Vol 28 No. 1 (2009) RST
This essay draws from the literature on religion’s revival as an important political force in international relations and assesses the effect that this revival might have on international order. It defines international order as a modicum of stability and co-operation among sovereign states and notes that some observers see religious communities threatening this order by encouraging fundamentalist communities that might undermine the more secular character of international order. After noting how authors have questioned the supposed “secular” character of international order, the essay suggests that religious communities have or could play a significant role in responding to conditions such as poverty and injustice that also threaten international order. As result the revival of religion and the plurality of religious communities throughout the globe might better be viewed as a source of support for international order.
There has been an increase in the number of scholars who proclaim the growth of the “new terrorism,” whose core characteristics include: the central role of religion, its increasingly lethal and indiscriminate nature, and the potential use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). As opposed to older terrorist organizations that sought tangible, political goals, the “new terrorism” paradigm claims that Political Islamic groups such as Al-Qaeda are primarily nihilistic and, thus, seek the physical destruction and total elimination of their opponents. Conversely, this article maintains that modern religiously-inspired terrorist movements are similar to older terrorist groups in terms of their objectives, tactics, and strategies, as the role of violence remains primarily communicative, and not destructive. In addition, since the views of the “new terrorism,” especially regarding the appropriate counter-terrorism strategies, resonate with American foreign policy goals and geo-political interests, this conception permits U.S. officials to both delegitimize the aims of current terrorist organizations while, in the process, absolving the West of any responsibility in creating the current conditions responsible for their growth.
Christian Zionism remains a powerful religious and political force in American politics and continues to greatly impact U.S. foreign policy and geo strategic interests in the Middle East. Despite the fact that many Americans believe that U.S. policy in the region and its unwavering support for Israel accentuates anti-American sentiment in the area, most continue to overwhelmingly support Israel and steadfastly maintain that the benefits of their alliance with Israel significantly outweigh the potential costs. Thus, in the case of Christian Zionism, as both a religious movement and political ideology, it serves to reinforce and solidify the close historical ties between these two allies more than 60 years after the original founding of the state of Israel.
Contemporary discourse on surveillance tends not to account for the types of surveillance and security measures that both traditional and alternative religions adopt. Certainly, many religions have for centuries recorded, and thus, monitored, the lives of their followers. English parish records noting lives, baptisms, deaths and so forth is one such example originating in the sixteenth century. When one thinks of contemporary surveillance, however, more sophisticated strategies involving new technologies typically comes to mind. This article offers an examination of the numerous traditional and newer surveillance techniques of one particular new religious movement Scientology. This movement employs a variety of stratagems in order to preserve a high level of secrecy regarding both its central doctrines and some of its activities. This article suggests that Scientology’s surveillance methods are driven not only by the group’s desire to protect its interests, but also by the quest for control (and hence, for power) that the group’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, sought throughout his life and left as an institutional legacy after his death.
This essay examines the history, strategy and tactics of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a millenarian terrorist group that originated among the Acholi tribe in Northern Uganda. Today, its operations focus on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it is active in Uganda, the Sudan and the Central African Republic. The LRA is composed of approximately 90% kidnapped child soldiers and as a result of its depredations, almost 90% of the Acholi and other northern Ugandan tribes live in squalid IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camps in Uganda. Children in villages and even from some of the so called protected camps, the so called “night commuters,” must trek as many as 20 miles each night into towns in order to avoid abduction. The article focuses in particular on the religious aspects of the LRA and on its metamorphosis from a local to a regional and ultimately into an international security challenge.