Does Religion Cause War

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Following Dr. Vesselin Popovski’s discussion on armed conflict and the United Nations, one thing that struck me was his question: Does religion cause wars? Do we fight in the name of God?
The present atrocities being committed in the Middle East by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), also called Da’esh, are without doubt a ghastly violation of the most fundamental human rights. These Islamic extremists, purportedly acting in the name of religion, had been carrying out forced conversions, mass beheadings, abductions and torture against non-Muslims, including Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, Turkmens, and Shabaks in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Libya.
The role of religion in conflict has long been debated within academic circles.
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Interestingly, these doctrines have entered the mainstream academic discourse in the form of the “Just War theory”, which is said to have been first systematically formulated by Saint Thomas Acquinas in his Summa Theologicae. Under this doctrine, the two elements of a just war are jus ad bellum (the conditions under which military force is justified), and jus in bello (the ethical and fair conduct of war). Jus ad bellum generally revolves around war: having a just cause and right intention, used only as a last resort, as declared by the proper authority, with a reasonable chance of success, and proportional to the means used. Obviously, there is some flexibility with regards to the interpretation of a just cause, and this has been abused by some warlords to extend a moral dimension to their cause, and thus, gain more support; this is analogous to warlords using a “grievance” narrative to mask their “greed” intentions.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Hussein stated that the Da’esh crisis was a deliberate failure to respect human rights, whether or not the motives of the perpetrators are purely religious. Professor Peter Murray of the University of East London adds that despite the Da’esh romanticized claims to its followers, the Islamic caliphate which they aim to restore is as much a political entity as it is a religious body. On the human rights perspective, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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