Theoretical Faultlines in Global Politics: Recent Decision Fiascos and Contending Theories of Decision Making in International Relations | Ahmet Ozturk

December 2017

Abstract
International politics is about decision-making which involves many rational or irrational decisions. This working paper claims that contending theories on international political decision-making seems to be another sources of catastrophic decisions that are being taken by governments under the influence of geo-political pressures, risks, externalities and unsuitable political environment. An analysis of decision-making theories and geopolitical and international relations theories together may provide us an updated theoretical knowledge on some of the recent cases in Georgia, Catalonia, Northern Iraq and USA, which illustrate terrible decision making in international politics. In these cases, decisions or policies lack a necessary rational decision-making assessment and this is somehow the apparent cause of ill fate. Theory-wise, however, the problem of what makes many of foreign policy decisions so catastrophic is a larger and bigger issue that it necessitates a wider analysis including other theories, such as geopolitical and international relations theories rather than only decision-making theories. This paper highlights that geopolitical and international relations theories are competing with decision making theories in international policy making. In the competition between them the former has a higher position, as well as the actors and decision makers who make their policies according to geopolitical and international relations theories.

Key words: foreign policy, decision making, geopolitics, IR and decision making theories

Introduction
Politics and international relations are all about decision-making. The governmental policies both in domestic and international politics involve a large degree of rational or irrational decisions. The latter is frequently seen in foreign policy making. In recent years or months, international society has seen many terrible decision-making examples. In the summer of 2008, Georgian leader Saakashvili and his government decided to attack Russian troops in the northern provinces of Georgia to impose his government control over South Ossetia that has caused a major war between Russia and Georgia. This war has resulted in Russian occupation of almost entire Georgia until French President Sarkozy brokered a cease-fire. In another case, in July 2014, the Kurdish Regional Government of Northern Iraq under the leadership of Massoud Barzani has announced to hold an independence referendum later that year, but it failed to go ahead because of the threat and preoccupation caused by the Islamic State and its terror across the region. In June, 2017, Barzani government has decided once more to hold the referendum on independence despite strong rejections from Iraqi central government and continuous opposing reactions from the regional powers including Turkey and Iran and as well as a wider international opposition. The referendum was held in September 2017 and it has paved the way for a military offensive by Iraqi central government to re-establish Baghdad’s control over most the region and some controversial territories including the city of Kirkuk. About same time, in June 2017, the autonomous Catalan regional government in Spain has called an independence referendum for October 2017. The referendum was held on October 1st and this was followed by the declaration of independence at the Catalan parliament on October 27, 2017. However, this move has provoked harsh measures from Spanish government even before the declaration of independence by regional parliament. In reaction to Catalan referendum for independence, first Spain’s King Felipe VI strongly condemned the Catalan government in a televised address on October, 3rd. Later, on October 11th, prime minister of Spain Mario Rajoy gave Catalan government an ultimatum to step back from the Catalan independence. Few days later, Spanish national court ordered the imprisonment of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, two leading Catalan separatist politicians. On October 21st, after the extended deadline has expired, Spanish government suspended Catalonia’s autonomy and declared a direct rule from Madrid. On October 27th, Catalan parliament unilaterally declared independence by a 70 to 10 vote. On the same day, Spain’s senate has given more powers to Madrid government to exercise direct rule on Catalonia by 214 votes to 47. Later, Spanish government has also ordered the arrests of the Catalan independence movement leaders including Puigdemont, who finally fled the country into Belgium seeking a political asylum. As recent as just days ago, Trump Administration has declared the official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, and decided to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This decision has ignited almost worldwide condemnation or worries about the impact of the decision on the future of the Middle East and many regional or global issues related to Arab-Israeli conflict.

On the other hand, in all those cases, the initial decisions taken by respective politicians have ignited counter decisions by major powers which are also a part of the crises or disputes. Russia’s decision to invade Georgia, Iraqi central government’s decision to use military offensive to re-establish and impose its sovereignty and authority over the north of the country, and also Spanish government’s decision to issue arrest warrant for senior Catalonian politicians, and as well as to dismantle Catalonian autonomous regional government are all involve political decision making and strategic calculations. Similarly, there are many governments and decision makers in the Middle East and worldwide that they would take subsequent decisions and adopt counter policies against the Trump Administration and Israeli government’s move to the next steps in order to make Jarusalem as the capital of Israel.

Although decision makers in the Kurdish and Catalonian cases are not representing fully sovereign states, their decisions are deeply related to foreign policy decision making as they tried to become independent sovereign states via conducting regional referenda in their respective regions despite strong opposition from the central governments and regional powers. With the examples and lessons coming out of those recent decisions and national liberation attempts, this paper aims to provide a theoretical framework to shed a light on catastrophic governmental decisions that are being taken under the influence of geo-political pressures, risks, externalities and unsuitable international political environment or foreign involvements. The negative effects of geopolitics or international politics or domestic politics on tragic decision making may be analysed at two levels in response to the following concurrent questions; first, why governments tend to make wrong decisions or take improvident moves and secondly, how strategic and geopolitical deliberations and factors lead governments to inefficient and even worse catastrophic foreign policy decisions. The answers to these questions may be broadly found in an analysis of both decision-making process including decision-making theories and geopolitical and international relations theories together. At the outset, it can be claimed that many decisions lack a necessary rational decision making and it is the apparent cause of their fate. However, the problem of what make many of those catastrophic decisions so problematic is a larger and bigger issue that necessitates a wider analysis including other theories such as geopolitical and international relations theories rather than only decision making theories.

Contending theories of international political decision making
In order to explain the tendency towards choosing irrational paths or making appalling foreign policy decisions in international politics, a comparative analysis of decision making theories and the realist international relations approach or realist explanation of decision making may be helpful and instructive. To start with the international relations theories, namely the realist international relations theory here, the realist account becomes very convincing when the foreign policy decision-making process is analysed. In places and areas, where decisions and foreign policy moves have strategic political importance for governments or decision makers, political factors affecting policies become prevailing over other ones such as economic, social, cultural ones and so on; as in a typical case for the realist argument of ‘high politics overrules low politics’. It can be proposed as a hypothesis that in geopolitical cases, policies and policy makers are not likely to escape political infringements notably during the decision-making stage. The extent and importance of a particular policy or decision in national, regional and international view or in the nation’s political agenda with its strategic implications are decisive factors to define the extent and intensity of political involvements into it from within or without governmental circles. These factors often affect the decision-makers’ choice of a particular policy or its direction. Namely, the policies that engage a good degree of domestic or international political interference are often the cases of such decision making failures, mostly because they hardly meet the standards for a rational decision making cycle.

Geopolitical theories of foreign policy decision-making
As foreign policy decisions are made upon some political, economic, social and other geopolitical objectives, some of them may involve or disturb other states’ regional or international interests and even vital security calculations. That is why international dimension is a crucial one to be emphasized in the analysis of governmental programmes which involve a large degree of geopolitical factors. When we talk about geopolitics or geopolitical factors which are effecting one’s policy or decision we should take geopolitical theories into account. If geopolitics is ‘spatial study of the relationships among states and implications of these relationships for the morphology of political map as a whole’ , we should quote Ratzel to simplify this in order to explain states’ eagerness to control geography and political developments within a particular region and around them. He acknowledges that ‘each state has its own particular needs arising from physical conditions of its existence’. With another observation, now unfashionable concept of the Lebensraum , which is a living space for a state, can still be a useful concept in order to elucidate reactions that an actor’s geopolitical or foreign policy decision may attract or provoke from other states. In lebensraum concept, physical and human resources are all seen as particular in their importance for a state’s existence or geopolitical capacity. As an explication of this, Parker asserts that, for at least those states with the aim and potential of becoming a great world or a regional power, acquisition of lebensraum and other resources (such as territories, vital materials, population, economic and financial activities) would necessitates territorial expansion in all means including war. Or, it compels states to take all necessary measures to secure their existing positions or strengthen their territorial or geopolitical capacity or the status quo. That in the end creates a potential for international involvement into smaller or weaker actors’ foreign policy decisions which are virtually being interpreted as to have a potential or capacity to jeopardize the long established global or regional status quo or a particular power or state’s existing integrity or capacity. There are some other well-known geopolitical theories that explains states’ insistence to retain their existing geographical position or extending their geopolitical capabilities or political or military reach. For example, Halford Mackinder asserts in his famous ‘heartland theory’ that who controls the Eastern Europe can control the heartland, who controls the heartland will control the world island, who control the world island, will control the whole world. Similarly, Alfred Mahan has claimed that the capability or capacity to control and use the world seas is the key for nations to become a hegemonic power in the world. The modern interpretation of these two theories by nations can also shed a light on states’ geopolitical (regional or global) positioning; extending their power or preserving their national unity at the expense of their neighbours and in most cases of separatist regional movements, like in the cases of Spain-Catalonia and Iraqi-Kurdish tensions.

Geopolitical theories that aims to explain a state’s particular foreign policy decision by emphasizing its national, geopolitical and geo-strategic interests or geopolitical necessities, can partly explain how some of the protective, pro-status quo or revisionist international political decisions come into existence. Pursuit of national and strategic interests, pursuit of a living space, securing strategic materials, relative power and status quo can all explain the decisions behind strategic and disappointing political decisions. However, the main question is still remaining for a more convincing answer: Why do governments or decicion makers make sub-optimal choices in the area of international relations? In addition to the part explanation provided by geopolitical theories based on the conditions of geopolitics or political geography and states’ pursuit of a living space, there are more contemporary explanations of states’ pursuit of political and strategic interests. Among them, realist international relations theory seems more applicable here to explain why states or governments choose sub-optimal policies or why they make even terrible decisions in the area of international relations. Before analysing these theoretical explanations, it can be postulated that application of realist or neo-realist accounts into decision/policy-making is sensible and relevant. It may be for the reason that many policy makers tend to have a domestic policy-making background, even unaware of the interaction between international political realism and decision-making practices in international politics.

Realist account on decision making
One of the most prominent characteristics of the realist international relations theory is its state-centric approach or statist paradigm. In the statist paradigm, the state has an autonomous position in international system. It means that despite the increasing importance of non-state actors, states retain their primacy as the principal actor in international relations, or at least continue to play an important role on international realm. In this arena, the state’s principal purpose is survival in a hostile (anarchic) international environment. In that environment the acquisition of power is the principal goal of foreign policy. Therefore, international politics or politics in general is a struggle for power. This concern of states is the reason and at the same time result of the notion of ‘self-help’. With the simplest terms, “in this sense a state’s ability to act and react is a function of the power it possesses. The idea of self-help is central as is the notion of sovereignty, which emphasises the distinction between the domestic and external realms… States must rely on themselves to protect their interests and to ensure survival”. Self-help necessitates a foreign policy that has the main goal of acquisition of power. Acquisition of power not only involves strong political structure and military power, also necessitate securing of vital resources and geopolitical position or capacity. Securing those somehow involves the concept of high politics with an external-domestic categorisation of issues in favour of the former. The factors that fall within economics and commercial or domestic political area are relegated behind those of foreign policy or issues of high politics.

The realist notion of state behaviour in international system is formulated with the following terms of national interest, gains, and self-sufficiency in political and economic areas. The state’s pursuit of all these elements and aspects of state power are thought to be the motivating factors in states’ behaviour and policies including the domestic and international ones. To provide explicit arguments in international relations theory, realists claim that, in an international system that is anarchic by definition, one cannot rely on the help of other governments to protect one’s interests and rights. Instead one must rely on ‘self-help, one’s own power and skills, along with whatever assistance one can obtain from friends, allies, or others with concordant interests’. A further interpretation of this is to assert that states ensure whatever necessary; first for maintaining their domestic political, economic, structural or national integrity, then secondly struggle for their regional and global capacity. As states do this for self-sufficiency and self-sufficiency also helps states to reach these critical objectives. Kenneth Waltz claims that ‘states seek to control what they depend on or to lessen the extent of their dependency… This simple thought explains a large degree of the behaviour of states, their imperial thrusts to widen (or retain ) the scope of their control and their autarchic strivings toward greater self-sufficiency’.

Although scholars studying realism consider these concepts from an international political perspective, it would be convenient to extend this to domestic political meaning, since a state’s power, ability or competing capacity start from its internal resources, capacity, power and order. However, in the realist approach, national interest, domestic or international, therefore is defined in terms of power. This guides us to say that the ‘virtual exclusion of other factors such as the promotion of ethical values or of moral principles’ in realism often makes foreign policy decision-making all about power and a material and strategic calculation. In the end, in the position of the principle actor in international relations “the objectives of the state cannot be reduced to some summation of private desires [social, moral or economic ].”

Under these postulations, realist international relations theory is obsessed with the notion of “high politics”. High politics implies that in cases of a conflict or at times when national interests are at stake, foreign policy issues have dominance over the domestic and also moral ones. In the same way, foreign policy issues and foreign policy decisions, which are issues of purely political character, take precedence over those of economics, trade and over cooperation, friendship and moral principles. The primacy of foreign policy is a common practice in many states including democratic ones. In representative or democratic systems, however, this leads to situations that limit ‘party politics’ and encourage political parties towards bi-partisanship in high politics areas. High politics also involves the maintenance of the long-term interests of the state. Crises situations are certainly issues of high politics, because in such situations important state and national values and vital interests are deemed at risk. Low politics on the other hand, refers to the issues of less importance to a state’s national interest, and refers to less important groups and programmes within the state. The definitions of the situation and policy, the position of the actors in international relations, and how the prime actor (state) defines the situations and the other actors’ place and precedence identify the issue of high politics and low politics.

Is the state-centric high politics (states’ foreign agenda and political issues) vs. low politics (domestic agenda and the issues of economics) argument enough or relevant to explain all irrational decisions taken by governments? In reply, signifying the realist explanation of state behaviour as responsible for inefficient and sub-optimal decisions would seem incomplete (it is obviously helpful) at the absence of other approaches, such as liberalism, pluralism and neo-liberal institutionalism. Indeed, realist account partly illuminates the ill fate of foreign policy decisions, as it explains the provoked reactions from the opposing actors. While realist account is at hand, a new approach on ‘why and how states act in irrational way’ involves theories of decision-making and the ‘levels of analysis’. At first, Wolfers argues that states tend to behave the same way in case of extreme dangers or extreme opportunities, but when such extreme environmental or external restrictions are less severe or totally absent their behaviours become different and diverse. He continues to say that “then, the decision-making approach would become necessary to supplement vague generalisations about reactions to discomfort that might be deduced from human nature in general. These behaviours must be explained at the decision-making level.”

The theories of decision making may obviously be valuable in this framework to fill the gap. Before moving onto the discussion on the developing theories of decision-making, it should be pointed out that the literature on international relations theory, in reply, finds the state-centric approach short and limited. Especially the work of David Singer, Levels of Analysis Problem in International Relations , which attaches a system analysis to the previous state-centric one. Singer considers two alternative models for the study of international relations: the international system and individual state. Singer also asserts that they are not exclusive alternatives and other approaches are also possible altogether. With this new space for analysis open for more approaches, many non-state actors come into the equation with intermingled interactions between states and all other actors. This new concept is a clear indication of interdependence between states, governments and other actors.

Decision making-theories
Regarding the role of the decision-making process in irrational, inefficient or sub-optimal choices of states, it can be said, in addition, that the introduction of levels of analysis into international relations has occurred in a similar way and simultaneously with the evolution of the theories on decision-making. As a subject deeply intermingled with the disciplines of political science and economics, theories of decision making are considerably related to the theory of international relations. As the international relations theories developed in the past century, the importance of studying the process of policy making has also developed. The studies on “decision-making” started to appear in the early 1970s especially with the works of Allison, Janis, Steinbruner and Jervis. In his famous work Allison criticised most analysts who tend to explain behaviour of national governments with the rational decision-making model. However, his work and later studies has asserted that decision-making is a more complex process than rational-choice paradigm claims. In addition to the rational decision-making model, Allison presented two other models of decision-making: organisational behaviour and governmental politics. Both new models clearly involve in the levels of analysis the inclusion of non-state actors in the decision making and political process.

In fact, although the decisions made in Moscow and Washington during the crisis of 1962 (borrowing Allison’s main topic of study in his work) seem to have been made by a limited number of statesmen with a state-centric thinking, the decisions of today involve a growing number of various non-state actors. The state, while retaining the dominant role in the policy making process, is to share its influence with these actors, and to act in an interdependent world at different levels. This claim also seems a contrast to the statist paradigm of realist international relations theory discussed above. Hence, as mentioned earlier, this new concept is certainly the root of another theory of international relations that is called the liberal theory of international relations. Both the early version of the theory (liberalism) and its modified or advanced versions of neo-liberalism or neo-liberal institutionalism (with the 1977 work of Keohane and Nye especially ) have provided room for the complexity of decision-making and different theories developed upon it. Both international relations theory and the theory of decision-making sailed towards a new concept, ‘levels of analysis’, with the works of Singer on international relations and Allison on decision-making.

To keep the narrative on decision-making theories precise, short and focussed only on the ones that seem more relevant and helpful to explain the governments’ sub-optimal choices and decisions, I shall summarise several theories to elucidate the process of decision-making. Among many theories and approaches on the subject, which also have a vast literature, I shall select only the ones that seem more applicable in explaining the irrational decision-making and seem more appropriate to the situation in the selected cases. These are rational-choice theory, psychological (or cognitive) theory of decision making, political or bureaucratic politics theory, theories of adversary interaction, and the systemic theory, as presented by Richardson. (Cited in Mikheyev ) These five theories are also inclusive of Allison’s three models on decision-making of rational choice, organisational behaviour and governmental politics.

First, the ‘rational decision-making model’ basically refers to the decision-making process in which decision makers choose the most applicable one among a set of alternatives and preferences, which is believed to maximise the utility. This process consists of a series of steps in the following sequence: recognition and identification of the problem, consideration of the alternatives, ranking priorities, making forecasts on potential consequences or reactions according to alternatives, and eventually coming to the last decision under the lights and weights of priorities, risks, and consequences.

At a first glance, this model seems to be an applicable and useful one for many governments, because it is expected to maximise gains, minimise the risks and costs by clarifying objectives, policy resources, alternatives and possible consequences through an all inclusive decision making process. In reality, however, it looses its lure under political involvement and preferences. The rationality of the decision in that model can only be increased so long as it stays away from the personal or group beliefs, emotions and excitements, instead pursues priorities of the real world. Therefore, even in rational model decisions, decision makers usually act according to their beliefs, personal, institutional, local or national political interests. Also, ‘misperception and misunderstanding’ during the rational decision-making model are highly likely at the absence of certain and reliable information, or ‘under the pressure of highly ambitious information and burdens (or lure ) of multiple goals’. This eventually may result in irrational choices; as ‘normal human behaviour often does not fit even a loose definition of rationality’. Jervis also points out that ‘it is often impossible to explain crucial decisions and policies without reference to decision-makers’ beliefs about the world and their images of others’, namely ‘common misperceptions and differing perceptions’.

Besides the merits and shortcomings of the rational-choice theory, the other influential and applicable theory is ‘psychological or cognitive theory of decision making’. This theory argues that human behaviour is not always as it is explained in the rational-choice theory, especially under the pressures of intense crisis. In such cases, rationality is difficult to achieve because of the pressures of the time of the crises and because of ‘the pre-existing beliefs of the individuals especially in the absence of plenty of reliable information’. In addition, popular temptation and impact potentiality of the decision being made may also contribute to the irrationality of the decisions. The works of Steinbruner and Jervis have pointed out this model in order to explain foreign policy decisions. The “perception” and “misperception,” are again the key concepts within this paradigm, because perception is ‘a psychic process that leads to the definition of the situation’ upon which decision-makers make their choices. The complex structure of the decision-making environment, decision maker’s goals and pre-existing beliefs, the role of emotional factors and uncertainty and insufficiency of available information are effective in the decision making process and outcomes.

One of the impressive works on this theory has established the concept of “groupthink”, named after Janis’s influential book. Janis defines the ‘groupthink’ as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.” It is “the triumph of concurrence over good sense, and authority over expertise” as Schwartz and Wald clarify. Groupthink primarily implies that decision-makers tend to make irrational or imperfect choices when they deal with a situation or crises within a group. According to Janis, in ‘groupthink’, ‘insulation and isolation of the group, extreme group cohesiveness often under directive leadership, lack of norms or habits requiring logical and methodological procedures, homogeneity among members in ideology, social affiliation and background and a commanding stress deriving from domestic or external threats which makes the value and credibility of the decisions offered by leader prevailing over other alternatives’ are the particular ‘antecedent conditions’ that would encourage groupthink. Janis also identifies several symptoms that are indicative of groupthink, and these are; illusion of invulnerability, unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group, collective rationalization of group’s decisions, shared stereotypes of out group realms (particularly opponents), self-censorship (members withhold criticisms), illusion of unanimity, direct pressure on dissenters to conform, self-appointed “mind-guards” protect the group from negative information. The shortcomings of a decision affected by groupthink were also listed as incomplete survey of alternatives, incomplete survey of objectives, failure to examine risks of preferred choice, failure to re-appraise initially rejected alternatives, poor information search, selective bias in processing information at hand, and failure to work out contingency plans.

As another theory, political and bureaucratic theory claims that the rationality of decisions is impaired by organisational, political and bureaucratic procedures. Allison and Zelikow refer to this theory ‘Model 3’ and explain it in the name of governmental politics. Applying a level of analysis within a state, this theory considers decisions as the products of organisations, bureaucracies and individuals. What is involved in decision making process in this model is ‘difficult to change’ traditions and routines, and also the rivalries between different groups and individuals within the organisations. This model claims that imperfect rationality is a substitute for perfect rationality. This may cause many decision making failures or produce many irrational decisions and costly outcomes.

Finally, another theory or concept can be added to these main decision-making models that it is called the systemic theory. This approach examines the decisions in a larger setting, within the international system. The works of Waltz and Robert Gilpin especially highlight the weight of the system structure. These authors argue that ‘the international system fundamentally determines the behaviour of individual state actors within its field’. In that regard sub-systems may have a considerable impact on those ill-fated decision making processes.

In short, each of these theories or approaches in international relations and in decision-making world can answer only a part of the question about irrational or sub-optimal decisions. There seems to be no single theory that is enough to explain the states’ or decision-makers’ irrational purposes and sub-optimal choices. The diversity of the theories on both subjects simply indicates that conclusion. Therefore, the more theories or models are chosen and applied the more chance for an accurate and comprehensive analysis. However, when analysed in a systemic framework or within an inside analysis on decision-making, international bureaucracy, international system and its pressures on decision makers, and their perceptions or misperceptions of the situation and question, the courage or irrationalizing effect of groupthink and many more factors may involve in and affect the outcome of many political, geopolitical or strategic decisions around the world.

In lieu of Conclusions: An evaluation of the cases
This working paper suggests that terrible policy choices or catastrophic governmental decisions and moves in many cases are likely the result of intermingled interactions between individuals, bureaucracies and geopolitical factors. In ‘Model 3, as mentioned earlier, the traditions and routines which is deemed very difficult to alter or change, the rivalries within a state or a government or between different groups and individuals within the organisations can drive decision making into something other than rational decision making.

In the case of Georgia, an ill-established policy-making has contributed to the suicidal move that Saakashvili government has adopted against South Ossetia and Abkhazia, (and of course against Russia) in the summer of 2008. In the months and years into Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Georgia had been in a serious dispute between Russia and NATO (particularly the United States) over a possible membership of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO and plus other geopolitical rivalries in Eastern Europe. There had been grave signs that any serious move either by NATO or by Georgia against Russia’s national security or high interests could spark a Russian aggression anywhere possible. At a time of such geopolitical escalations, Saakashvili Administration, which had come to power in 2003 with the Rose Revolution backed by the US and the west, could not read or predicted the threats, risks and outcomes when it decided to use military power on Russian troops based over South Ossetia. Decision-making that had triggered Russian military intervention into the region and outbreak of the war in 2008, seems ill-designed and mixed with a dangerous underestimation of the events, realities and reactions. Theoretically speaking, Georgia’s decision in the August of 2008 can also be associated with the psychological theory or a groupthink decision-making, which may have contributed to this ill fated policy.

The decisions that taken by the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government and Catalonian government for calling and holding a referendum on independence despite strong warnings from their central governments and plus from regional pro-status quo powers, are unique cases of a groupthink. In these cases, with the help of their somehow autonomy, their ethnically branded and distinct and self-isolated regional governments may have easily felt into an ‘insulation and isolation’ from a national or state unity. Also, when making those ill-fated decisions, they may have unacceptably enjoyed an extreme group cohesiveness under a directive leadership or an ethnic unity, lack of norms or habits requiring more logical procedures, a strong homogeneity in ideology among members who made decisions, social, ethnic or national affiliation or disaffiliation and a commanding stress deriving from domestic or external threats which makes the value and credibility of the decisions offered by leader prevailing over other alternatives’. Again, as Janis had generally suggested and pointed out in his work years ago, the decisions taken by Catalonia region and Kurdish region may involve a good degree of ‘illusion of invulnerability, unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group (or the policy), shared rationalization of leaders’ or group’s decisions, shared stereotypes of out group realms (particularly opponents), illusion of unanimity and unity, self-appointed “mind-guards” protect the group or decision makers from negative information or from resistance or from threats coming from in and out of their regions and countries. The last case, Trump Administration’s decision to move US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jarusalem as recognizing the city as the capital of Israel, can be regarded as a pure textbook case of groupthink along with US’ imperial thrust towards the Middle East and around the world, with the realist and geopolitical decision making habits.

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