Role of Point-of-View in Territorial & Resource Conflicts

Role of Point-of-View in Territorial & Resource Conflicts
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  • 0:01 Differing Views
  • 0:59 Opposing Perspectives…
  • 2:00 Opposing Perspectives…
  • 3:27 Opposing Perspectives…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Countries have fought over territory, religion, and resources for centuries, often with different points-of-view motivating them. In this lesson, you'll see examples of how different leaders put forth their own point-of-view in conflicts and the consequences their countries incurred as a result.

Differing Views

'No, it's mine!' How many of your childhood fights featured that language? If you have siblings, chances are that you had conflicts with them when you were growing up. Maybe they wouldn't leave you alone, or perhaps they kept stealing your toys or clothes. Dutifully, you both explained your sides of the story to your parents, and surely a few 'that's not true' or 'he's lying'-style exclamations made their way into the conversation. In the end, how did your parents decide how to settle the conflict?

When the issue was particularly confusing, you both may have simply been told to go to your rooms. However, it's hard to tell a country to go to its room. Instead, countries are forced to carry on their differences according to their own points of view. Sometimes, it's a lack of interest in the other person's point of view. Other times, it's mere selfishness. But, whatever the perspective of one side, you can guarantee that the other side won't share it.

Opposing Perspectives on Territory

Countries have fought over territory for centuries. However, very rarely do you see a country come out and say that it wants to conquer something merely for the sake of conquering it. Even in cases where conquest is the underlying motive, the leaders usually have a compelling reason for the conquest.

For example, during the years before World War II, Adolf Hitler kept telling the Germans that they needed more room to live, or lebensraum. Meanwhile, there were some groups of ethnic Germans living outside of Germany. Hitler and others saw those groups of ethnic Germans as needing the protection of the German state, while he portrayed their neighbors as people who had stolen from the German people.

See how he's built this case of past wrongs against the German people? In the end, Hitler wanted only conquest, but that perspective of wanting the Germans to live in Germany was actually enough to allow him to conquer Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia with no fight. Because Hitler's perspective won out, the other countries lost.

Opposing Perspectives on Motivation

People use lots of reasons to justify their point-of-view in a conflict. Take the current situation in Israel and Palestine. A great deal can be said about that situation, so rather than get lost in the details of the whole thing, let's just look at particular piece of land: Temple Mount. Wait, isn't that the Dome of the Rock? Or, is it the Holy of Holies? Or, al-Aqsa Mosque? So many names for one piece of real estate! Yet, so much of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan deals with this collection of names for a single place. Why?

This piece of real estate is not only the holiest spot on Earth for Jews but the third holiest for Muslims, and yet they have completely different ideas as to how to treat the land. For Jewish people, it is the site of the Holy of Holies, an inner sanctuary of the now-destroyed Temple where God's presence is especially felt. Therefore, people are largely banned from the site, lest they disturb the holy nature of the ground.

Meanwhile, al-Aqsa Mosque is just that: a mosque, by which its very nature demands that plenty of people have access to the area in order to pray. In this case, the Jewish Israelis and the Muslim Palestinians have completely different perspectives as to not only how to treat this area but also what the other group should be doing there. Each side has the same motivation: religion, but a very different perspective.

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