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How Words Could End a War

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  • Scott Atran

    ()
    (IJN - Institut Jean-Nicod - CNRS : UMR8129 - Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris - ENS Paris - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS))

  • Jeremy Ginges

    (Dept Psychology - New School for Social Research)

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    Abstract

    AS diplomats stitch together a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the most depressing feature of the conflict is the sense that future fighting is inevitable. Rational calculation suggests that neither side can win these wars. The thousands of lives and billions of dollars sacrificed in fighting demonstrate the advantages of peace and coexistence; yet still both sides opt to fight. This small territory is the world's great symbolic knot. “Palestine is the mother of all problems” is a common refrain among people we have interviewed across the Muslim world: from Middle Eastern leaders to fighters in the remote island jungles of Indonesia; from Islamist senators in Pakistan to volunteers for martyrdom on the move from Morocco to Iraq. Some analysts see this as a testament to the essentially religious nature of the conflict. But research we recently undertook suggests a way to go beyond that. For there is a moral logic to seemingly intractable religious and cultural disputes. These conflicts cannot be reduced to secular calculations of interest but must be dealt with on their own terms, a logic very different from the marketplace or realpolitik.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number ijn_00505432.

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    Date of creation: 26 Dec 2009
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    Publication status: Published, New York Times and International Herald Tribune, 2009, WK12
    Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:ijn_00505432

    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://jeannicod.ccsd.cnrs.fr/ijn_00505432/en/
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