Psychopathology and Politics: Attack Syria to divert attention at home.

Psychopathology and Politics: Attack Syria to divert attention at home.

Kevin P Clements

National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,

University of Otago

Donald J Trump poses major problems to world order. His administration is unraveling, he has no coherent foreign or domestic policy strategy and the Mueller enquiry is beginning to expose serious criminal activity on the part of the President and his close associates. As a consequence, Trump, is showing signs of personal as well as political unraveling. He is exhibiting classic symptoms of too many stress hormones in his body which is having a major impact on his hipppocampal and frontal lobe functioning. As a result, Trump is experiencing confusion, has difficulty concentrating, trouble learning new information, and is experiencing major problems with his decision-making. This was noted first in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” and most recently in James Comey’s new book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”

Trump’s decision to launch a missile strike against Chemical Weapons’s facilities in Syria owes more to personal and cognitive stress than political or military calculation. It is a classic diversionary tactic aimed more at boosting popularity and deflecting attention from Trump’s domestic political woes rather than addressing ways of bringing the Syrian Civil War to a conclusion. It was an impulsive high risk strategy and the fig leaf of approval from Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron does little to give it either Alliance or United Nations legitimacy.

 

Without peace in Syria the prospect of dealing with Assad’s chemical weapons or his gross violations of human rights are very slim indeed. The US, UK and French interventions will impede a negotiated solution to the Syrian Civil War and they do little or nothing to deal with Bashar Assad’s gross violations of Human Rights and other mass atrocities which continue to this day. The message from yesterday’s strike against the chemical weapons plants is that Assad is free to keep killing his people by any non-chemical means.

 

President Trump   and his Secretary of Defence have said that the strike was to enforce international laws and norms regarding the use of chemical weapons. This justification seems hollow when no Trump administration officials have articulated how these strikes fit into a larger Syrian diplomatic and military strategy.

 

The risks of this military intervention remain high. The Russians, Syrians and the Iranians are now all united against the United States and its allies; we are witnessing the beginning of a new cold war and the prospects for negotiated solutions to the Civil War in Syria and peace in the Middle East seem even more remote now than before the strikes began.

 

This is a big challenge to the whole world. We are all affected by the behavior of a man who has demonstrated his singular unsuitability for any political office and whose actions have implications for global peace and stability.
How do those of us who are not American citizens, deal with   psychopathology at the heart of the US government? In the first place we must work with American individuals and organizations who are as worried about this action as we are.

 

There are some hopeful signs. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, for example, called Trump’s decision “reckless” and “illegal”, and expressed concern that the action might embolden Mr Trump to bomb Iran or North Korea. Senators Chris Murphy and Bernie Sanders and Representatives Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee and Jerry Nadler, have called the attack “unconstitutional, illegal and destructive” and demanded congressional authority for any war making, and an investment in diplomacy instead of missile strikes. There was disquiet in the president’s own party, also, as Republican Congressman Thomas Massie called it “unconstitutional.”

 

Second , we need to focus on real solutions to alleviate the terrible suffering of the Syrian people. There are 3.2 million people within Syria in need of direct humanitarian assistance. There are millions more who remain as refugees in Turkey and other parts of Europe. Most importantly, we need to take the issues of chemical weapons and a negotiated peace in Syria back to the United Nations where it belongs.

 

Third, Americans and the rest of the world have to work out ways in which we can both monitor and resist the hawkish policies of Mike Pompeo ( about to be confirmed as the new Secretary of State) and John Bolton the new National Security Advisor. They will encourage Trump’s impulsiveness and desire to distract attention from domestic and personal issues with reckless foreign policy adventures that will do nothing to maintain American security or build global peace.

I hope that the American people mobilise to ensure that this illegal and unilateral decision to attack chemical weapons facilities is challenged and contained. But more importantly, I hope that more attention will be given in the US and the rest of the world to the development of rational Middle East and global foreign policy positions so that the unilateral use of force and co-ercive diplomacy is resisted .

 

I also hope that there are some wise heads in or near the White House who might suggest that the President take some time off to seek professional help for his serious personal pathology which, if left unchecked, will have negative consequences not only for his administration and the well being of America but the peace of the whole world.

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About kevinclements2012

Short CV Professor Kevin P Clements. I am the Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, Dunedin New Zealand and Secretary General of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy. Prior to taking up these positions I was the Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia . I went to Queensland from International Alert where I was Secretary General from January 1999 to September 2003. International Alert is one of the world’s largest NGOs working on conflict transformation. It pioneered innovative policy and practical approaches to conflict prevention and transformation in Africa ,Eurasia and Asia . It has also made a major contribution to the mainstreaming of conflict prevention within European Foreign and Development Ministries, the EU and a variety of UN institutions. During his time there I was on the Board of the European Centre for Conflict Prevention and past President of the European Peace Building Liaison Office in Brussels. Prior to becoming Secretary General of International Alert I was the Vernon and Minnie Lynch Chair of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University Fairfax Virginia USA 1994-2000 and Director of the Institute from 1994-1999. My career has been a combination of academic analysis and practice in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. I was, for example, formerly Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Head of the Peace Research Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra .Prior to this I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Coordinator of Peace Studies at Canterbury University, Christchurch New Zealand . My first academic position was as a lecturer in Sociology at Hong Kong University . I took up this position from a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Oxford University where I worked on development issues with Paul Streeten and others. I have been an advisor to the New Zealand, Australian , British , Swedish and Dutch governments on conflict prevention , peace, defence and security issues and advised the German Government and the OECD on States and Violence. I was, a member of the New Zealand Government’s Defence Committee of Enquiry in 1985 and I currently conducting Problem Solving Workshops in North East Asia with high level participants from Japan, China and Korea. Iwas President of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) from 1994-1998, President of the IPRA Foundation from 1995-2000 and Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association. I was Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association 2008-2010. I got my B.A, B.A Hon ( First Class) and Ph.D in Sociology from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. and held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford from 1970-1971. I have been a regular consultant to a variety of non governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution, development and regional security issues and I have written or edited 7 books and over 160 chapters /articles on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and development with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region. Research Expertise 1. Peace Research Theory- Conflict and Conflict Resolution Theory . Preventive Diplomacy , Development and Peacebuilding 2. International and Regional Regimes-APEC, ASEAN, the ARF, ECOWAS 3. Political Sociology-International Organisations. Multilateral/bilateral negotiating processes. 4. Fragile States, Legitimacy and Political Hybridity 5. Alternative Defence and Security Policies-Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region. 6. The politics and ethics of international humanitarian intervention 7. Altruism and Compassion In my spare time I like to paint with acrylics or pastels, go to the theatre, listen to classical music, visit art galleries etc!
This entry was posted in Alternatives to Violence in the Middle East, Donald J Trump, Psychopathology and Politics, Syria, The UNited States and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Psychopathology and Politics: Attack Syria to divert attention at home.

  1. peddiebill says:

    Thank you for this overview. A helpful and intelligent contribution to the current situation.
    I suspect that many of the current problems are exacerbated by a policy maker whose main intention is to reflect the wishes and prejudices of a relatively unsophisticated and poorly informed popularist support group. Unfortunately this also taps into a rather self-interested and even bigoted version of conservative fundamentalism.

    Liked by 1 person

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