Thursday, September 22, 2005

Expert Optimism

Google news alerts have once again brought the opinions of David Capitanchik to my attention. Mr Capitanchik is a terrorism expert based in Aberdeen. He is frequently quoted in the media in relation to the "war" on terror. As we have similar interests and are from the same city, I like to keep an eye on these appearances. For the most part I think it's fair to say that David's opinions are rather pessimistic.

Here's an example from this weekend's Scotland on Sunday. David is commenting on plans to create a Scottish anti-terror branch.
It also shows an acknowledgement that Scotland is at risk in a way that it was not, for example, during the time of the IRA threat. That has all now changed in the age of Islamic extremism. There are also a lot of targets of UK-wide significance in Scotland. If Grangemouth were attacked, for example, then the lights in London would go out.
David likes to remind us of the worst case scenarios. Terrorists attacking Grangemouth? Hmm. I'm not saying that such a thing couldn't happen although I think it's highly unlikely. What I am saying is that such speculation is entirely useless for a number of reasons. Unless it's based on specific intelligence it is only going to worry people unduly. It increases the fear felt by the general public which is just what the terrorists are trying to achieve. It might even give terrorists an idea for a target which they had not previously considered. All in all, I don't have a great deal of time for Capitanchik's scaremongering opinions.

But, as I noted in one of my previous posts, David isn't always so pessimistic. Remember this one?
Instead of the bloodshed of the Balkans I expect the new Iraq to be more like a devolved Britain.
Evening Express, 16/03/2003 (google cache).

In yesterday's Daily Record, David continues to be unbeat about the situation in Iraq.
David Capitanchik, a security expert at Aberdeen Robert Gordon University, believes most of the majority Shia population in Basra will welcome the tough line taken by the British troops. He said: "The concern the Shia have in Basra is that we will pull out and Saddam supporters will come back and do to them what they did in 1991 after the Gulf War.
Yes, most people in Basra are delighted that UK troops have attacked local police forces. That's why the governor of Basra has been so supportive of the actions of our troops. That's why the city authorities in Basra are continuing to co-operate fully with them. That's why patrols in Basra have continued as normal. That's why CNN managed to take photographs of hundreds of people in the streets showing their support for the troops. There you are, conclusive proof that the tough line really is welcome in Basra.

It's remarkable really. David can be so pessimistic about Scotland and yet so optimistic about Iraq. I don't normally indulge in insults but I'm beginning to wonder if there's some sort of multiple personality disorder at work here. Perhaps there is a more rational explanation. Any suggestions?

Btw, I also noticed that, yet again, neither newspaper has correctly identified David's employment status.
Daily Record - "David Capitanchik, a security expert at Aberdeen Robert Gordon University"
I don't believe David has ever worked as a security expert for RGU. He retired from his job as Project Development Officer with the Department of eLearning last year.

Scotland on Sunday - "Aberdeen University terrorist expert David Capitanchik"
Mr Capitanchik retired from this position 12 years ago.

Who needs facts when you've got opinions though?

No comments: