The two main issues decided by the U.S. Civil war were:
1) Slavery became illegal.
2) States may NOT leave the Union. The Federal Government overrules the state.
The 2nd issue was triggered by the threat of the 1st issue becoming law. (Actually, the states began to leave when they figured that slavery could not expand anymore, which would continuously weaken that position and eventually lead to outlawing it altogether.) The cultural impact of removal of the evil of slavery was so great that many good southerners fought and died defending it. Yet Robert E. Lee did not fight for slavery. He resigned his commission and fought because he was more loyal to his state of Virginia than he was to the United States of America.
In Iraq (Indeed, in many parts of the Middle East) today, many people are more loyal to the clan than they are to the governments that govern them. Yet the trigger for this issue becoming so decisive is something else. I propose that the trigger is the clash of Islam and the openness of democracy.
The ‘occupation’ of Iraq by infidels is of importance because one of the ‘authentic’ laws of Islam is the obligation to kill all occupiers of Muslim lands. This issue in turn brings up others, such as the penalty of leaving Islam is death. This causes problems because any Muslim who agrees in just about any way with the ‘occupiers’ is then an Apostate and is to be killed. This also brings up the entire issue of Jihad and the rewards of booty in this world and paradise in the next. These are some of the reasons that Islamic culture clashes with just about all cultures that it is making intimate contact with. These are some important reasons as to why a permanent peace has been unattainable between Israel and the Muslim world.
The ex-French president said it best: "Democracy is not a process, it is a culture." Islamic culture is inherently hostile to just about all other cultures. Democracy is the most conflicting because of its general openness. Islamic governance is very autocratic and intolerant. The culture that thrives within would naturally adapt to its environment of general intolerance. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a very visible example of the clash between these two cultures. Another example is Lebanon. Turkey is a somewhat different example, although many of the same issues are present there as well.
Now we have the Iraqi ‘occupation’ and the potential of another democracy attempting to live within Muslim culture. Constant warfare has been the outcome for more than 60 years between Israel and Arabs. Democracy and a capitalist economy are a direct threat to the closed and autocratic governance and culture that Muslims have adapted to. Naturally, they are attacking the threat. Resistance in the form of open warfare can be expected to last for decades, maybe even centuries. Historically speaking, warfare tends to speed up the merging of cultures. Maybe this is what is needed. If the Palestinians can build an actual, functioning democracy, it will mark a major milestone in the Arab world’s move toward acceptance and tolerance.
The big question: When will an Islamic terrorist organization obtain an effective weapon of mass destruction?