Saturday, March 26, 2005

new kind of war

The United Nations has taken some heat lately. People are questioning its validity and integrity as an institution. I wonder if the church could learn some lessons from the break down we see in the UN.

The UN was created essentially to avoid another World War. As to its success, that is questionable. All humanity knew of world war upon its creation was State vs. State or, better said, Allied States vs. Allied States. But at the height of modernity, the idea of State and the idea of institution itself began to break down.

When we look at the cold war, what the heck do we call that. In a sense it was state vs. state if one speaks in terms of US vs USSR. But deeper was a clash in governing philosophy. The war seemed more like Capitalism vs. Communism. And I would say that that war is not totally over.

In fact, that sort of war just seems to be growing. It seems to be Democracy vs Dictatorship or Capitalism vs. Islamic Fundamentalism. Its tough to label because much like the warring factions, the war itself continues to adapt, mutate, and grow. We could possibly classify it as guerrilla warfare or terrorism. The big bad "World Wars" seem inefficient these days. Its a paradox. If you want a truly global war, it must remain small, mobile and reproducible.

Complex command hierarchies are too easily destroyed. Self-contained cells are difficult to root out. So now, the UN is faced not with a State to State World War, but an intra-state global battle. The enemy does not label themselves with a nationality, but a belief. They are bonded not by loyalty to an institution but by relational/familial connectivity under a common mission. The UN is good at humanitarian stuff. Dealing with relief aid and disease issues seem to be a good part-time job for the UN. But as for the purpose of its original creation ... it has been rendered fairly impotent.

Could the church learn some lessons here? Rather than make broad claims on my own. I will let anyone who reads this draw their own conclusions.


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