Religion in International Politics

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Religion has, and continues, to play a major role in dictating the way international politics plays out. Religion has the ability to supersede states and institutions in a way that few other forces can. In particular, the continued spread of Radical Fundamentalism can have a major destabilizing effect on the international arena.

Holy wars undertaking by radical fundamentalists raise international politics from a level of negotiated conflict to a war blessed by God. Jihadists have less to lose in instances of radicalism because of their belief that something better awaits them. This thus makes it more difficult for states to protect themselves.

Fundamentalism is not connected to a specific state. Similarly, jihadists have no sense of obligation or loyalty to a state, and thus undermine the sense of international order that has become well established. They can thus not be stopped by standard methods since action taken by one state against another is irrelevant. Jihadists are not traying to protect the state, and thus deterrence is ineffective.

Jihadi groups can demonstrate a type of soft power, and often change the behavior of other states. They spread their own believes and convince others to do their bidding. Technology in particular enhances these soft power resources. The news network Al Jazeera, for example, carries weight by choosing what to broadcast and what to avoid.