Tag Archives: Arab culture

The routine failure of Arabian armies

Link here. This is a review of new book called Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness by Kenneth M. Pollack.

Essentially, Arabian armies in the past century have routinely done terribly on the battlefield, and Pollack traces that failure to the culture of Arabia rooted in Islam.

Pollack shows that the “…most important problems that Arab militaries have experienced in battle since 1945 derive from behavioral patterns associated with Arab culture….It is striking how much the Arab armies and air forces have performed in keeping with those patterns of culturally regular behavior identified by anthropologists, sociologists, cultural psychologists, and other experts on Arab society.”

Pollack, for example, observes that military politicization evinces that a “highly valued trait of Arab society is group solidarity and loyalty.” If a leader “comes to power of any kind in the Arab world, it is expected that he will bring his relatives, clansmen, tribesmen, and coreligionists/co-ethnicists in with him and give them plum positions.” This “happens across the Arab world in every organization imaginable.”

In other words, the clan rules, no matter what, from the top down. Individual skill is given low priority, and in fact superior talent and intelligence can be seen as harmful if it threatens the cohesion of the group.

The problem is that such authoritarian systems, no matter how weak and faulty, can gain power, and squelch freedom and achievement. It was this kind of thinking that brought on the Dark Ages in Europe. Though not quite the same, during the medieval era the feudal system honored group thinking far above individual creativity, and in fact saw such achievement as a threat. The result was a thousand years of decline.

Unfortunately, we in the west are increasing accepting a variation of this thinking. Like the Dark Ages, it is increasingly considered bad to stand out as a free-thinking individual. If a twitter mob attacks, you damn well better kowtow, or face personal destruction. Society will not respect your individual rights.

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