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Post-Iraq Views
of the New Year,
Part II

Part I
Part III
Part IV

Natalia J. Garland

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Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, recently spoke on the importance of common religious values for the maintenance of civilization. Consequently, a new anti-terror lexicon seems already to be developing. Blair uses terms such as multi-faith societies, social capital, and spiritual capital. But what are the precise definitions of these terms, and how can the definitions be applied to anti-terror relationships and solutions?

In order for these terms to be effective, we must approach definition and application while using reasoned judgment and positive coping skills regarding the nature and purpose of terrorism. In this struggle to confront reality, to cope and to find solutions, we must avoid thinking and behaving in ways that are naive, sentimental, or delusional. Below, I have adapted definitions of these three words from the Oxford American College Dictionary (2002 edition). Since the word nostalgia is used in the definition of sentimentality, I included it so that we can all work within the same understanding.


  • NAIVETE: A lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment.
  • SENTIMENTALITY: Excessive feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia which are given exaggerated and self-indulgent expression.
  • DELUSION: An idiosyncratic belief that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality, typically a symptom of mental illness.
  • NOSTALIGIA: A sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place of personal happiness.


Before 9/11, many Americans were naive (perhaps ignorant or uninformed) regarding the intent and extent of terrorist activity in the world. After the attack on American soil on 9/11, it was still difficult for some Americans to acknowledge the intense hatred of America held by Islamic fanatics, or even to identify the attackers as ideological extremists. Some Americans responded (and continue to respond) with the self-defeating and overly tender attitude (toward terrorists) that terrorism had sociopolitical causes and that America was to be blamed for how terrorists reacted to history's events and to current sociopolitical conditions.

The naive and sentimental responses to terrorism reached delusional proportions among some Americans. Despite evidence and intelligent argument, some people strongly maintained that America was the aggressor and was at fault: even to the point of believing that the U.S. government (specifically the Bush administration) attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11. Although the definition of delusion states that delusions are "maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality," the delusional view on terrorist justification or innocence and on American culpability has been "generally accepted as reality" by a large and outspoken segment of Americans as well as citizens of other countries.

After the attack on Mumbai, India, which was amply televised, it seemed to me that the attack (as I read various online articles and blogs) may have penetrated some of the delusional thought of the blame-America segment. Perhaps some Americans were able to feel sympathy for the Indians in a way in which they could not feel for their own nation and government. It meant that if terrorists attacked Mumbai, thereby killing the dark-skinned people of a third-world country, then terrorism was not only directed at the Western world but at all democratic-friendly countries and, ultimately, at all non-Islamic peoples. Even though India and other countries have been attacked before, I do not recall any attack that was so extensively televised while the attack was in process. It was, indeed, a reality that pierced into America's living rooms.

Nonetheless, there were some Americans who seemed to fall deeper into their delusional thoughts. Some seemed to react not only by blaming America (or perhaps by detouring the tendency to blame America), but also by proclaiming pacifism as the most effective response and righteous lifestyle. If total non-violence is the solution to terrorism, then the need to assess the reality of terrorism can be evaded because Islamic jihad will be eliminated if only all people (specifically all Americans?) will adopt a policy of absolute non-violence. This response or solution does not require study of the problematic dynamics, the ideology, or the people responsible for terrorism: the solution only requires itself (i.e., maintenance of the delusion).

Are delusionists anti-American? There is probably a tangled web of intersections between delusional and anti-American thoughts and behaviors. Politically, some people are anti-American. This was also true during the Vietnam War. Some anti-American people might develop delusional thoughts to aid their political preferences (or vice-versa?), some might be politically misguided or brainwashed, and some are simply anti-American and hateful. However, there are probably other delusionists whose maintenance of delusion is strictly psychopathological. They cannot face reality, cope with severe or extreme stressors, or engage in problem-solving. It is possible that an individual could be delusional (and accordingly unaware of his own delusional thought formation), and yet feel that he is a patriotic American.

Now that we have discussed the impact of naivete, sentimentality, and delusion on our post-9/11 world, we are better equipped to begin a discussion of Blair's concepts of multi-faith societies, social capital, and spiritual capital for our post-Iraq world.

[NOTE: The ideas expressed in this essay are based on personal opinion and are not intended to carry official diagnostic value or to serve as a statement on any person's or group's mental stability. The author's remarks are not aimed at any particular person(s), but are intended for discussion of types of persons and ways of thinking and coping. This essay is a work in progress, not a finished product, and is therefore subject to error.] (Written 01/12/09)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2009 Natalia J. Garland