The Love Of Hating: The Psychology Of Enmity

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

This paper is a minor revision of the original paper:
Zur, O. (1991). The love of hating: The psychology of Enmity. History of European Ideas, 13(4), 345-369.

We do in fact love or hate our enemies to the same degree that we love or hate ourselves. In the image of the enemy we will find the mirror in which we may see our own faces most clearly.
Sam Keen, Faces of the enemy. (1)


Table Of Contents

Defining & Origin of War
Types of Wars
Definition of Enemy, Stereotype & Enemy Images
Propaganda & Consensual Paranoia
Roots of Enmity in Group and Individual Dynamics
Dymnamics Of Enmity
Propaganda & Dehumanization: Killing Without Guilt
Future of Enmity
Notes & Bibliography
Recommended Resources on the Topic of Enmity



The events of September 11, 2001, have demonstrated the power of enmity. Nineteen suicidal terrorists willingly and knowingly gave up their lives and took away those of their enemies, for what they believed was a just cause. These events also illustrate how the global threat of nuclear war has shifted to include all out terrorism. They blasted Americans into the 21st century, shattering the entrenched myth that technology and safe borders can keep America, the last remaining super power, secure. While terrorism seems to be on the minds of most, the daily reports of nuclear build-up by North Korea and Iran, as well as the possibility of nuclear weapons being in the hands of terrorists, remind us that the nuclear threat is far from being over.

This paper explores the roots and dynamics of enmity as they operate on the individual, group and national levels. The importance of the study of enmity lies in the premise that “guns do not kill, people do.” To be exact it is not even people, it’s people’s heads. Before we aim the gun or release the bomb, we have first to envision the destruction of the enemy in our minds. The UNESCO Charter stated this premise poignantly:

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that we have to erect the ramparts of peace.

A systematic exploration of enmity is a prerequisite to the prevention of wars. If we can understand how propaganda mobilizes people, we may be able to intervene in the diabolical process of enemy making and war. Resolving conflicts nonviolently is one of the most urgent tasks of our modern era. Exploring enmity is one of the initial steps in preventing terrorism and nuclear war and offering hope to the planet. Exploring enmity will hopefully increase our capacity to understand and effectively deal with the modern threat of terrorism.

At the heart of the process of making enemies is a split between ‘us vs. them’ and ‘good vs. evil.’ However, not all dichotomies/polarities are destructive or lead necessarily to conflict, enmity and war. Differentiating nourishing food from poisonous food, friendly animal from dangerous one and safe encounters from unsafe ones is extremely important for survival and healthy living. The general ability to differentiate between and judge is essential for the development and survival of any species. (2)

The problem arises when the basic ability to differentiate becomes a rigid and polarized worldview, which sees the world primarily in terms of good- evil, safe-dangerous, or sacred-profane. Within this worldview the judgment of good-bad is transformed to good-evil and is applied to dualities, such as male-female, spirit-matter, mind-body. Furthermore, in this framework “good” is always associated with “us” and “evil” with “them” (“not us”). “Them,” the other, the stranger, the unknown, the ones who are different from us, become “the enemy” to be feared and hated. Ultimately, “the enemy” has to be killed and destroyed so “we” can feel safe. Indeed, the Latin word hostis originally meant a stranger, a person who is not connected to us by kin. The processes of splitting, exaggerating, polarizing and rigidifying the ability to differentiate are at the heart of enmity. (3)

Political phenomena, such as wars, cannot all be simply reduced to psychological processes. Yet, it is possible to shed light on the psychological elements that predispose groups and individuals towards propaganda, enemy making and war. The goal of this article is exactly that, to depict the psychological roots of enmity as they are manifested in individual and group dynamics and in the process of propaganda making.

I must clarify that I neither intend to deny the existence of evil nor to refute the idea that there is a time and place for armed conflict. Correspondingly, I believe that Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were all villains responsible for the ruthless murder of millions of people and, as such, were truly evil enemies. I hope that by acknowledging this human capability of acting in evil ways and by understanding how human beings create enemies, we will be helped to deal more effectively with actual enemies. My intention is to increase our capacity of discrimination allowing us to differentiate between real dangers and threats that we partly or fully create in our minds. The words of the popular American cartoon character Pogo, “We have met the enemy and it is us,” bear some truth, but they do not by any means capture the total complexity of enmity.

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A Psychohistorical Analysis Of Enmity: Definition, Origin and Types of Wars

Contrary to common belief, war and the creation of enemies is not coded in our genes. There is clear evidence that war and group enmity are relatively recent phenomena, traceable only as far back as the Neolithic period. The more centralized, hierarchical social structure of an agricultural community combined with its larger size and its endemic sense of territoriality gave birth not only to civilization, but also to group enmity and war.

Defining War

In this paper war is defined as a planned, socially or politically approved action that attempts to achieve specific goals — by violent means if necessary. The emphasis in this definition is on war as a social phenomenon and not an individual one. As such, it requires consensus by most of the population. This consensus can be active, as with direct political support, or passive, as in political in-activism. Another emphasis is on the rational planning of war, something that dissociates war from passionate-type crimes. The use of the word “aggression” vs. “killing” or “violence” emphasizes that wars can take place without any blood being shed. While violence is not essential to the definition of war, aggression and the willingness to use violent means are. (4) This definition is applied not only to traditional wars, as in WWII, but also to guerrilla wars. It also applies to terrorism, as in this kind of war, terrorists use terror rather than mass killing to achieve their political goals.

Origin of War

Relying on the above definition of war we find that the first cultures capable of organizing and training an army, and of planning and conducting a war against an enemy, appeared in the Neolithic period, only about 11,000 to 13,000 years ago. This does not mean that hunter-gatherers, prior to the Neolithic period, did not have personal enemies or did not resort to violent means in order to gain access to or defend themselves or their water and food resources. While violence and conflict have always been a part of humanity, these pre-Neolithic societies were neither big nor organized enough, either politically or socially, to wage war. None of their aggressive activities led to warfare or the development of war rituals, training and special weapons. Their aggression remained tied to immediate physiological or spiritual needs. (5) War was born with civilization, when humans abandoned hunting and gathering, turned to gardening and farming and organized themselves in agricultural communities that were tied to specific pieces of land. This analysis implies that wars have existed only for the last one percent of the time span of human evolution.

Types of War

Since the Neolithic Period, humans have fought seven types of warfare, each representative of a specific type of enemy. Following are descriptions of each of these types of war.

Type 1:
Symbolic enemy of primitive-ritualistic warfare

The first type of group enemy is the symbolic enemy. This enemy took part in primitive or ritualistic warfare, consisting of a ritual of ambush or a face-to-face type of battle. Often it was an annual or biannual ritual, which took place in a neutral zone between the warring tribes. Feasts and parties among the opponents sometimes were conducted before and after the ritual. Most of these primitive wars ended when the first blood was drawn or the first death occurred. Clearly, these wars were not about violence or killing. The purpose of these war rituals was to acknowledge and allow for the expression of aggressive, ‘dark,’ chaotic or destructive feelings and impulses. Permitting destruction, chaos and even a limited amount of physical injuries, or even killing, to take place within defined parameters ultimately contributed to the maintenance of harmony and order between and within the warring tribes. Obviously, the enemy in this type of warfare is extremely different from the modern notion of the enemy. It was a symbolic enemy, seen not as evil or even particularly threatening but, rather, as an equal partner in an important, life-affirming ritual.

Type 2:
Withholding enemy of the greedy-colonial warfare

The second type of group enemy is the withholding enemy. This enemy was part of the political, greedy or colonial warfare culture. Co-evolving with the shift from the hunting-and-gathering system to farming and gardening were numerous changes in the familial and social structure. The new lifestyle involved a much higher level of group planning and community organization. On the social level a more structured, hierarchical and coercive familial system developed. For the first time children, as well as adults, were viewed primarily as a potential work force necessary to the expanding agricultural holdings. Consistent with the more structured and more oppressive cultural hierarchy and a redefined family structure, the enemy had a different psychological meaning. The greedy, dominating or colonial enemy in these wars was seen as one who deprived the dominated people of their physical and psychological needs. From the dominating point of view the enemy was not to be destroyed but to be exploited, enslaved and used to fulfill the greedy needs of the group and its individuals. Those who held wealth and power acquired more and more fighting men to extend and protect their holdings, and so more armies were raised and more enemies were fought. This type of warfare began some time in the fourth millennium and has continued, at the same time with other types of warfare, until today. It has, in fact, dominated much of our history. While the colonialism of the last several centuries no longer exists, some argue that a modern, economical and technologically based colonialism has replaced the old one. Along these lines the United States is being seen as a colonial force using primarily its political and economical muscle, rather than its soldiers, to dominate. Some view the proliferation of American films and TV programs around the globe as the foot soldiers spreading American values and culture, which translates to economical dominance. As in colonial wars of centuries past, the enemy in this war is not to be destroyed but to be exploited, in this modern example, to be economically exploited.

Type 3:
The worthy enemy, a fighter of heroic wars

The third type of opponent is the worthy enemy, a fighter of heroic wars. This type of warfare coevolved and coexisted with the colonial and other types of wars. The heroic wars were different from the greedy or modern wars in that they involved organizations composed of highly trained, professional soldiers who fought willingly. Poetry and literature, such as the Iliad and Mahabharata, have glorified the valor of the fighter and the drama of the battle. Rather than being a ritual of control or an expression of greed, war became a rite to test human ability, nobility, bravery and endurance. The enemy was what Bertolt Brecht calls “the beloved enemy.” The enemy is seen as a respected, honorable opponent, worth fighting. The fight itself was like a reenactment of mythical drama, a kind of honorable, noble fighting between two brave men representing two armies or two nations. Images of the Samurai, Greek and Roman epic heroes, Ivanhoe, knights, Sir Lancelot, John Wayne and, more recently, American movie hero, Rambo, are associated with this kind of warfare. These are heroic wars, reflecting the birth of individualism. They have appeared throughout history when centralized governments lost some power and a new class of aristocracy and professional soldier emerged.

Type 4:
The enemy of God in a holy war

In the fourth type of warfare, the enemy is the enemy of God, and accordingly, the war is a holy war. Killing such an enemy not only forces the evil powers out, it also protects and provides a hopeful future for the faithful believers. For the warriors and the cultures waging holy wars the world is perceived as a battlefield between the forces of good and evil or God and the Devil/Satan. This is the first type of enemy that has to be destroyed in order to ensure the safety of the group. It is the first time that the enemy is associated with evil or the devil. The enemy is no longer symbolic, no longer to be exploited or respected. The enemy must be eliminated from the face of the earth so that ‘our God’ and ‘our people’ will be safe. Some scholars (1) have pointed out that holy wars have been the most dominant mode of warfare throughout human evolution. More recently, while the Western world has pointed repeatedly to the Muslim belief in the Jihad, many believe that both atrocious and hideous 9/11 attack and the 2003 war in Iraq have strong religious or holy war underpinnings. The Arabs, and many in the United States, view the war as a holy war between Islam and Christianity. In an interesting shift the Cold War had an underpinning of a holy war against the “atheist communists”, and the recent war on terrorism has an underpinning of holy war on radical Muslim terrorists. The evocative imagery of holy war and symbolism in the propaganda for the recent war in Iraq challenges the West’s semi-official motto of “In God We Trust” as it gives rise to the questions of which God? And who trusts?

Type 5:
The threatening enemy in defensive wars

The fifth type of war is defensive war that aims to protect one’s country or homeland. The unique characteristic that distinguishes this warfare is that it is always considered to be defensive or for “national defense.” The enemy is perceived as a ruthless expansionist, threatening our borders, our people, our ideology, our economy or our future. Most wars in the last century-and-a-half have been perceived by the participants as defensive. Modern wars are rooted in a fearful, beleaguered position to which the appropriate response is the stockpiling of massive retaliatory forces. The United States fought in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam to defend an ally, to “defend the free world” or to defend itself from Communist or other expansion. More recently the United States has gone to war against Iraq twice, ten years apart, under the guise of the defense of the free world from terrorism or the spread of Islam, some say. For similar reasons the Soviet Union invaded Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland in order to maintain a buffer zone against Capitalist Imperialism. Even the Nazis in World War II viewed themselves as defenders of the Aryan race and the lost honor of Germany. These types of wars also contain some of the same underlying characteristics as the holy wars. Troops and civilians alike are conditioned to believe that their country’s cause is just, their leaders are blameless, and that God is on their side against the vile and evil enemy “over there.” The term “defensive war” can be clarified when it is seen to reflect the way combatants formulate their rationales for fighting and the way they perceive themselves in relation to their opponents. The designation speaks to psychological “truth,” not political realities. All modern nations refer to their armed forces and nuclear arms policy as measures of defense. No more “Departments of War” or “War Ministers” only “Defense Departments” and “Defense Ministers.” Modern technological society was designed to provide physical and psychological safety. It provides neither. There never has been a clearer example than 9/11 to illustrate how delusional is the sense of safety that modern United State has aspired to. The illusion that two friendly, bordering countries, two vast oceans and supreme technology can keep American safe was destroyed simultaneously with the World Trade Centers in New York City on September 11, 2001. For the culture as a whole war provides a perfect neurotic acting-out of the projection of negative and “dark” feelings. The nuclear policy of Mutually Assured Destruction and the saying “Better dead than Red” are the clearest illustrations of how distrustful and frightened we all have become. From the Palestinian/Israeli conflict to the American and British troops in Iraq, so many are ready to die as long as the enemy dies with them. What is common to all of them is the defensive nature of their reason or excuse to go to war.

Type 6:
The oppressive enemy in the liberation or revolutionary wars

The sixth type of enemy is the oppressive, dictatorial enemy, who is a participant in revolutionary wars of liberation. These wars are the antithesis of the greedy, political wars. The oppressed, disenfranchised and powerless find ways to fight a war aimed at overthrowing the occupier, dictator, tyrant, unjust ruler or the elite who dominate and exploit them. Such wars often begin as small, grassroots revolts that gather popular support as the tyrant in power tries to suppress them by brutal means. In building and mobilizing their movement the revolutionaries develop an identity and gain recognition, helping them to topple the tyrannical authority. The revolutionary people have a keen, innate sense of justice and a yearning for freedom. The Jewish rebellion against the Assyrians around 500 BC is an example of this kind of war. American colonists rejected King George III of England; France and Russia deposed and killed their monarchs and their immediate royal families. Similarly Asian, Middle Eastern and almost all African nations have liberated themselves through revolutionary war. South and Central American nations have similarly fought numerous liberation wars, often against military or oppressive elites that rule their countries. Political revolutions have been carried out in the American and European labor movements and in the civil rights and other social movements. Central and South America, as well as Africa, provide numerous models of contemporary revolutionary wars. The Iraqi insurgents in the recent Iraq war have embarked on a liberation war against outsider occupiers. They use tactics that do not confront the superior power of the ruling or occupying army by conforming to established rules of warfare. They use surprise, hit and run, suicide bombing and terror as their major weapons.

Type 7:
The invisible enemy-within in the terrorist or guerilla warfare

Relatively recent in human evolution, a seventh type of enmity has emerged: the invisible enemy-within in the context of terrorist or guerilla warfare. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War ended the era of two super powers staring each other in the face. Instead, a new global war, the war on terrorism, has introduced in the 21st century. The horrendous and hideous 9/11 suicide terrorists and the equally atrocious suicide bombers all over the world are prime modern example of this kind of war, which often targets innocent civilians, including women and children. Beyond agreement that terrorism aims at inducing terror, no common definition has been found. The terrorist is a covert fighter whose targets are often unarmed, non-combatant civilians. It is an insidious, virtually invisible enemy that cannot be easily identified in advance of the attack. The fact that terrorists do not wear a uniform or approach their victims openly, and the fact that they often mingle freely with their intended civilians victims before they strike, explain why this kind of warfare inspires an enormous fear and terror to entire populations.


On Enmity, Enemy Images And Paranoia

Definition of Enemy

The Latin root of the word enemy is inimicus which means “not + amicus” or not-friend. The 1984 edition of Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary defines “enemy” simply as a “hostile force or power,” “a member or unit of such a force,” or “something having destructive effect.” Federal law defines “enemy” as “the government of any nation with which the United States is at war.” (6) Psychologists have long been aware that “hostile forces” and “destructive effect” are not always clear objective realities but are inextricably linked to the complex relationships between the participants in a conflict. Considering the role of perception, “enemy” can be defined as a person or a group of persons perceived to represent a threat to or to be hostile towards the perceiver. (7)

The term “enemy” seems to have a wide range of meaning. A classic study in the United States in the midst of the cold war revealed that young students viewed the Soviets as “the enemy”, not because they posed a physical threat to the United States but due to their different ideology and competitive stand as a super power. Personal enemies, unlike national ones, were never described as someone with opposing views. It seems that the characteristics that constitute an “enemy” are changing. Most adults over age fifty who have gone through some personal experience with war define “the enemy” in the traditional way, meaning the country with which we are at war. However, most young people in Europe and the United States have not experienced any war during their adult lives and consistently define “enemy” in more abstract terms, involving different ideologies, religions, values or competition for world domination. (8) The definition of the enemy has been broadened and linked mostly to those who are different and unknown rather to those who are threatening.

While “enemy” traditionally has been defined as some type of perceived or real threat, enmity places greater emphasis on mutuality. Accordingly, the aforementioned Webster’s Dictionary defines “enmity” as “deep rooted mutual hatred.” Hypothetically, nation [A] can be an enemy of nation [B], while nation [B] does not consider [A] its enemy. Yet, when we describe the enmity between nations [A] and [B], we imply mutual fear, threat or hatred.


Stereotype is an oversimplified, exaggerated, biased and most importantly generalized conception or image of a group of people. While the quality described in the stereotypical image may be true to a significant number of people in the group, stereotyping does not differentiate between individuals and rigidly perceives all members of the group as the same. Stereotyping the enemy is one of the major ways to portray its badness and an essential first step in dehumanizing them so they can be killed without guilt. The role of war propaganda is to propagate a stereotypical bad, evil or demonic image of the enemy. The Germans were labeled as “Huns,” then we had the “Japs” for Japanese, “Yids,” “Kikes” for Jews, “Niggers” for blacks and the list goes on. While, traditionally, the Arabs had romantic images constructed from the fantasies of Arabian Nights and Raiders of the Lost Ark, more recently the images shifted radically. They have been seen as oil-rich, powerful and greedy sheiks who conspire through OPEC and their own oil production to control the world. Some Western racists have labeled Arabs as “sand niggers.” More recently all Arabs have been equated with fanatic Muslim terrorists. The fact that millions of Arabs are Christians and are neither fanatic nor support terrorism is missed once the stereotype has been rigidly and repeatedly applied. Large segments of the Western World stereotypically and simply believe that Islam is a wicked and evil religion that exclusively focuses on Jihad, terrorism and world domination.

Enemy Image

An enemy image is a representation of the enemy. It can be affective or cognitive; it can derive from the actions of the enemy or from the perceptions of the perceiver. In other words an image of “the enemy” can be accurate or biased, imaginary or real. More often than not, it is both. Riitta Wahlstrom defines “enemy image” as “the commonly-held, stereotyped, dehumanized image of the outgroup.” She goes on to say: “The enemy image provides a focus for externalization of fears and threats. In addition, a lot of undesirable cognitions and emotions are projected onto the enemy.”(9) This emphasizes that the “enemy image” cannot be limited to feelings of dislike or antipathy; it must involve the threatening possibility of aggression and violence. A second emphasis is that one group (ingroup) is threatened by another (outgroup). It is not simply hostility, threat or aggression among individuals. Lastly, there is an emphasis on the processes of dehumanization (which legitimizes violence against the enemy), externalization, projection and several cognitive biases to be described later on in this paper.

Enemy Image Index

The Enemy Image Index is a specific measure to assess the attitudes towards and imagery of enmity intrinsic to different countries. The measure, according to Jerome Frank, uses twenty adjectives, such as aggressive, friendly, happy-go-lucky, cruel, decent. Only the most negative terms in the adjective list, cruel, evil, hostile, power-hungry, treacherous and warlike, are used to calculate the measure. The number of times that respondents assign these adjectives to their own country is subtracted from the number of times they assign them to the “enemy.” The difference after subtraction is the Enemy Image Index. (10) The Index is useful in assessing imagery associated with different countries. For example, in 1942 during World War II, Americans most frequently called the Japanese “warlike,” “cruel” and “treacherous.” Twenty-four years later, the Japanese were “hardworking,” “decent,” “industrious” and “friendly.” Similar significant shifts took place between Germany and France during and after WWII and between the Taliban and the United States before and after 9/11.


Propaganda, in the context of enmity, is the vehicle through which enmity is spread or propagated. Harold Lasswell, a prominent scholar in this area, defines it as “the expression of opinions or actions carried out deliberately by individuals or groups with a view to influencing the opinion or actions of other individuals or groups for predetermined ends and through psychological manipulations.” (11) Psychological manipulations and behavioral goals of the propagandists seem to be the two essential elements of propaganda.

Jacques Ellul’s classic analysis of modern social systems led him to coin the term “propaganda of integration.” This type of propaganda is intended to promote acceptance and support among members of a social system. Integration propaganda relies on modern, ever-present communications technology to achieve the maximum level of consensus possible in modern cultures. Ellul views propaganda as an essential tool of modern technological societies for maintaining social order and civilian support. Primarily television and newspapers, but also movies, are some of the vehicles used to propagate the communications and influence behavior through the propaganda of integration. (12)

War propaganda is a system, which encourages enmity through explicit means (posters, leaflets, etc.) or implicit means (misinformation, disinformation and lies). Enmity is propagated through different media: visual images (TV, popular movies, visual arts), the written word (literature, newspapers, magazines), the spoken word (radio, everyday language), music (popular songs, military jingles) and other art forms.

Consensual Paranoia

In his Faces of the Enemy, Sam Keen coined the term consensual paranoia. As he puts it, “the pathology of the normal person who is a member of a war-justifying society forms the template from which all the images of the enemy are created.” (13) The term “consensual paranoia” suggests a pathology. When an individual experiences unrealistic fear, constant worries, sees the world in black-and-white and acts in an irrational manner, we label this person “paranoid,” someone to be medicated or hospitalized. When a nation is experiencing similar symptoms, we call it “nationalism” or what has become a popular term during the Bush administration, “Patriotism.” In propagating enemy images and war, propaganda exploits people’s sense of insecurity, their loyalty and connection to the group, and their predisposition to paranoia.

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Roots Of Enmity

The roots of enmity can be understood primarily from the study of group and intergroup dynamics. However, a complementary approach that examines the link between individual processes and enmity can shed further light on what makes the individual vulnerable to war propaganda.


Throughout human evolution, people have always belonged to various types of distinct units, such as families, clans, tribes, nations, countries or federations. The crucial step in the development of enmity and the conduct of war is the transition from the accurate and realistic perception of differences among people (dark skin-light skin, Muslim-Christian, socialist-capitalist) to associating the ingroup with a higher level of humanity than the outgroup. In this transition the “other” becomes the “bad other,” the “dangerous other.” Once the outgroup is assigned the role of an enemy, it is feared, hated and must be defended against. If several groups go through this process simultaneously, enmity and war are almost inevitable.

Erik Erikson coined the term pseudo species in reference to the diversity of humankind. He described the way that humans developed separate units and then began acting as if these units were separate species. This separation was done at the expense of the broader/global human identity and by devaluing the humanity of other pseudo species. (14) Enmity among groups creates a strong bond among group members and facilitates a clear perception of the uniqueness of the group. In other words enmity among groups promotes group cohesion and group identity.

Within the split of us-them, undesirable negative qualities are attributed to or projected onto the enemy, as the following chart demonstrates.

Within the split of us-them undesirable negative qualities are attributed to or projected on to the enemy

Social psychologists have documented the importance of the outgroup and enmity in the formation of group identity and group cohesion. In one experiment participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups; “blue” or “green.” The groups were given blue or green uniforms, pens, and papers. The researchers addressed them in terms of their group color. Even though the group assignments were arbitrary and the group names were psychologically meaningless, participants evaluated their own group more positively and ingroup biases appeared even before the group members began to work together. (15) Similarly, Vamik Volkan recalls growing up in Cyprus when Greek and Turkish youth differentiated themselves by wearing black and red sashes respectively. When tensions rose, the sashes became even more sacred. Members of either side would have died rather than wear the other’s color. (16)

Merely telling several people that they are now a group leads them to evaluate each other more positively. They will reward each other more, like each other more, view each other’s personality in a more positive light and hold each other more responsible for successes and less responsible for failures than they will members of the outgroup. (17) Such an ingroup bias seems to help maintain positive self-image. Another potential reason for people’s readiness to categorize the world around them in terms of ingroups and outgroups may be that it makes the environment more cognitively comprehensible and, hopefully, more predictable and safe.

Muzafer Sherif’s famous Robbers Cave Park experiment illustrates most clearly the importance of intergroup dynamics. Eleven and twelve year old boys at summer camp were divided into two groups and brought to their campsites without being aware of the other group. The kids were strangers to each other, with no intergroup contact. During the first phase of the experiment, the groups gradually developed group identity, leaders emerged and group spirit evolved. During the second phase, the two groups started interacting with each other and rivalry flourished. They became extremely competitive, called each other names, scuffles broke out and there were raids on each other’s bunkhouses. Finally, the groups refused to have anything to do with each other.

The third phase posed a challenge to the researchers attempting to reduce the tension between the groups. Non-competitive social activities, such as movie watching and sharing the dining rooms, seemed to increase enmity. Not until the researchers announced that there was not enough money to obtain more movies and that both groups needed to chip in did things start to improve. When the truck that was supposed to pick up their food would not start, all the boys pulled together to get it running. Sherif summarized this significant research, stating that hostility gives way when groups pull together to achieve overriding, superordinate goals, which are real and compelling to all concerned. (18)

This experiment teaches us a few important lessons. First, it teaches us that it does not require any special circumstances for two groups to develop intergroup hostility. Second, it demonstrates the importance of enmity to the development of group cohesion and group identity. Third, it illuminates the fact that while it may be difficult to reduce intergroup hostility or enmity, it is possible when the two groups realize that only through cooperation can they both survive.

Many other scholars have noted the link between enmity and enhanced group cohesion. Sigmund Freud, in his famous paper, “Why War,” explained to Albert Einstein that in order for society to cohere, the identification of the outgroup is crucial. Group members can displace their own aggressiveness, argues Freud, and in doing so, they deflect destructive impulses that were originally directed towards members of their own group onto the outgroup. (19)


Psychoanalysis has laid the foundation for our understanding of the individual’s predisposition to war propaganda and enmity. There are three bodies of knowledge that have drawn principally on classic psychoanalytic thinking and contributed to our understanding of the process of enmity on the individual level: Self Psychology, an offshoot of psychoanalytical thinking developed by Heinz Kohut; the Authoritarian Personality Theory, developed by T.W. Adorno and his associates; and Jungian psychology, developed by Carl Jung. Developmental psychology, especially the work of Piaget; the study of prejudice and stereotypes, especially the work of Allport; and Political Socialization Theory are also pertinent to this discussion.

Psychoanalytic theory emphasizes the role of parenting in adult personalities as well as social structure. Self-Psychology hypothesizes that a newborn has an undifferentiated self, meaning that it exists, psychologically speaking, only in relationship to its primary caregiver. The quality of the relationships with the primary caregiver will determine, among other things, the ability to tolerate ambiguity, differences and one’s own guilt. (20) These abilities, or lack there of, and the relative strength of one’s sense of self contribute to the individual’s vulnerability to war propaganda and establish an individual’s inclination towards making enemies.

Young infants cannot comprehend that the “good person” who gratifies them is also the “bad person” who frustrates them (is not there to pick them up, feed or change them when they cry). Only at around eight months of age do infants begin to integrate this split. When children are thirty-six months old, the process of integration is at a more advanced stage. From this age on if children received “good enough parenting,” they are better able to tolerate ambivalence — they are more able to love and hate the same person at different times. The ability to tolerate ambivalence, paradox, inconsistency and ambiguity and to resist group pressure also helps determine how vulnerable an individual is to war propaganda. (21)

We are familiar with the scene of a child stumbling over an object, such as a chair or wooden block, is enraged with the object for hurting him or her and hits it back. We can also easily recall how a scolded child turns to his or her doll and blames her or scolds her in return. Blame, externalization and denial are all healthy mechanisms that are part of natural development. However, how far we develop beyond these primitive levels of functioning determines the extent to which we need enemies.

A child who has often been criticized by authoritarian and rigid parents, neglected by self-absorbed, narcissistic or histrionic parents or abused by psychologically or physically violent parents is most likely to grow up with poor self-esteem, with a sense of emptiness and feelings of rage. Such a child develops low self-esteem and is likely to try various strategies to handle or eradicate these negative feelings. As children usually find it too threatening to direct their anger towards the betraying parents, many turn the anger towards themselves and act in self-destructive ways. Some children try to direct this anger to an external person or object. Dissociation, repression, denial, projection and, above all, splitting are some of the defense mechanisms that children, and later on, adults may deploy to cope with their inner sense of badness or inadequacy. Denial of one’s own negative feelings (towards one’s self or one’s parents) and the projection of blame onto others are the most powerful mechanisms in the making of enemies. Enemies are suitable targets for unacceptable negative feelings or guilt by individuals or groups, as they attempt to rid themselves of these emotions. (22)

Jungian psychology explores a similar process, which Jung himself called the projection of the “shadow,” the dark, usually unconscious part of our personality. (23) The origin of the “shadow,” according to psychoanalytic and Jungian thinking, is in individually and socially unacceptable feelings youngsters experience, usually about themselves and their parents. Like the sense of badness itself, these feelings are initially disowned and then projected outward onto someone else — the other — who becomes the hated and feared enemy. This enemy, who carries the disowned part of ourselves, must be fought and eliminated, as we desperately and repeatedly attempt to rid ourselves of our own shadow.

Post developmental psychologists suggest that by the time children are five to seven years old they are capable of forming images of and prejudices towards others. In The Nature of Prejudice Gordon Allport (24) states that by age six children are aware of racial and ethnic differences and try to please their parents by adopting their parents’ views. Allport quotes a revealing remark by one of the six-year-old girls in his study: “Mother, what is the name of the children I am supposed to hate?” At this stage children learn that certain groups are hate-worthy, though they are still working to integrate the content with the emotion.

From ages six to ten years old, according to Allport, children closely mirror their parents’ biases and prejudices. Once they grasp a concept, they are likely to cling to it. Allport’s theory is supported by the social learning theory, a perspective that emphasizes imitation of and reinforcement by admirable models, such as parents, teachers and older siblings. (25)

While young children adopt attitudes, including enemy images, without really understanding them, at adolescence they are capable of thinking more abstractly and also of drawing more accurate conclusions from their personal experiences. As a result, adolescents seem to be less prejudiced and biased. Learning theories complement developmental theory by suggesting that the less rigid structure of adolescents’ attitudes is the result of adolescents’ broader exposure to the multiple models existing in society. (26)

The proponents of the political socialization theory put the emphasis on the parents and their environmental values and attitudes, believing them to be the major factor in determining children’s later political attitudes and behavior. Indeed, parents’ political stands seem to be one of the better predictors of children’s later political views. Unlike the psychoanalytic theory, which focuses on child rearing practices, political socialization theory addresses the importance of parental attitudes as well as the importance of other socializing agents, such as schools, peers, media, etc. Political socialization, like general socialization, is the process by which the individual learns to conform to the values and norms of the group to which he or she belongs and becomes a fully functional member. Children, according to this view, learn about enmity from their surroundings and internalize prejudices and enemy images as part of the process of becoming members of the culture. Allport’s concept of the “propaganda of integration,” mentioned earlier, is exactly the tool used in socializing youth and adults to conform to the group’s beliefs and promote normative behavior.

In summary, the roots of enmity are primarily tied to group behavior. The ingroup-outgroup bias is at the heart of enmity. While enmity is a group process, several theories have suggested that various personality factors can make an individual more vulnerable to war propaganda. If one looks at child rearing practices as a cultural phenomenon, the psychoanalytic and the social psychology approaches merge to form a more inclusive systems approach to enmity.

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Dymnamics Of Enmity

In 1947, Allport and Postman published the results of an experimental telephone game. Participants were to convey communications that they had received. One of the initial communications consisted of a picture of a well-dressed white man threatening a poorly dressed black man with a razor blade. In the process of passing on the communication, over half of the white participants transferred the razor from the white man to the black man. We can hypothesize that fear, distrust, hate, prejudice and enmity interfered with both communications and perception. (27) A similar experiment with communication started with the message that “A white man murdered a black man in front of a church at mid day” ended with the last recipient receiving the message that “A black man murdered a while man in a black ally at midnight.” These are but two examples from many of distorted perceptions that are closely tied to an outgroup. In addition to the split of good vs. evil described above, there are ten dynamics that characterize these distorted perceptions of the enemy.


The double standard dynamic is the most powerful in distorting perceptions of enemy images. This is a process whereby people use a different yardstick to judge the enemy’s actions or to assess enemy motivations than they use for themselves or for allies. The popular saying that “one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” is an illustration of this bias. In the words of William Blum, “What our leaders and pundits never let slip is that the terrorists — whatever else they might be — might also be rational human beings; which is to say that in their own minds they have a rational justification for their actions. Most terrorists are people deeply concerned by what they see as social, political, or religious injustice and hypocrisy, and the immediate grounds for their terrorism is often retaliation for an action . . .”

In the Iraq war of 2002 Iraqi resistance to the United States occupation has been labeled by the American media as terrorism or insurgence, while called liberation or freedom fighting by many in the Arab world. During the cold war American media treated the shooting down of the Korean airliner by the Soviets and the shooting down of the Iranian airliner by the Americans. While the media described the Soviets as uncivilized, brutal, with disregard for human life, the American incident was described as a tragic mistake but justified.

Research by cognitive psychologists has documented the pervasiveness of the double-standard bias. Studies during the cold war have shown that American students evaluate Soviet actions more negatively than they evaluate the same actions performed by the United States. “Hawks” seem to have stronger double standards than “Doves,” apparently because “Doves” and “Hawks” have different attitudes towards the United States and the Soviet Union. Similarly, when students viewed videotape presenting either a black or white person ambiguously shoving another person, the shove was seen as more violent when conducted by a black person than by a white person. (28)

A cartoon by Jerry Robinson (29), also exemplifies this bias. A Senator and a General are having a conversation:

“General, what’s the difference between offensive and defensive missiles?”
“The direction they’re pointed, Senator.”
(At the bottom of the page a little bird says: “Missiles are generally offensive.”)

During a conflict the double standard allows each side to justify its actions as defensive and to denounce the enemy’s stands as offensive. For instance, in the United States the nuclear missiles posted in central Europe and Turkey, to this day, are viewed as defensive, while the suspected Soviet nuclear missiles during the Cold War in South America and Cuba were perceived as offensive. Similarly, the Soviets condemned the United States’ involvement in Vietnam as capitalistic imperialism and justified their own invasion of Afghanistan by claiming they were defending the local government against western aggression. More recently, the 1991 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait seems legitimate for Iraqi but not for Europe, many Arab states and the United States. Similarly, the 2002 occupation of Iraq by the United States was denounced as an act of aggression by most of the world but has been viewed as defense of the free world by the United State and Britain.

The implications of the double standard bias are far reaching. It cements the belief that the enemy is bad and that we are good. The double standard bias leads not only to misconceptions about the enemy and to an exaggerated perception of danger, it can also force the escalation of conflict to a point where negotiation is no longer a viable option and armed hostilities and wars become inevitable.


Research has repeatedly demonstrated how the enemy’s hostile actions are more likely to be attributed to natural characteristics, while positive, conciliatory or peaceful actions are more likely to be attributed to situational factors. In other words when the enemy is acting peacefully, it is because it is forced to do so by external circumstances and not by its own choice. When it acts aggressively, it is due to personal choice or characteristic behavior.

In a number of experiments Americans tended to choose negative motives when fictitious actions were ascribed to the enemy of the time and positive ones when the same actions were supposedly performed by the United States. (30) Comparable results were obtained in studies in different cultures, such as among Hindus and Moslems. (31)

The implications of this dynamic are also far reaching. When the enemy is presenting a conciliatory or peaceful offer, it is met with paranoid suspicion and is suspect for its hidden “real goals.” When Sadam Hussein, for example, finally allowed the UN inspectors to survey the presidential palaces and other locations, it was demanded that he be met with as much suspicion as when he did not allow them to inspect any of the sites. The fact that the inspectors did not find any evidence of weapons of mass destruction did not change the United States’ or the British government’s opinion in regard to Hussein’s dangerousness. Partly as a result of this double standard in attribution, both governments were unfazed by the lack of evidence and went on with their war plans.

When the Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, announced a six-month unilateral freeze on the deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe, it was not met with a sigh of relieve but, in fact, quit the opposite. Time Magazine wrote that the proposal “seemed to officials here designed to cause dissension in NATO and undercut American interests in Europe.”(April 8, 1985, p.1)

This is rooted in paranoia; it distorts reality and results in significant and dangerous, faulty and biased cognitions. It interferes with individual and group capacity to correctly assess levels of danger and to accurately and realistically perceive changes in the level of danger. As such, bias in attribution is a major obstacle in the development of trust; it rigidifies fear, interferes with productive negotiations and is likely to lead to paranoid and aggressive responses and declaration of war.


The tendencies to judge the enemy’s actions negatively, to remember mainly negative information and to attribute peaceful acts to situational factors are frequently accompanied by hostile predictions of the enemy’s intentions far exceeding what can be determined by the facts. As most people are likely to perceive an enemy as more dangerous and more hostile than they really are, they are also more likely to expect the enemy to act more aggressively and violently than can be assumed from the available facts.

Hostile or exaggerated predictions were at the core of the arms race and the cold war. Both the United States and the Soviet Union continued to make hostile predictions about the other’s intent to build arms and use them. In 1956 General Lemay, the chief of the United States Strategic Air Command, stated that “. . . the Russians would have by 1959 twice as many long range bombers as the United States.”(32) This prediction, like many others, was based neither in reality nor proved to be true. In fact, the United States had always preserved its superiority over the Soviets in long-range bombers, at times with a margin of 10:1 or more. The concerns about “Soviet superiority,” “Soviet massive build-up,” and “Soviet expansionist intentions” had fueled the arms race in the most unproductive ways.

Another element of the hostile prediction is the self-fulfilling prophecy. Perceiving the “other” as having hostile intent often promotes a “defensive” or “deterrent” action, which can start or escalate a conflict. Such a conflict may not have existed without the provocation of the “preventative measures.” The hostile prediction promotes a vicious cycle. Suspicion leads to more suspicion, which encourages threats and counter-threats, which erupt into aggressive or defensive actions, validating the initial suspicions and fomenting more. We often defend ourselves by “pre-emptive strikes” or “defensive measures.” The actions of the enemy can be seen as pure and unprovoked hostility if we have misread its intention. This we are likely to do when influenced by hostile predictions and double standard biases. A second cartoon by Jerry Robinson on this theme described a conversation between two generals:

“Last time we were humiliated when they retaliated before our surprise attack,”
“This time our revenge assault for their pre-emptive strike must come first.”

The results of hostile predictions and self-fulfilling prophecies impact many military decisions. During the Libya crisis in 1986 the United States portrayed Kaddafi as a “mad dog.” He was perceived as hostile, unpredictable and impulsive. The fact was that regardless of whether Kaddafi was mad or not, it was the United States that was conducting “routine military exercises” two miles from the Libyan capital, claiming it had a right to conduct military maneuvers in international waters. Quite predictably and understandably, Kaddafi sent his planes to attack the 5th fleet that were on maneuvers near his capital and headquarters. One may ask whether the United States would tolerate anyone conducting “routine military exercises in international water” two miles from Washington, D.C., or New York City. This is a clear example of self-fulfilling prophecy where there was a projection of hostile intent onto the enemy, which led to actual provocation and resulted in escalation of the armed conflict.

More recently, the United State fearfully has linked Sadam Hussein to Al Qaida and Bin Ladin and the 9/11 events without any proof to substantiate such claims. Similarly the assertion that Iraq harbored massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction had fueled the self-fulfilling prophesy about the dangers that Sadam Hussein had posted to the entire free world. As a result, in 2002 the United State invaded Iraq, found neither direct links between Hussein and Bin Ladin nor any traces of weapon of mass destruction. Nevertheless, the United States government feels fully justified in the occupation of Iraq, the instability and massive destruction that ensued and the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded that resulted.


A close analysis of the images of the enemy as perceived by opposing parties reveals that they often see each other in a similar light. Uri Bronfenbrenner has coined the term “mirror image” and documents how American and Russian views of each other during the cold war were essentially interchangeable. Both sides felt that: 1) the other was the aggressor; 2) the other’s government exploited and deluded its people; 3) the majority of the people were essentially good and were not sympathetic to the government’s deceitful leadership; 4) the other government should never be trusted — they have hidden, sneaky and secretive ways to go about their plots; and 5) their policy verges on madness, while ours is, of course, rational and humane. (33) In a testimony to Bronfenbrenner’s thorough research it is as relevant to the 2002 Iraq-United States war as it was during the cold war.

Ralph White elaborated on the second dimension listed above. He suggests the term “blacktop illusion” to describe how both sides of a conflict view the others’ leadership as coercive and evil and the other people as controlled and manipulated by their government. This, of course, can justify either side’s aggressive actions, since these actions are taken on behalf of a “silent majority.”(34)

Examples of the mirror image dynamic are numerous. Americans and Iraqis have accused each other’s governments of misleading their people for their own self-interests. The Americans and Arabs have repeatedly exchanged accusations of the other’s attempt to dominate the world, control its oil supply and insatiate greed. The mirror image has manifested clearly in the way both sides of the Iraq war of 2002 depicted themselves and the other: The United State’s narrative of the war has been: “Altruistic Americans risk their lives to topple an evil dictator and establish democracy and human rights.” On the other side the Arab narrative was: “The same Yankees who pay for Israelis to blow up Palestinians are not seizing Iraqi oil fields and maiming Iraqi women and children.”(1) Both, Iraqis and Americans accused each other of violation of human rights, ruthlessness and greed. Finally, United States blames Iraq for being part of the Axis of Evil, along side Iran and North Korea, and Iraq, and many other countries, consider the United States, Britain and Israel as their own Axis of Evil.

Similarly, during the cold war the United States blamed the Soviet Union for expansionism when they invaded Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. The Soviet Union blamed the United States for expansionism when it sent troops to Vietnam, Grenada and to countries in South America. Americans blamed the Soviets for human rights violations of minorities and Jewish dissidents, and the Soviets reminded Americans of their systematic violation of the basic human rights of the poor and African Americans in the United States. Both sides blamed the other for violations of international treaties, for the support of terrorism and for the escalation of the nuclear arms race.

The political implications of the mirror image are similar to those of the above three dynamics. They all lead to misconceptions of the “other,” create barriers to empathy, erect obstacles to the negotiation process and, as a result, increase the probability of war.


When people think about enemies, they demonstrate selective attention. They focus on negative aspects and actions and retain critical comments about their enemies more easily than they remember positive statements. Experimental evidence demonstrates that people pay attention to and recall significantly more negative adjectives, facts and anecdotes associated with people they consider “the enemy” than with people they consider allies. (35)

Silverstein and Flamenbaum provide an example of the selective attention dynamic. While the generally accepted estimate of casualties in the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union in 1986 is about 10, 42% of the students in a New York university remembered the reports that estimated the number of casualties above 500, 10% remember reports of more that 50,000 casualties. Only 25% estimated the losses at less than 25. (36)

The political implications of the selective attention process are also significant. Half-truth information and narrow focus easily lead perceivers to invalid or dangerous conclusions in regard to their own safety and the enemy’s situation and intentions. As with hostile prediction and the double standard, it perpetuates a fearful state to which an aggressive response is often seen as the only appropriate one.


This principle explains how people are more likely to assess the informer and information that represent their view as more credible than the informer who presents an opposing view. This bias in the judgment of sources of information explains the resistance of enemy images to change. Statements by the Iraqis and the United States, or statements by the Soviet Union and the United States against each other, have often been perceived as credible by their respective audiences only because they describe “the enemy.” This principle was also evident within American political culture between political parties, when in conflict over a course of action or the selection of a candidate for office. Research on the credibility of newscasters also confirms that the more consistent the newscaster’s report was with the research subject’s predispositions, the more credible the newscaster was perceived to be. (37)

The implications of this dynamic are similar to those of the above five. They all contribute to the dangerous process that Morton Deutsch called the “malignant process of hostile interaction,” a process in which the actions and attitudes of opposing sides give each justification for their beliefs. As with all the dynamics described above, the bias in credibility assessment can maintain a person’s inner consistency by ignoring, tuning-out, disregarding or denying any information that is inconsistent with a person’s attitudes towards the enemy. Whether during the cold war or after 9/11, only negative information seems credible; attention is paid only to negative reports. Attribution to aggressive acts is mainly personal attribution for positive acts are mainly situational. Not surprisingly, this process culminates with hostile predictions of the enemy’s intended actions.


The Iraqi National Guard in the 1991 Iraq war was viewed simultaneously as one of the most powerful and well trained combat units in the world and as bunch of ill-equipped ill trained desert soldiers. Sadam Hussein himself was often depicted as an incredibly powerful ruthless leader, as well as an ignorant stupid and uneducated Arab. The Soviets, during the cold war had often been portrayed as simple peasants, happily quaffing vodka and stamping about in Lenin Square with icicles hanging from their fur hoods. At the same time Russians were seen as diabolical, scheming politicians whose power and technological superiority are used for expansionist, threatening ends. The Jews have similarly been portrayed as fawning, subhuman, physically repulsive creatures in tattered, filthy coats, while at the same time being characterized as shrewd, rich men conspiring against decent people and holding in his hands the reins of financial power of the world. Different pieces of Nazi propaganda during the Second World War represented the British both as a dangerous bulldog devouring free Europe and a harmless snail hardly able to move towards its target. (1)

The ability to present and perceive the enemy in such paradoxical ways enables people to justify their attitudes and behavior towards the enemy. Understandably, these paradoxical images are never presented at the same time or on the same poster. On the one hand the Jews have been dehumanized and depicted as rats in order to justify their extermination. On the other hand to justify the extensive measures taken to destroy the Jews, they have been portrayed as controllers of the global economy and the press. Similarly, Sadam Hussein has been presented as the biggest threat to the free world in the 1990s and early 2000s. At the same time he was often depicted as a powerless, ignorant and technological inept tyrant. People’s attempts to avoid dissonance or inconsistency lead them to tolerate paradoxical imagery. The ultimate function of propagating these images of the enemy is always the same; it aims to mobilize people through fear and hate to feel justified in going to war and killing the enemy without guilt.


A group that is perceived as an evil enemy today can be termed an ally and become a trusted friend tomorrow. War propaganda usually focuses on historical differences between “us” and “the enemy.” It emphasizes a long past of evils and character flaws, which implies that the current enemy had always been evil and has always been our opponent. Propaganda distorts truth and skews historical facts with the goal of perpetuating present enmity towards a contemporary enemy.

An example of this shifting of images over time is the relationship between the United States and Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war the United State supported Sadam Hussein and Iraq with weapons, money and intelligence. All this changed in the 1990s when Sadam Hussein had become the archenemy of the free world in the eyes of Americans. Another example of this shifting of images over time is the relationship between the United States and Japan. During World War II the treacherous, bloody, vicious “Jap” became a detested symbol. Barely five years later, by 1950, Americans openly admired the courage and resourcefulness of the Japanese people in rebuilding their war-torn country. For the past thirty years Japanese technological methods, Japan’s healthy economy and the Japanese people’s personal self-discipline have commanded widespread respect bordering on awe. In the 1980s, Japan’s commercial, economic and technological strengths were being blamed for some of the economic hardships in the United States, and new terms, such as “trade wars,” were being used to represent the shift in the relationship between the two countries.

In the same fashion the United States had supported the Taliban and Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, whom they called freedom fighters when they fought the Russians in the 1970s. All these changes rapidly spread worldwide terror after 9/11 when the Taliban become the most threatening enemy and were hiding Bin Ladin. Similarly, the United States and Germany have shifted back and forth between alliance and enmity five times since 1914. Germany and Great Britain, Israel and the Soviet Union/Russia have all alternated between enmity and alliance during the last few decades. When the Berlin Wall came down almost overnight, East and West Germany, who had considered each other as mighty enemies since WWII, suddenly became undifferentiated, one nation with one flag, one anthem and one army.

The question that arises with this dynamic is, do we always need an enemy? Does it matter who the national enemy is as long as we have one? The answers to these questions are far from simple. There are modern nations without enemies (e.g., Finland, Costa Rica, Switzerland) and there have been peaceful societies throughout human evolution. However, most groups, nations, tribes or countries have some type of an outgroup or an enemy. The importance of enmity in the maintenance of group cohesion and group identity sheds light on the prevalent need for enemies. However, it has not been established that groups cannot do without enemies, or that there are not other means to maintain group cohesion and group identity.


The dynamic of enmity is complex and often has significant inconsistencies and paradoxes.

Four of the unwritten rules of enmity state that:

a) The enemy of my friend is my enemy.
b) The friend of my enemy is my enemy.
c) The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
d) My enemies are friendly with each other.

This set of unwritten rules is primarily responsible for the polarization of all the world’s nations into either/or positions of alliance with one or the other of the superpowers at each era. In Bush’s words: “You are either for us or against us.” While during the cold war it was the split between the Soviet Union and the United States, more recently it has been between the Arab-Muslim world and the United States

This dynamic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is also responsible for the awkward situations where the United States found itself simultaneously supporting two sides of a conflict with arms during the lengthy Iran-Iraqi war in the 1970s and 1980s. It supported Iran because it had antagonistic relationships with the Soviet Union and supported Iraq because of its antagonistic relationships with Syria. During the 1991 and 2002 wars in Iraq the United States found itself again in the awkward position of supporting Syria, who was opposing Iraq (the enemy of my enemy is my friend) and at the same time labeling Syria as a terrorist nation due its hostile position towards Israel, the United States’ ally (the enemy of my friend is my enemy).

Research based on Balance Theory has documented how Americans with negative attitudes towards nations whom they saw as hostile to the United States (e.g., North Korea and Iran or, a couple of decades ago, the Soviet Union and Iran) are likely to assume that the relationship between these countries was positive. (38) In other words people are likely to assume that their enemies are friends with each other. During the cold war research has shown that the United State’s enemy, at that time the Soviet Union, was closely associated in people’s minds with terrorism and drug trafficking. (39) Similarly, Sadam Hussein had been associated with Bin Ladin right after 9/11, even though there was no evidence of such relationship.

The complexity of the network of enemies and friends can be examined through the relationships between Iran, Iraq and the Kurds. As predicted by the statement, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as soon as he gained enough political and military power in Iran, the late Shah of Iran opposed the Kurdish minority who were fighting for their independence. Yet, with similar determination the Shah supported the Kurds in Iraq during the long and cruel civil war of the 1960s and 1970s between the Kurds and the Iraqi military. In the same vein the Iraqi government, known to have committed the most atrocious acts against the Kurds during the civil war, supported the Kurdish rebellion in Iran after Khomeini ousted the Shah. (40)

Balance theory applied to international relations offers one of the most plausible explanations for such apparently inconsistent behavior and, at times, extremely confusing, conflicting and irrational alliances. It also explains how we tend to gather together all the qualities and alliances that we fear or dislike. Along these lines the enemies of the day are associated with each other and with other threats, such as terrorism, communism, human rights violations, etc.


The above biases and distorted perceptions are closely associated with the ignorance of basic facts about the world and the enemy in particular. Often these biases leave the aggressor completely unaware of the enemy’s culture, core values, priorities, cultural customs, etc. It is impossible to determine whether the biases cause ignorance or vice versa. However, it seems logical that lack of knowledge goes hand in hand with misconceptions. It is logical that bias and ignorance feed each other.

Due the physical isolation of the North American continent and the cultural isolation of the American society, Americans are notorious for their ignorance of the basic facts of other countries. Twenty-eight percent of United States citizens believe that the Soviet Union fought against, and not with, the United States in World War II. While the generally accepted number of Soviets who died in World War II is 20 million, more than one-quarter of all American college students assess these casualties at less than 20,000. The majority of American students also erroneously believe that the Soviets invented cruise missiles and multiple warheads, and twenty-four percent of them think the Soviets invented the atomic bomb. (41) In spite of the lack of any evidence many, if not most, Americans supported the invasion of Iraq in 2002 because they falsely believed that Sadam Hussein was responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center and had developed massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction.)

Americans went to Somalia, as was accurately depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down, as completely ignorant in regard to the Somalians cultural values, relationship to death, social structure in that country and the complex warlords system. Similarly and tragically, American troop have been deployed to Iraq in 2002 without any basic understanding of the local culture, attitudes, values and social system. As a result, by the end of 2004 more than 100,000 Iraqis and more than 1,200 United States soldiers have died and millions of Iraqis are homeless and many thousands of Americans have been maimed and wounded since the war started.

As the saying claims, ignorance may be bliss but it also can be fatal. Ignorance is also the result of selective attention and selective memory, two dynamics described above. Ignorance is one of the main obstacles to what Ralph White called “realistic empathy” and to the ability of a person to understand the conditions under which the enemy is operating. Ignorance also perpetuates personal attribution of negative actions to the enemy.

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The Art and Science of Propaganda:
Dehumanization: Killing Without Guilt

Propaganda is the tool, mostly employed by states, the goal of which is to get (primarily) men to kill or fight against other men they have never seen or do not know.

One of the most critical elements in fighting our own kind is the ability to dehumanize the enemy, that is, to perceive other human beings as less than human. “Moral” or “civilized” human beings do not intentionally and rationally kill other human beings, but they do kill Gooks, Huns, Japs or Niggers. The substitution of labels from Soviet citizens to Reds, Jewish people to Hibbs or rats, American men to Yankees or Arab people to fanatic Muslims serves a simple but profound function: it allows people to kill with a minimal or no sense of guilt. Accordingly, one of the primary goals of war propaganda is its creation of enemy images that strip the enemy of their human, domestic and individual characteristics. In the words of Butler Shaffer, “War, by its very nature, is sociopathic . . . it dehumanizes people.”

My analysis of enemy images and war propaganda reveals that there are nine levels to describing or perceiving the enemy. As with the clinical interpretation of the Rorschach ink blot projective test, the further an image is from a “human being,” the more “regressive” a level of functioning it indicates. Each of the following levels represents an increased level of threat.

  1. Full human being: At this top level the enemy image presents a fully recognizable human being or a group of human beings. Obviously, the presentation of the enemy as a fellow human being is rather rare and appeared primarily in the primitive-ritualistic and heroic warfare. In both of these types of encounters the enemy was viewed as an equal partner of a ritual warfare.
  2. Faceless: While the enemy is still a human being, the individuals in the outgroup have lost their unique characteristics. They all look alike: masked or expressionless faces. The Arab headdress has been used in Western propaganda to depict a faceless enemy. On the Arab side American or Jewish facial features are often replaced with a dollar sign in cartoons, TV and web images. Some of the disturbing images from Abu Ghraib in Baghdad involved hooded, abused and humiliated prisoners. The cold-blooded executions of foreigners by hooded Iraqi insurgents and the hooded Palestinian rock-throwers have contributed to the faceless vision of the Arab terrorists.
  3. Humanoid-Devil-Evil: Images of Satan or the devil are classic representations of the humanoid level of dehumanization. At this level the enemy has lost one more facet of its humanity and become a mere representation of death, destruction and evil. Since 9/11, many images and cartoons in the press, on the Internet and TV have described Bin Ladin and Sadam Hussein as the “Demonic Enemy.” Bush has constantly used the term “the evil one” to refer to Bin Ladin. (1) Similarly Bush and the American Soldiers have been depicted as evil-devils in Arab press and TV. The by-now-famous statement by Bush about the “Evil Trinity” (i.e., Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan) is also an illustration of the use of the concept of evil in propaganda. “America the great Satan” has been the center of Iranian propaganda since the fall of the Shah but has been as prevalent in Arab propaganda in the last couple of decades.
  4. Animal: At this level the enemy no longer bears any resemblance to a human being and is represented as a snake, rat, crocodile, bear, etc. The animal level is an important step in dehumanizing the enemy. Exterminating disgusting rats is more morally acceptable than slaughtering Jewish people, disposing of bloodthirsty gorillas is more acceptable than murdering German people. More recently, Bin Ladin and Sadam Hussein, as well as Rumsfeld and Bush, have all been depicted as poisonous snakes by the opposite side. In our collection of cartoons, Internet images and war propaganda posters my colleague, Sam Keen, and I have images of Hitler, Stalin, Sadam Hussein, Arafat, Begin, Arik Sharon, Bush I and Bush II all as rats. Bin Ladin and terrorism have often been depicted as an octopus that is chocking the world by Islamic terrorism in Internet and printed media cartoons.
    The war of the new millennium on terrorism has evoked the image of the enemy as an animal and the US soldier as a hunter. The White House and the Pentagon have repeatedly announced that the “Hunt for Bin Ladin” will never stop. During the presidential campaign of 2004, both Bush and Kerry constantly pronounced, “We will hunt the terrorists down and kill them wherever they are.”
  5. Feminized: Another extremely disturbing way to dehumanize the enemy is to give it female characteristics. In a set of cartoons in the early 1990s Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, was portrayed as a seductive female whose large breasts concealed highly explosive hand grenades. Another well-known anti-war poster presents war itself as a whore seducing our young boys to her fatal charms. Terrorism is often depicted in cartoons and films as an emasculating, whorish-looking female. Gorbachev’s peaceful approach to the nuclear arms race has been associated with female seduction tactics (42) and so was Carter’s gentle approach. More recently several images on the Internet depicted Bin Ladin and Sadam Hussein as seductive whores. The dramatic pictures of American service men and women humiliating prisoners held in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004 by putting them in subservient feminine positions is a vivid illustration of dehumanization that feminizes the enemy.
  6. Homosexualized: Another disturbing way to dehumanize the enemy is to give it homosexual characteristics. Universal basic training methods are often the initial breeding ground to anti-gay sentiments. More recently numerous images on the Internet depicted Bin Ladin and Sadam Hussein as homosexuals. One Internet image depicted Sadam Hussein as the bride and Bin Ladin as the groom in a poster titled “Sadam & Osama’s Gay Wedding.” Another cartoon shows a missile aiming at Sadam Hussein’s buttocks and the caption reads “Sodomizing Hussein.” The striking pictures of American soldiers torturing prisoners held in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by forcing them to enact homosexual acts with each other is a vivid illustration of this form of dehumanization.
  7. Inanimate object: At this level of dehumanization the enemy is represented not only as inhuman, but also as a lifeless object. In the Iraq war of 1991 the United States depicted the enemy as a small dot-type target on the computer or videogame screen. Dehumanized enemies are often referred to by technical names or the code-numbers of their weaponry rather than by nationality or even real personal names. During the cold war this allowed the United States to fight not the Soviet army but the SS11 (Soviet long range nuclear missile) or the Frog (Soviet short range nuclear missile). An explosion on the TV or computer screen or the elimination of an SS11 by a Minuteman I (United States long range nuclear missile) are not likely to lead to feeling of regret regarding the loss of human lives. The technical names of weaponry as a representation of the enemy shield us from these feelings. George Orwell reflected well when he stated “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
  8. Doublespeak: This is the most advanced level of dehumanization. Through Doublespeak, a term coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, human lives are presented as abstractions. (43) “Collateral damage” may stand for civilian casualties, “servicing the target” is a euphemism for killing. Numerical terms, such as “megadeath,” stand for one million dead people. There is nothing in these terms that evoke any thoughts or feelings in regard to the human lives being destroyed; they elicit neither guilt nor shame. Therefore, killing and the destruction of life can go on. Additional examples of Doublespeak are: “coercive diplomacy” for bombing, “permanent pre-hostility” for peace and “engage the enemy on all sides” for ambushes. Consistent with the effort to mask the destructive power of weaponry, nuclear weapons have often been given pet names, such as “Poseidon” for the United States nuclear submarine, “Peacekeeper” or “Minuteman” for long-range nuclear missiles, and “Honest John” for the surface-to-surface missile. Acronyms are also abstractions. GLCM (pronounced as “glick-em”) stands for “ground launched cruise missile” and SLCM (pronounced “slick-em”) stands for “submarine launched cruise missile.” Possibilities for names of recent wars in Iraq have included euphemisms such as: “Desert Storm,” “Infinite Justice” and “Enduring Freedom.”

In summary the dehumanization of the enemy is a complex, detailed and creative effort. Each of the above levels of dehumanization represents progressive strata of fear. In other words one can say, “tell me how you envision or describe your enemy, and I will tell you how frightened you are.” It is of no surprise that in our technologically oriented western world, highly technological and abstract images seem to dominate enemy images. On the other hand in an era when television can show the enemy, their children and families right in our living rooms, it is no longer easy to dehumanize the enemy. More and more sophisticated techniques must be developed in order to facilitate the process of denying the enemy’s humanity.

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The Future Of Enmity

Nations are losing the ability to hear each other’s heartbeats. Many international negotiations break down because they are built on mutual accusations instead of mutual confessions.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko

At the beginning of the 21st century we are faced with two powerful leaders who view enmity in a similar manner. On one side there is George Bush II who stated, “You’re either for us, or against us.” On the other side is Bin Ladin who states “The ruling to kill Americans and their allies, civilians and military is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do.”

We have exited the historical “cold war” era in which the predominant fear revolved around the metaphorical image of two large fingers poised to push the buttons that could bring the world we know to a sizzling cold end in a fiery nuclear holocaust. Now our terror wraps around the image of thousands of such fingers, large and small, around nuclear weapons that have been abandoned and unprotected or that are unaccounted for altogether, as well as the horrifying reality that our own domestic airplanes, carrying the precious cargo of businesspeople, steward/esses, mothers and babies have been morphed into weapons of destruction. Hence, although we have the largest storehouse of war tools on the planet, we are reduced to protecting ourselves against an illusive enemy by checking tennis shoes and confiscating nail clippers from grandmothers at airports. The powerless have become the superpowers, and they are everywhere and can strike anytime, any place. They are shape shifters. They have been disguised in our own images. No one is safe and everyone is a threat. Enmity has begun to feel like a primary survival skill to the human psyche.

One of the central shifts in the post 9/11 era is the emergent focus on militant Islam and the war on terrorism. The enemy appears to be rigidly defined and split tidily in two. On one side is the American technically superior empire and her supporters, on the other, terrorism, fueled by the energy of low tech, grass roots, religious, militant martyrs. Most terrifying to many is the sickening infectious enmity that is spreading across the planet, dividing nations — especially the United States, creating religious factions, pitting ethnic groups against one another as it demands a decision to line up behind one warring faction or the other. These two groups have become the modern “superpowers” with new war tactics that are truly terrifying. The old tools of war, and the antiquated posturing of the military, could appear almost comical if they were not so sad, if they did not bear such horrifying consequences. The war being waged is killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and there is no end in sight.

War and enmity are not inherited human characteristics. War and enmity coevolved with the rise of agricultural societies during the Neolithic period and have colored about the last one percent of human history. The existence of peaceful societies that have neither developed war rituals nor fought wars, such as the Hopi and the Pigmies, provides additional evidence against the genetic or instinctual explanation of enmity. While war and enmity are not part of human nature, nevertheless, the history of civilization has been saturated with violent group, ethnic and national conflicts. Today it is imperative that we question the meaning of enmity in the nuclear and terrorism era, seek ways of reducing enmity among groups and discover if nations can exist without enemies.

As we have seen from the famous Robbers Cave Park experiment, hostility and animosity give way and groups pull together only when people attempt to achieve overriding, superordinate goals that are real and compelling to all concerned. The biggest task of our century is to apply this truth to international relationships. While Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) seemed to be the guiding principle during the cold war, in modern days of terror Mutual Assured Cooperation (MAC) must be our new guiding principle. We learned from the “cold war” that we no longer could destroy the enemy on the other side of the wall, the river or the ocean without destroying ourselves. Destroying “the enemy” in the nuclear era inevitably means self-destruction. Terrorism is no different. As any military expert, without political aspiration, would state: we cannot eliminate terrorism; we cannot bomb it out of existence. What we are left with is to attempt to increase our effectiveness combating terror. For that we must stop dehumanizing the terrorist enemy and view them as full human beings with some legitimate grievances.

The bonding energy that group enmity elicits must be redirected towards new types of challenges and targets, such as injustice, pollution, hunger, poverty or the destruction of the rain forest. If pollution is identified as our new enemy, then all nations are likely to cooperate to deal more effectively with this “overriding, superordinate goal.” However, the focus on sustaining the planet is being lost in the current frenzy to produce oil at whatever cost to the environment. The earth and her people are being poisoned by the toxins associated with progress in industry, and due to the use of depleted uranium in weapons, citizens of war-torn areas and their families, as well as American solders who fight there, will suffer related illnesses well into the next several generations. Water, air and earth have been poisoned. A report presented to the U.N. General Assembly on Environment and Development has reminded us that political borders and border checkpoints do not stop the damage and that the global environment is affected.

The rehumanization of the enemy must precede or accompany cooperation. We dehumanize the enemy in order to enable ourselves to kill or destroy it with a minimum of remorse. To see the enemy as a full person, like us experiencing joy, pain, fear and hope, will change our relationships to our enemies. While they may still be adversaries or competitors, they will nevertheless maintain their full humanity and escape the fate of snakes, evil empires, Huns, Hibbs, Niggers or fanatic Muslim fundamentalists.

Realistic empathy is a key issue in the process of rehumanizing the enemy. It requires us to go beyond attribution biases and truly understand the enemy’s motivational system. Far from justifying all of our enemy’s actions, understanding will give us an historical, political and emotional context for our enemy’s actions. (44) Realistic empathy does not mean that the enemy is not expansionist, hostile or dangerous. It only means that we recognize the enemy’s needs, hopes and fears, the catalysts that motivate it to act. If we can develop realistic empathy, many other cognitive and perceptual biases will be reduced. We will be less likely to make hostile predictions, to have selective negative attention, and we will apply fewer double standards in assessing the enemy’s actions. With this more realistic view of the enemy we are more likely to react and deal with situations more reasonably and thereby eliminate dangerous, paranoid, self-fulfilling prophesies. We will, hopefully, react to real threats in a realistic, appropriate and, above all, effective manner.

Our shrinking technological world, inextricably linked by sophisticated communication technologies and the computerized, jet-paced business community, insures the gradual humanization of all people. It was much harder to present the Soviets as dumb, ruthless peasants once we viewed Russian teenagers roller-skating and Russian children playing in Gorky Park on a live television broadcast from Moscow. Similarly, it will be hard to propagate images of the Nazi gorilla, Jewish rat or fearless Japanese samurai ever again if we can view others as complete human beings like ourselves. Direct experience with other cultures, through business or pleasure, can have a powerful impact on rehumanization. While some people can maintain their prejudicial enemy images, for many travel broadens their awareness of the common humanity of all people. Grassroots citizen diplomacy, sister-cities, pen pals and other networking activities between the members of warring groups can drastically reduce enmity by rehumanizing the enemy.

It is impossible to over-emphasize that perceiving the enemy as a full human being does not ensure mutual love or even respect. Some groups and leaders, regardless of how human we view them, may still represent destruction, death and, at times, evil. Still, the fewer perceptual biases we have, the more clearly we can observe the enemy, and the more effectively we can intervene or deal with conflict.

Sociology, psychology and psychohistory provide us with some clues to the answers to our questions regarding enmity and war. While it can be argued that enmity promotes group cohesion and enhances group identity, there is ample evidence to show that groups can develop cohesion and identity without enemies. The important differentiation between nationalism and patriotism enhances our understanding of the differences between intra-group cohesion and intergroup competition. Patriotism connotes attachment to one’s country. Nationalism connotes feelings of cultural superiority. Patriotism is associated with pride and love of the homeland. Nationalism is associated with power and dominance. Patriotic attitudes in the United States have never been significantly correlated with attitudes towards nuclear armament. Nationalism has shown a clear correlation to militaristic attitudes and support for nuclear armament. (45) The fact that patriotism and nationalism are two independent constructs means that one can feel deeply attached to one’s own group without necessarily feeling hostile towards another group.

Education for patriotism (but not for nationalism), as well as for internationalism, is one of the more important steps towards reducing enmity. Recognizing that all other nations and groups have legitimate rights to live in dignity and to be free is another fundamental step towards respectful coexistence. We must honor our differences and not judge people by them. Recognizing others as full human beings is a prerequisite for living in a world where conflicts may exist, but the first and last option for resolving these conflicts must no longer be war.

The danger in the current United States war against terrorism is that it will descend to the level of the terrorist-enemy it fights and by that destroy the very values that the United States is fighting to preserve. Democracy is a fragile system that depends on openness, respect for civil rights and the rule of law. The post 9/11 Patriot Act in the United States suspends a citizen’s civil rights to anyone suspected of having connections to radical Islamic groups. Fighting the enemy on its own terms can destroy the country itself.

We must transform our social and political systems, our communities, workplaces, schools, homes, religious structures and individual psyches by dismantling prejudice, injustice and bigotry. Justice, tolerance and appreciation of diversity can be developed by exploring our hidden biases, by deconstructing biased language, by challenging distorted, violence promoting messages in the media, by promoting and teaching justice and non-violent conflict resolution and by learning to understand and accept the diversity within ourselves.

The post cold war era has problems of new parameters and proportions. Critics of the pre-emptive war argue that a nation and a leader were almost randomly chosen in retribution for the attacks of 9/11. The “enemy” is no longer contained in a nation or any geographical location. While we are busy tracking down and eliminating enemy leaders, a vast army of new leaders is being trained. With terrorism, the threat is absolute and indefinable and thus creates the basis for a universal paranoia. It is no longer the case of the threatening military superpower but the threat of the superior power of the ambiguity of terrorist tactics. We must find ways to manage fear, to question forms of self-protection that violate human and civil rights, to refuse to act impulsively with aggression and to bond together in compassion, respect and care of the human family.

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  1. Sam Keen, Faces Of The Enemy (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), p.11
  2. Harris Poll, in San Francisco Chronicle, 9/25/89, p.1.
  3. For further discussion of the role of splitting and enmity see: Ralph Metzner, On getting to know one’s inner enemy: Transformational perspectives on the conflict of good and evil. ReVision 8 (1985), 41-55.
  4. This definition was adapted from Ofer Zur, The psychohistory of warfare: On the co-evolution of culture, psyche and enmity. Journal of Peace Research, 24 (1987), 125-134.
  5. For further discussion of the psychohistory see Sue Mansfield, The Gestalt of War (New York: Dial Press, 1982), Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1973), Ofer Zur, War-Myths: Exploration of the dominant collective beliefs about warfare, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 29 (1989), 297-327. and Zur, The psychohistory of warfare: On the co-evolution of culture, psyche and enmity.
  6. Robert R. Holt, College students’ definitions and images of enemies. Journal of Social Issues, 45 (1989), 33-50, p. 48.
  7. Brett Silverstein & Catherine Flamenbaum, Biases in the perception and cognition of the actions of enemies. Journal of Social Issues, 45 (1989), 51-72.
  8. Holt, College students’ definitions and images of enemies.
  9. Riitta Wahlstrom, Enemy image as a psychological antecedent of warfare, In J. Martin Martinez, Robert A. Hinde and Jo Goebel, Essays on Violence (1988), 45-58, p. 48.
  10. For description of the Enemy Index instrument and it use see Jerome Frank, Sanity and Survival in the Nuclear Age (New York: Random House, 1967) and Holt, College students’ definitions and images of enemies.
  11. Harold D. Lasswell, Psychopathology and Politics (New York: Viking Press, 1960).
  12. Jacques Ellul, Propaganda (New York: Vintage Books, Random House,1965).
  13. Keen, Faces of the Enemy, p.19.
  14. Erik Erikson, Pseudospeciation in the nuclear age, Political Psychology, 6 (1985), 213-217.
  15. J. M. Rabbie, The effect of inter-group competition and cooperation on intra- and inter-group relationships. In J. Grzelak & V. Derlega (Eds.), Living With Other People: Theory and Research on Cooperation And Helping (New York: Academic Press, 1981).
  16. Vamik D. Volkan, The need to have enemies and allies: A developmental approach, Political Psychology, 6 (1985), 219-247.
  17. Shawn M. Burn & Stuart Oskamp, Ingroup Biases and the U.S.-Soviet conflict, Journal of Social Issues, 45 (1989), 73-90.
  18. M. Sherif & Sherif, C., In a Common Predicament: Social Psychology of Inter-group Conflict and Cooperation, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966).
  19. Sigmund Freud, Why war? In J. Strachey (Ed. and trans.) The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, 22 (London: Hogarth Press, 1933). For further discussion of topic see Zur, War-Myths: Exploration of the Dominant Collective Beliefs about Warfare.
  20. Heinz Kohut, The restoration of the self (New York: International University Press, 1977)
  21. Volkan, The need to have enemies and allies: A developmental approach.
  22. T.W. Adorno, E. Frenkel-Brunswik, D. Levinson & N. Sanford, The authoreterian personality, (New York: Harper, 1950)
  23. Carl G. Jung, The fight with the shadow, In Civilization in Transition Collected works, Vol. 10. (pp. 218-26), (Bollingen Series. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970).
  24. Gordon Allport, The nature of Prejudice, (Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1954)
  25. Petra Hesse & Debra Poklemba, The Stranger with Green feet and Black piggy toes. Paper presented at the International Society of Political Psychology, (San Francisco, July 1987).
  26. Jean Piaget & A. M. Weil, The development in children of the idea of the homeland and of reflations with other countries, International Social Science Bulletin, 3 (1951), 561-578. See also Allport The nature of Prejudice.
  27. G. Allport & L. Postman, The Psychology Of Rumor (New York: Holt, 1947). See also Silverstein & Flamenbaum, Biases in the perception and cognition of the actions of enemies.
  28. For review of these studies see Brett Silverstein, The psychology of U.S. attitudes and cognitions regarding the Soviet Union, American Psychologist, 44 (1989), 903-913), Silverstein & Flamenbaum, Biases in the perception and cognition of the actions of enemies, and Burns and Oskamp, Ingroup Biases and the U.S.-Soviet conflict.
  29. Jerry Robinson, cartoonist, personal communication.
  30. M. Hirschberg, Attribution for superpower intervention: Were they forced to do it? Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology, Secaucus, N.J., (July, 1988)
  31. Silverstein, The psychology of U.S. attitudes and cognitions regarding the Soviet Union.
  32. New York Times, May 27, 1956.
  33. Uri Bronfenbrenner, The mirror image in Soviet-American relations: A social psychologist’s report, Journal of Social Issues, 17 (1961) 46-56.
  34. Ralph K. White, Fearful Warriors: A Psychological Profile of the United States-Soviet Conflict, (New York: The Free Press, 1984).
  35. Silverstein, The psychology of U.S. attitudes and cognitions regarding the Soviet Union.
  36. Silverstein & Flamenbaum, Biases in the perception and cognition of the actions of enemies.
  37. Balance Theory is a theory developed by Heider, a social psychologists. It focuses on the relationships between three entities A,B, and C. Balance state exists, according to Heider, when all three relationships between A, B, and C are positive or when two relationships are negative and one is positive. An unbalanced state exists when all three relationships are negative or when two relationships are positive and one is negative. In other words if person A likes person B who hate person C, and person A likes person C, (the enemy of my friend is my friend) there is unbalanced or discomfort which will often result in at least one person changing their mind. For Heider theory see F. Heider, The psychology of interpersonal relations, (New York: Wiley, 1972). For the application of the Balance Theory to enmity see M. Hirchberg and M. Levingstone, My enemies are allies: The Soviet Union, Iran and the cognitive connection. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology, Secaucus, N.J., 1988).
  38. Silverstein, The psychology of U.S. attitudes and cognitions regarding the Soviet Union.
  39. Robert M. Rosh, Ethnic Cleavage as a component of global military expenditure, Journal of Peace Research, 24 (1987), 21-30.
  40. Brett Silverstein, The psychology of U.S. attitudes and cognitions regarding the Soviet Union.
  41. For further reading on the complex relationships between gender and enmity see Ofer Zur, Zur, O., & Morrison, A., Gender and war: Reexamining attitudes. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 59 (1989), 528-533, and Ofer Zur & Chellis Glendinning, Men/Women, War/Peace: A System Approach. In Macy, M. (Ed.) Solutions for a Troubled World. (Boulder CO: Earthview Press, 1987) Ch. 10, pp. 107-121.
  42. Doublespeak is a term coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984 to describe words are twisted into weapons of government mind control in a futuristic society.
  43. For further discussion on realistic empathy in the nuclear era see: Ralph K. White, Fearful Warriors: A Psychological Profile of the United States-Soviet Conflict, Carl Rogers, A psychologist looks at nuclear war: Its threats, its possible prevention. Journal of Humanistic Psychology 22 (1982), 9-20.
  44. R. Kosteman and S. Feshback, Towards a measure of patriotic and nationalistic attitudes. Political Psychology, 10 (1989), 257-274.

Recommended resources on the topic of Enmity:

  • Psychologists for Social Responsibility. (1989). Dismantling the Mask of Enmity: An Educational Resource Manual on the Psychology of Enemy Images. Retrieved Dec. 1, 2004 from
  • Keen, S. (1987). Faces Of The Enemy (1st Ed.) New York: Harper & Row. 2nd Ed. was published in 2004 after 9/11 and is available at: me1amazoncom1oryourbookstore1/list.nhtml

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