Ukrainian Appeals To Anti-Semitism In Election Win

Ukrainian Appeals To Anti-Semitism In Election Win

KIEV, Ukraine — A surprise showing by an extreme-right nationalist party in the Ukraine’s local elections has put the party and its leader – and its anti-Semitic rhetoric – into the national spotlight.

Oleh Tyahnybok
Svoboda (Freedom), which until recently had been relegated to Ukraine’s political fringe, handily won in three of the country’s western-most provinces in Sunday’s vote, preliminary tallies show.

Local elections held in the former Soviet republic propelled Svoboda to surprise victories in Ukraine’s Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano- Frankivsk regions.

Svoboda, whose campaign program emphasized Ukrainian patriotism and resistance to the Kremlin, captured between 30 and 34 per cent of the popular vote in the three districts, according to a survey by the Research and Branding Group.

By contrast, its closest rivals obtained between 10 and 13 per cent in each local contest.

Svoboda also tripled its popularity in Ukraine’s central and northern regions, as compared with the results of the 2010 presidential elections, according to mostly complete official ballot counts.

Oleh Tyahnybok, 41 and a former surgeon, is Svoboda’s charismatic leader. His oratory, with its unique mix of erudition, pithy peasant wit and passion, stands out in Ukraine’s political arena.

Tyahnybok calls himself a patriot fighting for his country. His opponents call him a racist and neo-Nazi.

‘That’s baseless lies, Svoboda is for equal rights for all Ukrainians,’ an angry Tyahnybok said during a pre-election television talk show. ‘Anyone who is for an independent Ukraine is our ally.’

Svoboda’s grassroots are in old Galicia, a rugged region formerly belonging to Austria-Hungary and Poland. Unlike the rest of Ukraine, it came under Russian control only after World War II.

Tyahnybok quit medicine in 1996 and entered parliament in 2002 as a member of the Our Ukraine political party, headed by former president Viktor Yushchenko.

Our Ukraine, like Svoboda, supports market reforms and closer relations between Ukraine and Western Europe. But Tyahnybok’s rhetoric has stirred up controversy.

Yushchenko expelled Tyahnybok from Our Ukraine in 2005 over a televised Tyahnybok diatribe in which he praised Ukrainian partisans who fought ‘Ruskies, the Krauts, Jewishness and other unclean elements.’

He called on the Yushchenko government to strike fear into the ‘Russky-Kike mafia’ purportedly running Ukraine.

Yushchenko’s political star has waned badly since then, and Our Ukraine managed to capture only 2.3 per cent of the national vote in the Sunday vote.

Outside Ukraine’s western region, where Svoboda achieved outright victories, the party drew 5.1 per cent of ballots cast nationwide, making it Ukraine’s fifth-most popular political party, according to a GfK exit poll.

‘A couple of years ago, Tyahnybok’s men were regarded as a marginal group…Today, they are a really influential force,’ wrote Ukrainian political commentator Konstantin Dymov in an article titled ‘The Nazification of Galicia.’ (article continues below)

The Svoboda party platform, which criticizes oligarchs and tycoons, makes some commonplace proposals directed at the middle class, along with nationalist criticism of Russia.

The party calls for farm assistance, cracking down on corruption and a foreign policy that puts ‘Russia and Ukraine on equal terms…rather than like the Tsar to his slave.’

Tyahnybok’s sure feel for his electorate, and its dissatisfaction with Ukraine’s Russia-leaning government, was in full evidence on May 27 in Lviv, when thousands of angry demonstrators turned out to hurl catcalls and insults at President Viktor Yanukovych’s vehicle convoy.

Tyahanybok fired up the crowd with an angry speech attacking the president and his administration. Later in the day students put on a humorous street play featuring Yanukovych as a bewildered prison convict – a nasty reference to assault and robbery sentences Ukraine’s president served in his youth.

One actor, playing the part of a stereotypical Orthodox Jew complete with wire glasses and Yiddish accent, obsequiously promised to rewrite Ukraine’s history books: ‘That’s right your worship, there never were any Ukrainians. And their language – it’s not a language, it’s just Russian with a Polish accent!’

The crowd appeared to enjoy the anti-Semitic satire.

Source: DPA

Konstantin Dymov (Lviv, Ukraine)


Unfortunately, Ukraine lacks a strong anti-fascist movement


The local elections in Ternopol Region, Western Ukraine, have attracted interest as a probe of electoral sympathies on the eve of the presidential and most probably, also extraordinary parliamentary elections. This year’s 50% turnout was very unusual for this region, earlier famous for high voting activity. It can be partly explained with the appeal of Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko to boycott local elections. As the name of her political party, BYUT, was not erased from ballot papers, one half of the local electorate still voted in its favor, while the other disappointed half sought a more radical option.

Other observers believe that in fact, the Prime Minister’s appeal of boycott was motivated with the recognition of inevitable defeat. In Ternopol Region’s legislative assembly, her party used to hold a majority for years. However, the implications of economic crisis for Western Ukraine aroused massive disappointment in her leading capabilities. In any case, a 10% result of her party indicates that Mrs. Timoshenko’s popularity in Western Ukraine is rapidly shrinking – along with her opportunities to gain the Presidential chair.

On this background, the second place of United Center, the party founded by President Viktor Yushchenko’s chief of staff Victor Baloga, looks not very surprising, given Mr. Baloga’s “administrative resource”, as well as influence in West Ukraine’s business circles.



The most popular political force in Ternopol appeared to be the All-Ukrainian Freedom Association, chaired by MP Oleg Tyagnybok. This young politician expected an even higher result than the one third of the vote his party garnered.

Despite its today’s politically correct name, Freedom Association has not much changed after being renamed from Social-Nationalist Party of Ukraine (SNPU) in February 2004. In fact, it is the same radical nationalist movement that has revived the slogan of “Ukraine for Ukrainians”, inherited from the wartime Nazi collaborators from Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Freedom’s outspoken xenophobia, particularly directed against Russians, is so radical that the infamous UNA-UNSO movement looks on this background like a society of Russian-Ukrainian friendship.

Back in 2004, Tyagnybok’s intention to invent a nicer name for SNPU in 2004 was motivated with his desire to make a political career on the eve of the expected “orange revolution”. Being elected to the Supreme Rada (Parliament) in 2002, he joined the faction of Our Ukraine Party, chaired by future President Victor Yushchenko. However, in July 2004, Mr. Yushchenko personally expelled him from the faction, after a public xenophobic speech in which Mr. Tyagnybok urged the youth audience to get rid of Russians and Jews, using humiliating acronyms.

Freedom’s activists practice in painting battle-cries like “A good Russian is a dead Russian” and “Russian language is made for idiots” on city walls. A couple of years ago, Tyagnybok’s men were regarded as a marginal group, more or less popular only in district towns of Lviv Region. Today, the former Socialist-National Party positions itself as a really influential force. That is quite natural: the economic and political crisis, undermining the people’s confidence in establishment parties, hurls the vexed West Ukrainian voters into the embrace of radicals. This ominous tendency alarms all the sober-minded and decent citizens, regardless from their ethnic origin.

At the same time, it is obvious that Freedom would never reach its success without generous financial support that could hardly be provided by local business circles alone.

According to media rumors, Freedom was co-financed by Igor Kolomoyski, owner of Privat Group and an ethnic Jew. The version of support of a neo-Nazi party by a Jew sounds hardly surprising for Ukraine, whose business tycoons are marked with exceptional cynicism.



For what purpose is Freedom Association is nurtured by top business? Drawing parallels with Latin America of 1970s, we can guess that its mission is to fulfill most dirty operations in a case of a “Day X”. The current social instability may erupt in hunger riots, possibly originating from the underpaid army. For this occasion, a neo-Nazi force is pretty convenient. In order to save their interests, the oligarchs may initiate a pogrom of Russians, with the ensuing intervention of NATO peacekeepers.

In case of a revolutionary situation, Bandera’s successors may unleash political terror, eliminating the real opponents of the political regime, and providing a pretext for introducing a state of emergency with an ensuing oligarchic dictatorship. At the same time, the radical rightists may serve as cannon meat in a provoked war conflict with Russia; this possibility has been already raised in mass media. It is noteworthy that Mr. Tyagnybok frequently agitates for oppression of the Russian majority of Crimea. Thus, political and military excesses shouldn’t be ruled out.



Logically, the ultra-rightists should be opposed by leftists. But in the elections to the Ternopol Region’s Assembly, not a single leftist party managed to gain popularity. The Socialist Party, after its decline in Kiev, lost its faction in the Ternopol Assembly as well. Even in the current disastrous, the Socialists were reluctant to strike a deal with the Communists – though the two parties could at least pursue tactical goals, and jointly overcome the 3% barrier to use the joint faction as a tribune.

However, nothing was done in this direction. As a result, many traditionally leftist voters made their choice in favor of the centrist Party of Regions, chaired by ex-Premier Victor Yanukovich; this party won almost 10%. Its electorate is obviously composed not only from ethnic Russians but also from local intellectuals who fear the political revival of Bandera’s heritage.

In 1998, Ukraine’s Communist Party won 10% in Lviv. This success could be developed in grassroot work. Instead, CPU ruined itself from inside, with implications affecting not only Lviv but most of other regional cities. Today, a 10% result is a pie in the sky for CPU even in Eastern Ukraine.

The decline of CPU was accelerated with the scandal of the love affair of its leader Pyotr Simonenko with a young journalist. Though the manner of digging in family linen, displayed by Ukrainian media, is pretty disgusting as well, it is noteworthy that by that time, Mr. Simonenko had already disappointed leftist voters with his public political deal Mrs. Timoshenko, who is hated by most of ordinary communists. In addition, Mr. Simonenko and his circle also undertook all kinds of measures to oust his intra-party opponent Leonid Grach, ex-chair of the Parliament of Crimea.

Some authors regard CPU as not more than a political relict. But to my mind, this approach is erroneous in the situation when types like Mr. Tyagnybok are ascending to power. Instead of factionalizing, leftists should unify all anti-Bandera forces. In case particular ultra-leftists succeed in their initiative of splitting CPU, the outcome will be miserable: the disappointed leftist electorate will abstain and eventually melt.

Unfortunately, Ukraine does not have a unified and consistent leftist party today. The degradation of the leftist camp leaves space for ultra-nationalism, with a real threat for life and well-being of millions. Even in a critical situation, leftists continue to discuss who of them is a better Marxist, and to plant intrigues against one another.

Unfortunately, the option of an ethnic massacre is becoming more and more probable. Following Bandera’s imperative “Power should be ruthless”, Freedom is likely to get rid of all the civil rights and liberties. Today, the problem of power is becoming black and white: either we exterminate them, or they will exterminate us. The healthy forces of Ukraine – of the whole Ukraine, from Uzhgorod in the west to Lugansk in the east, are to unify in order to build a strong shield against rising neo-Nazism.


Ukraine communists, nationalists clash on Revolution day

KIEV, Ukraine – Agence France-Presse
Activists of the Communist party gather during a rally on Independence Square in Kiev on Nov. 7. AFP photo
Activists of the Communist party gather during a rally on Independence Square in Kiev on Nov. 7. AFP photo

Ukrainian communists and nationalists clashed Sunday in scuffles in rival marches marking the anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917 that brought the Bolsheviks to power, an Agence France-Presse correspondent at the scene reported.

About 2,000 mostly elderly Communist party supporters gathered in the center of Kiev to mark the 93th anniversary of the October Revolution in defiance of a ban by the city court on any such meeting.

Several dozen representatives of the nationalist Committee of the Orange Revolution, a group supporting the 2004 pro-Western uprising that ousted the old elite, meanwhile held an anti-communist rally.

They clashed with the communist supporters on Kiev’s main central avenue, Khreschatyk Street.

Small fights also took place near the monument to revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin where the communists laid flowers while the nationalists tried to disturb them, Channel Five reported.

The police quickly stopped the clashes, arrested six Orange Revolution supporters and promised that the organizers of both meetings would not escape punishment, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian parliament blocked a bill proposed by the Communist party that could have made Nov. 7 a state holiday in the country.

Ukraine suffers a strong division between nationalists keen to promote the country’s independent history and pro-Moscow factions who are much more enthusiastic about its Soviet past.

Oleg Kashin’s Horrible Truth

A journalist is beaten nearly to death in Moscow. Is this a deliberate crackdown, or something more subtle — and more sinister?


The paramedics reached 30-year-old journalist Oleg Kashin Saturday morning at 12:40 a.m. He was lying outside the door to his apartment building in central Moscow, his face bloodied, his legs mangled, the ground covered in blood. “He showed his hand to the doctor so he could see it was all broken,” a neighbor told TV reporters. The toll, tallied by various news sources, was chilling: two broken jaws, one broken leg, a fractured skull at the temple and a heavy concussion, blood in the lungs, fingers partially torn off at the joints, one of them later amputated. By the time Moscow woke up to the news on Saturday, Kashin was already in an artificially induced coma.

At Kommersant, the newspaper where Kashin works, no one doubted that the attack was related to his journalism. “The thing that bothers me is that at the moment of the beating, they broke his fingers,” the editor in chief said in a radio interview. “It is completely obvious that the people who did this did not like what he was saying and what he was writing.” Kashin’s iPhone, wallet, and other personal belongings remained on his person, untouched.

There was no shortage of theories about why Kashin was targeted. Many pointed instantly at United Russia’s youth wing, Molodaya Gvardia, which openly threatened Kashin in an August article on its website. It was titled, in the hyperbolic, hyphenated language of early Soviet propaganda, “Journalist-traitors need to be punished!” “They have betrayed their homeland, they have spit on their civic duty!” it blared, adding Kashin to a list of others needing to be punished. Kashin’s sin was daring to interview one of the radical anti-fascist protestors who attacked a local government building while protesting the cutting down of the Khimki forest this summer. That interview was not particularly inflammatory — in fact, Kashin took a stern line with the young hoodlum — but it brought the police to Kommersant‘s offices, asking the paper to turn over Kashin’s email.

Russian journalists are usually killed or attacked because they threaten powerful financial or economic interests. The chopping down of the Khimki forest to make room for a highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg has exactly those interests behind it: It was being financed by Arkady Rotenberg, Vladimir Putin’s judo buddy, and Putin proclaimed this summer, amid growing protests, that “all decisions have been made.” That is, the road would be built as planned. (This remains the silent consensus in Moscow, despite Medvedev’s August moratorium.)

Moreover the attack on Kashin seems to fit a disturbing pattern. Only a few days ago, Khimki activist Konstantin Fetisov was attacked with a baseball bat when he got out of his car in front of his Moscow home. The left side of his head was bashed in. His wife later found a fragment of the bat that had splintered off from the force of the blow. Like Kashin, Fetisov remains in an artificially induced coma and in serious condition.

Kashin’s case most resembles a far earlier one, however. In the spring of 2008, Mikhail Beketov, a local journalist in Khimki who sought to expose the corruption behind the road, was beaten and left unconscious and bleeding in front of his house. He too slipped into a coma. There are eerie similarities between this attack and Kashin’s: Beketov’s legs were so brutally beaten that one had to be amputated, and he suffered such severe brain damage that he can now barely speak. But his hands were the most symbolic, chilling target. Three of Beketov’s mangled fingers had to be amputated. Whoever got Beketov, and whoever got Kashin, wanted to make sure they never wrote again.

But that’s as far as the theory goes. Kashin covered the subject of Khimki thoroughly and in his characteristically beautiful, at times acidic prose. But nothing he wrote was all that seditious; he didn’t really expose anything that threatened anyone’s financial interests. And, unlike the journalists who have been killed, attacked, or harrassed in Russia during the last decade, Kashin is not a fringe or opposition figure. When I first met him, in the winter of 2006, to interview him about the politics of young Russians — his specialty — he struck me as a Kremlin apologist. Kommersant is Russia’s most prominent daily, a mainstream paper owned by Medvedev buddy and mining mogul Alisher Usmanov.

I was, of course, wrong about Kashin. He is not an apologist but is, in the best traditions of his generation, simply hard to categorize. He covers youth movements for his paper, and he is equally unsparing in his coverage of both the pro-Kremlin organizations, like Nashi and Molodaya Gvadia, and the opposition ones, like the Yabloko and Antifa movements.

He is also a loud, profane, and well-loved member of the Russian web community, which is why most of the fallout has occurred in a parallel Twitter universe. Kashin’s handle, KSHN, was soon trending as hundreds of updates and hang-in-theres flooded the Russian-language part of the service. Most surprisingly, the pro-Kremlin wing of the Twittersphere, aside from the occasional outburst of “he had it coming,” was as horrified by the attack as everyone else. “This filth was harsh with Kashin,”tweeted Konstantin Rykov, a blogger who often writes of the “liberasts” — that is, liberals plus pederasts. “Broke his fingers so he can’t write. Damn.” Rykov spent the rest of the day tweeting frequent, distraught updates on Kashin’s condition and trying to remember what Kashin could have possibly said to have this happen. Kashin, however wrong in their view, was still a member of their community, and a physical attack, especially one of such savageness, was simply beyond the pale.

“Oleg never wrote flatteringly about Nashi,” said Robert Shlegel, a federal commissar of the movement and a tech-savvy young Duma deputy. “He spoke rather harshly about us. We’ve known Oleg for many years, and he criticized us a lot, but no one ever spoke of attacking him ever, in any way.” Kashin did sometimes defend Nashi, and the group, Shlegel said, plans on asking the prosecutor general to solve this case quickly. Shlegel also agreed that this was not a random attack, that Kashin was singled out because he was a journalist. “Hooligans don’t deliberately break fingers,” he said. Sounding unusually morose and rattled, Shlegel sighed and added, “To be honest, I’m in total shock.”

It wasn’t just bloggers who responded with alarm and empathy. Vesti, the leading news program on Russian state TV, led with a report about Kashin. Nashi and Molodaya Gvardia issued statements condemning the attack, though the latter chose to post it on its website withphotographs of Kashin hugging two skimpily clad girls. Medvedev, whose press secretary had been woken in the middle of the night with the news, announced — on his Twitter feed, of course — that he had asked the Interior Ministry and prosecutor’s office to take control of the case. “The criminals must be found and punished,” He wrote. (Medvedev has also called Usmanov, the paper’s owner, to offer help. Usmanov is said to be paying Kashin’s medical bills, including his eventual transfer out of the country for further treatment.) Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika was reported to be personally overseeing the case, and Kashin’s friends said that the entire police force seemed to be on the case, calling them in for questioning. (“I am now being interrogated by a woman in a gold Rolex,” Kashin’s ex-wife and fellow Kommersant reporter wrote on her Facebook wall.)

It is all a striking contrast to when journalist Anna Politkovskaya was killed in 2006. Then-President Vladimir Putin took days to respond. When he did, he said that “her influence over political life in Russia was minimal.” Today’s emphatic response was, perhaps, due to the fact  that Kashin was not a fringe figure, like Politkovskaya. Or it could have been because Kashin works for Usmanov. But it was also a tacit acknowledgment of how bad the attack looks abroad — and at home, too, during a period of relative openness. The question now is whether or not the Kremlin will follow through with an arrest and a conviction to send a strong signal to a culture used to a breathtaking impunity in such matters.

“The question isn’t whether they’ll find who did it — in fact, they probably already have their pictures over at the precinct,” says Oleg Mitvol, who, until a few weeks ago, was a local prefect opposed to the Khimki road and spoke often to Kashin on the subject. “The question is who ordered the attack, and whether, once they’re found — given how high up they probably are — the government can tell society about them.” Mitvol recalled that, when one of his deputies was attacked, the main hit man was found dead. “That’s what will probably happen here, too,” he said. “Considering the massive public resonance of this case, the people who ordered it will try to get rid of the people who carried it out.”

The explanation for the attack on Kashin, however, is probably far more banal than all the conspiratorial chatter would suggest. Kashin was attacked during a holiday weekend that was once intended to celebrate the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, but is now called, inexplicably, National Unity Day. Every year, it is marked by the Russian March, a parade — easily granted by the authorities — of ultra-nationalists, skinheads, white supremacists, and other terrifying dregs. They’re generally not a peaceful, or a sober, group. Fetisov was beaten right after this year’s parade, Kashin a day later. Molodaya Gvardia may not have directly ordered the attack on Kashin, but its incendiary language, coupled with enough booze and nationalist celebratory spirit, may easily have pushed someone past the boundaries of mere talk.

Tellingly, toward Saturday evening, Moladaya Gvardia scrubbed the incendiary article about “journalist-traitors,” removing the pictures of journalists it had stamped with “WILL BE PUNISHED.” Atop the story, the movement added this statement: “Molodaya Gvardia is extremely outraged by the barbaric attack on journalist Kashin. There is civilized political struggle, and there is cold-blooded criminality. There are artistic images, and there is real life. We call on everyone to understand that.” It’s unclear what this hail-Mary addendum revealed: a craven need for self-protection, or, worse, an admission that the organization cannot control the nationalistic fires it ignites.

It’s common, when violence or death cleaves into the mundane, to remember the ordinary things that preceded the rupture. In retrospect, they can seem almost paranormal. Yesterday evening, before the thugs got to him, Kashin went to a dinner party at the home of his friend Max Avdeev, a photographer. He arrived around nine. “He certainly wasn’t expecting anything,” Avdeev told me. “He was in a cheerful mood.” On the way over, Kashin tripped on an exposed wire and scraped his knee. (“Fucking shit I busted my knee!” he tweeted.) Upstairs, in Avdeev’s apartment, just a few metro stops from Kashin’s, he complained that he was always unlucky.

Kashin left Avdeev’s around 11, apparently to meet a woman named Nastia, for whom the police are now searching. On the way there, he snapped a picture with his iPhone of a kiosk being demolished on the orders of the city’s new mayor. It was his last tweet before he lost consciousness a couple hours later.

The attack itself unfolded almost cinematically, something Kashin wouldn’t have failed to note, were he to write about it. He came home shortly after midnight to find two men waiting for him by the fence with a bouquet of flowers. Then they beat him with their fists and also with some metal objects. It was the yardman, witnessing this from the darkness, who called the ambulance.

Writing three days after journalist Anna Politkovskaya, laden with groceries, was gunned down in the elevator of her apartment building, Kashin was skeptical of her role as a journalist — she was, he said, “a newsmaker” rather than a reporter. “‘But how can that be!’ the reader-romantic will exclaim,” Kashin opined. “‘She wrote the horrible truth about Chechnya, about Ramzan Kadyrov, about the feds [the federal forces in Chechnya]. One can be killed for the truth, and so they killed her for the truth.’ I am going to disappoint the reader-romantic: There is no horrible truth for which a journalist can be killed.”

Psychopaths Know Right from Wrong but Don’t care

Psychopaths Know Right from Wrong but Don’t care

Maaike Cima; Franca Tonnaer; Marc D. Hauser

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 2010;5(1):59-67. © 2010 Oxford University Press

Abstract and Introduction


Adult psychopaths have deficits in emotional processing and inhibitory control, engage in morally inappropriate behavior, and generally fail to distinguish moral from conventional violations. These observations, together with a dominant tradition in the discipline which sees emotional processes as causally necessary for moral judgment, have led to the conclusion that psychopaths lack an understanding of moral rights and wrongs. We test an alternative explanation: psychopaths have normal understanding of right and wrong, but abnormal regulation of morally appropriate behavior. We presented psychopaths with moral dilemmas, contrasting their judgments with age- and sex-matched (i) healthy subjects and (ii) non-psychopathic, delinquents. Subjects in each group judged cases of personal harms (i.e. requiring physical contact) as less permissible than impersonal harms, even though both types of harms led to utilitarian gains. Importantly, however, psychopaths’ pattern of judgments on different dilemmas was the same as those of the other subjects. These results force a rejection of the strong hypothesis that emotional processes are causally necessary for judgments of moral dilemmas, suggesting instead that psychopaths understand the distinction between right and wrong, but do not care about such knowledge, or the consequences that ensue from their morally inappropriate behavior.


The behavior of psychopaths is, without doubt, morally inappropriate, including murder, sexual molestation, fraud, and arson. Further, clinical analyses show that they present abnormal emotional profiles, as well as problems with inhibitory control, often leading to both reactive and instrumental aggression (Blair, 1995, 1997, 2008; Blair and Cipolotti, 2000; Blair et al., 1995; Glenn and Raine, 2008; Kiehl, 2006; Kiehl et al., 2001; Raine and Yang, 2006). What is unclear is the extent to which psychopaths suffer from damage to morally-specific knowledge that, in healthy individuals, guides intuitive judgments of right and wrong independently of their moral actions. On the one hand, studies indicate that psychopaths, both adults and juveniles, show a diminished capacity to distinguish between conventional and moral transgressions (Blair, 1995, 1997, 2008; Smetana, 2005; Turiel, 1998, 2005). For example, unlike healthy adults, adult psychopaths will typically judge as equally forbidden transgressions in which a person wears pyjamas to a restaurant (conventional) and a person who gratuitously hits a waiter in the restaurant (moral). Psychopaths also show diminished inhibitory control, a deficit that may contribute to their impulsive behavior, especially in the context of violence (Blair, 2008; Blair and Cipolotti, 2000; Kiehl, 2006). This research has led to the view that because of their emotional deficits, psychopaths have corresponding deficits in moral knowledge which, coupled with poor inhibitory control, leads to morally inappropriate behavior (Blair, Mitchell, and Blair, 2005; Nichols, 2002; Prinz, 2008).

Further support for the idea that the deficit in moral psychology seen among psychopaths is due to the deficit in emotional processing, comes from the wealth of research showing a significant relationship between emotional experience and moral judgment. For example, dozens of studies now show that you can prime people’s emotional state, and as a result, change their judgment of particular moral scenarios. For instance, putting people in a happy state is associated with a greater tendency to allow someone to be used as a means to some greater good (Valdesolo and DeSteno, 2006); associating a neutral word with disgust under hypnosis is associated with more severe moral condemnation (Wheatley and Haidt, 2006); inducing disgust is associated with more severe moral judgments (Schnall et al., 2008).

In addition to these behavioral studies, neuroscientific experiments also support the critical role of emotion in moral judgment. In particular, several imaging experiments reveal clear patterns of activation in emotionally-relevant areas when subjects read about moral dilemmas (Greene, 2003; Greene et al., 2003, 2004; Moll et al., 2002, 2005, 2007). And further, recent studies of patients with severe deficits in emotional processing [i.e. fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) and individuals with bilateral damage to the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (VMPC)], show a highly selective, but significant deficit in moral judgment (Ciaramelli et al., 2007; Koenigs et al., 2007). For example, whereas VMPC patients, like controls, judged actions involving impersonal harms (e.g., flipping the switch on the trolley to kill one person, but save five) as more permissible than actions involving personal harms (e.g., pushing the fat man off the footbridge to stop the trolley, killing the man, but saving the 5), VMPC patients were more likely to endorse these personal cases, including situations where aversive acts lead to significant benefits to others. Thus, for a broad range of moral dilemmas, emotions appear to play little to no role in guiding judgment; for dilemmas that pit highly aversive actions against significant utilitarian gains, these patients favour the outcome, providing evidence for the causal role of emotion for a specific class of moral problems.

The neuropsychological data are of particular interest because they provide a more causal account of the relationship between emotional processes and moral judgment. Further, and of special interest to the present paper, several authors have alluded to the similarity in profile between VMPC patients and psychopaths, especially their flat socio-emotional responses and their lack of inhibitory control (Anderson et al., 1999; Barrashet al., 2000). On this view, psychopaths and VMPC patients should show the same pattern of moral judgments.

Summarizing, a dominant perspective in the current literature sees intact emotional processes as essential to our moral psychology. Here, we consider an alternative framework, one that motivates the present studies of psychopaths. In particular, though we do not deny that emotions play some role in our moral psychology, it is possible that our emotional experiences follow from our moral judgments as opposed to preceding and guidingthem (Huebner et al., 2008). If this view is correct, then psychopaths may well show normal patterns of moral judgments relative to control populations. Where psychopaths deviate is in both not caring about their judgments (i.e. what they know about morally forbidden and permissible cases) and in not engaging with the kinds of motivational systems that inspire morally appropriate behavior and inhibit morally inappropriate behavior.

The following study targets three issues at the core of current work in moral psychology: (i) To what extent is normal emotional regulation necessary for making normal moral judgments, especially in the context of moral dilemmas where there are no clear, societally-mandated or typical responses? (ii) To what extent are the systems that guide moral judgments dissociable from those that guide moral behavior? More specifically, do psychopaths show deficits in both moral knowledge and behavior, in knowledge, or in the link between knowledge and behavior? (iii) Given the parallels between psychopaths and VMPC patients with respect to their deficits in socio-emotional processing and self-control, do they show parallel patterns of moral judgments?

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Indian boots in Afghanistan, the Worst Idea, Ever

Indian boots in Afghanistan?

By Ali K Chishti

US President Barack Obama has already begun his 10-day trip to Asia where he would be visiting Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and India. Obama’s trip to Japan, South Korea and Indonesia is seen as a “continuing policy” to further strategic cooperation between the US against growing Chinese influence and North Korea. However, it is his trip to India, which is being seen as “agenda-driven” and somewhat a strategic shift by the US.

Obama’s trip to India, which the Indian media is playing up as an “extra-ordinary trip”, is being seen with very high hopes domestically where various agreements and issues such as civil nuclear cooperation, economics, counter-terrorism, Pakistan and China will be discussed in great detail. The real agenda of Obama’s trip to India is “Afghanistan” where there’s “an absolute breakdown of relations”. While both the US and India wish to avoid re-emergence of terrorism sanctuaries capable of carrying out international terrorism, it is the “US giving all cards to the Pakistanis in Afghanistan, which is a real problem. We have investments, assets and recent history which prove that Afghanistan is abused and used against carrying out attacks inside India”, confirmed Zahid Hussain, an Indian defence analyst.

“Afghanistan has become a major source of tension between the US and India for the primary reason that India does not believe that we will stay until the job is done,” McCain said in a speech before leaving for a trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. While President Obama will be in India signing deals and will give a strong statement supporting India, McCain will be on a “Mission Pakistan” to make sure “no egos are hurt” in Islamabad.

While Obama will be singing praises for New Delhi, Daily Times had been told by many American analysts close to the US Defence Department that finally, the US has made up it’s mind up to formally ask India to send troops to Afghanistan due to shortage of manpower in Afghanistan, to satisfy non-Pakhtuns, and to satisfy the concerns of India and other regional powers, including Russia regarding a possible Taliban take-over. It should be noted that Pakistan’s all-powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, in Washington DC, publically called for “minimising Indian role” in Afghanistan for an exchange of stability in Afghanistan.

The US, according to Harvey Caroll, a US defence analyst, “is thinking broadly and keeping all its options open and while there had been talks with the Taliban, the US also wants to keep the Northern Alliance and “non-Pakhtuns” happy or give some sense of security for the long term. Pakistan needs to get out of its India-centric attitude and stop the blackmail”.

“The almost 9,000 Indian troops deployed on UN peacekeeping missions could easily be re-deployed in Afghanistan,” confirmed Bharat Singh, an Indian defence analyst. While it should be noted that India has other interests in Afghanistan too, it primarily wants to end Pakistan’s monopoly as a gateway to Afghanistan and had even financed an alternate corridor of strategic importance that connects Afghanistan with the Iranian port of Chahbahar. The 280km road from Delaram on the Kandahar-Herat highway to Zananj is India’s own ‘Silk Road’, which it wants to protect at any cost with the Iranians, who play along.

India, which traditionally has been supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, has many defence officials and even a serving brigadier inside Afghanistan to look after Indian interests. Daily Times has been told that Lt Gen RK Loomba, the Indian Army’s Military Intelligence DG, was also in Afghanistan to assess Afghan military’s capabilities, and India is keen on taking the new role in Afghanistan.

It should be remembered that the Afghan Defence Ministry, which is mostly headed by old leftists, denied Pakistan’s offer to train the Afghan army, while General Caldwell, the head of NATO training mission, during an interview previously published in Daily Times, also denied Pakistan’s role in training the Afghan army. Meanwhile, the NATO and ISAF command, which sees Pakistan as an “enemy” because of Pakistan’s security doctrine of “strategic depth” and the analogy of “good Taliban and bad Taliban”, also wants Indian boots in Afghanistan since 2006 and would still welcome them.

In a conference call with reporters this week, Robert D Blackwill, who served as an ambassador to India during the George W Bush administration, said India is extremely anxious that the US would forge a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. McCain described the emergence of a strategic partnership with India as “one of the most consequential, bipartisan successes of recent US foreign policy”. While it should be remembered that India has taken Russia, France, the UK and now even the Americans on board for their permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

On the Pakistani side, the country has taken a central role in Afghanistan policy by assuring the Americans earlier this year that “we will help you stabilise Afghanistan only when you reduce Indian influence in Afghanistan”. The offer to India from the US to actually bring in uniformed Indian soldiers to Afghanistan would be seen as a serious security threat and an anti-thesis to Pakistani security doctrine of strategic depth.

Could this be all bluff? The US actually pressurising Pakistan? “Maybe, but it would certainly take skeletons out of the Pakistanis, plus the possibility is real. We can’t get blackmailed anymore,” Daily Times was told.

US Rejects Israel Call for Military Threat against Iran

US Rejects Israel Call for Military Threat against Iran

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday rejected comments by Israel’s prime minister calling for a “credible” military threat against Iran to ensure it does not obtain nuclear weapons.

    “We know that they are concerned about the impact of the sanctions. The sanctions are biting more deeply than they anticipated and we are working very hard at this,” Gates told reporters on a visit to Australia for security talks.“So I would disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran to take the actions it needs to to end its nuclear weapons program.

    “We are prepared to do what is necessary but at this point we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we taking is in fact having an impact in Iran.”

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday that only a “credible” threat of military action would stop Iran from developing the atomic bomb, a senior Israeli official said.

    The official, who asked not to be named, quoted Netayahu as telling Biden: “The only way to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons is by creating a credible threat of military action against it if it does not halt its race to acquire a nuclear bomb.”

    President Barack Obama’s administration, while not ruling out a military option against Iran, has so far stressed sanctions and diplomacy as its preferred course with dealing with the Islamic republic’s nuclear drive.

    Biden’s discussions with Netanyahu in New Orleans come as world powers are positioning for a resumption of talks with Iran about its nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.

    And it comes on the heels of U.S. mid-term elections that left Obama in a weakened position with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and the Democrats clinging to a slender majority in the Senate.

    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham set a tough tone on Saturday at a security conference in Ottawa when he said conservatives want “bold” action on Iran.

    If Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon,” Graham told the Halifax International Security Forum.

    “The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran… containment is off the table.”

    Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said the Israeli prime minister expressed support for continued sanctions on Iran in his talks with Biden but suggested that more pressure was needed.

    “Sanctions are important. They are increasing pressure on Iran. But so far there has not been any change in the behavior of Iran and upgrading of international pressure is necessary,” he quoted Netanyahu as tell Biden.

    The impasse over Iran’s nuclear activities has already led to fresh UN and EU sanctions against Tehran, which were followed by several other unilateral punitive measures by the United States and the European Union.

    Sanctions notably ban investments in oil, gas and petrochemicals while also targeting banks, insurance, financial transactions and shipping — which Tehran has brushed off as having no impact.

    But Iran — which denies seeking nuclear weapons — has said it is prepared to resume talks from November 10 and proposed that they be held in Turkey rather than Vienna, the site proposed by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

    The talks, which include Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany and the United States, have been deadlocked since October 2009 when the two sides met in Geneva.

    The New York Times reported last month that the Obama administration and its European allies were preparing a new, more onerous offer for Iran than the one rejected by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year.

    The offer would require Iran to send more than 4,400 pounds of (1,995 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium out of the country, an increase of more than two-thirds from the amount required under a deal struck in Vienna.(AFP)