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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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‘British Foreign Policy’

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

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

Chemical Weapons: escaping Obama’s Trap

Chemical weapons use in Syria is Barrack Obama’s trap – the trap he laid for himself ever since he laid down their use as a red line which, if crossed, would oblige the United States to act. However, chemical weapons may also be his way out of the trap. We may not know for months – possibly years…possibly never! – who was responsible for the dreadful gas attack in the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus last Wednesday (21st). One argument, explored by the renowned philosopher Howard Bloom on Facebook, has it that, when the Syrian military is slowly but surely winning its vicious and dirty war and the “UN [chemical weapons] team had just entered Syria when the attack occurred. Would Assad really be so dumb?” The Syrian Government alleges that rebels used chemical weapons armaments stolen from military depots to try to stop the Syrian Army’s advance in Ghouta. Al-Arabiya, amongst others, has covered the Syrian TV networks’ reporting of the Army finding rebel tunnels in Ghouta stocked full of chemical weapon cannisters, gas masks, and other equipment for waging and surviving chemical warfare. Thus, the Syrian Government blames the rebels for the civilian deaths in Ghouta. A dark extension of this theory… Read More

Meanings in the Blood and Turmoil of Egypt

BBC journalist Tim Whewell has posted a brilliant and provocative analysis of the current crisis in Egypt entitled: Egypt Crisis: does Political Islam have a Future? In it Whewell characterises the conflicts which have erupted in Egypt as first the demand for the removal of Mohammed Morsi a month or so back by secularists and since then the demand for his reinstatement by Islamists. The desperate determination of the Egyptian secularists is summed up in Whewell’s piece by the Royal United Services Institute’s Shashank Joshi: “What we’re seeing is a coalition of liberal, secular, youth, revolutionary groups…who have decided that what they value is secularism at all cost, even if the cost is the shredding of every other liberal value that they hold.” While the brutality of the military in repressing the Cairo Islamists is shocking and has drawn condemnation from right around the world, there is ambivalence towards it from many Egyptian secularists. There is real distrust of the Islamists; and the fear meme has spread virally, as Whewell indicates when he says: “President Morsi was removed as much through fear of what he might do in the future as anger over what he had done already.” The Egyptian crisis… 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

‘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

Culture Clash – why China meets Africa’s Needs

by Jon Twigge The following is a ‘guest blog’ by Jon Twigge, an ardent Spiral Dynamics Integral enthusiast and supporter of the Centre of Human Emergence – UK. Jon wrote the piece for his own blog and has graciously consented to it being published here as well. It was a few weeks ago that I read on the BBC that the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, had praised the way that China deals with Africa.  Apparently, unlike the West, China invests in Africa and trades with it which helps it build up its infrastructure.  The West on the other hand, according to the Rwandan president, is more likely to offer aid and to tie it more to conditions. Kagame – seen below with American president George W Bush – went as far to say that European and American involvement was polluting Africa. Why would that be? It immediately struck me, from a Spiral Dynamics point of view, that we are seeing a values clash here.  Essentially we have 3 different cultural sets of values that interact in different ways. From a very simplistic and generalised point of view we could summarise the relevant aspects of the 3 different cultures. Africa Much of… Read More

Why We must win in Afghanistan

The West simply cannot afford to lose its war in Afghanistan. As the soldiers’ bodies come home in ever-increasing numbers, pressure will inevitably grow for a withdrawal. Already an unpopular war in continental Europe, it will become increasingly difficult for the American and British governments to keep their resolve if media and public pressure focus on the costs in terms of lives and money and there is little sign of real progress. Unfortunately military experts anticipate 2-3 years of hard combat and several more years of Western military presence if the South of the country is to be stabilised. But, if we don’t pay those costs, then the Taliban are likely to take over government again in Kabul. It is thought that, in spite of their apparent significant defeat in the Swat Valley, their eyes are set next on Islamabad and the prize of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Even if Pakistan doesn’t fall, Afghanistan will continue to flood the West with heroin (in spite of the Taliban officially being against opium production!) and it will almost certainly go back to being a training camp for al-Qaeda terrorists. What do we need – another 9/11 or 7/7 – to remind us what British… Read More

‘Britishness’ at the Regent’s College Summit

Down in a basement meeting room of the Holiday Inn Oxford Circus…that’s where the Centre for Human Emergence – UK (CHE-UK) was born on the afternoon of Friday 26 July 2009. Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck, Jon Freeman (author of ‘God’s Ecology and the Dawkins Challenge’), Rachel Castagne, Lynne Sedgemore CBE,  Ian MacDonald of the Integral Life Centre,  the veteran activist and author Rosemary Wilkie and myself harmonising an intent – creating a spirit, if you will.  That intent is to build MeshWORK alliances to design natural solutions to local problems in the context of a globalised world. The next 2 days, Saturday 27th – Sunday 28th, saw CHE-UK host its first event, ‘A Regent’s Summit on the Future of the UK’ at Regent’s College. Don, Rachel and Jon led the event and old HemsMESH colleague Christopher ‘Cookie’ Cooke flew in from Switzerland to lend his talents to a task-and-feedback session on the Sunday.  About 50 people joined us to get a feel for what the real issues are confronting the UK and what we might do about them. The general consensus was that in the UK a lot of the positive influence of the BLUE vMEME has been diminished by… Read More