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Historians, academicians, and scholars have described conspiracy theories using various divergent views but basically, conspiracy theories could be defined as exposure of a group who secretly undertaken activities to benefit themselves by harming others.
Narrative by Arnie Alpert on ‘Who Profits from the Refugee Crisis’ is very intriguing and enticing as it is addressing a major concern and occurrence in the world today. By using dovetailing evidence, this narrative tries to clearly enlighten the public through uncovering a secret group which is gaining utility and power at the expense of the common good. In this era of global cognizance contrasted with upsurge of wars, we are susceptible to be cynical of the toing and froing in our environment. The wakefulness induced by the content in Arnie’s narrative is emotionally burdening and its’ supposed unearthing can be heartwarming (Reid, 2016).
According to the narrative, the rise in refugee migration is attributed to intensified wars and maintenance of current wars within unstable countries. It is dumbfounding that war exterminates limitless populace and can easily be seen as dissolute but yet it has become a common occurrence and may be sustained and persists for many years in countries with precious minerals like oil, diamonds, to be specific Arab nations, currently Sudan, Congo just to name a few. The stimulating primary interrogations to this dilemma is who initiates these wars and how are the wars sustained. These two questions are fundamental in conceptualizing where the inspiration is approaching from.
Firstly, the initiation of the rivalry within the war zones is always not clear and the evidence provided to explain the situation is not satisfactory. Secondly, availability of armaments is critical in sustaining wars implying that, irresponsible supply of weaponry is the major driving factor in influencing and sustaining wars within the society. It is important to note that in order to be successful in artillery production, it is without chauvinism that wars need to exist. The narrative by Arnie provides evidence from dependable sources showcasing the manufacturers and suppliers of the weaponry, interconnection to policy formulation within the manufacturer’s country, and benefits acquired from the manufacture and supply of weaponry to unstable countries.
America being the largest conglomerate manufacturer of arms in the world has benefited to a larger extent from these wars than any other country according to solid evidence from Arnie’s narrative.
Consequently, would it be candid to state that a secret group in the US is liable for arousing and inspiring wars in the affected environs and benefiting financially and politically at the expense of the common good? This is a question which can have many different correct answers depending on the ‘cognitive smartness’ of the respondance as the authenticity of answers is not obtainable.
According to Matthew Gray in his book ‘Conspiracy in the Arab world’, historical evidence as used in conspiracy theories provide a strong background in supporting the reasoning behind the theories.
By analyzing ‘The hidden Hand’, Pipes describes conspiracy in the West to be associated with persistence of paranoia which has been virtually in-built in the Western society from the anti-Semitism period. Pipes then links conspiracism to group psychology which determines the social characteristics of people. On the other hand, he has been described as an anti-Arab propagandist who uses distortions to suit his purpose. Pipes is a respected historian and American government ally. He has been noted on numerous occasions delivering incorrect remarks on distressful and frightening incidences. Some of his comments follow.
After the Oklahoma City bombing, Pipes backed up Steven Emerson’s (an investigative journalist) assessment of the tragedy claiming the bombing exhibited a Middle East peculiarity, and continued to say America was under attack from Islamists. It was later confirmed by police that the bombing was carried out by American anti-government terrorists, Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and Michael Fortier.
Furthermore, before the September 11, 2001 tragedy, both Pipes and Emerson prophesied that a terrorist group was organizing new attacks against America and were supported by Iranian operatives. With this information at hand prior to the disastrous and devastating event, and no precautionary measures were embarked on to preclude or decrease the impact of the attack as the number of causalities was enormous, questions the authenticity of the ‘know-how’ regarding the groundwork training of Al Qaeda militants by the two gentlemen, Pipes and Emerson.
Type of Conspiracy and Origin
In the US, there are two types of conspiracy theories namely, conspiracy theories that express distrust of the federal government and conspiracy theories that express distrust of those outside the “in group”. Arnie’s narrative essentially apprises warfare where wars are controlled by weapons manufacturers and suppliers who have government influence while the real actions of the wars, including associated mayhems, are obscured. With this in mind, Arnie’s narrative could be grouped as a conspiracy theory that expresses distrust of the federal government, America to be specific.
According to Butter & Reinkowski, (2014), conspiracy theories have played a major role in shaping the development of the country. The two scholars continue to state that “the popularity of conspiracy theories in the American culture can be enlightened by the prolonged existence of the tradition of Puritanism, the dogma of Republicanism and the epistemological paradigm that suggests an undeviating link to cause and effect”.
The Tradition of Puritanism
The notion of Puritanism purported that Puritans were God’s preferred people and were struggling to fight against good and evil where evil was caused by a furtively affiliated group, the enemy. Puritans also believed in Michal Barkun’s view of conspiracy theories that “nothing happens by chance, everything is interconnected” (Butter & Reinkowski, 2014). The key difference between Puritans ideology and the current ideologies is that Puritans considered God to be the controller of conspirators while currently, it is empowered leadership that controls the conspirators.
The Dogma of Republicanism
Republicanism commanded the idea of the common good. Politicians had been noted to focus on their self-interests and neglected the interests of the public. Republicanism identified corruption as a major threat in the victory of internal and external enemies. It aimed at ensuring politicians are transparent, men of virtue, with no greed for wealth.
The Epistemological Paradigm
This ideology has been effectively described in Gordon Woods article “Conspiracy and the Paranoid Style”. The paradigm imposed a mechanistic connectedness between cause and effect. It believed that any action is associated to a previous action, that is, every effect has a cause. Here, conspiracism was detected when a group’s activities did not produce the expected output.
Most importantly to note is that, there are many other historical context that aid in shaping the culture of conspiracy theories in America but the stated three above are considered the main drivers of conspiracy theories (Butter & Reinkowski, 2014).
Freedom of speech and freedom of media are indispensable parts in democracy of a nation (Edstrom, M., Kenyon, A. T. & Svensson, E. M., 2016). In addition to freely express oneself, public interest has to be covered by ensuring the rights and freedom of others is not compromised.
Arnie’ narrative was published in the US where the rules of the country are democratic and the level of censorship is lower. The government does not interfere with the media and individuals spreading conspiracy theories as an important obligation of each is to ensure faithfulness and accuracy of the information.
The narrative uses information obtained from trustworthy sources to highlight the origin of the problem. Arnie begins by using concrete evidence from the UN High Commission for Refugees emphasizing the effects of wars, showing the number of displaced population, “approximately 1% of world’s populace” as he states. He then analyzes who aids in influencing the continuance of wars and notes the involvement of America in fronting the wars using a report from another reliable source, the USA Today. He continues to connect the impact of wars to the suppliers of weapons using two sources, Zacks.com, The Intercept, Daily Mail and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute to stress the indirect beneficiaries of the wars. He then uses Amnesty international report to note that irresponsible supplies of ammunition has been occurring which aid in propagating wars. Also, he links the beneficiaries to influencers of public policy, politicians using another report from whistle blowing source, opensecrets.org, followed by connecting all these information and explains the vicious circle around the refugee crisis. He concludes with a distressing remark from Eisenhower.
Arnie is an American activist who is committed to challenge social injustice and promoting peace, and nonviolent action for change through being a Co-Director of a Quaker organization called the American Friends Service Committee. His devoted commitment in fighting for the social well-being and ‘common good’ is worth noting.
Arnie determination in social justice is limitless, started off by working as a volunteer at Clamshell Alliance, an organization that promoted non-violent direct action to end nuclear power plants. He is also known to prepare ordinary activists to candidates for political office. He has been a communications coordinator for the Martin Luther King Day Committee where he played a dominant role in the campaign for a state holiday honoring Dr. King. These are a few of many achievements Arnie has been involved in.
The background of a narrator of a conspiracy theory is critical in successfully identifying a societal problem and clearly integrating the turn of events to provide a whole general outlay of the conspiracy. Knowledge of previous advancements in solving the problem is vital in conceptualizing and creating awareness with authority due to the scrutiny of such theories. Arnie’s thorough knowledge of the developments in fighting for peace aids him in providing relevant and accurate information regarding related problems.
Elaborating Arnie’s Narrative
Arnie Alpert narrative on ‘Who Profits from the Refugee Crisis’ is trying to create consciousness to a global social injustice problem, the refugee crisis. The intensified wars in the Arabs countries raises questions as to whether the wars are politicized locally or there are forces from outside which is or are propelling the instability of the Arab nations. Arnie begins by noting a rise in the number of refugee migration and raises a concern as the rate of instability within Arab nations continues to grow while the current wars respectively, continue to deepen and strengthen.
Arnie then analyzes who is directly profiting from the wars by looking at the main determinant of wars which is artilleries, and links the artilleries to the manufacturing countries, that is, Russia, China, the USA and EU states, but specifically America is the major supplier of weapons to the world. It is vital to note, without armaments, it becomes complicated, dangerous and almost impossible to start and maintain a war. It is also immoral to gear up wars by supplying weapons to destabilized states, causing death to many acquitted people and forcefully constraining survivors to transfer to neighboring countries, for those who cannot find their way to Europe and America, or risk perishing in respective home countries.
Arnie continues by using information from reliable sources such as USA Today, The Intercept and Daily Mail Amnesty International, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, to show how a benefactor federal government, America, is influencing the wars and benefiting economically from the wars. Additionally Arnie links the specific companies manufacturing weapons to funding of politicians in order to influence public policy. What follows is a solution to the refugee crisis. He concludes with a remarkable quote from Eisenhower that will prickle any sound mind to be skeptic of the integrity of the whole ‘Catch-22’ relating to wars, weaponry manufacture and refugees.
M.E.1. Afghanistan: America’s Conspiracies to Spread Terrorism in the Region by Afghan Telex News Agency
Is it a Conspiracy Theory?
The narrative by Afghan Telex News Agency, incorporates two conflicting reports / allegations, one from American government representatives and the other is from Muhammad Hasan Wolasmal, an Afghan writer representing Afghanistan.
According to the American government report, Pakistan is responsible for the terrorism experienced in their country alleging that it has failed to drive out militia groups who are undertaking the massacre, while the report for Wolasmal, clearly elaborates how America is responsible and involved in the genocide.
America’s report does not characterize a conspiracy theory as it does not comply with the four hallmarks of conspiracy theories in that there is no group benefiting from any form of collusion as stated. What is clear from the report is America is noted to be engrossed in condemning the leadership style and administration of Pakistan and other Arab states in general.
On the other hand, the statement from Wolasmal describes a conspiracy theory undertaken by American government colluding with the Pakistan government at the expense of both countries locals. Wolasmal’s statement fully characterizes a conspiracy theory by highlighting how the American government and Pakistan government are mutually benefiting by acting in secrecy and hence causing oppression to the populace of Pakistan and America. From Wolasmal’s statement, America’s presence in Pakistan is ascribed by the need to acquire “natural resources in Central Asia and Middle East and ultimately, crumble regional countries with the aim of preventing the threat posed by China and Russia while Pakistan receives financial and military aid”. Pakistan residents are affected through the instability in their country while American locals are also affected by their families who are in Afghanistan risky their lives at the expense of ‘exploration’ as Wolasmal states.
According to Sunstein &Vermeule (2008), the mysterious characteristic and the credibility of the opinions which initiate conspiracy theories, makes it difficult disapprove and question the theories. Moreover, conspiracy theories involve groups with extraordinary supremacies to strategize and control other while upholding high level of secrecy in their actions.
In Pipe’s view, the instability in Arab nations and terrorism is caused by militant Islam and not entirely Islam as a religion. He claims that Islam is a peaceful religion but it can be disintegrated into three clusters of Islam. Firstly, traditional Islam, which he sees as rational and peaceful, secondly, Islamism, which he perceives as precarious and radical, and thirdly, moderate Islam, which he comprehends as secretive, not organized into a widespread association.
Mathew Gray in his book Conspiracy theory in the Arab world, explains that conspiracy theories represents grandiose actions which are harmful and have greater impact beyond the respective players to nurture and stimulate a range of wider political dimensions or even change a political system. Furthermore, in the same book, Gray confirms that Pipes quotes one author who believes conspiracism mostly direct the public to the existence of actual and truthful fears which are Machiavellian in nature and not a case of suspiciousness, mistrust or obsession with the aim of exposing this conduct.
Gray continues to explain that the resistance of governments to provide credible information to the public regarding mysterious events, by using falsified beliefs is what makes conspiracy theories idiosyncratically puzzling.
Type of Conspiracy and Origin
De Poli proves existence of anti-Masonic and anti-Semitism in the Arab world though the war between the Jews and Palestine which led to the formation of Israel has been the center piece of all conspiracy theories in Middle East (Butter & Reinkowski, 2014). The US standing on Israel- Palestine conflict elaborates the external pressure the US is inflicting in the Middle East and showcases the conspiring nature between the US and Israel.
According to Pipes, Middle East conspiracy theories are a result of local eccentricities, originating from Zoroastrian, Manichean and Mazdak sources backed by paranoia and aimed at attacking Israel as being a focal point of Western interests in the Middle East and trying to become as influential as Israel by conquering other regions of the Islamic states (Butter & Reinkowski, 2014).
According to Mathew Gray in his book Conspiracy theory in the Arab world, human interaction encouraged the generation of conspiracies, schemes and other predetermined conduct. The Western encumbrance in the Middle East has been broadly contended to have initiated with invasion of Egypt in 1798, by Napoleon Bonaparte. Another view from Gray, indicates that the commencement of trade and spread of religion (Christianity) influenced interrelations between Middle East and the Western fraternity.
Butter & Reinkowski (2014) describes Matthew Gray’s view that the Middle East conspiracy theories are as a result of political competition which structures political conduct and have originated from historical impacts, the effects of external dynamics, state-society relations and political culture.
The narrative was published in Middle East where freedom of speech and freedom of media is restricted using blaspehemy laws under the sheria Muslims laws (The Economist, 2015). The totalitarian rule is imposed to the population by the Muslim clergy especially freedom of expression and media related to politics (The Economist, 2015).
With the above strict rules, Wolasmal speech must have been approved by the government before being published on Afghan Telex news Agency. As much as the government is conspiring with the US as Wolasmal states, it indicates the indecisiveness of the Pakistan government in resolving the atrocity. It also indicates that the Pakistan government is in a dilemma between conspiring with the US and fighting for the common good of its people.
Wolasmal uses real life activities to explain in detail how the US is the major influencer of wars within the Middle East. He begins by conflicting the US report and conitnues to show how the US have invaded Middle East using force to safeguard their interests in exploring the natural resources of Middle East. There might be no evidence to prove the actual conspiring between the two governments, but the turn of events in the region initiate scrunity to the allegations raised against the US.The immorality exposed from the narrative depicts the highest levet of global social injustice to the common good of the respective countries population.
Pipes in his article ‘Israel, America and Arab delusions’ in 1991, describes the contradiction in logic for Middle East conspiracists believing that the West can instigate their Western decision on Israel and vice versa is a paucity and indicates inconsistency in their intellectuallism. Pipes continues to stress that this contradictory view of the relations between the West and Israel in the minds of Middle East shows that the Middle East people do not comprehend the circumstances even after the origination of Zionism.
According to Matthew Gray, conspiracists develop conspiracy theories by structuring their opinions with intial factual proclaimations then build rational consistency sentiments which increase the plausibility of the conclusions derived from the actual historical occurences. Matthew Gray adds that the actual or alleged historical injustices supporting the argument insinuate the presence of actual or unproven conspiracy.
Muhammad Hasan Wolasmal is a Jihadi leader and a famous Afghan writer as stated in the narrative. His narrative is very important in trying to resolve the current conflict surrounding this issue of rivalry within the Middle East.
Being a Jihadi leader, it implies that he is a representative of a group of Jihadists where he has great influence due to the totalitarian rule enforced in Middle East. As a famous writer, potrays his ability to provide reliable and accuracte information compiled from concerns of fellow Jihadists or ‘terrorists’ (as claimed by the US).
Elaborating Muhammad Hasan Wolasmal’s Narrative
Despite the efforts of International organizations peace initiatives and the blurred and unwarrantable state of affairs surrounding the Middle East, wars continue to transpire affecting many innocent people. The idea that out of the blue something alarming and outrageous can happen, infuses fear, panic and discomfort within the affected population.
The narrative highlights a recurring and enduring concern which needs more consultation and global support to resolve the impasse. America has neglected the wishes of the Middle East people to evacuate from their land and being a super power, seems no other country is willingly to assist in the resolution as the other powerful countries like Russia & China also have self-interests in Middle East natural resources. Middle East people have found themselves in a stalemate and the only way to resolve the issue is through fighting back for democracy through what is being termed as terrorism.
In his speech, Wolasmal’s responds to the American report by first dismissing the avowals stated in the report implying the report is subtle. He continues to unearth their presence in Middle East by first confirming that America is not transparent to its population regarding the invasion of Middle East stating that America is “deceiving its own people”. Wolasmal’s then continues with accentuating the lack of transparency in the US report, which is claims that Pakistan is not supportive in driving out terrorism, by affirming the inexperience level of Pakistan in managing terrorism. He further explains how America used 9/11 as a reason to invade Middle East and continues to confirm the duration of America’s presence in Middle East has not resolved the terrorism challenge. He also claims that the terrorists groups were initially formed by America to distablize the Arab nations. He summaries by explaining the mutual benefits both Pakistan and America, and concludes by confirming conspiration of America and Pakistan in relocation the terrorists groups. From the speech, Wolasmal was able to lay a foundation of the problem, and supported his allegation using a logical framework of supporting evidence to confirm the conspiracy (Gray, 2010)
The logical behind in Wolasmal’s speech is very convenicing to anyone with an open mind. The descripiton of the problem and identification of the cause of the problem has been well interlinked to provide a concrete conspiracy theory awareness. The mechanistic causality of cause and effect is clearly defined in the conspiracy theory. By analytically speculating the US report, it does not emphasize any solution to the problem but shifts the blame to Pakistan. This a common social motive in conspiracy theories. Scholars have suggested that conspiracy theories may cover the image of self or the in-group by transfering the blame to others (Douglas, et.al, 2017).
In Pipes article ‘Israel, America and Arab delusions’, he points out that Middle East views of Israel's location in the world has deep connotation for the conflict between Israel and the Middle East and hence perpetrating dire repercussions for Israel and the United States.
Pipes also atrributes the spread of Middle East conspiracy theories to the Muslim culture that is, Muslim child-rearing practices. Consequently, he argues that the prevelence of conspiracy theories is influenced by lack of domestic liberty coupled with idea domination on anti- American influence and social separation.
Matthew Gray asserts that despite the notion that Middle East conspiracy theories are sponsored by the state or social groups, it would be prejudice to challenge the declaration that conspiracism is wide spread in the region and sustained by various political forces since there is no rational way of disputing the allegations. On ther hand, he argues that history is not sufficient to authenticate a conspiracy theory and adds that the Arab world has been unable to deliver on its promises to the people in improving the economic and political development. Additionally, the society lacks trust in the state as it no longer reflects their needs and aspirations. This has increased the gap between the state and its people especially the hindrance in democratization.
In spite of some conspiracy theories basing their point of view on certain ostensibly factual evidence, the theories are often considered largely fictitious. Some conspiracy theories have positive influences to the society as described below.
Despite the fabricated nature of conspiracy theories as theorists and public domain believe, the theories may be based on certain truths about individuals and corporations who are indeed doing something wrong. The conspiracy theories could question the dominance hierarchies of activities within a country or around the hemisphere, and most importantly ‘lay a foundation’ to scrutinize the actions made by governments and powerful corporations instilling accountability for their actions.
Conspiracy theories contain actual responses to political challenges. They reveal the history cause of the current problem which might aid in understanding and resolving the problem. Conspiracy theories do more good than harm in creating awareness of injustice committed by a small group of the population to benefit themselves.
Butter, M. & Reinkowski, M. (2014). Introduction: Mapping conspiracy theories in the United States and the Middle East.
Douglas, K.M., Sutton, R. M. & Cichocka. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories.
A current directions in psychological science. 26(6) 538–542.
Edstrom, M., Kenyon, A. T. & Svensson, E. M. (2016). Blurring the lines: Market-driven and democracy-driven freedom of expression. Nordicom. Retrieved from http://www.nordicom.gu.se/sites/default/files/publikationer-hela-pdf/blurring_the_lines .pdf.
Gray, M. (2010). Conspiracy theories in the Arab world.
Pipes, D. (1996). The hidden hand: Middle East fears of conspiracy.
Reid, Scott. (2016). Conspiracy Theory. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Sunstein, C. R. & Vermeule, A. (2008). "Conspiracy Theories". University of Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Working Paper No.199. Retrieved from https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu
The Economist. (2015). Freedom of speech: Unholy silence. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/news/international/21640747-middle-east-free-expression- rarity-blasphemy-laws-are-favoured-tools
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