Al Qaeda’s Fantasy Ideology – Policy Review, No. 114 This failure to understand the enemy can arise not only from a lack of sympathy with his position, but also from a kind of misplaced sympathy: When confronted by a culturally exotic enemy, our first instinct is to understand such conduct in terms that are familiar to us � terms that make sense to us in light of our own fund of experience. We assume that if our enemy is doing x, it must be for reasons that are comprehensible in terms of our universe.
Just how unfortunate � indeed, fatal � this approach can be was demonstrated during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. When Montezuma learned of Cort�s�s arrival, he was at a loss to know what to make of the event. Who were these white-skinned alien beings? What had they come for? What were their intentions?