Journal: Iran, Sacred Nukes, & US Ignorance

05 Energy, 05 Iran, 08 Proliferation, 10 Security, 11 Society, Cultural Intelligence

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When Nukes Become Sacred

The psychology behind Iranian support for the country’s nuclear program

Newsweek, Sharon Bagley, 8 January 2010

With sacred values, this cost-benefit calculus is turned on its head, explains anthropologist Scott Atran of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, who has studied Islamic terrorist groups. When Atran asked Palestinians if they would be willing to give up their claims to Jerusalem (a sacred value) in return for their own state, most said no, and—here is where the topsy-turvy thinking caused by sacred values came in—when he then asked if they would give up Jerusalem if the U.S. and Europe also gave every Palestinian family substantial financial assistance for a year, even fewer said yes. That is in sharp contrast to the rational-actor perspective that has long dominated diplomacy (and economics).

Phi Beta Iota: We featured Scott Atran earlier.  This is the kind of deep knowledge that simply does not get presented, much less understood, within the secret intelligence world, even less so among “deciders” who decide things without relevant intelligence (decision) support.  This is the strategic equivalent of General Flynn’s focus on fixing intelligence in Afghanistan.

See also:

Who’s Who in Cultural Intelligence: Scott Atran

Journal: One World, Region by Region, Tribe by Tribe

Journal: Anthropology 101–Not Being Listened To