Think for a moment

Wacko conspiracy theory

If you were the nominal head of a shadowy stateless network of Islamic fascists with ambition and you believed that the US was not quite the superpower it’s overwhelming military superiority might lead one to believe, would you launch a concerted disinformation campaign to draw the US into a position where you could test that hypothesis further (having already tested it to some success in Somalia)?

Or perhaps the question should be, why wouldn’t you test that hypothesis when you could do it on the cheap? I mean, how much would it cost, really, how much effort would it take, to convince certain powerful people of something they damn well wanted to believe anyway. The Bush administration was already keyed up on Iraq, and after 9/11, the country wanted payback. Think how quickly any “intelligence” indicating a link between 9/11 and Iraq would take fire.

Think of all the leverage in such a situation. A couple of dozen people with a small budget could, potentially, draw the US into a military entanglement costing the US billions or even hundreds of billions of dollars. A little bit of effort could demonstrate just what it would take to mire the US in one country with little hope of defending itself on an expanded front. And really, what would your risk be? Sure, some of your people might die, but you’ve got people willing to do that for you. Sure, it might take some time and money, but not much. A pretty small bet against such a big payoff.

Now think of what you could do to capitalize on the results of your experiment. With the US mired in Iraq, think how short a step it would be to placing a wider swatch of the mid-east in play. How hard would it be to really shake things up, to cast doubt on the stability of Saudi Arabia? Think of the uncertainty you could sew, think of the impact on the oil supply. The military, which needs a steady supply of oil to support its supply chain and its fighting aircraft and vehicles would be at risk. At home, prices would skyrocket. A weakened US economy would be weakened further, tax revenues would sink, military expenditures would swallow even more of the budget.

Now, flip it around: if you were one of the influential US officials who fell for such a ploy, would you own up, or would you do everything in your power to obfuscate the reasons for going to war? Why wouldn’t you keep changing your story? Why wouldn’t you spin and stonewall, no matter how transparent the effort when your own supporters might actually lynch you if the truth ever became clear?

Crazy? Perhaps, but I wonder if we’ll ever get any closer to the truth.