This is the typical leftwing tripe that endangers the West.
First the author states:
"Tribalism and the tribal mind-set are what the West is up against in Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgency, the Sunni and Shiite militias, and the Taliban."
Then his describes:
"The tribesman does not operate by a body of civil law but by a code of honor. If he receives a wrong, he does not seek redress. He wants revenge. The taking of revenge is a virtue in tribal eyes, called badal in the Pathan code of nangwali. A man who does not take revenge is not a man. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the sectarian militias of Iraq are not in the war business, they are in the revenge business. The revenge-seeker cannot be negotiated with because his intent is bound up with honor. It is an absolute."
Then, in typical anti-west leftwing fashion he concludes that this type of behavior is morally eqivalent to the American/Western form form of democratic government:
"The tribesman isn't 'wrong' or 'evil.' He just doesn't want what we're selling."
The irony here is that while the author is trying to be non-judgmental, he is basically saying mid-easterners are mentally incapable of democratic government. It took Americans nearly 150 years from first setting foot in Jamestown to revolt and start the beginings of a democratic gov't. It took another 10 years after the Revolutionary War to establish a true federal government and a Constitution. Why do we expect Iraqis to do it over night. I think THAT is what is unrealistic.
First, I do not think Steven Pressfield is a "anti-west leftwinger" or even sounds like one. True he is dealing with broad, sweeping impressions born of his research in this area.
The pattern in the mid-east is for a King or Tyrant to overwhelm the tribalism of the peoples which constitute his domain. When that king is gone, the feuding factions reemerge. And I think we see that now in Iraq.
The tribe, it seems, is alway at war. And its sense of justice seems unlike that of the Hebrew or Christian eye-for-eye varity (a good thing--it introduced equity into law).
I'm not convinced that efforts to democratize will necessarily fail. Can the tap roots which feed tribalism be cut? Real Islam will continue to keep these people in this bondage, in my estimation. Western cultural influence might produce another Turkey. However, the greatest threat to tribalsm is Christianity.