Self-fulfilling prophecies are a danger to Iraq and Syria
With both Iraq and Syria in the throes of seemingly total meltdown, and much of the Middle East apparently on the brink of a potential broad regional conflagration, the temptation to think in sweeping but simplistic terms becomes greater than ever. This is because the situation is so difficult to read, and even the parties involved in each manifestation of chaos are often not completely clear or entirely settled. But this is an impulse that needs to be resisted if a proper evaluation is to be made and an appropriate policy response formulated.
It would be too easy under such dramatic and unreadable conditions to view the situation as a kind of binary of neat polar opposites that are contending for mastery. But such thinking is dangerous, because the power of narratives and self-fulfilling prophecies is such that embracing the idea of a binary division could contribute to producing one at the political level.
In politics, there is no clear distinction between perception and reality. The constant repetition of an idea can often imbue that perspective with undue power. Sometimes the ardently-stated belief in them is sufficient to give monsters of the imagination a foothold in reality...READ MORE
Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine and blogs at
On Twitter: @ibishblog