Written By Shehroz Shaikh
Thesis Statement: The politico-economic interests of states – behind the contemporary combats – to topple unfavorable governments abroad, to seek easy trade deals, to utilize natural resources across the world, and to establish a desired world order make the modern wars, not the holy wars.
1. Political Interests behind the Modern Wars prevent them from being the Holy Wars.
(A) The U.S led to war in the Middle East is meant for establishing a favorable political scenario in the region.
(B) Russia, Turkey, and Iran are fighting a modern war in Syria to achieve regional political dominance.
(C) Saudi Arabia is fighting a modern war in Yemen because of securing its political influence in that country.
2. Economic Interests make Modern Wars different from the Holy Wars
(A) States are fighting modern wars to seek control over natural resources.
– The U.S. is still fighting its war in Iraq to exploit the latter’s oil.
– China and the U.S. are engaging themselves in hostility in Africa for the sake of holding this region’s natural resources.
(B) Modern Wars are for trade and commercial interests rather than any holy agenda.
– U.S. and China are engaging in an undeclared war of ideas in South East Asia to maintain exclusive commercial hegemony
3. Modern Wars are the combats against an ideology of terror not against any religion thus remaining apart from the Holy Wars.
(A) Modern wars hit terrorism.
(B) Modern Wars are not against any religion including Islam.
(C) Modern Wars are against the idea of spreading terror.
The existence of wars can be traced back to the point when competition and conflict emerged as social concepts running parallel with cooperation. Human societies and nations have fought wars on various grounds i.e. religious, political, and economic. The wars fought on religious basis were termed as Holy Wars which are quite different from the Modern Wars being witnessed today. Unlike the Holy Wars, Modern Wars remain considerably political and economic in nature. These are not derived by any pure religious rivalry or agenda. Nation-states are indulged in fighting these wars to secure their politico-strategic interests, to protect their investments, to seek maximum benefits out of other countries’ governments, and the trade opportunities available. Besides that, the combat against terrorism is another idea that overwhelms the Modern Wars thus making them apart from the Holy Wars.
Starting with the politico-strategic interests lying behind the modern wars, it can be clearly noted that the holy wars are totally a different thing. This is the world of nation-states. Each of these states maintains specific political interests attached to the developments across the globe. There are strategic interests nourished by the modern nations to have a conducive political environment in different regions. Amid these complexities, these nations cooperate when required but also fight wars when desired. Examples of such modern wars driven by politico-strategic interests are apparent. Take U.S-led wars being fought in the Middle Eastern nations of Syria and Iraq. These wars are not against the religion prevailing in the said region but to secure strategic leverage and political hold there. The U.S. desires a pro-American Middle Eastern regime. That’s why it topples and install governments in the name of democracy. All this makes its modern wars different from the traditional concept of Holy Wars which used to be purely religious-like Crusades. In another example, consider the presence of Russia, Turkey, and Iran in the Syrian civil war. These states are present and actively engaged in the Syrian war to secure their political interest of regional influence, hold, and dominance against the United States of America. Thirdly, take into consideration Saudi Arabia fighting its modern war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The reason behind this engagement of the Saudi Kingdom in Yemen is rarely motivated by a religion or holy spirit but that of pure strategic interest. This helps understand the modern wars as not holy wars.
The second thing that renders modern wars separate from the holy wars is economic and commercial arenas of interests. States are engaged in trade within and outside its borders. Powerful nations tend to secure their economic interests abroad through the pacific tools of concessions and aid. But they also revert to combative measures sometimes for this purpose. For instance, the U.S.A. is still ensuring its military presence in Iraq not because of fighting any holy combat but to hold the country’s natural resources and exploit the maximum economic benefit from them. Similarly, China and the United States of America are contesting in undeclared and informal combat in Africa to control the region’s natural resources for future use and excessive economic value. This clearly makes these modern wars differentiated from the holy wars which are fought for a religious purpose. In another aspect, modern wars are being fought to have access to the free trade deals and to establish economic hegemony. That is what has been witnessed in South-East Asia in recent months. US and China have come at daggers drawn to maintain an economic hegemony in the said region. Southeast Asia, being the home of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the hub of economic activity. This brings the U.S.A. and China – the two top world powers – in contention of modern nature which is not holy in any way.
Lastly, the modern war against terrorism makes contemporary combats different from the holy wars. The latter was fought for propagation or suppression of religion. This is not the case with the modern fight on terrorism that is not against any religion or religious ideology. In fact, these are against the thinking of terror-spreading through excessive use of violence. Modern wars on terrorism being fought in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and to some extent in Europe and Africa are completely different from what is called a holy war. In such wars, the enemy is murdering humanity. Thus, it makes no sense whether he is a Muslim or a Christian. Further, it gives him a new identity as a terrorist. This justifies a modern war against him which works not on a religious basis but on the grounds of saving humanity from terror.
In conclusion, wars are a reality. But they vary in their very nature defined by the agenda being pursued behind them. When the agenda is religious, they are termed as holy wars, and when the agenda became economic, political, and strategic; they are called Modern Wars. Today, the world is experiencing the modern wars which rarely have anything to do with the religious mindset. Nation-states are devising and fighting these wars to ensure the maximum economic benefits for them in the form of favorable trade deals and free trade regimes. Further, the political interests of maintaining strategic leverages in various regions enable them to shape their wars with the modern missions which would not reflect the spirit of any religious or holy cause in them but purely material. All these obvious material approaches to fighting wars today make them modern without becoming holy.
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