Edward V. Badolato
Colonel, United States Marine Corps
V. Badolato, a retired U.S. Marine Colonel with a distinguished career
in government and private enterprise. Colonel Badolato was a graduate of
the U.S. Naval War College with several tours of duty in the Middle East,
beginning in 1967 shortly after the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. His tours
took him to nearly every country in the Middle East. Following his retirement,
he served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy in both the Reagan
and Bush administrations (1984-89). As such, he was the principal architect
of the government’s readiness and response to terrorist threats to our
In 1980, he wrote a white paper, “Learning to Think like an Arab Muslim: a Short Guide to Understanding the Arab Mentality”. I am going to provide a brief introduction to it. At only 14 pages, it is not a long document, but it succinctly explains why Americans and others in the West are encountering such difficulty understanding why Arab Muslims appear, by our standards, to be completely insane.
Why, for example, would people who believe they have the one, true religion, not hesitate to blow up mosques and other holy places? Why would they attack weddings and funerals? Why is beheading so popular among terrorists? Why would a few cartoons set off rioting and killing? And what does all this mean to us in terms of the threat it represents?
Badolato begins by describing Arabs as “a proud and sensitive people whose culture is mainly derived from three key factors: family, language, and religion.” The Arab cultural system has existed for centuries and predates the introduction of Islam around 610 AD and its rapid spread after the death of Muhammad in 632 AD. “An Arab’s commonly accepted view of the world (is) basically threatening and harsh.”
Arab Muslims and presumably others because Islam has more than a billion adherents, divide the world between themselves and what they call Dar al Harb, literally, “the world of war.” So, you are either a Muslim or you are an infidel and, by definition, a threat to Islam until you convert or are killed.
This may seem harsh, but true believers in Islam hold all other religions in contempt. The view of Judaism is psychopathic. Christians do not fare much better. The contempt for Hindus and Buddhists, religions deemed not to have “a book”, completes the utter certitude of Muslims that they alone are truly religious.
You might feel that way, too, if you were compelled to pray five times a day, at dawn, midday, late afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. There are five prescribed prayers and all are in Arabic, a language Arabs will tell you is superior to all others. Verbal grandiosity is greatly applauded by Arabs. When facts are trumped by “ideas”, however, you have entered Alice’s bizarre Wonderland.
Badolato writes that, “An Arab’s concept of the world has occasionally been described as a series of seven concentric circles with the individual Arab at the center. Thus, he has his family, an extended family or tribe, an immediate geographic region, and then his country. It is within the family that the psychology of the Muslim Arab is formed and observers have noted that, “the fluctuation between a loving mother and stern disciplinarian father can add to the complexity of growing up and often fosters schizoid personality traits.” To put it another way, Arabs can go from hot to cold and back again so fast that it is bewildering. Arabs live in a black and white world with no shadings of grey.
Why do Arabs seem to be so violent? Conflict can be found in a family culture of competitiveness that is instilled at an early age. An old Arab saying aptly describes this. “I against my brother, my brother and I against our cousins, my brother, my cousins and I against the world.” Add to this the way Arab history has been dominated “by warfare, domestic upheaval, and struggles against invasions from outside the Arab world” and you begin to grasp a mindset that will resist anything that is not Arab.
As Badolato describes it, it is an “almost visceral mistrust of any outside group or more specifically any Western state whose true ultimate intentions cannot readily be determined.” For Arabs, their wars such as the conflict between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s really began at the battle of Qaddisiya over a thousand years ago!
The Islamic wars following the death of Mohammad led to the Sunni and Shiite divisions within Islam. It is a history of tension and conflict that literally dates back to the earliest years of Islam. Westerners might dismiss this by saying, “Get over it!” but the Arab mentality is totally rooted in the past.
And why not? Not one single word of the 114
surahs (chapters) of the Quran has been changed in fourteen centuries and
they describe in detail the conduct of every hour of every day of an Arab
Muslim’s life. As Badolato describes it, “It is as if one single document
contained our Constitution, our legal code, national education policy,
business practices, inter-personal etiquette, and the Bible.” Welcome to
the seventh century AD!
Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at the Fort Myer Chapel on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 10:45 a.m. Interment Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.
Posted: 4 November 2008