The part of Conflict Shoreline that captivated my attention is the part that focuses on the 2008 efforts of reforestation in the desert. This deals with many issues surrounding environmentalism, morality, and religious indoctrination. In reading through the piece on the reforestation effort, especially the effort of the radical Christian group the piece encouraged an abundance of questions.
The first issue raised by this is if we should make an effort to correct issues of global climate change on this scale at all. A well-known expert on climate change, John Broome, does not believe we should. Broome, who I had the chance to meet in class over this semester, and many of his peers, believe that efforts to make the world better should be economically sound decisions as well. With only the issues of spending resources in an attempt to correct issues of global climate change in mind, Broome, and many other experts would object to the idea that reforestation is the right thing to do. Ethically speaking, it would do a much greater good to donate to malaria research in South America, or perhaps even merely supply mosquito nets to children at risk of dieses spread by mosquitos. This line of reasoning suggests that acts like this that overuse resources are simply not good choices to make, especially given the fact that one could do much more good with the resources in another, more economic, context. In addition to this, of course, it appears given the information that the actual act of reforestation is hardly creating the good that it is claiming to make, and issues of human rights are perhaps being violated as well, which makes it even more clear that this is not a good use of resources.
I was surprised to find out of the negative effects of reforestation, and it is shocking to read about the negative effects of environmentally conscious activism in the Middle East as a whole. But what interested me even more was the religious affiliation present in this movement. Weizman tells us that in 2008 the God TV Corporation was the company propelling the reforestation effort. He tells us that this company is known for its prediction that all Jewish peoples must convert to Christianity or face “Burning in a lake of fire” (30). What interests me is the stark contrast to many other radical Christian groups in America. This particular group of radical Christians facilitated a reforestation effort with bad consequences. But many (if not most) Radical (Evangelical) Christian groups in America are still pushing against the existence of global climate change. In fact, evangelical extremists largely utilize their position of power to give political aid to candidates who do not put an emphasis on the environmental issues facing America, especially in 2008. Because of this, I was shocked by the affiliation, and the juxtaposition between the two radical Christian views, and it raised even more questions on this group in particular, as well as their motives in the middle east.
In The Sirens of Baghdad, there is a scene that seems to capture a lot of the issues of cultural tension that the novel depicts. The specific scene that epitomized this for me was the conversations that followed the unjust shooting of Suleyman. In the aftermath of the shooting the conversation that follows, instead of directing unbridled anger towards the men who committed this crime, there is a scene of “pity” for the Americans.
The conversation leads to the exclamation that it is no wonder these soldiers are horrible brutes! In their culture, they come home to wives who are sleeping with their best friends. With lives like this, it is no wonder they are angry all the time.
This is a powerful scene that is attempting to capture the issue of cultural tension between the two regions. What is fascinating is that both parties seem to pity the other party’s culture. The American perception of the war was driven by alterations of the word culture, and the media perpetuated a foreign “culture” that held the people of the Middle East prisoners in need of liberation. This scene shows us the opposite side of this picture. While American media was perpetuating a view that had American people pitying the “culture” of the Middle East, simultaneously, the people of the Middle East were looking at soldier and American culture with similar horror.
Although it isn’t the same exact kind of pity, it is still strikingly similar responses to the opposition’s culture. The idea of having your wife cheat on you with your best friend is just as bad as many facets of Middle Eastern culture that Americans were convinced to believe were awful.
This put the Culture vs. “Culture” question into a new perspective showing that this tension in “culture” is not a one-way street. This little conversation reveals a lot of the tensions that are at play between the two sides of this war, and in at least one way, reveals a similarity rather than a tension in the way each side is responding to the events around the war.
In Homeland Security Inc.: public order, private profit Alimahomed brings to the reader’s attention the individual profit gained through the war on terror. This caused me to reflect on a variety of wars and the correlation those wars held with monetary profit. The war on terror with it’s corruption resulted in profit for an individual, the war in Iraq yielded oil profits, and certainly the other infamous war on an inanimate thing, the war on drugs, yields immense profits for those in power.
This encouraged me to ask why does profit appear so frequently alongside the concept of war? War is destructive and incredibly costly to wage, but still we have a strong connection to profit from war. These two concepts that should not have any place alongside each other, seem to be presented oftentimes alongside each other in many of the readings that we have looked at for this course. I want to encourage further exploration of the connection between these two concepts, and the causal mechanisms that seem to connect them despite what common sense might tell our intuitions.
The war on drugs is profitable because of the nature of the war, i.e. that fact that it is waged on an inanimate thing that cannot fight back. On the other hand, the war on terror, and many other wars are also driven largely by profit motives despite the fact that they are overall a financial burden to wage.
Is it possible that war is a vice, and therefore goes alongside greed? What are the fundamental reasons that war is waged, and is it essential to have a profit motive in order to even have a concept of war? Has profit become so integral to the line of reasoning that justifies war that it is now necessary in order to have the concept at all? I know this is a bit scattered, but these are all questions that occurred to me as I read through the reading. I do not know the answers to the questions I am posing. I pose them because I feel that they are questions worth asking, and I would personally like to explore the connection between war and profit further. I hope this will inspire further thought on the connection that these two concepts hold, and bring attention to the connection that seems to be ever present between the two.
Good Muslim, Bad Muslim – An African Perspective raises interesting points on the nature of a culture, and the differences that people in the 21st century see in those “cultures” today. What appears in a small portion of the paper is an incredibly important point that summarizes one way that 21st century American’s perceive other cultures.
Mahmood Mamdani raises the question early in his article that asks if there are multiple definitions of the word culture, and he does this for good reason. Having grown up in the south, and been steeped in a culture that frowned on many religions (and by extension many cultures), I can say that growing up reading or watching the news the word culture did take different meanings for me depending on the context it was given in. Culture if presented as a term to many of the current population would inspire thoughts of Brooklyn, New York where creativity and excitement can be found, or another similarly creative metropolitan area.
This notion of culture is not wrong. Culture is in fact an aggregate of many different practices that inspire creativity and promote worthwhile living. In contrast to this however, I can distinctly remember being taught about otherworldly practices of far away “cultures”, or watching the news report on the Middle East after 9/11 and receiving information about a different “culture”. This culture however, did not inspire vivid images of creative people full of life, it instead brought to mind a prison that people were trapped in, and could not be freed from.
This difference in the meaning of this one word is a symptom of a bigger problem. American culture (especially certain parts) distances the population from other cultures by using a form of othering. By Interpreting, and perpetuating other cultures in this way that separates them from American culture, we create distance from the culture and civilization, and as a result of this we produce a method of othering different cultures that enables people to be disconnected in an important way from other nations. This ultimately leads to people hating other cultures just because they perceive them as fundamentally different, when in fact they are not. Just as in any culture the same basic things compose American, and most other countries cultures. Religion, traditions, and promoting a sense of community are traits found at the core of most of these cultures that are considered so radically different that even the word assigned to both takes on a different meaning.
This particular part of the article inspired further thought on my behalf, and I believe it is an important point that should be addressed in a drastically different way moving forward as a nation.
The word terrorism brings many different things to mind depending upon who’s ears or eyes the word falls upon. The evolution of this word, and the way that it is used in today’s media helps reveal much about the way warfare is understood today. Terrorism, the term, has changed somewhat analogously to the way we have been observing warfare’s change over the course of the last two decades. As we have been observing in class, examining warfare reveals a possible shift in the way wars are held globally today in comparison to the past. Defining Terrorism reveals that the history of the concept of terrorism has shifted in many respects similarly to the way warfare has shifted. Terrorism’s shift, from its revolutionary roots in the 1700’s to today’s many iterations including cyber terrorism, is one such way that warfare itself has shifted in a radical way. Not dissimilarly to terrorism, warfare has made a shift as well. From wars against nations, to the war on drugs, as well as the war on terrorism itself, the way a generation conceptualizes conflict globally has shifted radically. This suggests a link that I’m not positive I can identify as articulately as I would like to be able to, present between warfare itself and terrorism. Obviously the two are connected, and I believe in a very relevant and important way, but in addition I believe that the two have perhaps grown, and influenced growth in the other. Warfare is held in radically different ways today as opposed to a century ago, but likewise terrorism has shifted almost equidistantly. The question that I feel this raises is: “is terrorism as a concept fundamentally linked to (Perhaps even inseparable from) warfare, and if not what other reasons could explain the very similar metamorphosis that both seem have undertaken in the last century?” Although I understand that the two concepts go together and they are linked, I believe the question of exactly how they are linked in such a way that has caused the two to evolve so similarly is an important and interesting question worth being raised.