Jewish World Review June 5, 2013/ 28 Sivan, 5773
Syria's religious war
By Jonah Goldberg
If there was a moment when
Shiite militants, including
A Shiite religious student in Najaf,
Sunnis around the world, meanwhile, are being called on to join the conflict, with the material support of
The hugely influential Sheik
It's tempting to compare what is going on in
The Assad regime, essentially a puppet of Shiite Iran, is a devil we know well. However much the rebellion began as a nonsectarian protest against Assad's corruption, it is now rapidly becoming dominated by al-Qaeda and other radical and terrorist forces. One such rebel group has reportedly been involved in the slaughter of Christians -- not the kind of crowd many Americans have an interest in supporting.
But beyond the bad guys versus bad guys aspect, the Spanish Civil War analogy has its limits. A better comparison may be to the bloody upheavals that tore apart
Christianity benefits from dogmas and doctrines more conducive to the separation of church and state than those found in Islam, starting with Jesus' injunction to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. When the Roman Empire fell, the seat of political authority transferred to Constantinople, but the religious authority remained in
It wasn't until the bloody religious wars between Catholics and Protestants -- as well as different denominations of Protestantism -- had exhausted much of the continent that Europeans came to recognize "the essential futility of putting the beliefs of the mind to the judgment of the sword," in the words of historian C.V. Wedgwood.
In short, the tradition of religious tolerance we take for granted today was paid for with generations of bloodshed.
Several centuries of war and religious persecution may not seem all that heartening a precedent. But things move much, much faster now. For instance, it took the West several millenniums to learn how to lift its people out of poverty. The rest of the world leapfrogged countless intermediate steps by learning the West's lessons.
Between 1981 and 2001, for example,
There may yet be a role for America to minimize the horror. But a lasting solution can only be found when the people on the ground are ready and willing to take it to heart.
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