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Thread: Keep God in mind

  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Mar 2006

    Default Keep God in mind

    A great talk by Reuel Marc Gerecht, as he responds to Matthew Levitt talking about Hezbollah and asks why we, USG and IMHO the West, don't understand the role of God in the motivation of Hezbollah. Given their part in the Syrian Civil War and determination to attack Israel, the USA and the West - we need to understand.

    Reuel also refers to the power of love; a point I think long ago cropped up here.

    One of the things I was struck by when I came into the Agency, and I was struck by it on the day that I left the Agency, which was: you almost never had officers either on the clandestine side or in the directorate of analysis, the Directorate of Intelligence, talk about God. You just didn’t have that many people sort of put it together and talk about what actually motivated people.

    You know, there was almost an assumption out there, Oh, the Iranians were upset with us because of our dealing with the Shah etcetera, but the actual analysis of the Iranian complaint against the United States was distinctly secular. Even the analysis of the Hezbollah was distinctly secular. And it never made any sense, particularly if you started to have some exposure to these individuals, and you suddenly realized that no, their motivations aren’t secular usually, their motivations are actually deeply spiritual, they’re religious, they’re about God.
    Starting 53.04:
    There is a profound reflex in the West to look at a group like Hezbollah, and to look at their Iranian sponsors, and to take God out of the equation. Don’t do that. We wouldn’t do it with al-Qaida. Don’t do it with these groups either. If you do that, if you neuter them of their religious belief, if you look at it as just an ethnic movement, if you look at it as just a sectarian movement, if you look at it as just the Shi’a getting even in Lebanon, then you’re making an atrocious analytical mistake, which will bushwhack you, I guarantee you, over and over again. You have to keep God in this equation…
    Some good news:
    The one bright spot in this dismal account of the secular mindset blinding itself to religious passion is Gerecht’s statement: “We wouldn’t do it with al-Qaida”.

    Hezbollah aside I think as parts of the West become more secular considering religion falls off the agenda when we seek to understand actual and possible adversaries.

  2. #2
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    The Green Mountains


    Good stuff, though here's a Shiite counter-example:

    Ryan Crocker, the American Ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, got a similar feeling. During the Iraq War, Crocker sometimes dealt with Suleimani indirectly, through Iraqi leaders who shuttled in and out of Tehran. Once, he asked one of the Iraqis if Suleimani was especially religious. The answer was “Not really,” Crocker told me. “He attends mosque periodically. Religion doesn’t drive him. Nationalism drives him, and the love of the fight.”
    Brings to mind Kilcullen's "accidental guerrillas" and the Wild Geese of the current fight in Syria.

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