Your Dignity is My Security: Vulnerability and Security Considering the Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern Perspective

[1] I begin with an admission of my personal vulnerability related to this essay. Having spent most of my life on college and university campuses and knowing how critical an audience of scholarly experts can be, I undertake a topic related to ethics with genuine trepidation. I am a non-professional addressing readers who are likely to be mostly professionals. What I have done to enable myself to proceed is to analyze the situation as follows: I think of an ethicist as a person who thinks, talks, and writes about ethics professionally. However, all persons are required to act ethically, and since no one should act without thinking, all persons are, therefore, required to think about ethics. While one may consult an ethicist occasionally or read ethical discussion by professional ethicists, the daily activity of acting ethically demands that each of us develop a facility of ethical thinking. I would compare this assertion with the ideology of Protestantism related to biblical interpretation. My wife happens to be a professional biblical scholar. I may and do discuss biblical texts with her and, of course, each Sunday I hear my pastor interpret the assigned readings. But as a Christian I see myself as being required to read, think about, and apply biblical texts for myself. I need no intermediary between myself and the text.

[2] I have assuaged my sense of vulnerability by analyzing terminology and arguing that I have every right to think about ethics, indeed a responsibility to do so. If I choose to do so in a public forum, that is also my right. I recognize that my definition of the word “ethicist” may differ from that of many of my readers-or at least from how some of you use it when you speak of what you do for a living-but it is nevertheless a valid definition.

[3] Similarly, while issues of security are about serious material matters like life and death, the use of language in how we approach it is critically important. Consider how one very important player in the current national security discussion spoke about the matter. In an article in Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows asserts that President Bush’s speech on September 20, 2001 was an outstanding presidential address.

But it introduced a destructive concept that Bush used more and more insistently through 2002. ‘Why do they hate us?’ he asked about the terrorists. He answered that they hate what is best in us:…’They hate our freedoms.’ As he boiled down this thought…it became ‘They hate us for who we are’ and ‘They hate use because we are free.’ There may be people who have studied, fought against, or tried to infiltrate al-Qaeda and who agree with Bush’s statement, but I have never met any. The soldiers, spies, academics, and diplomats I have interviewed are unanimous in saying that ‘They hate us for who we are’ is dangerous claptrap. Dangerous because it is so lazily self-justifying and self-deluding: the only thing we could possibly be doing wrong is being so excellent. Claptrap, because it reflects so little knowledge of how Islamic extremism has evolved.1

[4] A nation seeking to enhance national security must respond as well as possible to the true motivation of those who seek to do the nation harm. If their motivation for harming us is simply that “they hate who we are,” then we could only mitigate that by becoming different (which some analysts suggest has happened since 9/11). If, however, as Fallows and others (including me) contend, they hate some of the things the United States does, then our approach to enhancing security could involve changing some of what we do. For example, the report of the 9/11 commission notes about the motivation of Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, whom it identifies as the “mastermind of the 9/11 attacks”: “KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”2 Hence, the government could examine altering its foreign policy as a possibly appropriate technique for defusing terrorism by diminishing terrorists’ motivation to attack us.

[5] “The distinction between who we are and what we do matters,” argues Fallows, “because it bears on the largest question about the Iraq War: Will it bring less or more Islamic terrorism? If violent extremism is purely vengeful and irrational, there is no hope except to crush it. Any brutality along the way is an unavoidable cost. But if it is based on logic of any sort, a clear understanding of its principles could help us to weaken its appeal-and to choose tactics that are not self-defeating.”3

[6] This point is relevant not only to the matter of national security but to my own feeling of insecurity about being part of a group of essays by professional ethicists. Much of my insecurity comes from thinking that the motivation for my being invited to prepare this essay was that I would deal with ethics. Indeed, it is more likely that I was invited because my experience has equipped me to contribute information related to the Arab Middle East.

[7] Having made a reasoned apologia to a group of rational readers, I feel secure enough to make an assertion about what qualifies as ethical, an assertion which will underlie the remainder of my discussion. What I plan to discuss in this essay is not, as I noted, ethics but matters of vulnerability and security in the context of the Arab, Muslim Middle East. The issue is not related primarily to personal or individual ethics at all but to the actions of governments. At this time any discussion of Vulnerability and Security is colored by and must be related to the fall-out of the attacks on the United States in September, 2001, and the resulting actions of our government and others to deal with the threat to national security from so-called terrorism. While individuals, of course, have a responsibility for their own security and, even more, for their feeling of security, my concern is ethical consideration of governmental actions aimed at promoting the security of the nation.

[8] I wish to assert that the guiding force of governments is self-interest: nation-states properly act to achieve what they think will promote the well-being of their citizens, not, as individuals can do, out of a principle like love of God and neighbor. Hence, there is properly an element of utilitarianism in determining when a government has acted properly. In the case of security, is the citizenry safer because of what the government has done? If so, then it was a good choice. But, of course, one must use more than utilitarianism in determining the proper actions of governments. Governments usually have a number of choices about which actions to take in a particular case to accomplish the goal of making their citizens safer. In judging among such alternatives, a government should determine which action will work best and will also have the fewest negative effects. The algorithm for such calculations is complex, of course. In the case of the security of citizens, the government must consider the utility and the negative effects on its citizenry, on its enemies, and on the innocent citizens of states determined to be enemy states (sometimes referred to as “collateral damage”) of such solutions as weapons development, infringement of citizens’ rights (as in the Patriot Act), preemptive war, and incarceration. In order to be deemed ethical, governmental actions with serious negative effects, like engaging in war, must be shown to be significantly more effective than less damaging alternatives, or must be employed after less damaging alternatives have been shown to have failed.

[9] This background discussion is necessary to explain why I will spend the bulk of my essay discussing information which I think elucidates how one best judges whether an action taken in response to a perceived threat to our national security from persons or nations of Arab, Muslim Middle Eastern origin will be effective in increasing security.

[10] Vulnerability and Security: Current Challenges in Security Policy from an Ethical and Theological Perspective, prepared by the Commission on International Affairs in the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations, has as its underlying premise a belief that the key to these matters lies in the way in which human beings think about and relate to one another. As Martin Buber famously said, “All real living is meeting,” making it clear that in order truly to meet the other we must seek to have an understanding of the true self of the other. Hence I will concentrate on elucidating the self of the Arab Other who lives in a Muslim, Middle Eastern context, understanding that in so generalizing I must falsify what can be true about any single Arab person. Further, I understand and admit my limitations. I am neither a Muslim nor someone who is native to the Middle East, though I am an Arab-American who has lived in and traveled often throughout the Middle East, and I have studied Islam and developed close personal and working relationships with Arab Muslims in the United States and in the Middle East.

[11] I would like to cast my further discussion in metaphorical terms initially: The behaviors of American travelers shopping in the suq or traditional market of Arab countries offer valuable insight into our government’s ineptitude in dealing with Arab Middle Easterners. As one who travels often to the Middle East, I have conducted my own amateur research into tourist responses to the Arab custom of negotiating sales prices. This practice represents the most commonly described observation of travelers reporting on their experiences. The categories of their responses and reactive behaviors reflect almost exactly the American administration’s methods of dealing with the Arab world at both the government and street levels.

[12] The most prevalent and insidious response is that market sellers are being duplicitous. Reflecting the orientalist stereotype of Arabs as cunning double-dealers, most American tourist-shoppers hear an initial quoted price as an exorbitant attempt to cheat them by demanding more than the item is worth. A common response is walking away. I have observed such a reaction even when the asking price is perhaps a quarter of what one would pay for the same item in the U.S. A fear of being played for a fool leads to a failure to recognize a beneficial deal. In such cases no negotiation of price takes place and no potential agreement can be reached. Similarly the current American government profiles Arabs and Muslims generally as terrorists or prospective terrorists. On principle the administration says it will not negotiate with terrorists. Hence, no deal, no matter how potentially beneficial to American interests, can be worked out.

[13] For other tourists, the failure of Arab sellers to fix prices and the potential that almost every price demands negotiation is threatening. The approach to the buyer-seller relationship-usually considerably more distant, if not non-existent, in the United Sates-places tourists in the position of outsider, a position of weakness which Americans do not like. They find themselves in an unfamiliar environment engaging in a perceived contest for which they lack experience and even a knowledge of the rules of play. Commonly in such situations, tourists react either defensively or counter-offensively. Defensive travelers avert their eyes from approaching sellers and quickly walk past-one hand protectively on their fanny pack and the other on their camera. In this way they avoid being caught up in a match they might lose. Those on the offensive take the “I refuse to play your game” approach. They firmly and finally set their own price at the outset and refuse to engage in any exchange lest they be taken advantage of. Their assumption is that one cannot lose in a negotiation one never enters. Of course, walking away without that souvenir one badly wanted can truly be a loss.

[14] The third common response, and from the perspective of the seller the most quintessentially American, comes from the tourists who buy their way out of the unpleasant prospect of negotiating. Faced with the option of not getting what they want or engaging in what is to them a tedious or threatening process, they pay the first asking price. Thus they are able to keep the connection in familiar territory-the fixed price interaction where money says all that needs saying-and get the product they desire. Ironically such a tourist is most likely to be regarded by the seller with disdain as one who has no sense of the value of money or how business is properly conducted.

[15] Underlying all of these failed responses of tourists to the alien practice of negotiating in the Middle Eastern suq is the belief that the process, quaint as it might be, is simply a waste of time. Since the seller knows what the ultimate price will be, the traveler concludes, why not just do it the American way and save all this time and discomfort. What the unengaged tourist fails to recognize is that negotiation is neither a time-wasting entertainment nor an effort to soak the buyer. Rather it represents an effort to build a relationship whose objective is to establish a fair exchange while preserving the dignity of the parties involved. Sellers know they will not sell a product for a price lower than they can afford. They assume, therefore, that buyers will not agree to pay a price higher than they can afford. Negotiation is the process of arriving at the point where both sides feel comfortable with the price, if not totally happy with it. Each can leave the process with dignity, knowing they made choices, governed their own position, built a relationship, were treated with honor and were not taken advantage of. Government officials will not discover such an approach until they come to believe that their potential partner in negotiation is deserving of honor and dignity. I believe this is the key issue to enhancing security when dealing with Middle East Arabs.

[16] In the so-called “War on Terrorism,” Western culture tends to look at the hit and counter-hit of an exchange of violence as essentially the same thing. It is talked of as a “round of violence” or “cycle of violence.” But though they look the same, I suggest we consider how they are viewed by the perpetrators. For one side it may be saving face or gaining honor. Onlookers in the West may view it as some irrational attempt to gain a solution to a problem (like Israeli occupation) and shake their heads over how ineffective it is. Those responding to an attack may see their counter attack as an attempt to punish the perpetrators severely in order to discourage this kind of attack-if I hurt you enough you will stop. But operating only from one’s own interpretation of what is happening without considering the other’s interpretation is counterproductive. Over-responding shames the perpetrators on the other side who, let us posit, acted out of a desire to regain lost honor. For example, in two weeks of early October, 2004, Palestinians in Gaza killed 3 Israeli settlers and the Israeli army retaliated by killing 99 Palestinians.4 A reaction which states that one Israeli life is worth 33 Palestinian lives demands that honor lost by this new action be recaptured by a response. Hence, this reaction lays the groundwork for response, working at cross purposes and not moving closer to security for either side.

[17] One who sees honor as a very high or even the highest good may be viewed as ethical doing what is necessary to protect or secure that good. For some people honor is more important than life. In protecting it, one’s security is promoted. Thus it may make ethical sense to such a person that so-called terrorism is a valid tool to gain security if a successful attack on the other is viewed as promoting or reclaiming one’s honor. (The story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet reveals that the use of revenge to maintain honor is not an idea alien to the West.) From the so-called terrorist’s side, the inflicting of pain is not intended so much to hurt the other as to aggrandize oneself. On the other side, the inflicting of pain in retaliation is a means to get the perpetrator to see the action as too expensive. But if the terrorists’ action has given them honor by showing their ability to act in their own interest, it has been successful whatever the cost in life.

[18] Honor is a critically important value in the lives of Arab Muslims and, as such, is an important motivation for personal and communal activities. While most Americans are familiar with religious cultures based on fear or guilt, Islam is better understood as related to shame/honor cultures. The Arabian culture in which Islam arose was a pastoral culture, and most pastoral cultures reflect an honor-based set of values.5 The Quran and Islam also place a high worth on honor and dignity. People in Islamic cultures see God as the one who can never be humiliated, an attribute which extends to God’s prophets. Even those who know little about Islam, recognize that one of the most common phrases on the lips of Muslims, especially in prayer, is “Allahu akbar.” It echoes throughout cities around the world when Muslims are called to prayer. The often-used translation, “God is great,” loses the effect of the original which declares that “God is Greater than all else” or “God is Greatest.” Like God’s other attributes in Islam, this one is superlative. Being above all else that exists, God can never be brought low.

[19] This aspect of Islam provides an area of significant theological difference with Christianity whose scripture presents Jesus as having suffered a humiliating crucifixion, thus a God who is able to suffer for the sake of God’s creatures. In Islam, God’s invulnerability and honor extends to the prophets and messengers. As a messenger of God, the Jesus of the Quran could not have been humiliated at the hands of human beings; the Quran says it only appeared as if he had been crucified. For Muslims, this belief about God and its continuous presence in the culture provides a model of dignity. All are humbled before God; but, created to follow in the way of God and to be God’s vicegerents on earth, human beings deserve never to be humiliated by another human person. For Muslims to reject humiliation and be highly concerned about their honor, then, is not only an act of psychological protection or a historical-cultural value, but an act of religious significance.

[20] It can be argued that honor is the most important value in Arab life and culture, indeed a value more important than life itself. David Bukay explains:

A man without honor is considered dead. Hence the saying, ‘It is better to die with honor than live with humiliation.’ A man’s place in the tribe, as well as the tribe’s place among the tribes, was according to the measure of his and its honor. When honor was harmed, shame was caused which originated in public exposure, overt to everyone, a phenomenon which severely humiliated a man. Indeed, the Arab individual is caught up throughout his whole life in intensive activity to avoid shame and advance his honor.6
As in all shame/honor cultures, a man’s lost honor can be redeemed by public vengeance.

[21] In addition, however, there is a positive means to promote one’s honor: extending food, protection, and shelter to a stranger-a basis, no doubt, of the much vaunted “Arab hospitality.” My own experience traveling in the Arab world elucidates the reality of this practice. In small, poor villages I have visited, perhaps to see some isolated ancient ruin, it has been a common experience to have family groups vie over at whose house we will choose to accept the offer of lunch. Because honor is so significant a value and motivator, it becomes clear why terrorist groups and leaders choose to emphasize issues of Arab dishonor or humiliation at the hands of Westerners, especially America. In fact, the word “humiliation” has now become a major part of the vocabulary used by many Arabs, not just so-called terrorists, in discussing current politics. The failure of the United States and Israel to dialogue with the Other (“There is no partner for peace.” “We will not dialogue with terrorists.”) is to exacerbate the problem of loss of honor by making the other a non-person. Rather than calling upon the Arabs’ penchant for hospitality and desire to meet as equals, the United States is rejecting the very idea of a meeting with them.

[22] Current media commentary and stories which quote Arabs, whether on the street or among the ranks of the powerful and well-known, contain numerous references to Arabs’ feelings of humiliation. Most often the quotations refer to a sense of the humiliation of the Arab/Islamic world in the face of the West. In December, 2004 I was a guest at the annual awards ceremony of the prestigious Arab Gulf Fund for the United Nations Development Programme (AGFUND) in Tunis to receive an award for exemplary development program on behalf of the Near East Foundation. Of the numerous prominent speakers, including Saudi Prince Talal bin Abdul Azziz, representatives of the government of Tunisia, and heads of international Arab organizations, no fewer than three of them decried the current times as an environment which humiliates Arabs. Prince Talal observed that today Arabs feel humiliation and long for the “days of our glory” while noting that the humiliation comes both from those occupying Arab lands and from “those of our own people who resort to evil means to achieve political ends.” Part of the sense of humiliation goes as far back as the Crusades, part goes back to loss of the great Muslim empire, but most of the current feeling is much more recent7 It derives from the experience of being excluded from the table where the real decisions about the shape of today’s political world are made and from a sense of being used and controlled rather than treated with seriousness as equals.

[23] Based on the foregoing observations, I would posit the following thesis: Increasing the sense of honor of the Arab “enemy” (a very small group) and those who assent to their actions (a force which helps promote their militant measures) will increase our security; increasing their sense of humiliation and isolation will increase the motivation of terrorists to use terror as a means of enhancing honor. This position is, I think, more difficult for Westerners to accept than for Arabs, who understand better the value and usefulness of allowing the other to maintain honor. This observation can be elucidated by a comparison of the way in which the Crusaders took Jerusalem from the Muslims in 1099 with horrific devastation and “ruthless extermination” and the way in which Salah-ad-Din recaptured it in 1187.8 Following the ideals laid out in the Quran and his perspicacity as a military leader, he chose not to exact revenge for the massacre of 1099.9

[24] Americans by and large fail to accord validity to Arab Muslim observations that the United States holds a position which humiliates or is inimical to Islam and to Arabs. From the Arab Muslim view, on the other hand, there is ample evidence of such a reality. In brief list form, which I will not enlarge upon here, the following demonstrate the kinds of realities which engender feelings of being attacked, humiliated or, at best, of being dismissed:

[25] Of U.S. President George Bush’s list of countries composing the axis of evil and/or the sources of terrorism-Iran, Iraq, and North Korea with occasional extensions to include Libya, Syria and the Palestinians-all, with the exception of North Korea, are Muslim, and those, with the exception of Iran, are Arab countries.

[26] The last three wars fought by the United States have been against Muslim countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq.

[27] They see incontrovertible evidence for the United States’ unilateral support of Israel despite its being the colonialist occupier of the Palestinian territories, having for 50 years denied the rights of Palestinians, and being out of proportion the most militarily powerful nation in the area. More than anything else, however, they point to the scores of UN resolutions going back fifty years demanding Israeli action which that country has ignored while the Bush administration used Iraq’s failure to comply with a single UN resolution as one of the premises to justify its war against the country.

[28] They perceive that the U.S. government supports Arab or Muslim regimes which are undemocratic or which oppress their people, going back to the Shah’s Iran, Saddam Hussein’s regime when the U.S. supported him in his war against Iran, and currently including the Egyptian and Saudi regimes.

[29] They observe a tendency to blame all of Islam for the evils of the few but not to do the same for Christianity or Judaism. Arab analysts point out, for example, the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in Beirut were encouraged and made possible by Israel and carried out by Christians.

[30] I have found Amin Maalouf’s small book In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong very helpful in gaining an intellectual understanding of these issues.10 Underlying my arguments on the matter of security lies the assumption that the realities of threat and the feeling of being threatened often become inseparable and indistinguishable. Hence, properly dealing with security must involve dealing with the threat from the external enemy and the internal enemy: the psychology of fear. Analyzing contemporary realities, Maalouf makes a similar case: “The emotions of fear or insecurity don’t always obey rational considerations. They may be exaggerated or even paranoid; but once a whole population is afraid, we are dealing with the reality of the fear rather than the reality of the threat.”11 Recognizing the emotional-psychological nature of this insecurity and its potential for moving far beyond the reality of the threat suggests further considerations. First, creating a sense of security cannot deal only with introducing methods for removing physical threats such as walls, border control systems, imprisonment of suspected terrorists, or conducting a war. Keeping the Other who threatens us on the outside offers some comfort, but psychological insecurity imagines the threat bypassing every barrier, like the bogeyman who can find his way under our bed or behind our closet door. Maalouf’s observation that we must deal with the reality of the fear argues for the value of coming face to face with the imagined enemy who, in such a meeting, is likely to become much less threatening.

[31] Second, we should consider the role, inadvertent or unscrupulous, which government or other interests may have in stoking the psychological threat, whose irrational nature makes it unlikely to be questioned. The Bush administration’s much-criticized use of the color-coded terrorism threat level system in the months before the 2004 presidential election is an example which invites scrutiny. Third, we should be reminded of the historical tendency of religions to use the psychology of fear and the Other to promote its own agendas. In the years following the Dark Ages, for example, Europe was a dangerous place beset by warfare. As Karen Armstrong argues in Holy War, the Church of the time used people’s feelings of fear and insecurity to position itself as the source of security. Monasteries and churches became literally places of sanctuary, uniting the people in their sense of being part of a united Christianity, an objective of the Cluniac reform.12 But we should not forget the reciprocal relationship between religion and the culture in which it inheres. Maalouf contends that “the influence of religion on people is often exaggerated, while the influence of people on religion is neglected…If Christianity shaped Europe, European societies also shaped Christianity. Christianity today is what European societies have made it…How often has the Catholic Church felt harassed, betrayed, ill-used! How often has it dug in its heels, trying to put off changes it believed to be contrary to faith, morals, and the will of God!…The Church has always begun by resisting, and then gone on to accommodate itself and adapt…Western society has invented the Church and the religion it needed.”13

[32] The value of remembering this history of the West is gaining the ability to more fairly and rationally assess the nature of Islam as we perceive it compared to the way it really is. Maalouf argues that the Islamic world likewise “has always produced a religion in its own image…When the Arabs were triumphant and felt the world was theirs for the taking, they interpreted their faith in a spirit of tolerance and openness…Societies that are sure of themselves are mirrored by a religion that is confident, serene and open; uncertain societies are reflected in a religion that is hypersensitive, sanctimonious and aloof.”14

[33] This argument supports my thesis that we have reason to make the Other feel confident, serene and open by meeting them in a way which accords them and their faith honor and dignity. Such meeting and the creation of such a sense of reassurance will not be easy to accomplish, of course. For beyond the immediate aggressive actions engendered by a response to the realities of international terrorism stands a background reality which reinforces in the Arab Muslim world, indeed in most of the non-Western world, a sense of being demeaned. And while this background offers an important insight into the realities under consideration, it is less amenable to correction than those discussed previously.

[34] Standing behind every meeting of the West and non-Western cultures is the powerful force of modernization. To modernize anywhere in today’s world, whether in the form of technology, media or commerce, is, to some extent, to westernize. The impact of such adaptation is:

experienced differently by those born in the dominant civilization and those born outside it. The former can change, advance in life, adapt without ceasing to be themselves. One might even say that the more Westerners modernize themselves the more completely in harmony they feel with their culture…For the rest of the world’s inhabitants-all those born in the failed cultures-openness to change and modernity presents itself differently. For [them] modernization has constantly meant the abandoning of part of themselves. Even though it has sometimes been embraced with enthusiasm, it has never been adopted without a certain bitterness, without a feeling of humiliation and defection. Without a piercing doubt about the dangers of assimilation. Without a profound identity crisis.15

[35] Americans can perhaps find sympathy for those living with this reality of the forced impingement upon their lives of outside cultural forces by considering the warnings following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Analysts from many points on the political spectrum warned that Americans should not let the terrorists’ actions make them change their lifestyle because “that’s what they’re trying to do” and “if we change, they win.” From this position some argued against the tendency to curtail the spending of money and some against the willingness to relinquish rights through such means as the Patriot Act. Deep down, however, Americans realize that they have been forced to change and, like the non-Westerners forced to Westernize when they answer their mobile telephone or visit an internet café, they resent it. My security grows as I believe I can be who I am. In New York and Tel Aviv, people go about their routine, while realizing that they are more likely targets of potential terrorists than their fellow countrymen in other places.

[36] So, security is a feeling as much as a reality. My argument is that we can enhance both our feeling of security and the reality of security if we meet the Other and can make the Other feel less vulnerable. Only the strong can afford to look vulnerable. But I would posit that the right word is not “vulnerability.” A nation does not gain security by showing itself to be vulnerable. Rather, and especially with what I know about Arab culture, a sense of humility as opposed to “tough guy” superiority (the “Bring ’em on!” approach of George W. Bush) would go a long way to building positive relationships and breaking the back of local support for perpetrators of terrorism among grassroots populations. At the very least, such a position would create the ground where productive meeting can take place.

[37] In many cultures, but certainly in the Arab Middle Eastern mentality, persons being attacked must close ranks and defend those on their side. One can see this by considering the difference in how Arabs spoke about Arafat to those outside the community before and after his death or by imagining why Saddam Hussein would continue to encourage the West to think he had so-called weapons of mass destruction when he had apparently already disposed of them. This cultural “mandate” also helps explain why Americans do not hear the very vocal denunciation by Muslims of Islamists and “jihadists” which Americans keep demanding. If the United States is seen as attacking Arabs and Muslims generally, then they must create a common front of resistance. It is the dominant, powerful side which can more easily show itself to be open, just, and willing to consider compromise. A studied humility in the tradition of Socrates which recognizes how much we do not know about the Other and the offer of dignity through meeting can indeed be the road to security in this new world in which we live.

End Notes

1 “Bush’s Lost Year,” Atlantic Monthly (October, 2004), 82.

2 “Bush’s Lost Year,” 82.

3 “Bush’s Lost Year,” 84. A similar argument is used by Michael Scheuer in Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (Potomac Books, 2004) and by Rashid Khalidi in Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America&=javascript:goNote(39s Perilous Path in the Middle East (Beacon Press, 2004).

4 The Economist, (October 16, 2004), p 41.

5 See J. G. Peristiany, Ed., Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1965. An exhaustive collection of references by Jerome H. Neyrey of the University of Notre Dame, “Toward of Bibliography on ‘Honor and Shame’ (1997) is available on the internet at

6 David Bukay, Arab-Islamic Political Culture: A Key Source to Understanding Arab Politics and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, ACPR Publishers, 2003. Significant portions of the text are available online at

7 Karen Armstrong in Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World (New York: Anchor/Random House, 2001) offers a detailed exploration of the continuing impact of the Crusades.

8 Karen Armstrong, p 178.

9 Karen Armstrong, p. 258.

10 Tr. Barbara Bray, (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2000.)

11 Amin Maalouf, p. 28.

12 Karen Armstrong, pp. 54ff.

13 Pp. 60-62.

14 Pp. 62-64.

15 Amin Maalouf, pp. 71-72. Such resentment of forced culture change is present not only among non-Westerners. The French disdain for McDonald’s and EuroDisney shows how even a developed county with a respected Western culture perceives globalization as Americanization and a Trojan Horse. The Economist reported in its November 13, 2004 issue about Mexican resistance to the opening of a new Bodega Aurerá (the Mexican name for Wal-Mart) near the famous pyramids at Teotihuacán. “To them having a Wal-Mart next door is abhorrent. In the words of Homero Aridjis, a writer and one of the leading opponents, ‘it is like driving the stake of globalization into the heart of old Mexico'” (p. 42).