Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beliefs and Iraq

Beliefs are hard to conquer. They are often engrained into people’s souls and it is because of this that beliefs can be very dangerous.

There has been civil war going on within Iraq for quite some time now and this shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Shiites and Sunnis have been fighting over their different beliefs since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD.

Shiites and Sunnis militias fight because of their differing opinions on who should have succeeded Muhammad after his death. Shiites believe Ali Bin Abi Talib should have succeeded him, while Sunnis believe that the first four of Muhammad’s successors rightfully took his place as leaders of the Muslim community.

It seems the enemy we are fighting is divided against itself. Our government officials did not see this coming or at least pretended not to.

They also didn’t attempt to understand the religious differences within the Muslim community, along with the ideological differences between the U.S. and that community. If they had we wouldn’t be in Iraq right now.

It is hard to help people that we don’t understand and who don’t understand us. In order for us to actually win in Iraq we would have to change the way Iraqis feel about us. However, you can’t destroy a belief system.

The U.S. can’t help how it is perceived. Many Muslims base their opinions of Americans on how they comprehend our portrayal by whatever media they choose to watch.

You can’t stop perceptions because they are how we understand our surroundings. When a Muslim woman is surrounded by overbearing men and women who must cover every inch of their body because of religious practice, she is going to be accepting toward what she perceives as normal.

Similarly, consider an American teenager who sees all his friends wearing the trendy clothes of the day. Often that teenager is going to mimic those trends because, like the Muslim woman, he perceives that they are normal.

It is our perceptions that form our ideas about life. So a problem occurs when one country tries to force what they perceive as good onto another.

When the country being forced to submit to an ideology has conflicting ideologies within itself, you have even more problems.

The U.S. is not only fighting an insurgency, but also two different belief systems. Perhaps it is possible to defeat an insurgency, but it’s nearly impossible to defeat a belief system and certainly not two. The strength of a believer is just too strong.

Shiites and Sunnis hold their beliefs so tightly that it’s hard to think of a way in which the U.S. can change the fundamentalist ideas of many Muslim citizens, let alone fight an insurgency that is willing to kill for those ideas.

We are not fighting an enemy in Iraq, but rather a mindset. It is a mindset that has been in place for centuries and it not likely to change anytime soon.

Once this is understood, it becomes harder and harder to support the war we are currently submerged in. How can you fight what you don’t understand and expect a happy ending?

You can’t fight two belief systems at the same time and try to gain influence with your own.

People are willing to die for their beliefs. The U.S. does not need to find out just how many.

2 Comments:

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