Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Don't Even Think about It!

We all know that conspiracies, while an ever-increasing staple on screen and page, don't really exist in the real world of politics. Whenever anyone, whether a John Bircher or Michael Moore, shows us evidence of a conspiracy, all we need do is wait, and the theory will eventually collapse under the accumulating weight of counter evidence. (This seems not to be happening with those who believe that "9-11 was an inside job." But these political Quixotes have from the beginning swallowed such a palpable falsehood that they are already committed to living outside the world of facts, and therefore no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway their faith.)

Indeed, major political conspiracies in an open society are by definition almost impossible, since virtually anything threatens their establishment and maintenance. Anyone with knowledge of one, for instance, can make his fortune simply by giving an interview to the New York Times, so the centrifugal pressures will always overcome the centripetal and tear such a plot apart. For this reason, anyone who believes in conspiracies is perhaps moving around the bend, and it is therefore best not to hang around conspiracists if one wishes to be taken seriously as an analyst of a very complex world in which free agents are constantly making free decisions day by day, hour by hour.

And yet. No, I don't seriously mean to imply that there is a conspiracy afoot in the current Administration when it comes to North Africa, but I do mean to say that the attitude of the President is so difficult to understand that one is tempted not to untie the complex knot with careful reasoning but simply to cut through it with that sharp if old, rusted, overworked, and disreputable sword named "Conspiracy."

One notes, for instance, that virtually the minute trouble began in Egypt, the Administration was applying great moral susaion to aid the uprising and remove Mubarak; a year and a half before, however, when the trouble occurred in Iran, the President remained stubbornly, unconscionably silent. As he did for the first couple of weeks during the uprising in Libya, though he later claimed he did so in consideration for the safety of Americans trapped in that country. But this excuse was nothing more than a justification, since he was far more eager when it came to Egypt, though many more Americans reside there than in Libya. Is the President, then, in favor of popular uprisings and against dictatorships? No: else he would have voiced as much support for the Iranians and Libyans as for the Egyptians. Is he for dictators and opposed to human rights? No, for then he would have supported Mubarak in Egypt.

And here one can see why a conspiracy theorist might say: the President seems to be on the side of anyone opposed to the United States. Both Gadaffi and the regime in Iran are anti-American, and the President has been very reluctant to support those who would imperil those regimes. Mubarak, for all his imperfections, was much more favorably disposed to America than his counterparts in either Libya or Iran, and yet the President was eager for him to be gone, even though many analysts predicted that Egypt would as a result become anti-American. One could put this a number of ways. To wit--another common denominator in these three situations is these countries' relationships with Israel: for whatever reason, the President has been far more eager to replace Mubarak, who kept the peace with Israel for many years, than to put pressure on Gaddafi or the mullahs in Iran, all of whom vigorously oppose the existence of Israel. One could put it still another way: the Venezuelan lunatic Hugo Chavez, who is doing his best to destroy one of the most vibrant and beautiful countries in the Western hemisphere, was, like President Obama, enthusiastic in his support of the rebellion in Egypt but is much more favorably disposed to Gaddafi and to the Iranian regime.

Let me make clear that TMH regards conspiracy theories as the crack cocaine of political discourse, since they appear so attractive, are quickly addictive, destroy one's capacity for reason, and in the end, always succumb, with pain, to the messy circumambient reality of things. However, in the case of the current troubles one can sympathize with those who believe such fairy tales. As with the crack addict, I don't want to be one, but I can certainly understand how folks get hooked, and I can also sympathize with their plight. The current Administration, in other words, is by its amateurish and terribly counterproductive policies, inviting people to draw unthinkable conclusions. Thank goodness we have the Administration's words to the contrary, because their deeds certainly are confusing.

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