23 January 2004

I believe in conspiracies

Similarly, it is a matter of public record that the Americans pumped at least $100 million into Serbia in order to get rid of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, and huge sums in the years before. (An election in Britain, whose population is eight times bigger than Yugoslavia's, costs about two thirds of this.) This money was used to fund and equip the Kosovo Liberation Army; to stuff international observer missions in Kosovo with hundreds of military intelligence officers; to pay off the opposition and the so-called 'independent' media; and to buy heavily-armed Mafia gangsters to come and smash up central Belgrade, so that the world's cameras could show a 'people's revolution'.

At every stage, the covert aid and organisation provided by the US and British intelligence agencies were decisive, as they had been on many occasions before and since, all over the world. Yet for some reason, it is acceptable to say, 'The CIA organised the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadeq in Iran in 1953', but not that it did it again in Belgrade in 2000 or Tbilisi in 2003. And in spite of the well-known subterfuge and deception practised, for instance, in the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980s, people experience an enormous psychological reluctance to accept that the British and American governments knowingly lied us into war in 2002 and 2003. To be sure, some conspiracy theories may be outlandish or wrong. But it seems to me that anyone who refuses to make simple empirical deductions ought to have his head examined.

Conspiracy theories make me nervous and I'm broadly prepared to accept that the choice between a conspiracy and a cock-up should always favour the cock-up, but there are limits.

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