When looking to understand political actors’ motivations, don’t jump immediately to corruption or bribery or blackmail or unspecified evil.
Most of the time, people have reasons for what they do or what they believe, based on their worldview. Analysis should begin there.
This becomes a lot more apparent when applied to, say, jihadi groups or individuals. Since 9/11, every possible barrier was erected to prevent people from understanding that jihadis took their doctrine seriously. Alt explanations ranged from climate change to “blowback,” etc.
In some of the more kooky places, some alleged the CIA was behind it all—which would come as quite a shock to the tens of millions of jihadis, publishing books, telling us exactly why they do what they do. But when you believe motivation is anything but ideas, you can’t predict.
If you can’t predict what they’d do, you can’t fight them. If it’s ONLY shadow wars you’ll never understand, what’s the point in even trying? Just unplug from the news and play video games.
People do things because they buy into ideas about human nature, justice and all kinds of other stuff—and they take, what appears to them to be logical leaps. They’re usually wrong about the basics, so it’s not surprising they wind up, many leaps later, advocating for crazy shit.