Clash of GroupThinks
November 30, 2007
A day doesn't pass by any more without newspapers carrying scary
reports about how the U.S. is so close to militarily invading
Iran, either directly flying American fighter jets to hit targeted
spots inside the country or through Israel. For a while you read
reports about the Islamic republic's Uranium enrichment activities.
Then it was the proliferation of weapons and giving weapons and
training to Shiite militias in Iraq who in turn used these weapons
to attack American soldiers. Even the Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Corp. and its elite Quds group were put on the list of the supporters
of terrorism. You can almost hear the drum roll in the distance.
The main problem
is that these reports don't seem to be getting the scrutiny that
they deserve, by the shear size of calamity they may help create,
reminiscent of the WMD reports from Iraq circa 2002 and 2003,
pre-invasion. A certain distasteful GroupThink seems to be in
its beginning stages of formation. And since GroupThink is the
byproduct of clique activities, one can't help but blame the media
for cultivating, or at least abetting the creation of a new myth
based on which the country might be dragged into the mess and
uncertainty of a whole another war.
are molded into GroupThink; they all (except for the New York
Giants, perhaps) suffer from Illusion of Invulnerability, and
Shared Stereotypes. GroupThink is a natural byproduct of human
interaction, and groups (as well as individuals) should be protected
from its hazards by conscious effort (education, raising awareness,
To a great
extent, political parties too suffer from GroupThink, especially
the top leaders. They constitute the highest echelons, the farthest
from the roots, where tire meets the road. The GOP suffers from
Shared Stereotypes (evil liberals, abortion-is-murder-in-any-circumstance,
), and Illusion of Morality. Democrats suffer from Shared
Stereotypes as well. No doubt about it. Looking at the recent
past, it occurs to me that we have pretty strong GroupThink tendencies
in America. For example, the fact that the entire nation succumbed
to the war rhetoric (Iraq War), without any reservation or question,
is a dead give away. When GroupThink gets big and out of control,
it gets hungry and has a tendency to go on and consume a whole
people. Then you have a monster on your hand that you have to
deal with. I think we all have seen this on the big, international
scale. Saddam Hussein and Mullah Omar were two prime examples
of such monsters.
movements in Saudi Arabia (OBL), Iran (Khomeini), Egypt (Seyyed
Qutb, Zawaheri and the Akhavan Ul-Moslemin), Pakistan and Afghanistan
(Mullah Omar and the Taliban) all at some point were contacted
and maybe were even recipients of support, whether political or
material, from the West under a large and strategic plan named
"the Green Belt." The green belt was a brainchild of
some American think tanks in the 1970s and people like Brzynski
(Carter's National Security Advisor) and others. The color green
refers to Islam. The belt was supposed to impede the advances
of the biggest and baddest GroupThink that ever existed on the
earth: the old Soviet Union. After all Islam was inherently anti-communist.
This "brilliant" strategy was to prevent the Soviet
Union from expanding its way southward, to warm waters, by raising
local barriers to it. Don't laugh, but at the time it looked like
a smart idea.
fundamentalism didn't use to be considered violent in this country
(although I don't know how many federal buildings have to be blown
up by Timothy McVeigh-types, and how many Planned Parenthood doctors
have to be murdered for us to revisit that notion.) At any rate,
because we saw American religious fundamentalism as a non-violent
movement, the same characterization was stretched to Middle Eastern
Islamic fundamentalism. Each and every one of those movements
were helped financially and otherwise, boosted to dominance in
their area at the expense of annihilation of secular nationalist
movements, in the hope of taking care of the job without involving
American might or money.
funny happened on the way to contain the communist threat. Once
the Soviet Union crumbled, the region's fundamentalist groups
took all the credit, became bold, and got to GroupThinking if
they could get rid of one superpower, what stops them from getting
rid of the other one while they were at it? That's when the relationship
between the Islamic fundamentalist groups and America went south.
At this point
the West had stopped supporting them, because America didn't need
them any more. So, they turned to black market and to their more
successful brothers who had managed to seize control of a government.
By this time the Iranian revolution had survived a war and a decade
of initial turbulence. It was proud of its track record, so it
started funneling petro-dollars to these movements. America by
opposing them, at this point, became the target they all could
be unified against. The Islamic Republic of Iran even started
its own surrogate movements in Lebanon and inside the Palestinian
territories. This thing got really big in the 90s, and it was
too late for America to try to contain it. The rest is history.
and people of Middle-Eastern descent ought to be glad that everyone
makes the distinction between the current Middle Eastern terrorist
movement and the religion that it uses to justify its murderous
instincts. I was never a Republican in my life, but I give credit
to President Bush for separating the murderers from the ordinary
people. Democrats had never taken the time to define what was
going on either. President Bush made the distinction and said
clearly that these are a few angry men with murder on their mind.
By saying that, he prevented a backlash against Americans of Middle
Eastern descent, and (all disagreements that I have with him aside)
that is the mark of a civilized man.
is nothing new to the Middle East. Recently, OBL has used the
Palestinian cause to justify himself. He has tried to portray
himself as a people's warrior, but the problem with that logic
is a warrior unleashes war on the warriors of the other side,
not on civilians, defenseless men, women, and children. And he
is not even doing the warring. He recruits children in their teens
or younger, brainwashes them into thinking they are doing God's
work, and sends them off to blow up civilians, while taking cover
in a cave, out of harm's way.
I think there has to be a management effort on a gigantic scale
on our part (American and the West, in general) to involve the
mainstream Arab communities here and in Europe and in the Middle
East, and begin a sincere dialogue among all parties. America
is currently hedging all its bets on secular and modern groups
in the Middle East to work and create values to counter fundamentalists,
but that's hardly enough. I think mainstream Moslems should also
be included. President Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington,
DC right after the September 11 attacks, and said to the Moslem
folks that had gathered for their Friday Prayers: "Islam
is not the enemy," which was the right thing to do and say.
Lets face it, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US.
The way these mainstream communities are treated should reflect
those sentiments pronounced by the president, something that is
yet to happen. Just ask any veiled woman or Middle Eastern looking
bearded man standing in the security check point line at the airport.
a huge act of good will the fear has to give its place to genuine
acceptance. And "those people" have to get the impression
that they are accepted. That impression thing is not there yet,
and has to be addressed. I don't expect that kind of management
to come from the Middle East. But I have every reason to believe
that if we are to survive this terror-filled era of ours, it is
up to America to break down the GroupThink mentality and construct
the management tools and concepts to create that impression. It
would be a far greater experience than navigating the Cold War
to victory, because today's challenge is far bigger than the challenge
presented by the old Soviet Union.
I remain eternally
IPC recommends this valuable and informative book: