This essay advocates for the increased application of the science of political psychology, which embraces our definition of identity within policy and academic communities, as well as in conversations with the concerned lay public, so that we may be better equipped to make sense of the dis-order and violence that surrounds us. Political psychology helps us predict and explain the instincts toward violence by individuals, large groups, and nations with memories of traumatic loss. More importantly, political psychology explains how to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts. The piece will begin with case studies of victimhood and political psychology in Russia and China, fol- lowed by an explanation of an ongoing project, based on political psychological theory, to promote reconciliation in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Joseph V. Montville is Director of the Program on Healing Historical Memory, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University. He is also Director of the Abrahamic Family Reunion, the Esalen Institute project to promote Muslim-Christian-Jewish reconciliation. Moreover, he is Senior Adviser on Interfaith Relations at Washington National Cathedral, and a Distinguished Diplomat in Residence at American University. Montville founded the preventive diplomacy program at Washington, DC’s Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1994 and directed it until 2003. Before that, he spent 23 years as a diplomat with posts in the Middle East and North Africa. He also worked in the State Department’s Bureaus of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and Intelligence and Research, where he was chief of the Near East Division and director of the Office of Global Issues. He defined the concept of “Track Two,” non-official diplomacy.