It is a paradox of modern times: We are committed to diversity yet have enormous difficulty imagining people who actually are different. Americans and Europeans prize peace and, on that basis, assume peace has become a universal value. The West has lost the will for power and the thirst for glory — the very phrases sound archaic — so most of us assume no other nations seek to conquer and dominate. And because we are willing to compromise, we are confident others would settle for a half-loaf rather than killing and being killed in pursuit of the whole.
Lack of imagination leads to the conclusion that all conflicts can be resolved — if only we’d explain ourselves better, show others respect, address grievances, and offer more generous concessions. But this conclusion is erroneous. Anwar al-Awlaki — the al-Qaeda cleric and commander killed by a Hellfire missile last week — provides a vivid example.
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