Why do Arabs so often lose wars
against non-Arabs? Why has so much of the terrorism activity for the last few
decades been carried out by Arabs? Why
are Arab societies so corrupt, so uneducated and lacking in economic or
scientific progress? Even raising these issues is considered un-diplomatic,
provocative, racist or worse. But there is something going on.
example, a recent item going round the web. Seems that last November, seven
staff of the Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) company were checking out a
new Airbus 340-600. This is a four engine, $240 million aircraft. Think of it
as "747 Lite." It was being checked out before acceptance, and delivery to
Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi. Through a horrendous series of errors by the
people at the controls, the aircraft taxied at high speed and crashed into a barrier.
The aircraft was totaled, and five people aboard were injured. There was never
any official mention of the nationality of those responsible for the loss of
the aircraft. Many people assume they were Arabs, although most technical jobs
in the Persian Gulf are handled by non-Arab expatriates. This is still the case
sixty years after the oil money began to flow. Surely that should have been
sufficient time for a generation of Arab engineers, technicians and airline
pilots to be trained. There have been some, but not nearly enough. Moreover,
there are serious cultural problems with Arabs and technology. Many of the
expatriates who have worked in the Middle East leave exasperated at the
lackadaisical attitudes of the people they are trying to train, or supervise.
American troops in Iraq have similar experiences when training, or just working
with, Iraqis. The official PR stresses the positive experiences, but it's the
negative ones that cause all the problems. If you want to get rid of all the
problems over there, you have to understand what's going on or, more to the
point, what isn't and why not.
At lot has
been written about why Arab armies so consistently lose wars with non-Arabs.
These reasons also explain why Arab nations, and many other Third World nations
as well, also have trouble establishing democratic governments or prosperous
economies. A lot of it has to do with culture, especially culture influenced by
Islam. Some of the reasons for these failures are;
countries are a patchwork of different tribes and groups, and Arab leaders
survive by playing one group off against another. Loyalty is to one's group,
not the nation. Most countries are dominated by a single group that is usually
a minority (Bedouins in Jordan, Alawites in Syria, Sunnis in Iraq, Nejdis in
Saudi Arabia). All of which means that officers are assigned not by merit but
by loyalty and tribal affiliation.
schools favor rote memorization, especially of scripture. Most Islamic scholars
are hostile to the concept of interpreting the Koran (considered the word of
God as given to His prophet Mohammed). This has resulted in looking down on
Western troops that will look something up that they don't know. Arabs prefer
to fake it, and pretend it's all in their head. Improvisation and innovation is
generally discouraged. Arab armies go by the book, Western armies rewrite the
book and thus usually win.
no real NCO corps. Officers and enlisted troops are treated like two different
social castes and there is no effort to bridge the gap using career NCOs.
Enlisted personnel are treated harshly. Training accidents that would end the
careers of US officers are commonplace in Arab armies, and nobody cares.
are despised by their troops, and this does not bother the officers much it
all. Many Arab officers simply cannot understand how treating the troops
decently will make them better soldiers.
prevents adequate training. Arab tyrants insist that their military units have
little contact with each other, thus insuring that no general can became
powerful enough to overthrow them. Units are purposely kept from working
together or training on a large scale. Arab generals don't have as broad a
knowledge of their armed forces as do their Western counterparts. Promotions
are based more on political reliability than combat proficiency. Arab leaders
prefer to be feared, rather than respected, by their soldiers. This approach leads
to poorly trained armies and low morale. A few rousing speeches about
"Moslem brotherhood" before a war starts does little to repair the
officers often do not trust each other. While an American infantry officer can
be reasonably confident that the artillery officers will conduct their
bombardment on time and on target, Arab infantry officers seriously doubt that
their artillery will do its job on time or on target. This is a fatal attitude
military leaders consider it acceptable to lie to subordinates and allies in
order to further their personal agenda. This had catastrophic consequences
during all of the Arab-Israeli wars and continues to make peace difficult
between Israelis and Palestinians. When called out on this behavior, Arabs will
assert that they were "misunderstood."
American officers and NCOs are only too happy to impart their wisdom and skill
to others (teaching is the ultimate expression of prestige), Arab officers try
to keep any technical information and manuals secret. To Arabs, the value and
prestige of an individual is based not on what he can teach, but on what he
knows that no one else knows.
American officers thrive on competition among themselves, Arab officers avoid
this as the loser would be humiliated. Better for everyone to fail together
than for competition to be allowed, even if it eventually benefits everyone.
are taught leadership and technology; Arab officers are taught only technology.
Leadership is given little attention as officers are assumed to know this by
virtue of their social status as officers.
is considered a dangerous trait. So subordinates prefer to fail rather than
make an independent decision. Battles are micromanaged by senior generals, who prefer
to suffer defeat rather than lose control of their subordinates. Even worse, an
Arab officer will not tell a US ally why he cannot make the decision (or even
that he cannot make it), leaving US officers angry and frustrated because the
Arabs won't make a decision. The Arab officers simply will not admit that they
do not have that authority.
initiative makes it difficult for Arab armies to maintain modern weapons.
Complex modern weapons require on the spot maintenance, and that means delegating
authority, information, and tools. Arab armies avoid doing this and prefer to
use easier to control central repair shops. This makes the timely maintenance
of weapons difficult.
is maniacal. Everything even vaguely military is top secret. While US Army
promotion lists are routinely published, this rarely happens in Arab armies.
Officers are suddenly transferred without warning to keep them from forging
alliances or networks. Any team spirit among officers is discouraged.
traits were reinforced, from the 1950s to the 1990s, by Soviet advisors. To the
Russians, anything military was secret, enlisted personnel were scum, there was
no functional NCO system, and everyone was paranoid about everyone else. These
were not "communist" traits, but Russian customs that had existed for
centuries and were adopted by the communists to make their dictatorship more
secure from rebellion. Arab dictators avidly accepted this kind of advice, but
are still concerned about how rapidly the communist dictatorships all came
tumbling down between 1989-91.
system can produce fearsome looking armies, but not a force that can survive an
encounter with well trained and led soldiers. The same techniques are applied
to government and the economy, producing tyranny and backwardness that appalls
Westerners, and angers the citizens of these unfortunate states. That anger has
produced many reform efforts. Including such unholy horrors as al Qaeda.
leaders, especially in the Persian Gulf, are generally pretty smart, and aware
of what they are working with. So they hire lots of foreigners for key
technical jobs. But you still have a lot of suspicious, paranoid, poorly
educated and insecure people in charge. Changing all this is, understandably,
So now you