He learned this his first day in Afghanistan when he entered a family's hut. The poverty was more than he could fathom. There was no furniture. No light. The only object inside was a copy of the Koran, tucked into an alcove.
"I asked an old man, 'Why do you live in such conditions? Don't you want to do something to improve your lot?' " Lisinenko said. "But the man replied, 'Don't you understand that the worse we live in this world, the better our lives will be in paradise? We don't want the same things in life that you want.' "
That's when Lisinenko said he began to understand that Western ideas of warfare might not succeed in Afghanistan. How do you battle a foe who has so little to protect in this world? A person who may believe a greater good will come from sacrificing himself, his home, his family? How do you vanquish an enemy for whom categories of defeat and victory, life and death do not match yours?
"Nothing we know works in their world," he said.
Lisinenko left Afghanistan two years later with a wounded leg and a shattered spirit. These days, the 39-year-old runs a tea bag company and represents a district of Moscow in Russia's lower house of parliament.