Monday, October 16, 2006

Er, I'm sorry

An update today from Edge carries note about a presentation over a month ago by Scott Atran to the National Security Council at The White House titled "Devoted Actor v Rational Actor Models for Understanding World Conflict"

Accepting that neither Atran himself nor, even, the White House thinks that what he is presenting is a whole answer, it remains the case that it is probably a bit fxxxing late for this one, including obviously the version that David Hayes and I presented shortly after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"Devoted Actor v Rational Actor Models for Understanding World Conflict" Presented By Scott Atran To The National Security Council At The White House, 14 September 2006 From extensive personal interviews and controlled psychological experiments with Israeli settlers, Palestinian refugees, leaders of Hamas, radical Islamic groups in Pakistan and Indonesia, and (ongoing pilot work) with certain non-Muslim fundamentalist groups, I (with my research team) find that when disputed issues are transformed into sacred values, as when land ceases to be a mere resource and becomes "holy" or when structures of brick and mortar become "sacred sites," then standard political and economic proposals for resolving conflicts don't suffice and can be counterproductive by raising levels of outrage and disgust. But even token symbolic concessions, such as an apology for a perceived wrong that touches a sacred value, can be more important than material trade-offs in making peace.

(See also Jan McGirk)

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