Monday, March 12, 2007

The mercenary's guide to the "Arab Psyche"

Blackwater USA has an intriguing guide to Arab culture. Let me lay some of this on you:

"Arab behavior has a propensity for conflict."

"The style of Arab parenting is responsible for much of their behavioral traits according to the noted Arab cultural expert, Dr. Raphael Patai who claims that Arab children have difficulty establishing a predictable pattern arid a differentiation between love and discipline. This fluctuation between a loving mother and stern disciplinarian father can add to the complexity of growing up and often fosters schizoid personality traits. Many Arabists have commented on the rapid change of Arab emotions and reasoning. Lawrence of Arabia spoke of this when he said that the Arabs view 'everything black or white with no middle ground.'"

"In dealing with Arabs, consideration must always be given to their patterned behavior for dealing with potential conflict. Especially in military affairs, the undercurrents of traditional conflict can limit the number of options available to a decision maker and limit his overall capability to correct a problem."

"In the Arab world there is little stigma placed on the loss of self control and what westerners would consider hysterical public outbursts of emotion. This is a particularly frequent factor in group dynamics, and it is often demonstrated by the way in which a crowd can suddenly give way to outbursts of anger and violence. Reasons given for this generally lead back to the Arab family--closeness, competitiveness and conflict."

"The Arabs place a high value on the Arabic language, and it exerts an overpowering psychological influence over their behavior. Arabic scholars have long known that even though most languages are influenced by the culture and people who speak it‑, Arabic has an influence over the psychology and culture of the people who use it."

"Not only are the listeners moved, but Arabic has an impact on speakers as well. Orators are prone to be carried away in verbal exaggeration when speaking before an audience. This exaggeration is called mubalagha in Arabic, but it is not considered to be a derogatory term by the Arabs. Rather it is considered to be an admirable capacity for oratorical eloquence."

"Some might argue that Islam is another means developed by Arab culture as a way to cope with and forestall the Arab's basic behavioral tendency towards conflict. Nonetheless, Islam is interwoven with Arab culture and its rules give a distinctive pattern to the Arab's daily life. Various verses of the Qur'an symbolize this acceptance by man of God's pattern. The Arab doesn't always live in a tight patterned world of justice and order, but as Smith says: 'he tries'."

"A key point to consider is that right or wrong, in all matters involving honor, an Arab must behave with dignity and self‑respect or lose face (wujah). It is important in any confrontation to leave the Arab a way to withdraw or back down without losing face."

"The proud Arab sees and intimately feels the daily impact of modern technology, new social mores and western culture. The long haul diesel trucks are replacing the camel caravan, the quick snack shops are replacing the coffee shops, and western movies and music are frequently preferred by Arab youth. Infringement on Arab identity may cause a nostalgic quest for the good old days, and even in some cases, a reactionary backlash against symbols of western progress."

Such, ladies and gentlemen is the sociology of the hired death squad.