Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences


The West and Russia: a Divergence of Values? #2

PART 2 Nationalism and the ‘dictator’ meme In the wake of Crimea, Gallup’s Julie Ray & Neli Esipova reported Putin had polled 83% approval, a massive gain from 54% the previous year – see graphic below. Clearly the Crimean takeover made Russians feel good about their president! Also interesting is the way approval slowly but surely dropped from 83% in 2008 to its low point in 2013. Was this drop a reflection of growing public awareness of corruption, the slowing of economic growth, restricted opportunities for personal advancement and widespread poverty? If so, it indicates Russians squarely put the blame on their president. From the same set of surveys, Ray & Esipova – see graphic below – found  that Russians reported greater confidence in their institutions after Crimea. Again there is a high in confidence in 2008 for national government and the electoral process, followed by a decline in confidence in the following years. Only the military bucks this confidence trend. However, all three institutions receive a significant boost in 2014. What is that much more interesting about the second set of results is that it allows us to see that, all institutions received a boost in 2008 – the year… Read More

The West and Russia: a Divergence of Values?

Published in Eugene Pustoshkin’s Eros & Kosmos e-zine, August 2014. Click here to read it in English on the Eros & Kosmos site. Click here to read Part 1 in Russian and here for Part 2. It’s difficult to write an article triggered by, but not about, an ongoing crisis that has no obvious outcome in any predictable timeframe. The Ukrainian army may be gaining ground but the United Nations’ concern about a growing humanitarian crisis may force them to slow down their assaults – perhaps helped by rockets fired at them allegedly from across the Russian border. The brutal fact is that West is not going to go to war over the low-level but brutal civil war in eastern Ukraine. The West is likely to continue to support Kiev diplomatically and with military supplies and intelligence and there will be reluctant incremental upgrades to the European Union sanctions on Russia (and retaliatory Russian sanctions on the West); but no American or European soldiers are going to die for Donetsk or Luhansk, even if there were to be an overt Russian military incursion. Russian militiamen causing trouble in the Baltic states could be a very different proposition, though. Treaty obligations would… Read More

Putin, Trump and the Endgame for Syria

A  couple of years back I stopped writing about Syria. It wasn’t a deliberate decision. It just seemed to happen. The routine nature of the horrific atrocities committed with relative abandon by both sides, with advantage seeming to swing first one way and then the other and then the other and then the other yet again seemed endless and wearisome. Everything that could be said seemed to have been said…and yet still it went on. Meanwhile, the Crimea, the Ukraine, the Scottish independence referendum, the Peshawar Massacre, Charlie Hebdo and other UnIsamic State atrocities, Jeremy Corbyn, the Brexit referendum, Jeremy Corbyn (again!), Donald Trump…. So many other things have happened in those 2-3 years and so many of them ‘closer to home’…and, as the apocryphal ‘McClurg’s Law’ postulates: the more something is closer to you (racially, nationalistically, culturally), the more newsworthy it is (Stephen Moore, Steve Chapman & Dave Aiken, 2009). Thus, it is understandable (in some senses, at least) that Syria went ‘off the radar’ at times not only for myself but for many other ‘thinkers’ and much of the Western media. Now, though, as what seems to be the final, heartbreaking agonies of Aleppo are so grim and apparently so decisive, they actually break through the news barrier and Syria becomes… Read More

Email from a Muslim Student

It always delights me when ex-students and ex-tutees keep in touch after they have moved on to university (or wherever). One of those I’m most delighted by ongoing contact with is Yasmeen. She is bright, stunningly attractive and has a truly wicked sense of humour. She is also a Muslim of Pakistani heritage. Despite the fact we touched upon terrorism in our discussions for the World Sociology and Crime & Deviance topics, Yasmeen never let on to having any particularly strong political or religious views. Her father did, though. In an ‘Asian’ accent so strong I struggled to understand it at times, he described the Taliban as “very bad men”. He hated what they were doing to his country of birth. So I was intrigued by an email from Yasmeen the other day in which she wrote:- “Islam has a lot to offer in terms of spreading knowledge, living peacefully among others and just encouraging individuals to be good people and do the right thing. “I know things are really fragile now with Muslims, I’m sure you’re well aware of all that’s been happening in the news about Charlie Hebdo, the Sydney Siege, Peshawar Massacre (among other things) – it’s really… Read More

Israeli Stupidity in Gaza! #2

How ironic that, around the same time President Barrack Obama authorises American airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq to prevent ‘genocide’ of Christians and Yazidis, senior and influential figures in Israel are reported to be advocating ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, if not outright genocide…? Ostensibly this looks as though the US will take decisive action to protect minorities in northern Iraq but will ignore butchery of the Palestinians. On 4 August Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, was reported by some media – eg: the Daily Mail’s Jill Reilly – to have posted on Facebook a detailed plan for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters”. The survivors from “maximum fire power” would be put in what are effectively concentration camps, prior to being shipped out of the remains of Gaza to “relevant emigration destinations”. In other words, ethnic cleansing. An influential rabbi, Levi Brackman, has used the Torah to justify such a course: “Some 3,500 years ago, as our ancestors, the ancient Israelites, prepared to enter into the Land of Israel, Moses warns: ‘If you do not… Read More

Hope from the Tragedy of MH17…?

The terrible tragedy of MH17 may just have handed Valdimir Putin the leverage he needs to put Russia’s ultra-nationalists back in the box. Putin is often portrayed in the Western media – especially since the Ukrainian crisis erupted in late February – as a ruthless and tyrannical dictator. Undoubtedly Putin can be ruthless – on the face of it, he appears at least moderately psychoticist on that Dimension of Temperament – and some elements of his regime could justifiably be described as ‘tyrannical’…but he is far from being the omnipotent sole ruler of Russia he is often caricatured as in the Western media. Because this dictator stereotype persists and not all journalists are ‘investigative’ enough, Russian internal politics is chronically under-reported in the West. Additionally being secretive is the norm for Putin, the ex-KGB officer. He’s no Boris Yeltsin to wash his dirty underwear in public. (Which Boris literally almost did on several occasions, he was so drunk!) So it’s not that easy to find out what’s going on in and around the Kremlin…but, a little scouting around the internet will throw up blogs and forums which, ostensibly at least, give us some more insight into what is going on in top-level… Read More

2 Presidents, 2 Crises

In the past I’ve doubted Barack Obama does 2nd Tier thinking – Obama a 2nd Tier Thinker? –  and wondered if maybe Vladimir Putin does – Putin a 2nd Tier Thinker? The latest state of play in world crises seems only to confirm my view of Obama. As for Putin, he’s certainly had a few wobbles in the last month or so and it may be he’s not as in control of Russia as he is usually portrayed to be…but his denunciations of president Petro Poroshenko’s renewed assault on ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, as reported by the BBC’s Oleg Boldyrev, have made him seem reasonable and Poroshenko the aggressor. A 4-way teleconference on Monday (30 June) between Poroshenko, Putin, French president François Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel had raised hopes the fragile truce of the previous week could be renewed – but Poroshenko’s ordering of fierce shelling of Kramatorsk dashed such hopes. Even in late Wednesday’s announcement that the foreign ministers of the 4 countries were working on steps for a new ceasefire, the Russians appeared more reasonable than the Ukrainians. As reported by BBC News (2014b), Ukraine’s Pavlo Klimkin, was all demands, including the release of hostages and security of its… Read More

Has Vlad played a Blinder?

Was the Russian takeover of Crimea daring RED opportunism that took advantage of ethnic tensions in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea exacerbated by the new Kiev government’s apparent willingness to discriminate against ethnic Russians…? Or was it 2nd Tier-level strategic thinking that had been working towards this potential outcome, while balancing a whole load of other issues, and was ready to move when the time was right…? Last Summer I speculated Putin a 2nd Tier Thinker? and was rebuffed by some complex thinkers who saw Vladimir Putin more as a ‘wily’ RED-driven opportunist who seized his moment. Yet it has stayed with me just how tactical and strategic Putin was. He rescued Barrack Obama from the corner he had painted himself into with his ‘red line’ announcements about Syria and became the hero of the Summer by levering Bashir al-Assad into agreeing to give up his chemical weapons. Yet Putin’s solution allowed Russia’s client, Assad, to continue his brutal and ruthless war with conventional weapons. Syria only makes the headlines occasionally these days but the daily slaughter grinds relentlessly on. The West remains directionless and indecisive about Syria but increasingly less inclined to support the rebels as they become increasingly more dominated… Read More

Putin a 2nd Tier Thinker?

Has Vladimir Putin just revealed himself on the global stage this week to be a world-class statesman? While a number of American commentators seem to have taken offence at Putin’s letter to the American people in Thursday’s New York Post yesterday, around the world other commentators, such as Der Spiegel’s Uwe Klussmann, postulate that Putin is saying what others around the world actually think. Already the Internet is alive with discussion of who seems the more reasonable, assured and statesmanlike: Putin or Barack Obama… with many people coming down clearly on Putin’s side. Obama might have argued in his televised speech on Tuesday evening that what makes the United States ‘exceptional’ is its resolve to intervene in the truly horrible…but Putin’s riposte that no one has the right to consider themselves that much more exceptional than others is hard to beat. From an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective, Obama’s argument comes from a vMEME harmonic of BLUE nationalism and ORANGE status-seeking; Putin’s more complex argument comes from the GREEN vMEME and possibly beyond. Back in February 2009 I posited whether Obama [was] a 2nd Tier thinker. Despite the huge sense of optimism in much of the world at his election, within weeks I wasn’t impressed that… Read More

Cameron: “I get that!” (Or does He?)

  Look at David Cameron’s eyes in this BBC video extract from the conclusion of Thursday (29th) night’s debate in the House of Commons. They are full of cold fury when he says: “I get that and the Government will act accordingly.” Poor Dave had had a hard day, having been seriously mucked about by Ed Milliband . First Ed apparently indicated on Tuesday (27th) evening that he would support the principle of a missile attack on key Syrian military installations providing there could be no attack until a second vote approved it, following the weapons inspectors’ report due this weekend. Dave conceded that; but then Ed played a blinder Thursday morning: Labour would not support an attack until there was ‘compelling evidence’ that Bashar al-Assad’s government was indeed behind the appalling use of chemical weapons at Ghouta on Wednesday 21st. Since the weapons inspectors’ job was to ascertain unequivocally that a gas attack had taken place and what chemical agents had been used, rather than directly apportion blame, it was far from certain they would provide the ‘compelling evidence’ Ed demanded. Meanwhile, Associated Press was reporting that anonymous US intelligence agents were briefing that the evidence they had for Assad’s regime being… Read More