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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘Europe’

The Meaning of Charlie Hebdo…for Islam and the West

The power of the web has been demonstrated very powerfully the last 5 days in just how many cogent positions have been staked out so rapidly re the Charlie Hebdo murders. It also says something about how powerfully the shootings in Paris have touched so many Westerners emotionally to galvanise such strong responses. That in itself, though, is part of a disturbing narrative that feeds into the terrorists’ hate-fuelled ideology. Just 17 people are massacred in Paris and the Western media – formal and social – goes into meltdown. In comparison the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights documentation of over 76,000 deaths in 2014 in the Syrian conflict – the vast majority innocent civilians – warranted around one smallish article per newspaper – eg: The Guardian’s 28 lines – or one short item per news broadcast. The subtext of this comparison is that French lives are worth an awful lot more than Syrian lives – and this comparison is then easily meta-stated into the Western media being racist, anti-Arab, anti-Islamic, etc, etc. It’s one more piece of evidence to support such frames of reference from a line of evidence that notably includes the Americans counting Western lives lost in Iraq 2003-2011… Read More

The Madness of Pietro Poroshenko…?

Imagine that the Scots independence referendum (18 September) produces a knife-edge, inconclusive result, with both sides claiming electoral fraud. Imagine Alex Salmond declares victory anyway; but the UK government roundly rejects Scottish independence and refuses to negotiate with the Scottish Nationalists on any terms other than as the governing party of Scotland-within-the-United Kingdom. Imagine extreme nationalists, mainly from within the police and armed forces, then start organising militia, take over government buildings, deport UK officials across the border and set up customs and immigration checkpoints at all major crossings between England and Scotland. With their Liberal Democrat coalition partners trying to put as much distance between themselves and the Tories as possible in their attempts to stave off electoral annihilation in 2015, imagine the Conservative-dominated government – so unpopular with Scottish voters they have no more than one Tory MP from Scotland at Westminster – then orders the border checkpoints to be retaken – by force, if necessary. Imagine the UK troops meet resistance, shots are exchanged and some UK soldiers killed. Imagine the UK government then orders airstrikes against Scottish militia and the UK army starts shelling areas of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen where there are Scottish militia barracks. Of… 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

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

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

Margaret Thatcher: Saviour or Devil?

The responses to Margaret Thatcher’s death a fortnight ago (8 April), both at home and abroad, serve to remind us only too well what a divisive figure she was. As several tributes have been titled – eg: Ian Dunt at politics.co.uk – she was indeed ‘The Woman who changed Britain’. If you were one of those who saw the need unequivocally for those changes or indeed benefitted from them, then she may be a hero to you. My late father, Ted Rice, thought no less than that she had saved Britain. I once said to him: “You think the sun shines out of her arse!” – and he agreed totally. If you were one of those who lost out badly or were just deeply offended at the wholesale destruction of traditional working class communities as the result of her policies, then you may well view her as, to all intents and purposes, some spawn of the devil. My distant friend Chris Maguire would sometimes wear a t-shirt emblazoned with “I still hate Thatcher!” It wouldn’t surprise me entirely if Chris didn’t end up at one of those parties celebrating her death. As for the reports – eg: BBC News (2013a) – of… Read More

Austerity and the Euro – an Appalling Lack of Quality Leadership

Well, the Eurozone crisis has certainly dominated the news this past week or so – and the Greeks are once again at the centre of it. But this time it’s different. This time it’s not so much the ORANGE vMEME of the ultra-rich financial speculators effortlessly wrongfooting the BLUE-dominated fiscal technocrats in Brussels and Berlin which is causing the problem – though the speculators are still making plenty of money! Rather, it’s the people – the newly-poor, crushed and deprived by the austerity measures wreaking havoc with lives right across Europe – who are democratically electing populist politicians and extremist politicians promising them relief from the austerity. (21 of the Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazi candidates made it into the Greek parliament in the 6 May election.) New Greek elections in mid-June are tipped to give an outright victory to the leftist Syriza bloc which, if Syriza’s leaders stick to their guns, means forcing the European Union to renegotiate the second bailout deal agreed in March, so the austerity measures the Greek are forced to endure are that much less severe. That or Greece tears up the agreement and effectively leaves the euro. In trying to predict what will happen – or what should happen –… 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