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Fighting from the wrong mindset

Reader comment on item: "Today Gaza, Tomorrow Jerusalem"

Submitted by Steve Chambers (United States), Aug 9, 2005 at 16:12

What Dr. Pipes writes in this article is sobering and quite probable. It certainly fits with a psychological framework of why people wage war.

A liberal psychologist, Lawrence LeShan wrote "The Psychology of War" about 13 years ago. In it, he proposed a framework for thinking about the ways that peoples fight wars: from a sensory perspective, or a mythic one. The sensory perspective is the standard rational mind set that people generally use for day to day living. The mythic one is a much more emotional frame of mind that elevates a war to a high calling, necessary to crush an unremittingly evil opponent, in order to cure all problems. He argues that Viet Nam was, for most Americans, only a sensory war, whereas WWII was a classic mythic one.

What Israel has been facing for some time - and now the rest of the West is facing as well - is an enemy clearly fighting from a mythic perspective - jihad. Meanwhile, Israel and the West are largely looking at it from a sensory perspective.

LeShan also argues that such imbalances - a mythically motivated advsersary facing a sensory one - bode very poorly for the latter because they are not willing to sustain their resistance. While Israel has battled its enemies bitterly for over 60 years, it seems to have lost the will to maintain the struggle. Moreover, unilaterally relinquishing Gaza will simply be interpreted as retreat by its ideologically committed enemies. This is, as Pipes says, only likely to feed their appetite for further aggression.

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