Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Archive for March, 2010

Mar 21st, 2010

Summary: U.S. military planners have little doubt that an Israeli air campaign against Iranian nuclear facilities would provoke Iranian retaliation against Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers allied with the United States. American efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which border Iran, would come under threat. And there would be no way that any U.S. administration, after so many decades pledging undying support for Israel, could make a convincing claim in Muslim eyes that it was not complicit in the attack. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 21, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that American flags were set on fire to chants of “No, no for occupation” as followers of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr marked the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war, which had already cost hundreds of billions of dollars — with an ultimate price tag in the trillions — dwarfing the original Bush administration estimate of $2.4 billion.

Mar 20th, 2010

Summary: President Barack Obama’s foreign policy appears to be working in one area vital to U.S. national security: Pakistan. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 20, 2009, Aubrey Immelman examined what might have happened if companies deemed “too big to fail” had been allowed to do just that.

Mar 19th, 2010

Summary: Seven years after the first bombs in the war to oust Saddam Hussein, Iraqis went about their business with little observance of the anniversary, looking to the future with a mixture of trepidation and hope. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 19, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 — March 19 in the United States — the end of America’s costly mission was in sight, but the future of Iraq much less clear.

Mar 18th, 2010

Summary: A missile strike in Pakistan has killed Hussein al-Yemeni, a top al-Qaida leader believed to have been a key player in the suicide attack that killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan on December 30, 2009. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 18, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that MSNBC “Countdown” featured a segment titled “Pork Princess: Bachmann’s Earmark Delusion,” in which anchor Keith Olbermann berated U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for signing a “No Earmarks” pledge, violating her own pledge by shamelessly requesting millions of dollars in earmarks, and then dishonestly claiming she had not requested any earmarks.

Mar 17th, 2010

Summary: “Iraq is still being devastated by bombings, assassinations, corruption, millions of evictions, and continued infrastructure destruction. Yet the world that caused all this is trying to draw a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq,” according to Iraqi political analyst Maki al-Nazzal. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 17, 2009, Aubrey Immelman featured a report from Oprah magazine regarding the personal qualities of President Barack Obama: “‘Boring’ might not be the first adjective that comes to mind to describe [Obama], but it was ‘No Drama Obama’ who assured the nation with his steady composure and won the White House. Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University in Minnesota, says the variable that most distinguishes Obama from the two previous presidents is conscientiousness.”

Mar 16th, 2010

Summary: Weekly report of U.S. military deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), compiled from U.S. Department of Defense News Releases. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 16, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan killed four NATO troops, while bombings and clashes elsewhere in the country killed 14 more people; that a suicide bomber in police uniform detonated inside a police headquarters in southern Afghanistan, killing 11 people and wounding 29; that Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki said any U.S. withdrawals “must be done with our approval” and in coordination with the Iraqi government; that the U.S. military confirmed that U.S. forces shot down an unmanned Iranian aircraft in Iraqi airspace; and that 4,259 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war.

Mar 15th, 2010

Summary: The arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — second in the Taliban only to one-eyed leader Mullah Mohammed Omain — has reportedly infuriated Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is said to have been holding secret peace talks with the Taliban’s No. 2 when he was captured in Pakistan in February 2010. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 15, 2009, Aubrey Immelman featured a live video feed of the closing arguments in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate recount trial to decide the winner of the race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken.

Mar 14th, 2010

Summary: Insurgents say deadly bomb attacks in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar are a warning to NATO’s top commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that the Taliban are ready for a coming offensive in their heartland. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 14, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that Jeff Kass, one of the first reporters on the scene of the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, had completed the definitive work on the tragedy, “Columbine: A True Crime Story.” (Immelman collaborated on the project, developing psychological profiles of shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.)

Mar 13th, 2010

Summary: Addressing Tea Party activists earlier this week, Rep. Michele Bachmann exploited U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan in an attempt to score some cheap political points, saying that passing the health reform bill would be a slam against the troops in Afghanistan and that the bill should be killed for the sake of the troops. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 13, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that in the early years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, bombings with half the casualties of the March 11, 2009 Abu Ghraib bombing that killed 33 raised fears the U.S. might not prevail; yet six years after the invasion, that attack did not even make the front page of the Iraqi government newspaper.

Mar 12th, 2010

Summary: In the fourth major terrorist attack in Pakistan this week, a pair of suicide bombers targeting army vehicles detonated explosives within seconds of each other, killing at least 43 people in the eastern city of Lahore and wounding about 100. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 12, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that the FBI was investigating whether young Somali men were being radicalized in Minnesota and recruited to fight with terrorist groups such as al-Shabab in Somalia.