Why did faith re-emerge as the driving force in America and in the politics of many Islamic countries?

“Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st century as political ideology was to the 20th century.” — Tony Blair

Mumbai. 9/11. Chechnya. Sectarian violence in Iraq. Somalia. Afghanistan. Nigeria. The man with the most military power in the history of the world is reported to have said, “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq … ‘ And I did.” It was called a Crusade. These are the defining events of the new century. After a brief, semiretirement of a few hundred years, religion has returned as the No. 1 cause of violence, war and death. So the fundamental national security questions of our time have to be about faith. What is it about faith that makes people eager to commit suicide so long as it enables them to commit mass murder while they’re at it?

What is it about faith that makes world leaders like George Bush and Tony Blair — with armies, bombers, missiles, artillery and navies — ignore good advice, abandon good sense and lead their countries to two of the stupidest wars in history? And while they’re at it, to radically change the moral positions that their countries adopted just 60 years ago and commit what were then called war crimes: initiating a war of aggression, torture and the failure to provide for the populations of the countries they occupied?