chapter  11
10 Pages

Religion, war, and peace: Leavening the levels of analysis

ByEric Patterson

Cold War era thinking continues to permeate the study of international relations, particularly with regard to the influence of religious factors. The Cold War framework understood international politics as characterized by competing politico-economic systems and corresponding ideologies: those of Western capitalist democracies versus totalitarian Communist governments. Most government elites on both sides of the Iron Curtain tacitly agreed that religion’s role was instrumental in international life: for the West it was a tool for rallying the Third World against godless Communism; the East understood religion as the “opiate of the masses,” used to pacify and coerce Western publics. The academic elite of both sides also regarded religion as a historical artifact that modernization would banish into the mists of the past.