I was chatting with one of my students yesterday whose parents had migrated to this country from the Middle East. We shared views on things over there and he expressed his deep distress that Muslims are killing Muslims (particularly Sunnis and Shiites). “We are all Muslims. How can we be killing each other?”

As one runs down the line of countries, Lebanon is now on the brink of break up with Nasrallah goading Shiites to displace the largely Sunni/Christian government. Iraq is in murderous chaos. The feuding in Gaza is becoming daily more deadly. Is this some sort of Hobbesian stage that peoples have to go through before they realize that a war of all against all is so disastrous that people will settle for peace at any cost?

Our Western political examples are not all that lovely — the British civil wars of the 17th century into which Hobbes was writing, the French revolution and its bloody aftermath, the American Civil war with its loss of 750,000 lives only a little more than a century ago, the two World Wars of the 20th century fought mainly between Christian nations.

I mention these latter events as a reminder that peace in our Western nations was not achieved without great violence and destruction — lest we forget. And needless to say an increasing majority of Americans now see the Bush travesties — war on Iraq and homeland violations of basic Constitutional rights — as no model for democracy.

Let us hope for peace soon between those warring within Islam. May we lend our assistance with peace-making and resist the impulse undoubtedly of some to pour oil on the flames!

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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