Categories

Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Afghanistan’

Killing the Terrorists

20 January 2009 This feature is being written even as Israeli shells fall on the citizens of Gaza and people are being killed and maimed. (That’s quite a sobering thought!) The aim of the Israeli assault on Gaza avowedly is to neutralise terrorist organisation Hamas’ capacity to fire rockets into southern Israel. However, there is also talk of toppling Hamas – the duly-elected party controlling the government of the Gaza Strip. Does a government have the right to take action to protect its citizens? In a BLUE-ORANGE Western-style democracy, the government has an obligation to take action. If it doesn’t, the electorate will punish it at the polls – and it’s no coincidence that Israel has an election next month. (By contrast, with the kind of RED-BLUE zealotry, with which Hamas runs Gaza, its government can actually sacrifice large numbers of its own citizens with a fair degree of impunity!) Does a government have a right to invade the land of those who are trying to kill its citizens (and sometimes succeeding!)? The Americans certainly saw it as legitimate to invade Afghanistan as a response to 9/11 – and most of the rest of the world supported the invasion (or at… Read More

Social Change

Updated: 17 May 2017 Social change means some aspect of society, culture or sub-culture changes. The changes may be overt and dramatic and obvious to everyone or they may be more discreet and less obvious…until people come to a realisation society around them has already changed. An example of this is the attitude of the general public in the UK towards welfare and benefits. As Elizabeth Clery shows in the results of the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey – see graphic above – there is an increased perception that people on welfare are over-reliant on their benefits and that cutting benefits won’t harm too many people too badly. The following 2 years’ surveys  showed only the most marginal reversal (3%) of this trend (Sarah Alcock, 2015) and the election in 2015  of a Tory government determined to cut even more could be seen as voter approval of these strategies. This is actually a major attitudinal shift in a country that, for many years, had largely prided itself on a generous attitude to welfare. Yet these more subtle changes in public perception often only become news when surveys like the British Social Attitudes annual survey pick them up. Of course, sometimes a slow growth in… Read More

Miliband was right: Cameron IS responsible!

It’s astonishing just how quickly Ed Miliband’s assertion last Friday (24 April) that David Cameron has a clear line of responsibility for the migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean over the past month or so, has become a non-issue. After being a leading news feature all day, effectively it had disappeared as a news item by mid-Saturday. 4 pages into a Google search and I can find nothing about Milliband’s speech or the furore it created more recent than ‘4 days ago’, online or in printed media. On the Friday, I anticipated the Sunday papers being full of analysis, argument and counter-argument about the speech. Nothing!..or at least nothing I could find. Undoubtedly Milliband was subject to a decidedly-vitriolic response from the Tories – environment secretary Liz Truss saying: “It’s absolutely offensive that Ed Miliband should be suggesting that David Cameron is directly responsible for those deaths, which is what he appears to be suggesting.” (BBC News, 2015b) Even Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition deputy Nick Clegg called Miliband’s remarks “pretty distasteful” and accused the Labour leader of “political point-scoring” on the back of a “total human tragedy”. By mid-afternoon Friday Miliband was, in the words of the Daily Telegraph’s Ben… Read More

Afghanistan: Job not done!

There have been a lot of stories crowding the headlines the first quarter of this year. Currently, of course, the news media is dominated by the Russian annexation of Crimea and the disturbing disappearance of flight MH370 – which is generating a number of conspiracy theories, some of them potentially credible. Earlier in the year the news was full of devastating weather conditions – ice storms in North America, floods in the UK and bush fires in Australia, just for starters! Then we had a new prime minister in Italy, yet more civil war in central Africa, the highs and lows of the Winter Olympics gracing our TV screens, the truly-dreadful slaughter in Syria grinding on relentlessly while its peace talks foundered incongruously, the Scots independence debate beginning to get decidedly rough, bankers continuing to get found out – with the US regulator now suing 16 major banks for alleged Libor rate rigging…and even – wait for it! – a ban on women wearing lacy underwear in Kazakhstan. (A true Borat moment, if ever there was one!) So, in and amongst, it’s not entirely surprising that Afghanistan seems to have slipped below the radar for many. The murder of at least 15 people… Read More

Well, are the Arabs ready for Democracy?

On 22 February David Cameron, in an address to the Kuwaiti parliament, hit out at suggestions the Middle East “can’t do democracy”, saying: “For me, that’s a prejudice that borders on racism.” Even at the time it was blatantly clear that such statements were part of his and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to persuade the United Nations to approve military action against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi viciously and bloodily repressing pro-Democracy rebels across Libya. A little over 6 weeks later, as NATO tries not to apologise for bombing the hell out of the first armoured column the hard-pressed Libyan rebels have been able to assemble in what is now a de facto civil war…as revolutionary Tunisia and revolutionary Egypt wonder what on earth to do next now they’ve gotten rid of their dictators…and Syrian security forces exterminate yet more pro-Democracy protestors on the streets of Deraa, I’d argue it could be construed as racist not to ask the question: “Can the Arabs do Democracy?” After all, thousands of Arabs have died over the past 3 months in the name of Democracy. If we’re not to devalue their lives, we have to ask whether their sacrifice for their cause is justified.… Read More

David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT…

This past weekend David Cameron pushed forward considerably ideas his predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had been moving progressively towards …. In essence, this is to say pretty explicitly that, if you want to be British, you need to buy into the British identity and British values. (Ironically, freed from the collective responsibility of Cabinet, Blair on these issues is almost certainly well to the right of Cameron these days – see: ‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair). Cameron criticised ‘state multiculturalism’ and argued the UK needs a stronger national identity to stop people turning to extremism. With MI6 warning last week that Britain faces an “‘unstoppable wave of home-grown suicide bombers”, Cameron could hardly have ignored the threat from radicalised young Muslims; and it seems logical to ascribe their lack of identification with ‘British values’ as one cause of their radicalisation. In his speech on Saturday (5 February) Cameron accused multiculturalism of leading to a Britain of ‘divided tribes’. The prime minister posited that the multiculturalist dogma, which increasingly dominated political and social thinking from the early 1970s on, had meant the majority had to accord each minority ethnic group respect and the freedom to pursue its… Read More

Could Bernard Jenkin and Iain Duncan Smith be 2nd Tier thinkers?

Maybe there is some hope of 2nd Tier thinking emerging amongst UK politicians….? I was greatly heartened yesterday to hear Bernard Jenkin, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme call for strategic thinking to create a “deep and sustained analysis of what kind of country we want to be in 10 or  20 years time.” Jenkin, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), was being interviewed about the Committee’s report, ‘Who does UK National Strategy?’, published mere hours before the first part of the Government’s Strategic & Security Defence Review. The Committee’s report suggested there was a tendency for Whitehall to “muddle through”. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were cited as examples where there had been a lack of over-arching strategy. The report also warned that the UK’s capacity to think strategically had been undermined by assumptions that its national interests are best served by its relationship with the US and economic links within the European Union – “Uncritical acceptance of these assumptions has led to a waning of our interests in, and ability to make, national strategy,” Unfortunately Foreign Secretary William Hague attempted to make political capital from the report, saying it showed a “chronic lack of strategic thinking in Britain’s… Read More

‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair

Wow, Tony Blair sure is back in the news in a BIG way! First the Gordon Brown-bashing memoirs, then having eggs and shoes thrown at him in Dublin on Saturday and being a star guest yesterday on the inaugural showing of the new breakfast programme, Daybreak. And, of course, in the Sunday Telegraph both he and Brown were bashed by former Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt for failing to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq adequately. (Dannatt was in uncompromising mood, blaming Blair and Brown explicitly and personally for needless deaths.) Perhaps the most interesting set of comments to emerge from the seemingly endless round of interviews the former prime minister has conducted were those to do with ‘radical Islam’ and the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran. Talking about radical Islam in general, he described it to ABC News as “…the religious or cultural equivalent of [Communism] and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.” Blair told the… Read More

Cameron & Clegg: where’s the vision?

2 months ago, in ‘Liberal Conservatives’: New Politics?, I wrote about my hopes that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition might indeed be the start of the ‘new politics’ Nick Clegg says he’s always believed in. I talked about the need for 2nd Tier thinking in Government to take us beyond repeating the same old mistakes, ideological conflicts and embezzlement of the public purse. A month on I’ve yet to see real signs of 2nd Tier thinking in anything the new Government does. Yes, as Henry Porter wrote in last Sunday’s Observer (11 July), they’ve made a good start. “…the coalition has moved with degrees of fair mindedness and deliberation that are refreshing. To be sure, there have been blunders, like Michael Gove’s botched announcement on scrapping new schools, but it surely is right to suggest that doctors be put in charge of spending GPs’ £80bn budget, to remove the target culture from the health service and provide 24-hour cover. The withdrawal from Sangin and setting a deadline for ending combat in Afghanistan is welcome, as is the review of defence needs and spending. For once, our relations with the world appear to be conducted by grown-ups without displays of fawning or self-importance…..In… Read More

‘Liberal Conservatives’: new politics?

The first day of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition we had Nick & Dave: the Love-In in the Rose Garden which more than a few commentators likened to a wedding, such was the bonhomie and adoring gazes between the principals. Yesterday we had Vince Cable, the Lib Dems’ voice of sensible moderation, and William Hague, the conservative of the Conservatives, sharing the walk along Downing Street to David Cameron’s first cabinet meeting. Not to mention the bizarre spectacle of Lib Dem anti-nuclear spokesperson Chris Huhne taking charge of implementing the Tories’ plans to build more nuclear power stations! Today, of course, Cameron’s at war with a number of his own backbenchers over the intention to fix the level at which Parliament can be dissolved prematurely at a vote of 55% of the House of Commons (up from a simple majority of 51% and making it that much more difficult to get rid of them). At least the Lib Dems are only being berated for this ‘stitch up’ by members of another party (Labour)! Undoubtedly the week since the general election results were declared has been one of the most interesting in modern British politics! The 55% no-confidence level stitch-up is, in fact, a key plank… Read More