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Thinking about the 'New War'

The recent tragic events of Sept. 11 have created a new patriotism in America unlike anything seen since World War II.

Even folk who have a lot of problems with U.S. foreign policy can't help but be impressed by the positive aspects of patriotism during this troubling period. Especially for the families of victims, the patriotic spirit has helped bring about a feeling of solidarity.

It's something when even traditional U.S. enemies like Iran are found expressing sympathy for the victims of the attacks.

One can't help but feel for the families who have hoped against the odds that their loved ones will be found. In this sense, all the flag-waving and other expressions of patriotism have been helpful.

However, it was only a matter of time before the ugly side of the same fervor would also come to fore.

Hundreds of violent or intimidating incidents against Muslims or people mistaken as Muslims have already been reported.

The worse case involved not a Muslim but a Sikh. The Sikh religion of India is completely distinct from Islam.

Many people confuse Sikhs for Muslims because of the turbans worn by the former. Such a case of confusion resulted in the death Saturday of Balbir Singh Sodhi in Mesa Arizona.

Not a single Sikh has been implicated in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The 'new war' is set to start at any time. Asia, and particularly Pakistan, will be deeply involved. The Central Asian states might also allow attacks to take place from their soil.

Some commentators have been talking about a "civilizational" struggle. The age-old conflict between Christianity and Islam with the state of Israel thrown into the mix.

They say that Usama Bin Laden is interested in bringing this conflict to a head. He wants Western forces to stage attacks in Islamic nations.

In this way, he presumably hopes to stir up an Islamic revolution that will put an end to secular or backsliding governments in Muslim nations.

After the recent events, almost everyone agrees that a long battle is imminent. It could last up to 10 years and involve operations in a number of countries.

Expect sea changes during this time. Indeed, a lot of things have changed already. The world is likely to be shaken many times before all this is over.