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Russell Miller

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Creed, Cabal, or Conspiracy The Origins of the current Neo-Conservative Revolution in US Strategic Thinking

By Ebrahim Afsah
Read the Full Contribution as a PDF

A. Introduction Americans usually start a presentation with a joke, Germans usually with an apology, Russians with a complaint, and Middle Easterners often with a conspiracy theory. There are many reasons why Middle Easterners have been more prone to conspiracies than others. The psychology of conspiracy is complex, and merits a separate treatment. But part of the answer must lie in the fact that for much of its modern history the Middle East has been at the mercy of external forces (1) whose decisions were not only beyond the control of indigenous populations and elites, but moreover appeared unfathomable to those unfamiliar with the way political and strategic decisions are made in the West. So it might not be all that surprising that, when faced with an overwhelming but incomprehensible reality dramatically affecting one\'s personal life, one seeks solace in the soothing simplicity of an all-encompassing reference system. The conspiracy theory explains all and satisfies the psychological need to make sense of the complexities of modern life. What is surprising, however, is that transatlantic relations have degenerated to such a low level, that increasingly people in Europe turn to conspiracy theories to explain what went wrong. Leaving aside the lunatic fringe (2) for a moment, there is large and growing number of commentators who view the present transatlantic tensions as but the work of a small clique of ideologues who took an academically challenged presidency hostage to their radical agenda. Much of current academic and popular debate on the eastern side of the Atlantic has a ring of self-righteousness and schadenfreude about it. The stupendous commercial success of Michael Moore\'s book Stupid White Men in Europe lies not so much in its ability to teach us something...