Sympathy for the Devil: Understanding Radical Islam and the Failure of Neo-Con Foreign Policy

Differences in Eastern and Western Views of War If anyone would like a helpful primer on the motivations Middle Eastern society,  I cannot recommend highly enough a book given to me by a friend who worked at the NSA.  The book is called Balkan Ghosts, by Robert Kaplan, and while it is a travelog, it gives an invaluable history of the clash of East and West over the centuries, including insight into the different perceptions of war.  In the West, due to its Christian heritage,  a theory of just war was developed.  Among those principles in just war theory was a respect for the protection of non-combatants (civilians) and the establishment of justifiable reasons for war, such as protecting the nation from aggression by foreign powers.  Since the late Middle Ages, the West has recognized slaughter of non-combatants as unjust, and nations which ignored those principles were identified as rogue nations (Nazi Germany, e.g.). But the Eastern view of warfare has always been entirely different, in part because the respect for the individual is not native to their value system. While this summary does not do justice to the book, it may begin to expose the vast cultural differences that exist … Read more…

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