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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘religion’

Abu Ghraib, Auschwitz and Mumbai

It is, of course, decidedly early to pronounce on just who is behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai; but it is almost certainly radical Islamists of one persuasion or another. One senior Indian military officer has claimed that the attackers came from Pakistan – yet one of the gunmen in the Oberoi Trident Hotel managed to get hooked up to a TV channel and told them he was from the ‘Deccan Mujahedeen’, a (previously-unknown) group of Indian Muslim extremists.  Given the marginally-improved state of the usually-hostile/often-verging-on-war relations between India and Pakistan, one might almost be forgiven for hoping it was an internal Indian operation that could not so easily be a catalyst for open military confrontation between the two nuclear powers. However, in light of the Hindu orgies of violence against Muslim communities which have followed previous Islamist terrorist incidents on Indian soil, thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths might prove equally unpalatable.   Where ever the attackers originated from, few will be surprised if they didn’t have at least tacit assistance from radicals in Pakistan. And few will surprised, given the sophisticated level of organisation in the Mumbai attacks, if the hand of al-Qaeda isn’t to be found somewhere in the pulling of the strings.   What… Read More

Iran: Jaw, Jaw or War, War?

Early in June the Israeli airforce carried out an exercise – sending 100 F15s and F16s out over the Eastern Mediterranean and Greece – supported by aerial tankers for in-flight refuelling. It was an impressive logistical feat and is being portrayed in the media as a dry run for bombing the Iranians’ principal nuclear facility at Bushehr. Interestingly it was not the Israelis or any of the other Middle Eastern states which ‘leaked’ the story but the Americans – with the spin that the Israelis were demonstrating to Tehran that they do have the capability of getting as far as Bushehr. As the news leaked (June 20), the Israeli government stepped up the war of words with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (struggling to regain domestic credibility after more corruption allegations) saying: “Iran will not be nuclear.” Even more ominously Deputy Prime Minster Shaul Mofaz told journalists a strike on Iran was now “unavoidable”. Arch neocon John Bolton, one-time US ambassador to the United Nations, has gone on record as saying he believes Israeli will strike in between the presidential election in November and the inauguration of the new President. A strike before the election might influence it unduly; if Barack Obama… Read More

Tariq Ali gets Benazir Bhutto wrong!

So that old agent provacateur extraordinare, Tariq Ali, has attacked the naming in Benazir Bhutto’s will of 19-year-old son Bilawal as her successor as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, describing it as “a digusting medieval charade” (His article was the front page lead story in the New Year’s Eve edition of The Independent – and he appeared on that morning’s editon of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, reiterating his position.) In describing the succession of Bilawal as “medieval”, Tariq was spot on! Moreover, his description of Asif Zardari, Bhutto’s widower (and Bilawal’s father), as a “feudal potentate” – a Lord Chancellor or Grand Vizier? – who will run the party until his son is old enough, is also pretty close to the mark. Where Tariq misses the point is to call it “disgusting” and a “charade”. He goes on to say: “How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future?” The point is: this is very much how the politcians in Pakistan must act if they wish to design an alternative government to the military dictatorship… Read More

A Message for Tony Blair?

Well, Gordon Brown certainly had an ‘interesting’ introduction to his new life as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 3 British troops killed in Iraq on Thursday 28 June (the day after his assumption of power), 2 car bomb plots somewhat miraculously foiled in London in the early hours of Friday 29th and the dramatic Cherokee Jeep bomb attack on Glasgow Airport Saturday afternoon (30th). British troops are being killed or injured in Iraq now on a fairly regular basis; so there may or may not be any significance in the timing of the Basra roadside bombing. But there is much speculation about the supposedly-linked London and Glasgow attacks and what their meaning might be. A number of commentators are of the view that the car bombs are some kind of message from al-Qaeda to Gordon Brown. Quite what that ‘mesage’ might be is harder to fathom – especially since there has yet to be any kind of statement from a recognised agent of the terrorist network. Nor has there been any indication so far that the police have relevant information on either motive or instigating source from the suspects they are interrogating. Certainly Brown has signalled that ‘change’ is going to be his motif… Read More

Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber…?

“Their cause is not founded on injustice. It is founded on belief, one whose fanaticism is such that it can’t be moderated. It can’t be remedied. It has to be stood up to.” – Tony Blair, London, Saturday 16 July 2005. In every point in that statement, other than the first one, Tony Blair is correct. In saying it is not founded on injustice, he makes a fundamental error. Injustice, in fact, feeds their cause. Back in the Autumn of 2001, I was seriously impressed with the way Blair went around the capitols of the Middle East and Asia, persuading the kings and the sheiks and the generals and the dictators that, if they would not openly support the imminent American onslaught on Afghanistan, then at least not to publicly oppose it. He learned passages from the Qur’an to support his case with Muslim leaders. For a time I actually wondered if Blair could do 2nd Tier thinking. What he did was certainly way beyond the red/BLUE simplistic black & white thinking of George W Bush. However, Blair’s support for Bush’s 2003 war on Iraq showed a distinct dearth of global or strategic thinking. Defeating the military of Saddam Hussein, seriously degraded… Read More

First Kosovo, then Northern Ireland?

So Kosovo’s back in the news. 31 people dead. The return of tribal bloodletting and ethnic cleansing. Only this time it appears to be the Serbs that have been getting the worst of it. Seemingly triggered by the stupidity of Serb youths hounding (literally, with a dog!) a couple of young Albanian children to their deaths in a river, what increasingly looks to be a well-coordinated campaign by Albanians to drive Serbs out of their homes suddenly materialised from nowhere. And now the dream of an Albanian Muslim Kosovo, independent of Serbia, is equally suddenly back openly at the top of certain extremist groups’ agendas. The speed with which the situation in Kosovo deteriorated clearly caught the NATO troops and the United Nations mandated administration off guard. As I write, several thousand addtional NATO troops have entered Kosovo and a relative calm seems to be returning to the Serbian province. Yet the sheer ferocity of this sudden outbreak of ethnic violence raises questions about the viability of the UN strategy for it not only exposed the fragility of the NATO-imposed peace but also its shallowness. On the face of it things had been going reasonably well in Kosovo for the UN.… Read More