[ by Charles Cameron — on the importance of spiritual commitment ]
Scott Atran, author of Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values, and What It Means to Be Human, speaking at the World Economic Forum, offered this slide with the following comment:
Our research with fighters shows that the US Government’s judgement is fairly mistaken about underestimating ISIS and overestimating the armies against it, because it denies th4e spiritual dimension of human conflict. Three critical factors are involved: sacred values and devotion to the groupz people are fused with; willing to sacrifice family for values; and perceived spiritual formidability. For example, among fighters on both sides in Iraq and Syria, they rate America’s physical force maximum but spiritual force minimum, and ISIS’ physical force minimum but spiritual force maximum. But – they also think material interests drive America but that spiritual commitment drives ISIS. The spiritual trumps physical force when all things are equal.
Here’s the short clip from which that slide & comment are taken — Friday 24th February 2017, WEF Davos, Scott Atran analyses the limits of rational choice in political and cultural conflict