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The Arab World and Western IntelligenceAnalysing the Middle East, 1956-1981$
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Dina Rezk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780748698912

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698912.001.0001

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Orientalism and Analysis: Ideas of the ‘Arab’

Orientalism and Analysis: Ideas of the ‘Arab’

Chapter:
(p.25) 1 Orientalism and Analysis: Ideas of the ‘Arab’
Source:
The Arab World and Western Intelligence
Author(s):

Dina Rezk

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698912.003.0002

It is commonly suggested that the major weakness of the American intelligence community in the Middle East stems from its inability to understand the mindset of a fundamentally different culture. How has intelligence conceptualized culture? Exposing a collection of rare documents that deal with the issue of ‘national character,’ this chapter provides striking revelations about the dominant and controversial stereotypes of ‘the Arab mind’ shared by British and American intelligence in the post war era. It traces the evolution of ideas about the influence of Islam, Arab ‘motivation’, the role of rhetoric and the prevalence of ‘honour.’ Moreover, it demonstrates that these are themes that persist in our understanding of Arab culture and politics to this day.

Keywords:   Culture, Islam, Arab, intelligence, stereotypes

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