Wednesday, August 04, 2021

How Arabs Think about War Outcomes

Daniel Pipes writes that Arabs claim victory, even when they lose:
Elie Salem, Lebanon's foreign minister during most of the 1980s and a noted professor of politics, concurred:

The logic of victory and defeat does not fully apply in the Arab-Israeli context. In the wars with Israel, Arabs celebrated their defeats as if they were victories, and presidents and generals were better known for the cities and regions they had lost than for the ones they had liberated.[2] ...

Whence this impunity? Six factors help account for it: honor, fatalism, conspiracism, bombast, publicity, and confusion.

Honor. Honor has an importance among Arabic-speakers to the point that maintaining it can count more than what is actually achieved. ...

Fatalism. Fatalism holds that an outcome was maktub (written), so do not blame the leader. ...

Bombast. Bombast is a prominent feature of Arab political life, causing leaders and followers alike to be captivated by the power of words even if unrelated to reality. E. Shouby, a native Arabic-speaker and psychologist, reported in 1951 that Arabic speakers "overemphasize the significance of words as such, paying less regard to their meaning" than is usual in Western languages, leading to a "confusion between words and the things they represent."[45] Walter Laqueur noted in 1968, the Arabs' "almost unlimited capacity for believing what they want to believe."[46]

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