Friday, April 21, 2006

We few, we proud, we psychobloggers

I've noticed that the small but extraordinarily prolific and insightful group known as the psychobloggers (me, Dr. Sanity, Shrinkwrapped, Sigmund Carl & Alfred, and Dr. Helen) has gained some new additions: two, in fact.

One of them is not actually such a recent arrival to the blogosphere. But I guess I'm slow on the uptake; I just noticed him via this link from the Anchoress. He's Gagdad Bob (yes, of LGF comment fame) and his site is known as One Cosmos. Gagdad Bob (otherwise known as Dr. Robert Godwin, in his day job) turns out to be another mental health professional and former-leftist-turned-somewhat-to-the-right who, along with his alter ego "Petey" (physician, heal thyself!) started his blog back in October of 2005.

Bob writes here about his own change process (please read the whole thing):

[Back when I was a leftist] I was also completely ahistorical. Or worse, there was a sense in the 1960s and 1970s that history had labored for lo those many dark centuries to finally give birth to our enlightened generation. We were superior to all of the past benighted generations, including our clueless parents. There was no sense whatsoever that the extraordinary economic and personal freedom that began opening up at that particular time had had any cost whatsoever. If only all of the stupid and violent ideas of past generations were obliterated--ideas like war, sacrifice, capitalist greed, Western religion, etc.--the natural goodness of humans would bloom like a flower.

Of course, like all leftists I was economically illiterate--or innumerate. That's the problem with the Left, since Marxism in all its permuations is just bad literature, not economics. Like socialist Europe, I knew nothing about the creation of wealth. I just assumed it. The only problem was its distribution....

I also lacked gratitude. Again, somehow there was no understanding of the extraordinary sacrifices people had made in the past to make my unbelievably easy and pleasant life possible.

And then there's another (very different but still excellent) new psychoblogger: Stanley Renshon. His blog, with the simple, elegant, and exceedingly descriptive title "Political Psychology," is devoted to just that--political psychology, which happens to be his specialty. I've never studied political psychology formally, but it seems to me that it's what I've been writing about in so many of the posts on this blog, as well.

Renshon, however--unlike me--is not only highly trained in the discipline, it's his field of expertise. Just take a look at Renshon's biographical information; among his many impressive credentials is the fact that he is coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Program in the Psychology of Social and Political Behavior at CUNY.

On his blog, Renshon has posted an excellent series on the reaction of the Iraqi people to the US presence there (Parts I and II).

Here's an excerpt (once again, I suggest you read the whole thing--in this case, both whole things):

The post-war psychology of the Iraqi people reflects a profound case of ambivalence. Ambivalence reflects conflicted feelings, views that pull emotionally in opposite directions. When the pulls are roughly equal, as they were in the liberation/humiliation question it means that most people felt some of both. The central issue for Iraqis was the split between Iraqi nationalism and relief and appreciation of being out from under the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein. Each of those strong emotional currents pulled in direct directions.

On one hand Iraqis did feel “liberated,” yet they also recognized that their liberation wasn’t by their own hand but rather by an outsider about whom they felt ambivalent feelings, at best. The fact that they were not the authors of their own liberation produced a sense of shame and “humiliation.” They were both relieved and aggrieved.

So, on behalf of the other psychobloggers (who elected you, neo-neocon?) I want to extend a hearty welcome to Drs. Godwin and Renshon.


At 2:06 PM, April 21, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

About people not reading your links. I have some conclusions and analyses about that. To me, I've noticed that there are a disproportionate number of links in your posts. I speculate that this is because you ascribe to the multiple-draft format, and hence you get to do a lot of revisions, thereby tacking unto what you wrote before with stuff you picked up. References and background histories, and so on.

But, I cannot help but conclude that this in effect, has a problem. In that, a lot of that information is not exactly crucial to the point or to a subject. Meaning, it does not consist of information that a person could not easily get by himself (at least the savvy people who read blogs), nor does it consist of information that is particularly special in rarity.

So what I tend to do is read your post first, make my comments with or without reading the comments section, and then go back and hit the blog links.

I can't speak for other people, of course, but if you say such and such an article has this or that, I'd probably go back and read it. This is before, reading about your suggesting that I go read it in full.

But the basic point remains. There are so many links, that it is hard to distinguish the important ones from the ones added for thoroughness through your writing technique.

So personally, it is not that I don't have the inclination or the time to click on your links, it is rather I do not have the time or the patience to click on all the links to find out which has information I could use and which doesn't. Independent of your personal comments and recommendations, of course.

I'm not complaining about this post of yours specifically. It's something that has been going on in my head for awhile, and it just came out now. I do have one material contribution to the subject, Neo. Specifically that last part quoted.

If you read this interview

You will see on a tactical level how the Special forces dealt with Afghanistan.

The fact that the SF fought and died along with Afghanistanis, and specifically Hamid's core loyalists, helped produce not only a stable central government after conventional/guerrila conflict was over, but it also helped instigate a sense of loyalty and trust between the Americans and the Afghanistani leadership and primary ethnic tribe.

They saw American air strikes and SF A Teams, and they were awed and humbled. Yet they also could take pride in knowing that they were along with the strike forces, attacking and defending objectives. This has only solidified as SF training of Afghanistan police and national guard units has proceeded according to the SF schedule.

You will see the obvious contrast with Iraq, in which the Army Command prefered not to fight with indigineous folks like the Kurds, because they didn't want any interference because the combat power of a US Division is so much greater than the Kurdish one. What forced SF teams in the field to do by necessity, work with guerrilas, did not apply to Iraq.

So Iraqis were happy we liberated them, but then they wanted us to go away, because they did not trust us and they did not feel comfortable working with us either. Any additional help they requested, would shame them with their helplessness, especially since "we" were supposed to be their guests, not the other way around.

So, that's enough.

At 2:58 PM, April 21, 2006, Anonymous Vanderleun said...

I was going to point out that all bloggers are slightly psycho, but I seek ymarsakar has beaten me to it.

At 2:59 PM, April 21, 2006, Anonymous vanderleun said...

I not only seek it, I see it too!

At 3:48 PM, April 21, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Isn't the original quote, We Few, we proud, we merry band of brothers? Or just band of brothers?

At 4:13 PM, April 21, 2006, Anonymous Spanky McSpankerton said...

Maybe the Iraqis feel torn between being happy that Saddam is gone and "humilation" at having been liberated by a foreign power. Or maybe they feel torn between being happy that Saddam is gone and being sad that their children have been killed by sectarian murderers, their government is dominated by religious extremists with backing from Iran, their country is filled with foreign troops who smashed things up a lot but can't provide enough security to rebuild anything, and foreign contractors that take potshots at them for no reason other than boredom and sadism.

I guess they're both equally valid explanations.

At 1:28 AM, April 22, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Thats nice Spanky. Its not new, nor do you say whether or not Iraqi's are even in a slightly better condition or should have remained under the Saddam regime. Or even what you propose should be done at this point. (unless you've made that suggestion on another thread.)

But thanks for the nice, caustic sarcasm nevertheless.

What would we do without such progressive thoughts in our discourse?

At 8:57 AM, April 22, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

One of the reasons reconstruction did not work all that well, was because the insurgents didn't feel beaten. So unlike the Civil War, Germany, and Japan, reconstruction wasn't seen by the majority of the populace as mana from God, but as an attempt to bribe Iraqis instead of providing security.

It became a show of weakness, and not of generosity or strength. So when the security got worse, people didn't really feel gratitude for the reconstruction because they felt that it was their Deserved Award.

Welfare attitude. Bolstered by Saddam and his dictatorial controls.

This is backed by many soldiers and officers in the Shia and Sunni regions who testified as to the sheer amount of complaints they would get from the Shia and Sunni about this or that and the other. This is contrasted to the Kurds, which don't complain at all, they just do it.

The go get them attitude, that Americans can harmonize with. Opposed to the welfare mentality that everything should be done for the population by others.

At the same time that the Iraqis felt they deserved electricity and what not, they also realized that these are gifts from the Americans. So therefore they feel shame and guilt at needing and getting a gift, and gratitude for staving off starvation at the same time. Not a very healthy state of emotions.

The language barrier also doesn't help. Because Iraqis can't tell us to our face what they feel, and we can't tell them why we're frustrated and why they should help themselves and not complain.

The Japanese when they surrendered, were expecting the worse. They were expecting basically what they would do to the US, if we had surrendered. POW camps, executions, and so on. You have to remember that surrender violated the honor of the Bushido code, rendering those who surrendered below the dirt of those who had honor, and therefore not to be treated with any respect at all.

Respect is a big thing in Japanese society, still is. So the terms dictated by the US for their unconditional surrender, was, unexpectedly light for the Japanese.

Free trade. You get to keep your Emperor. No military build up at all, in return the United States will protect your island instead. Japanese are free to move to America and vice a versa, if you don't like that, we'll handle the matter through Okinawa. Oh ya, Okinawa becomes a US controlled base, sorta like Gitmo in Cuba.

Any crimes committed by American soldiers off duty in Japan, will be tried by Japanese courts (this was a big thing even now).

This brought extreme psychological relief and gratitude from the Japanese, whether they admitted it or not.

The Iraqis didn't expect the Coalition to harm them, so psychologically they had no reason to "feel good" if the coalition gave them reconstruction and then failed to live up to the promise.

At 12:14 PM, April 22, 2006, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, very insightful. I should have expected it more after what I saw in Eastern Europe on a lesser scale. So should we all.

At 2:39 PM, April 22, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

The shame of the liberated Arabs means
1) "more troops" would only have been far worse, being so much more in evidence, but,
1b) would have shown "how hard" it was, so would have left less to be ashamed of. [I'm strongly against more troops, and haven't seen (1b) said by others, but now think it true.]
2) The US led & paid for reconstruction was a huge mistake. We should always have said that most big reconstruction would be up to the Iraqis, and would have to be done by Iraqis -- with Americans willing to loan Iraqi cities the money, through municipal bonds.

Were it to be such a "hand, not a handout", there wouldn't be such expectations of gratitude by the Americans (it's just business), nor any shame in taking the money -- it's just business.

It's not too late to replace aid with loans.

At 3:20 PM, April 23, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I think the American people would have expected or efforts would have been made to think upon it, if the Democrats had not distracted us with complaints about there being no WMDs, and the energies wasted on trying to find and justify them.

Then there was the issue of IEDs and armor, and you can get the idea that maybe some real helpful criticism from a loyal opposition would have helped instead of the meaningless and diversionary tactics used by the current critics of the war.

Afghanistan was always a different war than Iraq, with less forces, more SF orientated, with more on the ground affiliation and operational conduct with the locals. The true meaning of that, was quite obscured by the criticism that this tactic allowed Osama to escape because the Northern Alliance got bought off at Tora Bora.


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