Kevin Drum takes issue with another part of the Krauthammer column I linked to below. In his column, Krauthammer gave some examples of Christians fighting religious wars, and correctly noted, “However, the inconvenient truth is that after centuries of religious wars, Christendom long ago gave it up.”
It’s this kind of blithe, self-congratulatory nonsense that makes me wonder where the “clash of civilizations” crowd parks their brains. Cleverly, Krauthammer restricts himself here to “religious wars,” and it’s true that Christendom hasn’t had a genuine religious war in quite a while. But Christendom sure as hell hasn’t given up on war – not among ourselves, and not against others. Just to name a few, and just to stay within the past few decades, we have Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Algeria, Cuba, Malaysia, Suez, Iraq again, Greece, and Germany. And it would be easy to add a dozen more if I felt like it.
But Drum is missing the point. Krauthammer isn’t using the term “religious wars” as a cheap rhetorical trick. Krauthammer’s column was about the link between violence and religion. There’s a huge distinction between people who happen to be Christian being involved in a war and fighting a war in the name of religion, with the purpose of spreading that religion, and with the backing of religious leaders. Yes, Christians may have fought in Vietnam, but the purpose of the war was not to convert everybody to Christianity and you didn’t have Catholic bishops egging on Catholic soldiers to slaughter civilians in the name of Jesus.