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The president, Congress, the U.N. and the American national media are all engaged in deciding what to do about Iraq and the conflict currently raging there. This president, who, after the war there had been won and a measure of peace established, pulled out all our troops, is now reinserting 300 “military advisers.” (FYI, we still have thousands of troops in Germany, Japan and South Korea, to name just a few former war zones.)

Unfortunately, the president, et al, is almost all guilty of the same failure to grasp the root of the conflict and how to resolve same. This misunderstanding is based on a simple, but mostly unrealized, truth: We think they think like we think. This results in a misinterpretation of what is happening, and what can still happen, in the present Iraqi conflict, and it is all based on this fundamental misconception.

Our leadership labors under the mistaken “truth” that all people essentially hold the same values and, therefore, basically think alike. The result is, those responsible for making decisions assume the adversary will respond as we would given similar circumstances. The basis for this egregious error lies in the mistaken belief that the people involved hold, and are constrained by, the same values to which we adhere. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the basis for the belief systems are antithetical.

Most people assume everyone else “thinks like I think, holds the same value system I do, and basically adheres to the same moral code.” Consequently, they anticipate and base their actions (and reactions) on what they would do given similar circumstances. This problem is clearly revealed in many of the West’s responses (or lack thereof) to much of what is happening today in the Middle East (and is at the root of much of the criticism of Israel, I might add).

This misunderstanding of the action (or lack thereof) is rooted in the view of those making decisions. They fail to realize they are basing their action, or inaction, on the basis of their mindset, the Judeo-Christian value system. The West is rooted and grounded in what is essentially a biblical mindset, though not referred to as such; our value system is based on biblical (not religious) principles.

An unbiased, dispassionate view of the Western legal system will reveal that almost all we hold to be illegal or immoral is based upon the Ten Commandments, the foundation of our Judeo-Christian civilization. Human life, until recently vis-a-vis abortion, was held to be sacred. Prior to the liberalization of our judicial system, murder carried the death penalty. Just take one primary rule for example: It is against the law to kill someone. Why? Murder is illegal because it is based essentially on the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Lying and/or stealing were considered wrong/illegal; businesses were closed on Sunday; we respected parents and marriage, all based on the self-same commandments.

Fact is, we thought most of the world knew right from wrong. The problem lay in the definition of right and wrong. The truth of the matter is, only Western civilization is based on these Judeo-Christian values. Unfortunately, we forget that much of the world does not know and, therefore, does not subscribe to these values. Almost the entirety of Asia, India, most of Africa and the entire Middle East (except for aforementioned Israel) neither subscribe nor adhere to our values.

When dealing with someone who does not adhere to the same principles, you have the basis for the type of situation currently existing in Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. We negotiate with them based on our value systems while they negotiate based on theirs, but the simple truth is, they don’t think like we think.

Human life, for example (excepting Israel) does not have the same value there as here. A suicide bomber in the West would not be hailed as a “hero.” A man who kills his wife for alleged misconduct would not simply walk away justified; stealing by a Baptist from an atheist would not be condoned; Methodists killing Episcopalians or Pentecostals would not be hailed as justified, heroic actions with rewards promised in the afterlife for such deeds. Simply change the names from Baptist to Muslim, atheist to kafir, Methodist to Shiite (or Shia) and Episcopalian to Sunni and you have the basis for what is happening in almost all the Middle East today.

Consider Iraq, Iran and Syria (headliners in the news today). You have many in the West wondering why can’t they all just get along, which brings up the following: What about the U.S.? Were the Muslims responsible for Sept.11 Sunni or Shiites? Whose side do we fight on? Which, if either of them, is truly on our side? Do we help the Shiites kill the Sunnis, or vice versa? How do we tell them apart? What about the new group, ISIS? Are they just Muslims beheading other Muslims? If we fight (like we did in Iraq and are now doing in Afghanistan) for one side, will the other side forgive us after the battle is over? Besides, if we help the present Iraqi government against ISIS, won’t this put us on the side of Iran, which has sworn to destroy our primary Middle East ally, Israel?

Remember, they don’t think like we think – which begs the question: Whose side are we really on?

Perhaps this is the question: Is anyone really on our side?

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