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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

groupthink’

What Kind of Endgame? What Kind of Syria?

Of course, you can find a steady drip of news from Syria if you look for it; but there haven’t been that many front page headlines about the Syrian conflict since the US stepped back from the brink of a missile attack in the Summer. Under tentative Russian protection, the Syrian Government appears to have co-operated fully with the United Nations weapons inspectors who are reported to be making good progress (BBC News, 2013b) While no one should underestimate how dangerous the inspectors’ task is – and they haven’t yet been able to access some sites which are in highly-contested areas – their success has been without the kind of nightmare casualties I envisaged in Putin a 2nd Tier Thinker. (The BBC’s Jonathan Marcus (2013b) was just one expert who foresaw similar scenarios.) So far the weapons inspectors have done remarkably well, the Syrian Government is credited with meeting its obligations to the UN Security Council and Vladimir Putin with getting them to do that…and the world has breathed a collective sigh of relief. Given the commercial media’s RED/ORANGE rapacious appetite for new and exciting events to draw in the audience, it’s not too surprising the media’s attention has largely gone elsewhere.… 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

The Sons of Iraq – a Step towards Stratified Democracy?

The level of violence in Iraq has decreased to the point where troop withdrawals by both the British and the Americans are once again being discussed seriously. Iraq and the United States have reportedly set a preliminary timetable to start withdrawing American forces from Iraqi cities from next June, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari last week after his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The Zebari-Rice agreement would link troop reductions to the achievement of certain security milestones. But, given how cautious President George W Bush has been to committing to a timetable for American withdrawal, for his Secretary of State to agree to one at all is an indicator of how much better things have become. And, of course, a few weeks before, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a statement to Parliament announcing the intention to further reduce British troops in 2009. Who would have thought it a year ago? So, what’s changed the battleground so much in the past 14 months? Partly the much vaunted ‘surge’ of American troops in Baghdad, while merely displacing many insurgents to other parts of the country, did create short-term some of the essentials for peace at least in parts… 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