What civilisation?

A clash of civilisations seems to be contradictory to me. A civilisation, by definition, is not like an attack dog. But there are plenty of attack-dog nations in the unprotected international arena which would claim to be civilised. What then is a civilisation?

Consider the rapacity displayed all over the world by nations, tribes, cultures. Is it civilised to destroy fellow Man for a reason other than self-defence? And kill and maim large numbers of innocent women and children as collateral damage? Of course, it is far too easy to assert, as an excuse, ‘They were going to attack us,’ before going on a rampage. A major reason for placing civilisation on the back burner (so to speak) is control over needed resources. So, was the invasion of Iraq intended to introduce democracy, or to counter a terrorist threat, or to destroy mythical weapons, or guarantee access to oil, or break up the nation into 3 ethnocentric regions (as claimed by an Israeli scholar) or set up an observation post, or all of the above? Does the answer matter? The hydra-headed coalition involved showed that we are true followers of Genghis; we are not civilised as yet.

This reminds me of the commonly-spoken fear in the 1950s that ‘The Martians are coming,’ That seems to have been triggered by the alleged finding of a non-human body on or near US territory, and many reports of UFOs flying around, apparently inspecting us, charging their vehicles with our electricity, kidnapping people for studies of all kinds, and so on. We should be grateful that the occupants of these space vehicles did not want to eat us! However, now that the populations in some Western nations are fatter, that might change!

While it is understandable for some tribes to seek control of the resources of others, how can one explain the wars between religious sects or between religions? What is the benefit?  What does this say about any of them, as institutions, being civilised? (This is not to deny that most adherents are moral people.) Why is the successor religion, Islam, seen pejoratively by many Christians? Why have Christian nations done so much damage to other, often more simple, societies all over the world? I remember reading about a bishop who, quite a few centuries ago, allegedly said ‘Kill them all; the Lord will know his own.’

Are the ‘desert’ religions warlike because of where they originated? Or do they see themselves as possessing superior chariots to Heaven and thus tend to attack anyone perceived as possessing weapons of independent ideology?  No, we are not civilised yet. And if the Incas were right, we will not get the opportunity to become civilised.