AC4’s Peter Coleman contributes to the conversation: “Can psychology help us out of this mess?”

Recently, the British Psychological Society queried psychologists of conflict and peace to respond to the following question:

As the UK’s Parliament votes to allow bombing in Syria, we ask – are there evidence-based ways to resolve this conflict?


From the dialogue:

Peter-square-sustaining-peace‘The last thing we should do is send in troops’

Peter Coleman, Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University 

I feel the last thing we (the US and the West) should do is send in troops, as that appears to be exactly what they are hoping to draw us in to.

I think one of the more hopeful signs – other than the Vienna talks on Syria – is this moderate Muslim movement in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama.

The world needs resistance and push back against violent extremism from inside Islam. It needs to offer potential recruits another equally compelling vision.
I do feel that the West should do all it can to exert pressure on the Saudis to cut funding to Wahhabism in all its manifestations. This is the source.

Finally, I also think that some of Hillary Clinton’s proposed policies (24 step plan) can provide more immediate responses to contain ISIL.

But ultimately, the US and the West more generally, need to learn from the the six former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, interviewed in the documentary The Gatekeepers. They all, to a man, come to the conclusion that the more sophisticated they get at military tactics (such as our use of drones), the farther away they move from their strategic political goals. I highly recommend this film.

Readers may also be interested in my essay on what America can do to reduce its own violent tendencies, and my essay with Andrea Bartoli on dealing with extremists.

Get our newsletter

I'd like to get more stories like this.
Email address
Secure and Spam free...

Submit Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *