--Jianping Fan (China)
We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world!
--We Are the Champions, Queen
Warrior Mythology, Pt I:
While "warriorhood" is all the rage among the services, the Congress and the public in general, War is conspicuously absent in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) environment.
Surely a definition of warrior is, "One experienced in war," yet our campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq (after the initial invasion) have been Low Intensity Conflict [LIC] characterized by Counterinsurgency [COIN] operations. LIC and COIN are not warfare, and inconvenient is the fact that there has been no declaration of war. Dahr Jamail points out that we cannot even legally declare war (Afghanistan: Where Empires Go to Die.) We can no longer recognize what war looks like, let alone what constitutes a warrior.
Why the appeal of the warrior image, especially among Christians who claim to be peace loving? That peaceful countries breed warrior societies should discomfort us.
In the 19th century we forced the Native American tribes to abandon their warrior lifestyles. In WW II we fought the consummate warrior castes of the Bushido and Samurai, and the ultimate 20th century warrior, the Nazi SS. Our national policy destroyed three warrior nations by being Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen. We had might and right, and words like warrior were unnecessary.
The warrior is actually a religious construct, rather than a political or military one. He is one of philosopher Mircea Eliade's hierophanies -- an emergence of the sacred (God-hero) into the profane. Often segregated, the warrior was beyond the average citizen in terms of his stoicism, for which he was later rewarded. All warrior people disavowed death, and the warrior would receive a reward in the afterlife for his defense of us against them.
The animation behind the warrior was whipped up by a potent brew of ethnocentrism, xenophobia and afterlife rewards. Joseph Campbell (Myths to Live By) writes, "It is a basic idea of practically every war mythology that the enemy is a monster and that in killing him one is protecting the only truly valuable order of human life on earth, which is that, of course, of one's own people."
In 2009, things aren't that different. We are caught fighting long wars against those deemed "evil," a role previously filled by Communists or any legion of Others.
The Structuralists would see the warrior as a cultural myth signifying the fitness or robustness of a people. For the religionists, the genesis of monotheism is the progenitor of the warrior ethos. God favored the Jews or the Christians, and survival became tied to cooperation between this God and his people.
Forgetting the biblical proscriptions to not kill and turn the other cheek, since the Jews, Christians and Islamists differ little in their core beliefs it is the gravest futility for them to fight behind the banner of religion. Today's warriors are living a prehistoric myth translated through our major religions.
While Christianity is based upon the teachings of Jesus, after Constantine the entire history of the church is one of the sword and the warrior. Christianity, like Islam, was firmly established by warriors favored by God. This is a problem, as a single God cannot favor both sides in a struggle for cultural hegemony.
Tomorrow: Onward Christian Warriors