Conspiracy Nuts Go Mainstream


John Laughland, in the UK's Spectator, on conspiracies, both private and public. The nub:

Writing in the Daily Mail last week, the columnist Melanie Phillips even attacked conspiracy theories as the consequence of a special pathology, of the collapse in religious belief, and of a ?descent into the irrational?. The implication is that those who oppose ?the West?, or who think that governments are secretive and dishonest, might need psychiatric treatment.

In fact, it is the other way round. British and American foreign policy is itself based on a series of highly improbable conspiracy theories, the biggest of which is that an evil Saudi millionaire genius in a cave in the Hindu Kush controls a secret worldwide network of ?tens of thousands of terrorists? ?in more than 60 countries? (George Bush). News reports frequently tell us that terrorist organisations, such as those which have attacked Bali or Istanbul, have ?links? to al-Qa?eda, but we never learn quite what those ?links? are.
By the same token, the US-led invasion of Iraq was based on a fantasy that Saddam Hussein was in, or might one day enter into, a conspiracy with Osama bin Laden. This is as verifiable as the claim that MI6 used mind control to make Henri Paul crash Princess Diana?s car into the 13th pillar of the tunnel under the Place de l?Alma. With similar mystic gnosis, Donald Rumsfeld has alleged that the failure to find ?weapons of mass distraction?, as Tony Blair likes to call them, shows that they once existed but were destroyed. Indeed, London and Washington have shamelessly exploited people?s fear of the unknown to get public opinion to believe their claim that Iraq had masses of anthrax and botulism.