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The PRIMER Blog

Time for some plain talk

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

Events here in the Middle East, specifically Israel and Lebanon, have aligned themselves in a manner that clearly demonstrates the essence of the "war on terror". Politicians, pundits and local academics have invested a great deal of time, effort and have spent much of their professional currency on attempting to "explain" these events. Social paradigms have been developed and used to justify behavior by the participating parties. History and thematic concepts abound trying to further explain life here in the Middle East. Linking radical and/or terrorist actions to a person's socio-economic status flood the media outlets, serve as fodder for "the next book on the Middle East" and life here remains the same. In spite of all the educated and uneducated explanations insanity prevails. By this I mean, we see that over time there has been basically the replaying of the same "interventions" with the providers thinking a change will occur and in fact, all remains the same. It is time for some old fashioned "plain talk"!

I will not mince words, try to cleverly code my language so as not to offend or turn away those who think and believe differently than I. For those who do not like or do not appreciate direct language, this will be of no interest to you. Let's begin.

Events these last few days surrounding the "prisoner exchange" personify, clarify and magnify the profound differences that exist between two cultures, two groups of people. The believes/values and resultant behavior are as different as are night and day. Israelis believe in the sanctity of life and thus value life. Hizzbollah, its followers and all of its admirers celebrate death. In Israel we believe that Western law drives actions of countries and peoples; Hizzbollah believes in Sharia driving behavior. Children are to be nurtured, taught personal and social responsibility, to care for others and learn to honestly and humanely treat all people. Hizzbollah teaches their children to hate, to lie, to deceive and use any necessary tactic to defeat a group of people their children do not even know.

The list continues and yet this is not the focus of this post. The previous differences manifest themselves daily in stark differences to one another. For example, take the "exchange of prisoners' yesterday. Israel followed all the international rules governing prisoner rights; Hizzbollah violated every single international rule. Our soldiers were not allowed to communicate with the outside world nor were they ever allowed a visit by the Red Cross (perhaps because they died on day one of captivity). Exactly the opposite occurred with Hizzbollah prisoners in Israel. Israel told the truth to Lebanon, Hizzbollah lied every day to us in Israel. We believe in no soldier left behind, Hizzbollah does not care how many of theirs are left behind unless they can be used to gain a political advantage. They saw the exchange as a game to be won or lost; we saw it as a humane gesture to our grieving families who knew not if their loved ones were alive or dead. Hizzbollah played the ongoing cruelty card up to the last moment before our soldiers were turned over to us in coffins. We treated our enemy with respect as they knew what was occurring every single moment. Today we solemnly honor two fallen solders at respective gravesites. In Lebanon a convicted child, father shot from behind and policemen murderer who invaded our country undercover of the night, attacking innocent civilians for purpose of killing or abducting them, is being hailed a hero. The people honor such a killer. It is not only the lay people, the country's "elected" leaders, the media, academia and the remainder of the population have also decided this is the man to honor, cherish his deeds and hold him in esteem so others will replicate his actions. The celebrations for this murderer began last evening, continued all day today and tomorrow more praise will be sung for this man.

The difference in beliefs is clear. The ongoing daily behavior, the result of those beliefs, is vastly different between them and us. We enjoy a culture dedicated to living life with love and honor; while Hizzbollah and their followers believe in a culture of death, hate, control and the degradation of human freedoms.

It is a given that one's beliefs drives a person's actions. The actions, over time, create a specific culture of individual and group behavior. People are encouraged, motivated and/or forced to manifest their beliefs into actions.

Look, we do what we do because we belief it is correct and/or important. Ideology is the root cause of individuals and group actions. It does not matter what your socio-economic status is or what ethnicity you are or even gender in order to explain terrorism. It is a matter of Ideology. If one is poor and downtrodden this is not a ticket to terror filled days. Likewise, if you were fortunate to pick your parents and they have money, this does not excuse you from acquiring terrorist behaviors.

It is a myth that the media, academics, and politico types have promoted these last years-for those data driven folks still reading this piece, the data is clear in supporting my position. Of course, to accept this reasoning means we have ahead of us incredible decisions to make. This alone is a reason why countries, leader, groups have stayed away from this admission.

In addition, we in the West do not want to offend anyone, we have so many fears and you know what they are-I need not elaborate. Over time these fears have begun to change beliefs, a change in beliefs is gradually shifting what we either will support, are willing to support or are able to stand for-our culture is changing. Our enemy does not suffer from any of these maladies.

The untold admission is that they use the afore-mentioned explanation against us-they view it as a critical tactic and they are at war with us. Our enemy knows we are engaged in a war of ideology-it is to their advantage to have us cling to the term "war on terrorism".

Have you noticed our enemy has never really taken issue with this term-they know better. If we ever do develop the courage, no it is not about "waking up, it is about having courage to stand against an ideology contrary to ours. Courage emanates from one's clear and concise belief system. We have lost our way in the West with regards to clear, concise and precise clarity of what we believe today. No, I do not mean in a religious sense only, I do mean in how we define a good human being. What is it, in thought and in behavior that we value to be so precious we teach it to our children? Exactly what do we want and expect from our children? Without this vision, what and how we teach our children becomes confused, jumbled and full of contradictions.

Once you are clear about your beliefs, your expectations, values emerge and then you are presented with THE most difficult task. Being willing to stand for these beliefs and values no matter what you are faced with each day. I know this to be true, clarity of thought and your beliefs provides you the "courage tools" necessary to engage those here and abroad who challenge us every day.

I value:

Hizzbollah values:

Events these two days have been nuclear in terms of exposing the distinction between our cultures. Our enemy believes in specific human conditions -their beliefs and thus what they value are manifested through their daily behavior. You had a glimpse of it these last two days-please take note. Contrast this what you see from our people-the differences are profound.

In conclusion, I stand for our western values; I do not support our enemies' values. No more capitulation, no more appeasement and no more confusion or guilt with respect to what I believe. Until such time as others in the West step back and step away from the ongoing misrepresentation of the world's troubles and are willing to stand up for who and what we are, I may stand alone.



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