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Friday, May 16, 2003
Jeremy Reff talks about conspiracy theories and why he finds himself drifting towards them, addressing the Drezner TNR article I discuss below. He also links to a good Josh Marshall article that we should all read. Here's a teaser from Reff's post:
Caveats, of course, abound. For example, politicians lie all the time about their motives—but there's a difference between rhetoric and material fabrication. Bush can say that his tax cuts benefit all Americans, but there's a difference between this sort of lie and forging documents. (And generally, I think people in power believe these minor lies: I think Bush actually believes in tax cuts. He certainly isn't trying to cover them up.)
After all, the lesson of American democracy has been that cover-ups don't work: from Teapot Dome to Watergate, eventually a muckraker or Deep Throat or Daniel Ellsberg steps up and blows the whistle. (Although unfortunately people generally assume that conspiracies do work, which is why many people don't draw substantive distinctions between Nixon, who committed massive acts of obstruction of justice, and was caught, and Clinton, who didn't, and was exonerated after years of fruitless digging).
So why am I worried? Because the one place these sort of under-the-carpet revelations seem to have a degree of success is foreign policy (it's less open to scrutiny for one thing, and less accessible to democratic oversight). And it seems there has been a lot of misinformation regarding our foreign policy lately disseminated by those in power...I am fearful not that some secret cabal is running things, but that the preponderance of forgeries (especially relating to WMD), the willing disregard for the actualities of the post-war situation in Iraq, the inattention to the material record—stems not from this administration's misapplication of emphasis in the face of legitimate belief in a mistaken reading of the world (as in Bush's faith in his absurd economics), but from some other less ingenuous place.
What is that place? I'm not sure. But if I'm right, the options aren't particularly appealing: either this administration doesn't believe in its own policies, or it has some other unstated agenda. So I hope I'm wrong.
Go check out the linkage.