‘free world’ (especially the United States) from the ‘evil dictator’, Saddam Hussein, who could ‘threaten our freedom’ to consume what we like in unlimited quantities and thus our very ‘way of life’. Thus, Mr. Saddam was declared part of the ‘Axis of Evil’ and removed by the righteous forces of ‘God’s own country’. The same thing happened in Afghanistan and may or may not happen in Iran.
If we asked the Taliban why they are fighting the Americans, or if we asked Mr. Ahmadinejad why he is so hostile towards them, then I am sure they would say that the Americans are the actual axis of evil (or the “big Satan”), manipulating their allies (the “small Satan”) into fighting for them for an unrighteous cause.
Superficially it seems that there are conflicting views and ideologies causing conflicts and wars.
On one level this is certainly correct. But I think most of the readers of this blog will agree with me that neither side really is righteous by any real standard. It is probably not necessary to discuss the American situation in detail save to say that its government is among the most degraded in the world, being habituated as it is to lies, manipulation, double-standards, cultural imperialism, and deep hypocrisy. The above example concerning ‘weapons of mass destruction’ is sufficient to show that.
What about Iran and the others? Are they righteous? I wish they were, but it really seems doubtful. Saddam was just a petty old-fashioned megalomaniac dictator – nothing righteous about him. The Taliban? Well, in my understanding genuine religious governments (for the most part even Islamic ones) were, in the ancient world, always rather liberal. The reason is that the rules of a religion are followed due to cultural conditioning – people follow the tenets of religion because they were brought up with them and because the rest of their family and society around them do. The culture – not external force – was what maintained the sanctity, decency and morality of traditional, religious societies. It was therefore never (or rarely) necessary in Islamic societies to forbid men from shaving or to collapse walls on top of barbers, to shoot or harass girls studying in primary school or dismember women who chose to wear jeans (the last example, to be fair to the Taliban, is from Iraq). Then there is the fact that the rules the Taliban are enforcing are almost certainly not genuinely Islamic. So the Taliban cannot be said to be righteous.
The Islamic Republic? This is probably the one with the most legitimate claim to being a righteous government. On the face of it they have a semi-traditional political system, where the clerics supervise the politicians and make sure all law is within the purview of Islamic teachings. But in practice in Iran’s Islamic teachings are often pushed on a partially unwilling population in a forceful manner – often leading the teachings to be followed in an external, ritualistic way by people who by mentality are modern and would not have cared for tradition if not for state enforcement. This enforced conformity was amply demonstrated with the latest rigged elections and the way demonstrators were brutally arrested, tortured, and even killed. It’s not really that the Iranian opposition is less Islamic than the current conservative government. So if the present conservative, Revolutionary Guard-led government were really concerned about Islam (rather than their own interests) why would they cling to power so desperately? So, even if Iran is better than the others I still think they are at most only 50% righteous.
In conclusion, one could say that although the different parties accuse each other of being unrighteous and use some ideology to justify their war they fall short of the standards they purport to be setting themselves. The whole thing appears to be nothing more than a simple struggle between power-hungry men with big words and big egos but no sense of ‘practice what you preach’.
So, what does this all mean? The ‘bad guys’ are fighting the ‘bad guys’. But what is the underlying reason for it, other than ideological differences? This Srimad Bhagavatam verse, commenting on the battle of Kurukshetra, gives an answer:
“The Lord [Sri Krishna] was pacified after killing those kings who were burdensome to the earth. They were puffed up with their military strength, their horses, elephants, chariots, infantry, etc. He Himself was not a party in the fight. He simply created hostility between the powerful administrators and they fought amongst themselves. He was like the wind which causes friction between bamboos and so sparks a fire.”
In the purport to this verse Srila Prabhupada comments:
“He does not favor either of the unwanted administrators but by His potential power He creates hostility between such unwanted administrators as the air creates fire in the forest by the friction of the bamboos. The fire in the forest takes place automatically by the force of the air and similarly the hostility between different groups of politicians take place by the unseen design of the Lord. The unwanted administrators puffed up by false power and military strength thus become engaged in fighting amongst themselves over ideological conflicts and so exhaust themselves of all powers.”
What does this mean? Since all the worlds’ governments have been corrupted by either the demoniac spirit of democracy or some brutal dictator dressed as a saint there are no righteous governments in existence today. Why do they go to war? By the arrangement of Sri Krishna, who causes friction among un-aryan leaders to wear them down through war. Thus, modern war is a manifestation of Krishna’s divine mercy, by which He kills the unrighteous and protects “the sane portion of humanity” for the eventual re-establishment of dharma.