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The Terror War Is An Honor War
National Journal ^ | Oct. 13, 2006 | Jonathan Rauch

Posted on 10/14/2006 11:21:33 PM PDT by neverdem


The Terror War Is An Honor War

By Jonathan Rauch, National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Friday, Oct. 13, 2006

On August 29 in Tehran, a reporter rose during a press conference with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asked to recite a poem. "Recite just two lines," said the president. "Don't make it too long. We don't have time. Just the best part."

Outside the West, traditional honor codes remain strong, and nowhere is that more true than in the Muslim world.

"But it's all good," the reporter replied.

"So, read the middle." Whereupon the journalist declaimed as follows:

For the sake of defending our homeland, we will give up even our heads
We will attack any enemy like lions
We are known all over the world for our fearlessness and manliness
For the sake of God, we will turn our chests to shields

"Well done," Ahmadinejad said. "You were supposed to recite only two lines."

A U.S. president in Ahmadinejad's place would not say, "Well done, but too long." He would say something like, "You need medical help." By historical standards, however, it is the American reaction, not the Iranian one, that is odd.

The journalist-poet was speaking the language of traditional honor, a tongue that modern Westerners have largely forgotten -- to their peril, if James Bowman is right. In a recently published and bracingly original book called Honor: A History, Bowman -- a cultural critic and historian affiliated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington -- argues that honor remains a potent force in world affairs, perhaps more potent today than in many years, because it is central to the liberal West's confrontation with militant Islam. If he is right, the terror war is really an honor war, but only one side knows it.

Boiling Bowman's richly nuanced 327 pages down to four paragraphs does the book a cruel disservice, but this is journalism, so here goes. Honor, for Bowman's purposes, means "the good opinion of people who matter to us." The basic honor code requires men to maintain a reputation for bravery, women a reputation for chastity. If a man is insulted, injured, or disrespected, he must avenge the offense and prove that anyone who messes with him (or "his" women) will be sorry.

The West's history is rich with traditions of honor, and equally rich with examples of its dangers and follies, among them the duel that killed the most brilliant of America's Founders. Singularly, however, the West has backed away from honor. Under admonitions from Christianity to turn the other cheek and from the Enlightenment to favor reason over emotion, the West first channeled honor into the arcane rituals of chivalry, then folded it into a code of manly but magnanimous Victorian gentlemanliness -- and then, in the 20th century, drove it into disrepute. World War I and the Vietnam War were seen as needless butcheries brought on by archaic obsessions with national honor; feminism and the therapeutic culture taught that a higher manly strength acknowledges weakness.

"Yet we are, in global terms, the odd ones out," Bowman writes. Outside the West, traditional honor codes remain strong, and nowhere is that more true than in the Muslim world. In the modern Islamic world, few share the West's view of honor as outdated and unnecessary. "The honor culture of the Islamic world predates its conversion to Islam in the seventh century," writes Bowman.

Islam overlaid itself above honor and, unlike Christianity in the West, did not challenge it. Today's militant jihadism takes the ethic of honor to extremes, fixating on manly ferocity and glorious vengeance.

Thus, Bowman writes, "America and its allies are engaged in a battle against an Islamist enemy that is the product of one of the world's great unreconstructed and unreformed honor cultures." Jihadism wages not only a religious war but a cultural one, aiming to redeem, through deeds of bravery and defiance, the honor of an Islam whose glory has shamefully faded. It aims, further, to uphold a masculine honor code that the West's decadent, feminizing influence threatens to undermine.

Whether or not Bowman has the whole story right, the prism of honor brings puzzling elements of the current conflict into sharper focus. Americans are baffled that Western appeals to freedom and prosperity get so little traction in the Arab and Muslim worlds. America's example as the "shining city on a hill" inspired liberalizing movements from Eastern Europe to Tiananmen Square; why should the Middle East be different? One answer is that traditional honor cultures value vindication over freedom and wealth. Militant Islamism and Baathist-style national socialism offer narratives of restored greatness and heroic resistance. Ballot boxes and shopping malls offer neither. If freedom brings humiliation, what good is it?

Most wars are waged between combatants who share similar honor codes or at least comprehend each other's honor codes. This time, there is no communication across the battlefield. To Americans, it is patently clear that the attacks of September 11 were acts of unprovoked aggression; in a traditional honor culture, however, violence to protect one's honor is just as self-defensive as violence to protect one's person.

Westerners are both revolted and puzzled by jihadists' willingness to kill non-Muslim civilians. In the post-honor West, the first rule of honorable combat is not to target noncombatants. From biblical times on down, by contrast, many traditional honor cultures have made a practice of killing and enslaving civilians, whom they regarded as enemies and spoils. In a primitive honor culture, the combatant-civilian distinction is less important than the boundary between one's own honor circle -- one's self, clan, tribe, or religious co-believers -- and outsiders, whose fate is largely a matter of indifference. Modern jihadism appears to have embraced this atavistic ethic.

Traditional honor, Bowman emphasizes, is about the reputation for bravery, not necessarily bravery itself. Maintaining reputation implies saving face by never admitting weakness. When Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf, Iraq's information minister during the U.S. invasion in 2003, insisted ludicrously that Iraq was winning the war, "he was simply saying what it was incumbent on a man of honor to say if he was not to lose face by admitting a shameful defeat," according to Bowman.

More consequentially, Americans assumed, in 2002 and 2003, that Saddam Hussein would not pretend to hide weapons of mass destruction that he didn't actually possess. Why would he lie to bring about his own downfall? What seemed inexplicable to a post-honor culture would seem, in a traditional honor culture, too obvious to need explaining: Saddam was more concerned about saving face -- preserving his reputation for being fierce and formidable -- than about his office or even his life. Indeed, he could not feel otherwise and still count himself a man.

In the modern West, interest trumps honor (or subsumes it). We don't shoot ourselves in the foot to prove we're tough and fierce. Or, if we do, we expect to be ridiculed, not admired. If interest trumps honor, a country will swallow its pride in the face of a defeat or setback and make the best of its lot. For Germany after World War II (and for Japan, which was quick to adopt Western ways), getting rich was the best revenge.

In a traditional honor culture, that sort of pride-swallowing compromise may not be possible. Honor trumps interest (or subsumes it). The well-educated and talented Arabs of the Levant might today be enjoying the same prosperity and security as Spain or South Korea if years ago they had accepted Israel as a fact of life, made peace, and moved on. To Hamas and Hezbollah militants and their supporters, however, Israel's continued existence is a standing humiliation, and the debt to honor must be paid, never mind the cost.

Nor can militant Islamists settle with the West. When the post-honor West says, "Come, now, give up this foolishness, join our club, be free and rich," they hear something more like, "Be our poodle, sit at our feet, enjoy the fruits of capitulation." Admonitions that bellicosity accomplishes nothing miss the point, which is that the very act of fighting ("resistance") redeems honor and therefore accomplishes what matters most.

The West thus finds itself an unwilling, and in many respects unwitting, participant in an honor feud. Clashes of interest can end in compromise, but honor feuds proffer no logical end of destruction, as Shakespeare's Montagues and Capulets and Mark Twain's Grangerfords and Shepherdsons could attest. "There's no, to use a fashionable term, exit strategy," Bowman said in an interview.

Americans are naive if we assume that honor cultures yearn for freedom on our terms, and remiss if we underestimate their capacity for self-defeating belligerence. Although they are not strictly rational by modern Western lights, neither are they crazy. They are something else altogether: honor-bound.

-- Jonathan Rauch is a senior writer for National Journal magazine, where "Social Studies" appears. His e-mail address is

[ Social Studies Archives ]

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: islam; muslims; wot
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1 posted on 10/14/2006 11:21:35 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

It sounds like the only way for them to restore their honor is for us to lose. Sorry Achmed, no deal.

A culture where men shoot themselves in the foot to regain their honor deserves all the ridicule we can dish out.

2 posted on 10/14/2006 11:36:31 PM PDT by watchin (Facts irritate liberals)
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To: watchin
["The West thus finds itself an unwilling..."]

Hold on just a second. How do we currently define "The West?"
Is it the US, Britain, France, Holland, Denmark,...or is it something else?....The reason I ask is because I'm beginning to wonder if it's (Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia,...)
3 posted on 10/14/2006 11:52:11 PM PDT by LjubivojeRadosavljevic
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To: neverdem
It's the Tribes, Stupid


It's the Tribes, Stupid

Steven Pressfield

October 2006

© 2006 Steven Pressfield

Forget the Koran. Forget the ayatollahs and the imams. If we want to understand the enemy we're fighting in Iraq, the magic word is "tribe."

Islam is not our opponent in Baghdad or Fallouja. We delude ourselves if we believe the foe is a religion. The enemy is tribalism articulated in terms of religion.

For two years I've been researching a book about Alexander the Great's counter-guerrilla campaign in Afghanistan, 330-327 B.C. What struck me most powerfully is that that war is a dead ringer for the ones we're fighting today – even though Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.

In other words, the clash of East and West is at bottom not about religion. It's about two different ways of being in the world. Those ways haven't changed in 2300 years. They are polar antagonists, incompatible and irreconcilable.

The West is modern and rational; its constituent unit is the nation. The East is ancient and visceral; its constituent unit is the tribe.

What is a tribe anyway?

The tribe is the most ancient form of social organization. It arose from the hunter-gatherer clans of pre-history. A tribe is small. It consists of personal, face-to-face relationships, often of blood. A tribe is cohesive. Its structure is hierarchical. It has a leader and a rigid set of norms and customs that defines each individual's role. Like a hunting band, the tribe knows who's the top dog and knows how to follow orders. What makes Islam so powerful in the world today is that its all-embracing discipline and order overlay the tribal mind-set so perfectly. Islam delivers the certainty and security that the tribe used to. It permits the tribal way to survive and thrive in a post-tribal and super-tribal world.

Am I knocking tribalism? Not at all. In many ways I think people are happier in a tribal universe. Consider the appeal of post-apocalyptic movies like The Road Warrior or The Day After Tomorrow. Modern life is tough. Who can fault us if now and then we entertain the idea of going back to the simple life?

The people we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan live that life 24/7/365 and they've been living it for the past ten thousand years. They like it. It's who they are. They're not going to change.

How do you combat a tribal enemy?

Step one is to recognize that that enemy is tribal. We in the West may flatter ourselves that democracy is taking root in Iraq when we see news footage of blue-ink thumbs and beaming faces emerging from polls. What's really happening has nothing to do with democracy. What's happening is the tribal chief has passed the word and everybody is voting exactly as he told them to.

What is the nature of the tribe? What can sociology tell us about its attributes?

The tribe respects power.

Saddam Hussein understood this. So did Tito, Stalin, Hitler. So will the next strong man who ultimately stabilizes Iraq.

The tribe must have a chief. It demands a leader. With a top dog, every underdog knows his place. He feels secure. He can provide security for this family. The tribe needs a Tony Soprano. It needs a Godfather.

The U.S. blew it in Iraq the first week after occupying Baghdad. Capt. Nate Fick of the Recon Marines tells the story of that brief interlude when U.S. forces were still respected, just before the looting started. Capt. Fick went in that interval to the local headman in his area of responsibility in Baghdad; he asked what he needed. The chief replied, "Clean water, electricity, and as many statues of George W. Bush as you can give us."

The tribe needs a boss. Alexander understood this. Unlike the U.S., the Macedonians knew how to conquer a country. When Alexander took Babylon in 333 B.C., he let the people know he was the man. They accepted this. They welcomed it. Life could go on.

When we Americans declared in essence to the Iraqis, "Here, folks, you're free now; set up your own government," they looked at us as if we were crazy. The tribal mind doesn't want freedom; it wants security. Order. It wants a New Boss. The Iraqis lost all respect for us then. They saw us as naive, as fools. They saw that we could be beaten.

The tribe is a warrior; its foundation is warrior pride.

The heart of every tribal male is that of a warrior. Even the most wretched youth in a Palestinian refugee camp sees himself as a knight of Islam. The Pathan code of nangwali prescribes three virtues – nang, pride; badal, revenge; melmastia, hospitality. These guys are Apaches.

What the warrior craves before all else is respect. Respect from his own people, and, even more, from his enemy. When we of the West understand this, as Alexander did, we'll have taken the first step toward solving the unsolvable.

The tribe places no value on freedom.

The tribe is the most primitive form of social organization. In the conditions under which the tribe evolved, survival was everything. Cohesion meant the difference between starving and eating. The tribe enforces conformity by every means possible – wives, mothers, and daughters add the whip hand to keep the warriors in line. Freedom is a luxury the tribe can't afford. The tribesman's priority is respect within the tribe, to belong, to be judged a man.

You can't sell "freedom" to tribesmen any more than you can sell "democracy." He doesn't want it. It violates his code. It threatens everything he stands for.

The tribe is bound to the land.

I just read an article about Ariel Sharon (a tribal leader if there ever was one.) The interviewer was describing how, as Sharon crossed a certain stretch of Israeli real estate, he pointed out with great emotion the hills where the Biblical character Abigail lived out her story. In other words, to the tribesman the land isn't for sale; it's been rendered sacred by the sagas of ancestors. The tribe will paint the stones red with its own blood before letting itself be evicted from the land.

The tribe cannot be negotiated with.

Tribes deal in absolutes. Their standards of honor cannot be compromised. Crush the tribe in one century, it will rise again a thousand years from now. We're seeing this now in a Middle East where the Crusades happened yesterday. When the tribe negotiates, it is always a sham – a stalling tactic meant to mitigate temporary weakness. Do we believe Iran is really "coming to the table?" As soon as the tribe regains power, it will abrogate every treaty and every pact.

The tribe has no honor except within its own sphere, deriving justice for its own people. Its code is Us versus Them. The outsider is a gentile, an infidel, a devil.

These are just a few of the characteristics of the tribal mind. Now: what to do about this?

How to deal with the tribal mind.

You can't make deals with a tribal foe; they won't be honored. You can't buy them; they'll take your money and despise you. The tribe can't be reasoned with. Its mind is not rational, it's instinctive. The tribe is not modern but primitive. The tribe thinks from the stem of its brain, not the cortex. Its code is of warrior pride, not of Enlightenment reason.

To deal successfully with the tribe, a negotiator of the West must first grant it its pride and honor. The tribe's males must be addressed as warriors; its women must be treated with respect. The tribe must be left to its own land, to govern as it deems best.

If you want to get out of a tribal war, you must find a scenario by which the tribe can declare itself victorious. The tribal mind is canny; it knows when it's whipped. But its warrior pride is so fierce, it cannot admit this. The tribe has to be allowed its face.

How Alexander got out of a quagmire.

It took Alexander three years, but he finally got a handle on the tribal mind. (Perhaps because so many of his own Macedonians were basically tribal.) Alexander produced peace by marrying the daughter of his most powerful enemy, the princess Roxane. The tribe understands such an act. This is respect. This is honor.

Alexander made the tribesmen his equals. He acknowledged their warrior honor. When he and his army marched out to their next conquest, Alexander took the bravest of his former enemies with him as his Companions. They rode at his side in stations of honor; they dined at his shoulder in the royal pavilion. (Of course he also beat the living hell out of the Afghans for three years prior, and when he took off he left a fifth of his army to garrison the place.)

The outlook for the U.S. in Iraq

In the end, unless we're ready to treat them they way we did Geronimo, the tribe is unbeatable. They're just too crazy. They're not like us. Tolerance and open-mindedness are not virtues to them; they're signs of weakness. The tribe is too rigid to bend, and it can't be negotiated with.

Perhaps in the end, our leaders, like Alexander, will figure some way to bring the tribal foe around. More likely in my opinion, they'll arrive at the same conclusion as did Lord Roberts, the legendary British general. Lord Roberts fought (and defeated militarily) tribesmen in two bloody wars in Afghanistan in the 19th century. His conclusion: get out. Lord Roberts' axiom was that the farther away British forces remained from the tribesmen, the more likely the tribesmen were to feel warmly toward them; the closer he got, the more they hated him and the more stubbornly and implacably they fought against him.

Steven Pressfield is the best-selling author of Gates of Fire, The Virtues of War, and the recently published The Afghan Campaign. DNI has reviewed the Virtues of War and The Afghan Campaign.


4 posted on 10/15/2006 12:28:30 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.)
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To: archy; Criminal Number 18F; Steel Wolf; DevSix; Squantos; Future Snake Eater
What the warrior craves before all else is respect. Respect from his own people, and, even more, from his enemy. When we of the West understand this, as Alexander did, we'll have taken the first step toward solving the unsolvable.
5 posted on 10/15/2006 12:31:12 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.)
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Shame, Honor and Terror in the Middle East
By David Leo Gutmann | October 24, 2003

The rush of Arab guerrilla fighters to Iraq following the defeat of Saddam’s regular forces has mobilized a corresponding rush of pundits to the media outlets, eager to instruct us as to why the Arab Street is so angry with America. For the most part they name the usual suspects, the “Marxist–Lite” factors that our academicians and Middle East experts are comfortable with: that ours was a Capitalist war for oil; that we are seen as the new Western colonialists; that we support the settler state, Israel, against the dispossessed Palestinians, and so forth.

Mention is rarely made of long-established Arab military traditions, or of irrational features of Arab psychology, particularly their profound vulnerability to shame, and loss of honor.

In regard to military history, the Arab’s preference for guerrilla over conventional war reflects a long tradition, one that began in antiquity, with the Bedouin raiders. Their way of war- brilliantly described by T.E. Lawrence in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom – is based on hit and run forays by camel-mounted Bedouin who appear suddenly out of the desert, tear up an unsuspecting enemy camp, and then disappear back into the waste, carrying “honorable” loot: thoroughbred horses, camels and women.

The traditional Bedouin created a nearly pure “Shame” culture, whose goal was to avoid humiliation, and to acquire sharraf  - honor. Thus, the goal of the Bedouin raid is not to finally win a war, for such inter-tribal conflict is part of the honorable way of life, and should never really end. The essential goals of the raid are to take wealth – not only in goods, but also in honor - and to impose shame on the enemy.  Any opponent worth fighting is by definition honorable, and pieces of his honor can be ripped from him in a successful raid, to be replaced by figments of the attacker’s shame. The successful attacker has “exported” some personal shame to the enemy, and the enemy’s lost honor has been added to the raider’s store.

This calculus of shame and sharraf is an important element in all Arab warfare, whether waged by Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat, or a Bedouin sheik. In particular, that same dynamic drives the Arab preference for irregular over conventional war.

Irregular tactics - spiced with Terror – have on occasion defeated regular armies; but win, lose, or draw in the military sense, terror tactics can be a far more efficient means of  meeting psychological goals -  i.e., shedding shame and capturing honor - than all-out war. Here are some reasons:

First off, guerrilla warfare is the only form of combat in which Arab fighters regularly outperform the West. Little wonder then that irregular conflict, blended with terrorism, has always been the default military option for the Arabs, and one which they eagerly take up after their regular armies have been humiliated in the field. Thus, the Palestinians, backed by the whole Arab world, turned to terrorism after the calamitous defeat of the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies in the Six-Day’s War, their fantasy being that the Fedayeen would redeem Arab honor and give Allah another chance to crush the Jews.

Secondly, In terms of spiritual as against purely military goals, the irregular fighter never really loses. At the battle’s end Goliath may own the bloody field, but David the stripling is always the moral victor. By crushing David, Goliath only adds to his own shame; and even if he loses, David always adds to his honor. For if David falls, his honor can never be smirched or stolen; and as a martyr he casts irrevocable shame on those who killed him.

The effectiveness of terrorist irregulars would no doubt be increased if and when they acquire weapons of mass destruction. But until then, their material impact is limited. They kill a few soldiers and civilians; they scare off some investors and tourists. But it is in the moral domain, on the battleground of David and Goliath, that they have a destructive effect far beyond their numbers.

Thirdly, the terrorist’s actions have the effect of imposing shame on the same enemy whose people he kills. A major aim of terrorist operations is to bring about the symbolic emasculation of the enemy’s military and civilian populations. Thus, as the enemy non-combatants give in to their fear of terror attacks and huddle passively at home, they become vulnerable to the terrorist’s boast, recently broadcast by Hamas: “We will win, because the Jews love life too much, while we love death.” At this point, the terrorist has succeeded in multiple ways: Insult has been added to injury, and his enemies have been psychologically castrated, symbolically re-gendered into women.

But for the terrorist to succeed militarily (as well as symbolically and psychologically) he needs to recruit supporters in the enemy camp. Shame societies avoid humiliation and attract support by blaming others for their defeats. Once established, their Victim Identity achieves for them two major goals: it triggers the rage that fuels the worst terrorist outrages, and it mobilizes the terrorist’s natural allies in the enemy camp. Thus, even as the victim posture reduces the Arab’s shame, it provokes a predictable and corresponding guilt reaction among the “progressive,” peacenik elements of the enemy society. The voices of “Peace Now” and “Move On” zealots are heard, all of them shedding their own guilt by accusing their fellow citizens of driving the victims of oppression to terrorism. “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” becomes the dove’s mantra. In this manner, the progressives become useful idiots for the terrorists. As “transmission belts” they abet the terrorist’s mission of spreading guilt, shame and defeatism among the target population. Egged on by a leftist media that deplores the struggle as a “quagmire,” the terrorized, demoralized civilians soon demand an end to the long, costly, inconclusive struggle.

Finally, like the French in Algeria, the Soviets in Afghanistan, and the Israelis in Lebanon, the humiliated enemy, defeated by a numerically inferior but spiritually superior force, would slink away, carrying the burden of Arab shame with them as they go.

This is the catastrophic outcome that we are now approaching in Iraq. A premature American pullout would ignite a wave of Jihadist triumphalism, and bring on terrorist attacks, complete with WMD, that could soon render intolerable most urban life in the West.

The military effort against terrorism is vital, but not enough; we have to fight on the psychological /spiritual/ conceptual fronts as well. Where to begin?

Only regime changes towards democracy can break up the natural, hard-wired linkage between shame, victimhood and terrorism that we find in the Islamic societies. The sentimental symbiosis between the shame society’s “victims” and the “Liberal Guilt” subcultures of the targeted democracies is equally “genetic,” hence unbreakable. But there is a third crucial link in the terror chain that is not hard-wired, that can be weakened: the dialogue between the Jihad-friendly "liberal" elites and their larger, usually conservative audience, the citizens who consume their classroom lectures, their editorials, their politicized news reports and films. When, in a democracy, this citizenry loses heart, then the military war against terror is soon abandoned.

In a democracy we cannot, even in wartime, interfere with the free expression of defeatist, “Amerika” bashing sentiment; but we can, in ways consistent with the First Amendment, mount rhetorical counterattacks, from the conservative and centrist camps, that neutralize its demoralizing effect.

If we are to defeat terror, a kind of regime change is required: on our campuses, in our press, and in Hollywood. And responsive to that need, previously silenced voices are being heard. Organizations like Students for Academic Freedom, FIRE, Campus Watch, ACTA and the National Association of Scholars are fighting the good fight for free speech on our thought-policed campuses; and networks like Fox News are providing pulpits for informed conservative opinion on TV. Perhaps most hopeful of all, a lively and uninhibited blogger’s Samizdat offers new internet outlets, unmonitored by the Thought Police, for a new generation of gifted commentators who gleefully and intelligently refute the pious orthodoxies of the pro-jihad Left.

Finally, the battle against terror is won or lost at home. If we refuse to be guilty about the war that we have to fight, and if we can refuse the temptation of a shameful retreat, then we will eventually prevail on the fighting fronts as well.  

David Gutmann is Emeritus professor of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at North-Western university Medical School, in Chicago. As a clinician, he has practiced and taught intensive psychotherapy. As a researcher, he has studied universal or "Species" trends in human development across a variety of peasant societies. He is currently investigating patterns of aging among Israeli kibbutz members.

6 posted on 10/15/2006 12:46:38 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.)
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To: neverdem; Cannoneer No. 4; SunkenCiv

thought provoking, worth reading carefully TWICE, imho.

7 posted on 10/15/2006 1:16:46 AM PDT by Fred Nerks ("Illegitimi non carborundum",)
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"Honor trumps interest (or subsumes it)."

Honor doesn't exist as they define it. So-called honor based cultures are really talking about prestige, "rep", "props", "respect", or whatever other pathologically self-centered spin-doctored term is in use there.

8 posted on 10/15/2006 1:55:47 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Dhimmicrati delenda est!
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To: Cannoneer No. 4; Fred Nerks
Thanks Fred for the ping to Cannoneer's post and this topic.
If we refuse to be guilty about the war that we have to fight, and if we can refuse the temptation of a shameful retreat, then we will eventually prevail on the fighting fronts as well.
I think that paragraph shows an honor-shame system underlying the author's apparent embrace of a modern and realistic system. Retreat isn't shameful, it is either tactical, strategic, or the result of defeat. Israel may win a long war of attrition, but can't if it stretches its forces too thin (IOW, policing or trying to police/patrol Gaza, which it doesn't claim anyway).

In my shameless and guilt-free view, the former west bank of Jordan is Israeli territory, and anyone who doesn't want to live in Israel should get out. If they choose instead to fight, they should be defeated or killed and their former housing bulldozed.

And in Gaza, each time a missile is fired into Israel, in retaliation one whole town in Gaza should be bulldozed. Let the Wahhabi or mullahcracy pay to build new housing, it'll cost them money they won't be able to spend on more missiles.
9 posted on 10/15/2006 2:04:54 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Dhimmicrati delenda est!
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To: Cannoneer No. 4

I agree. Honor is tied into tribalism, and teen age gangs, and cults, kill all who are outside your tribe.

10 posted on 10/15/2006 2:39:20 AM PDT by tkathy (The Real Republican (RR) way is sticking to the issues and not finger pointing.)
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To: neverdem

Interesting article. I don't agree with everything, but in essentials, he is correct. Honor is the biggest factor in relationships, business deals, and life, to middle-easterners. That is why once you cross the line in a relationship and cause offence, you will never re-establish it, the relationship is gone forever. Honor prevents even saying you are sorry! While they might understand, they cannot keep their honor if they publicly forgive.

11 posted on 10/15/2006 3:03:33 AM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: neverdem

Good review, excellent post.

The lesson I take from this is that the Jihadis, and all their willing/unwilling, witting/unwitting cohorts need to be crushed under our boot heel and taught a new way of living. I don't think there were too many societies more "honor bound" than the Japanese, complete and utter defeat turned them around. It will take no less to re-form Islam.

12 posted on 10/15/2006 3:21:44 AM PDT by jocon307 (The Silent Majority - silent no longer)
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To: SunkenCiv

"In a primitive honor culture, the combatant-civilian distinction is less important than the boundary between one's own honor circle -- one's self, clan, tribe, or religious co-believers -- and outsiders, whose fate is largely a matter of indifference. Modern jihadism appears to have embraced this atavistic ethic..."

I know it's a considerable stretch of the imagination, but something about that paragraph reminded me of Rudyard Kipling's poem, The Law of the Jungle.

NOW this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back—
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep.

The jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a hunter—go forth and get food of thine own.

Keep peace with the Lords of the Jungle—the Tiger, the Panther, the Bear;
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.

When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken—it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.

If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crops, and the brothers go empty away.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!

If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.

The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.

The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will,
But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill.

Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.

Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter; and none may deny her the same.

Cave-Right is the right of the Father—to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone.

Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of the Head Wolf is Law.

Now these are the Laws of the jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is—Obey!


Methinks 'primitive honor culture' has much to learn from the wolf!

13 posted on 10/15/2006 4:44:17 AM PDT by Fred Nerks ("Illegitimi non carborundum",)
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To: Fred Nerks

Quite a tail. That could get ruff.


14 posted on 10/15/2006 10:43:53 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Dhimmicrati delenda est!
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To: Cannoneer No. 4; Fred Nerks; All
Talk about culture wars. This is of the highest order.

Bring Them Freedom, Or They Destroy Us

15 posted on 10/15/2006 10:49:57 AM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: SunkenCiv; Fred Nerks

Something that I think is related to this is all the recent research that links self-esteem to violence. These studies are finding that one of the strongest triggers of violent behaviour is when one's self-image is threatened--so by artificially boosting self-esteem, we are increasing the chances that its level is unsustainable, and therefore increase violence.

The idea of "honor" being based on prestige, "respect," "props," etc. is a similarly "weak self-esteem" setup, IMHO--where undeserved "honor" can be sustained only through violence.

16 posted on 10/15/2006 12:24:09 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: Gondring
The idea of "honor" being based on prestige, "respect," "props," etc. is a similarly "weak self-esteem" setup, IMHO--where undeserved "honor" can be sustained only through violence.

God forbid that someone is dissed.

17 posted on 10/15/2006 12:34:26 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: Gondring

"The idea of "honor" being based on prestige, "respect," "props," etc. is a similarly "weak self-esteem" setup, IMHO--where undeserved "honor" can be sustained only through violence."

I'm of the opinion you've made a very vaild point with that observation. Come to think of it, there's nothing in the 'religion' of islam that would increase the self-esteem of its followers, is there?

18 posted on 10/15/2006 3:56:39 PM PDT by Fred Nerks ("Illegitimi non carborundum",)
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To: neverdem
Sorry, they don't have an ounce, they don't have a drop. Honor demands fair fights against armed adversaries, because it wants to demonstrate bravery. Terrorist hide and set off bombs aimed at innocent unarmed civilians by remote control, because they don't have any.
19 posted on 10/15/2006 4:06:47 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: Fred Nerks
I'm of the opinion you've made a very vaild point with that observation. Come to think of it, there's nothing in the 'religion' of islam that would increase the self-esteem of its followers, is there?

Other than conquest and supposedly having the support of Divinity, I don't know of one.

20 posted on 10/15/2006 4:55:38 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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