• Adrian Pabst University of Kent, UK


This essay argues that contemporary warfare seems to be religious but is in fact secular in nature and as such calls forth religious alternatives. The violence unleashed by Islamic terrorism and the ‘global war on terror’ is secular in this sense that it is unmediated and removes any universal ethical limits from conflicts: unrestrained violence is either a divine injunction which is blindly and fideistically believed, or it is waged in the name of the supremely sovereign state which deploys war to uphold the constitutional order guaranteeing an exclusive state monopoly on the use of arbitrary physical force. The first part compares and contrasts two false universalisms, that of global market democracy and a revivified pan-Islamic Ummah. The second part explores the classical and modern origins of Islamic terrorism. The third part examines the perverted theology at the heart of the neo-conservative ‘global war on terror’. The fourth part analyses the permanent ‘state of exception’ which underpins the modern state and licenses unrestricted violence by the sovereign who stands outside and above the constitutional order of legality and legitimacy. The fifth and final part outlines religious alternatives to secular warfare, with specific reference to Islam and Christianity.

Keywords: Warfare, Universalism, (state) Terrorism, Exceptionalism, True religion, Just peace


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