This may be the beginning of World War IV | PostIndependent.com
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This may be the beginning of World War IV

Editor’s Note: A paragraph in Hal Sundin’s column was omitted when it appeared on Thursday. The Post Independent is rerunning the column in its entirety.”World War IV?,” you ask. We all know about World War I and World War II, but when was World War III? It was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, which lasted from 1948-1991, between two political and economic systems – capitalism vs. communism.It was not fought in the conventional sense with ground troops, air forces and navies engaged in combat. Rather it was fought on economic and political grounds. For nearly half a century, the two military juggernauts, both with vast arsenals of nuclear weapons and rocket delivery systems giving them the capability of mutual destruction, faced each other at arm’s length. But fortunately, both had the good sense not to push the button. In the end, the United States emerged victorious, bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, which spent itself into bankruptcy in an ever-escalating arms race.Forecasters have long predicted that the next world war will start in the Middle East. We may have already witnessed its beginnings in 1947, when the United Nations, at the suggestion of Great Britain with support from the United States, created the state of Israel by giving Palestine to the Israelis without the consent of the Palestinians. There was to be a division into separate Israeli and Palestinian territories, but the entire country was governed by Israel, putting the Palestinians at the mercy of the Israelis, who immediately started appropriating Palestinian property for Israeli settlement in what was intended to be Palestinian territory. Resentment in the Arab world was inevitable, resulting in wars between Israel and its neighbors in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982, and internal violence between Israelis and Palestinians, which has been going on for over half a century.Our invasion of Iraq on questionable grounds has done nothing to ease the tensions in the Middle East. If anything, it seems to have made the situation worse, turning Iraq into a mecca and training ground for terrorists, and has brought Iraq to the brink of civil war between competing religions factions. In our invasion of Iraq, have we awakened a monster?The latest indication of the escalating tension in the Middle East is the recent inflammatory remark by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that “Israel must be wiped off the map.”What will be next – a call for a jihad? This would not be a war over political or economic principles. Instead, it would be based on religious beliefs – a Muslim holy war against the foreign infidels, which knows no restraints and goes on indefinitely.History gives many unsavory examples of religious conflicts. The Crusades pitting Christianity against Islam went on intermittently from 1095 until 1291 – nearly 200 years. European religious wars between Catholics and Protestants went on for centuries, with remnants still smoldering in Northern Ireland.The conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India dates back to the Arab invasions of the late seventh and early eighth centuries and the Turkish conquest around the year 1100. When Great Britain relinquished control of India in 1947, the predominantly Muslim portions were partitioned off to form Pakistan. But the religion-based conflict between Hindus and Muslims continues to plague the Indian subcontinent.What all of the religious conflicts have in common is the horrible atrocities the two sides seem to delight in inflicting on each other, and that once started, they are almost impossible to stop. This should be a warning to us to do everything possible to prevent our involvement in Iraq from deteriorating into a holy war. That can be achieved only by a major rethinking of our foreign policy and its unintended consequences.Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.


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