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Today's war-torn Mideast is not yesterday's Europe
Today's war-torn Mideast is not yesterday's Europe

In recent weeks, politicians and pundits have likened the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars to the Thirty Years' War and the other so-called religious wars that divided Europe in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It's easy to see what gave rise to the comparisons. In Europe, the warring parties were mostly Christians, but often one side supported Protestantism and the other Catholicism. In today's Middle East wars, the combatants are mostly Muslims, but Sunnis and Shiites tend to be on opposite sides. There are several dangers in making these comparisons, however. One is that they reinforce prejudices. Westerners tend to see history as linear, with the passing of years...

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