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Conspiracy Theories – the truth isn’t out there, it’s right in front of us (if we care to look)

June 27, 2014

911

Lovers of conspiracy theories tend to fall into two categories: those who feel conspired against, and those who are amazed and occasionally amused at humanity’s enduring gullibility. I fall into the latter category.

I don’t believe in the grassy knoll. I don’t believe that the neoconservatives brought down the twin towers. I do believe that we went to the moon. I don’t believe that George Bush Senior is a member of a reptile elite running the world. And I don’t believe that a bunch of clapped-out politicians known as the Bilderberg Group is running it either. Roswell, alien abductions, X-files? Not convinced. And sadly, I don’t believe that the passengers of MH370 are hunkered down in a remote Pacific island waiting to be rescued from the clutches of a demented pilot.

I write this because a friend in Bahrain sent me a link to an article in a Canadian website on which he thought I might like to comment. The site is impressive and scholarly in appearance. It is run by the equally impressive-sounding Centre for Research on Globalisation, which is the brainchild of a Canadian economist by the name of  Michel Chossudovsky. The writer of the article claims, among other things, that the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom have over the past couple of decades been engaged in a strategy to re-draw the map of the Middle East according to their strategic objectives. For the US, bolstering its superpower status, for Israel, self-preservation, for the UK, who knows? England winning the FIFA World Cup perhaps.

According to the article, the three Satans are pursuing a policy of “constructive chaos” – that’s divide and rule to you and me – whereby they foment civil war across the Middle East and end up with a bunch of fragmented, exhausted and thereby compliant states that will supply all the oil required by the Satans without making troublesome land grabs, exporting terrorism or brandishing weapons of mass destruction. Iraq replaced by Sunni, Shia and Kurdish states. The Shia state to include Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province – thus slicing off the vast majority of Saudi oil revenue – and a coastal strip currently part of Iran. Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman inexplicably left independent. A greater Jordan expanded down the Red Sea. An “Islamic Sacred State” including Mecca and Madinah. Saudi Arabia’s southern borders shrunk to accommodate an expanded Yemen. What remains of the unfortunate Saudi state is all the dusty territory with Riyadh as its capital, under the catchy title of “Saudi Homelands Independent Territories”. Oh, and Baghdad, straddling the borders between the Sunni and Shia entities as an independent city state.

The re-drawn map in the article is the work of Ralph Peters, a former US lieutenant colonel who writes spy thrillers and has produced many articles over the years on military and geopolitical topics that have found their way into publications such as USA Today, the New York Post and even the Washington Post. An example of his views is to be found in a 1997 article called Constant Conflict:

“There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.”

Colonel Peters also recommended assassinating Julian Assange at the time of the Wikileaks exposés.

According to the Global Research article, the US is assisting both the Shia-led government of Iraq and its deadly enemy The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Shams (ISIS) in its efforts to hasten the fragmentation of Iraq.

I won’t go on. The theory might be plausible to people in the Middle East who believe that they are victims of a giant conspiracy to keep them divided and permanently under the thumb of the United States. But to anyone else it’s a piece of garbage. The idea that the US, over twenty years straddling the presidencies of Clinton, Bush the Younger and Barack Obama, should have a coherent policy on anything is ludicrous, unless you subscribe to the well-established conspiracy theory that US administrations are puppets in the hands of an evil military-industrial complex, of which Dick Cheney and Haliburton are the current bogeymen.

Jack D Ripper

This is not to say that there aren’t powerful factions and interests in America, and within the military and ex-military there are undoubtedly people as deranged as General Jack D Ripper in Stanley Kubrick’s classic cold war black comedy Dr Strangelove It was he who kicked off World War 3 by launching a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union from a British air base under his command. But fortunately the Rippers of today don’t have his ability to act unilaterally. And to suggest that the USA is in the hands of people bad enough to pursue a long-term policy of fomenting civil wars that kill millions of people is an insult to a nation whose values – despite its periodic destructive blunders and acts of malevolent self-interest on the part of groups and individuals – can hardly be considered those of an evil empire.

In the Middle East, conspiracy theories are balm for national humiliations, and convenient excuses for the stupidity of leaders. It’s easy to blame all the problems the region faces today on the Balfour Declaration, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Great Satan and all the little Satans who have interfered, exploited, fomented and grown wealthy at its expense over the past century. And it’s equally easy to believe narratives that support the idea of continued victimisation.

But just as a needy adult will blame his parents, his teachers, the environment he grew up in and any number of other factors beyond his control to explain away his present troubles, the people of the Middle East will not come to terms with their present and make a better future until they start taking a measure of personal responsibility for their predicament. Not easy, I know, as the fallout from the wave of uprisings in 2011 demonstrates.

And whatever influence overweening foreign superpowers may have on the region, I can’t see that influence being mitigated by the foresight and wisdom of leaders whose decisions are based on more than aggrandisement, enrichment and self-preservation, because there aren’t many of them out there.

I fear that the friend who sent me the link to the Canadian website that sparked off this little diatribe will not like what I’ve written. He’s a charming, well-educated person just starting on an entrepreneurial career. He has a great future in front of him because of what he is, and I hope he will understand that I’m not suggesting that the Middle East is devoid of people like him – bright, full of potential and with a sincere desire to leave the world a better place. I’ve met more idealists – especially among the young – in the Arab world than in any other area I’ve visited.

But sometimes I think that the past sits on the region like a heavy blanket – comforting yet smothering. Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of minor conspiracies out there. But if we place greater faith in our ability to see the obvious for what it is and act for ourselves, the less we will be inclined to ascribe our failures to ulterior motives on the part of others. In the big geopolitical picture there are plenty of agendas, but most of them are pretty obvious if you take the time to think about them. And that goes for just about every region, not just the Middle East.

But then if you think otherwise, you can always do little, blame others, sit back and immerse yourself in all the plots, conspiracies and alien paranoia offered up on a daily basis by the History Channel.

Sorry, but the truth isn’t out there. It’s right in front of us. In the words of Don Henley’s song They’re Not Here, They’re Not Coming:

They’re not here, they’re not coming
Not in a million years
Turn your hopes back homeward
Hold your children, dry their tears
You may see the heavens flashing
You may hear the cosmos humming
But I promise you, my brother
They’re not here, they’re not coming

They’re not here, they’re not coming
Not in a million years
‘Til we put away our hatred
And lay aside our fears
You may see the heavens flashing
You may hear the cosmos humming
But I promise you, my brother
They’re not here, they’re not coming

(Lyrics by Don Henley and Stanley Lynch © Warner/Chappell Music Inc)

 

 

 

 

6 Comments
  1. Great post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on
    our site. Keep up the good writing.

  2. Another well laid out article. Thank you 🙂

  3. Do you believe that the US and UK government has the power to remotely turn on the camera in your computer or cel phone, if it considers you an enemy of the state?

    Do you believe that history-altering wars (for instance, Iraq), are preceded by deliberate media campaigns to spread false beliefs about the enemy?

    Do you believe that western powers, from time to time, give money and weapons to terrorists, when there is a short-term reason, a common enemy regime that needs overthrowing? With long term side effects that should be predictable by now?

    Do you believe that western powers consistently pick a certain “type”, as our local allies in the world’s trouble spots? That this “type” would be indistinguishable, in a blind taste test, from what we call an “evil dictator”? Again, with long term side effects that should be predictable by now?

    —-

    I fear you are selectively using the weakest and most unrealistic conspiracy theories as a strawman to dismiss some genuine criticisms.

    • Great comment, thank you.

      I guess in essence what I’m saying is that if it looks like an elephant, sounds like an elephant and stamps you into the ground with a single elephantine foot,it probably is an elephant!

      Concerning the points you make, I think there’s a difference between a conspiracy and an
      agenda. it was pretty obvious at the time what the US was trying to do in Afghanistan by arming the mujaheddin against the Russians. Likewise the determination of President Bush to go to war with Iraq was clear before he did so with Britain’s assistance. It was also clear that coalition was struggling to find evidence of Saddam’s WMD activities. Was the evidence produced the result of deliberate deception or an overwhelming urge to believe what in hindsight proved to be flimsy or non-existent? Not proven either way, I suggest.

      As for nasty dictators, again I see a clear agenda at work. The last Shah of Iran, Pinochet, Stroessner, Diem et al mostly came to power with US support, on the basis that “he may be a shit, but at least he’s our shit”.

      It’s difficult to set hard and fast rules, but when we’re talking of the actions of governments, for my money, generally speaking agendas cross over into conspiracies when the government takes an action in contravention of national and/or international law, but also when there’s a deliberate attempt to deceive its own electorate. If Bush, Cheney and persons unknown had deliberately engineered the destruction of the Trade Center that would have amounted to a conspiracy on all counts.

      So you can call me naive, but I stand by my opinion that genuine conspiracies as defined above are far and few between.

      As for phones and computers, I’ve long operated on the principle that anything I email can be monitored and read. But I fear that anyone doing so would find my traffic extremely boring. Surveillance, legal or otherwise, is a whole other issue…

      As you can see, I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do feel that life’s too short to be looking for scorpions under every stone. There are enough clear and present dangers to keep us thoroughly occupied and concerned. Steve

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