• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Cultural Intelligence for Winning the Peace

    While cross cultural communication has been deployed throughout the ages, most notably during WWII and the Cold War, it has now become “unavoidable” if the United States is to succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Col. Glen Ayers, who until retirement last year was chief of the Psychological Operations Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Col. Ayers was part of the book panel discussion at Heritage on Sept. 10, focusing on the anthology, Cultural Intelligence for Winning the Peace, edited by Dr. Juliana Geron Pilon of the Institute of World Politics.

    As noted by panelist Andrew Garfield, senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and intelligence expert, cultural intelligence has been neglected for too long. He also suggested that this is why America’s achievements have been limited.

    The value of cultural intelligence lies in grasping a true understanding of the human terrain. Learning the local language, history and cultural nuances are crucial to gaining a local population’s trust, thus achieving success. Making generalizations and oversimplifying the customs of a diverse people ultimately fails. As Garfield pointed out, Iraqis are not just Iraqis, nor are Sunnis simply Sunnis, nor Shia, Shia. Each community is unique and this must be understood if the United States and her allies are to rid Iraq or Afghanistan of insurgency.

    Cultures are not necessarily meant to clash, said Dr. Pilon rejecting the thinking of the late Harvard scholar, Samuel Huntington. Dr. Pilon characterized Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” as a “paradigm of oversimplification.” Rather, she believes that cultures are capable of merging, and while they may clash, they can be understood, and objectives through intelligent engagement may be achieved.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Cultural Intelligence for Winning the Peace

    1. THOMAS G. ROBBINS, M says:

      Culture in the year 2009 is really reduced to faddish impulses. Does Japan really have a 'Japanese' culture or is the traditional culture now just clothes, manners and architecture? In the age of t.v. and the internet and personal information sharing there is only a culture of knowledge and information which is worldwide and limitless. If China had a free internet, their 'culture' would be like Japan which is like the U.S. which parallels in innumerable ways India's which reflects Australia's, etc, etc, etc. To even posit a 'clash of cultures' is absurd. Barriers cease to exist once a free culture with free exchange of information is allowed in the petty dictatorships in the world. Any perceived clash of culture reveals only thriving despotism in one of the alleged cultures.

    2. Ross writes in Br says:

      Culture intelligence or even an cultural understanding is a two way street.

      Regretfully, the utra-factions of the Islamic religion plays and preys upon the ignorance of its people with lies and propaganda. Their religious and governmental leaders have no tolerance nor desire to let their citizens learn nor let others learn of western culture which is based on Christian/Judeo beliefs, mores, individual liberties, and human rights.

      In too many Islamic countries, they will not allow nor tolerate Christians to openly worship; nor possess the Holy Bible or any other Christian literature, nor proselyting(many times upon on the sentence of death)within the "boundaries of Islam".

      But what they deny western culture in the boundaries of Islam, they openly take advantage of and exercise in western culture; this includes teaching open sedition, intolerance of our laws, and other treasonous acts which seem to go unpunished.

      The question is, how long will western civilization tolerate the intolerable culture of Islam and its political/religious leaders?

    3. John Roane Sarasota says:

      All this is good but we have not used the forces which can meet the task at hand. I am talking of the US Special Forces out of Fort Bragg. Trained at insurgency, they know the value of cultural intelligence grasping a true understanding of the human terrain. Learning the local language, history and cultural nuances are crucial to gaining a local population’s trust, thus achieving success".

      Let's use the tools we have, it will reduce the number of troops, and produce success although it will take longer. It will be a better more enduring victory. Using the same old heave in more troops and hi-tech hasn't yielded the ROI needed.

    4. Olaf von Roeder, Ger says:

      What strikes me most about these comments is, that most people tend to see "the foreigners" black or white and forget all the shades of grey inbetween. Nobody in this world has just one cultural identity and in reality, you don't even have to know them all to interact. If you approach people open-minded with some modesty and respect they might acknowledge your good intentions. I have seen some breathtaking arrogance among soldiers from Western "cultures" that would even create some feelings of alienation among friends – not to speak about people who feel threatened by foreign troops….

    5. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Interculture respect and the allowance of the existance of each to exist is the equal resposibility of both.

      Both must respect eachs cultures, religions, and ways of life. Where there is direct conflict between the two, such as the right of Women, such differences must be resovled to the most modern and most acceptable, and most worldly recognized as fair, and agreed by both! Meaning Women have equal rights in the Muslim world as they do in the majority of the rest of the World.

      All Laws dealing with humanity have to be agreed on, or there is no option but war and the resulting anihilation and absorpsion of the less sophisiticated, less modern Civilization.

      This is the History of our World, and if projected, the history of the Cosmos civilization.

    6. Billy Bragg says:

      Andrew Garfield appears to have mastered the art of stating the blindingly obvious in a frankly laughably inane and non-intellectual way. He uses meaningless 'buzz' words like 'cultural intelligence' in a pathetically doomed attempt to hide his lack of formal qualifications and his background as an ex-nco in the Signals Corps of the British Army. There is an old saying, 'you can't polish a turd'. Well, Garfield is still frantically rubbing away.

      The events in the Middle East need to be dealt with by men of foresight, compassion and intelligence. Not by those who are out to make a fast buck by regurgitating dodgy, second-hand opinions.

    7. Gerald Templar, Ashf says:

      "Iraqis are not just Iraqis". Er, no. Another brilliant insight from Garfield. He reminds me of that old English King, Cnut. Or something similar.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×