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Russians show U.S. conspiracy theorists a thing or two

In case you were worried, the past few weeks in Russia have proven that American exceptionalism doesn’t mean that Americans are exceptionally illogical.

First, there was the episode last month in which the operators of a failing adventure sports business in southern Russia attached a donkey to a parachute and forced the braying animal to go parasailing, putting it “in obvious distress” and causing children to cry on the beach below. That’s some Darwin Award-worthy ingenuity at work, though, in this case, it was the donkey who suffered most, after the parachute dragged it along the ground for “several meters.”

Now there’s this: a Russian political scientist speculates that America might be using “climate-change weapons” against Russia, as Moscow endures extreme temperatures. It couldn’t, of course, be the tilt of the Earth, since Stalin corrected that back in the ’30s.

As Muscovites suffer record high temperatures this summer, a Russian political scientist has claimed the United States may be using climate-change weapons to alter the temperatures and crop yields of Russia and other Central Asian countries.

In a recent article, Andrei Areshev, deputy director of the Strategic Culture Foundation, wrote, "At the moment, climate weapons may be reaching their target capacity and may be used to provoke droughts, erase crops, and induce various anomalous phenomena in certain countries."…

In the article, Areshev voiced suspicions about the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP), funded by the U.S. Defense Department and the University of Alaska.

HAARP, which has long been the target of conspiracy theorists, analyzes the ionosphere and seeks to develop technologies to improve radio communications, surveillance, and missile detection.

Areshev writes, however, that its true aim is to create new weapons of mass destruction "in order to destabilize environmental and agricultural systems in local countries."

Areshev's article also references an unmanned spacecraft X-37B, an orbital test vehicle the Pentagon launched in April 2010. The Pentagon calls X-37B a prototype for a new "space plane" that could take people and equipment to and from space stations. Areshev, however, alleges that the X-378 carries "laser weaponry" and could be a key component in the Pentagon's climate-change arsenal.

There are many in Russia who believe to the point of pathology that Russo-American rivalry still inspires America’s foreign policy establishment and the citizens it serves. In fact, while that may be true for many in the former Soviet Union and for some quarters in Washington, most Americans think all too little about their former enemy. I suppose, though, that could simply stoke the obsession -- the feeling that you’re being backed into a corner by an indifferent opponent.

Whatever the explanation, this sort of thing makes you think about how America isn’t the only place where wacky conspiracy theorists -- from the Thirteenth Amendment people to the U.N.-phobes to the fringey parts of the Tea Party -- get dangerous amounts of attention, even respect. One might argue that the Areshev episode is worse, since a government-operated journal republished it, lending it credence. The Tea Party, after all, isn’t formally connected to the U.S. government… right?

No, the truth is that outrageous conspiracy theory is practiced all over the world. Which is all the more reason to worry about it.

By Stephen Stromberg  | August 2, 2010; 6:56 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Didn't Putin claim that he was looking forward to global warming because it would open up vast stretches of Siberia to agriculture? I never heard any American conspiracy theorist silly enough to interpret that as meaning that the Russians were deliberately causing global warming.

Posted by: dan_schein | August 2, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Poor donkeys ...

Posted by: gannon_dick | August 2, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Not to quibble, but loathing the UN is perfectly rational and hardly rises to a conspiracy theory.

Posted by: thebump | August 3, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

"loathing the UN is perfectly rational"
Not to quibble, but the UN is an American invention that represents the height of American diplomatic and military power and many in the world wonder why America wants to disown it.

Posted by: squier13 | August 3, 2010 1:23 AM | Report abuse

Those are only some of the potential rewards of HAARP. Really, the program offers more to us about studying the fundamental nature of the ionosphere. We don't know enough about it, and the Earth's star is simply not stable enough to where we should ignore the manner in which it shields us.

The program doesn't have a thing to do with weather modification though. That's a claim of idiots.

Posted by: Nymous | August 3, 2010 2:22 AM | Report abuse

The UN is a corrupt,scandal ridden organisation where 2 thirds of it's members are made up of anti US /anti Israeli third world Marxist friendly countries, where more than half of the UN aid money, mostly provided by the United States is either lost or stolen. And where nothing is ever accomplished unless led by the US.

Posted by: hawkeye7 | August 3, 2010 2:45 AM | Report abuse

Influencing the weather has great potential for human development. Imagine if we could END droughts by gently redirecting storm systems.

If we bombard moisture in clouds with massive microwave radiation, then they will heat up like the moisture in the foods that your microwave oven heats. The added few degrees can make a system track differently over the short horizon and track very different over the long horizon.

We could save crops too, not just ruin them.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 3, 2010 3:23 AM | Report abuse

Still hating on the tea party people.

Too funny

Posted by: RavenGodiva | August 3, 2010 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Not to quibble, but loathing the UN is perfectly rational and hardly rises to a conspiracy theory.

I think the writer was talking about the "New World Order" crowd, not the people who have valid objections to the UN.

Posted by: samiles96 | August 3, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Still hating on the tea party people.

Too funny


How is pointing out that there are fringe elements in the Tea Party "hating the Tea Party"? There are fringe elements in every political movement, why not the Tea Party? Either you can't read, or you don't have a basic understanding of political movements.

Posted by: samiles96 | August 3, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Not liking the UN because its corrupt (or at least wasteful) and unable to solve many problems even when provided troops by member states due in part to an unwillingness to allow troops to fight anyone. However, fearing the UN as some overwhelming and powerful world government is boarder line insane, and certainly not rational. Combining the two is proof of insanity.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | August 3, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse


I hope for his sake Mr. Stromberg is being facetious in a Swiftian manner. If not, he appears to be among the most naive and entrained of the mainstream stenographers. If Mr. Stromberg does not think there's a military component to HAARP, perhaps he should ponder what HAARP has wrought: the installation and activation of silent microwave radio frequency weapons of mass destruction in EVERY neighborhood in a America. Another conspiracy theory, Mr. Stromberg? No -- the frightening, evil truth. Please read these articles by a longtime mainstream journalist who doesn't wear blinders or succumb to the psy ops:
OR (lede articles and links therein)

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 3, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Russians can see Palin from their backyard. Crazy-eyed kook-vision goggles work both ways. All that cold weather must freeze a few brain cells on both sides of the Bering Strait.

Posted by: grantmh | August 3, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse


Al Gore didn't invent global warming (and the Internet) just to scam people and make a fast buck -- he did it to bring down our adversaries. Genius!! And who says former Vice President Grope, er, uh, I mean Gore, isn't a patriot?!!!

Wasn't it the Russians who released the e-mails that led to the Climategate scandal? At least that's what we're being told!!!!

Didn't Mel Gibson make a movie about conspiracy theories that turned out to be true? If a radical right-winger like Gibson is involved in the cover-up, the story must be true!!!!!

And now the Tea Party people are implicated!!!!!!

A-ha, conspiracies abound!!!!!!!

Sorry, but only in America can covert collusion be so much fun.

Posted by: braunt | August 3, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Russia has a Palin too! I wonder if he can see Alaska from his house?

Posted by: sux123 | August 3, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Warmer will make Russia stronger in wheat and other crops. Moscow may even have a normal climate.

Posted by: gary4books | August 3, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I have recently traveled to Russia and I have no doubt that this "theory" is funded and directed by the Russian government. While I was there, I heard a story about another "theory" by a Russian "historian" that claims the U.S. intentionally started WWII because we had calculated that all of our major allies would wind up crippled and we would become the dominant power. As I watched the Russian news channel, I was struck by the number of stories that focused on American conspiracies, plots, atrocities and social ills, all of which went unchallenged and included some sort of statement from the government about how they were investigating and "protecting" their citizens and allies from American "hegemony" or "imperialism".

If you read the foreign press, you will see similar government-sponsored, anti-American propaganda programs designed to feed on the ignoranti's fear of the CIA, the Pentagon and the U.S. in general. Not just Russia, but other countries too. Think of the whoppers that Iran routinely comes up with. They would be laughable if not for the fact that so many people actually believe them. They use this type of thing to divert their citizen's attention away from their government's failings, and to justify their own aggressive policies.

This type of thing doesn't represent lone nut jobs that we can chuckle at. They are part of active government programs that damage the U.S. and enables repression in the name of "security".

Posted by: allknowingguy | August 3, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The mother of all wacky conspiracy theories though was the one that "Iraq is teeming with weapons of mass destruction and we know exactly where they are." Lots of people believed that one including people in high places who should have known better.

Posted by: politbureau | August 3, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

@allknowingguy, you forgot to add "U.S. political campaigns" to your list of big-lie examples.

Posted by: realworld51 | August 3, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"There are many in Russia who believe to the point of pathology that Russo-American rivalry still inspires America’s foreign policy"

But it does. Our leftover Cold Warriors want to keep hammering Russia and containing it ever more tightly so it will never again be the problem it was. Since Putin does want to recover the former power of the Soviets in the world, this is not entirely unreasonable on our part.

We have broken promises about NATO expansion, pushed in closer and closer, and done everything we can against Russia. The controversy over the nuclear arms treaty boils down to complaints that we are giving Russia too much equality, when we can overpower them if we try. They still spy on us, and we still spy on them.

I don't see why this article tries to pretend it is not so. I especially why it pretends the Russians have a pathology to think so.

Posted by: MarkThomason | August 3, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Grantmh makes a good point. You'd be hard pressed to find even a hardboiled conspiracy theorist creative/insane enough to invent the Sarah Palin and Tea Party phenomenon before they actually occurred.

Posted by: hayesap8 | August 4, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

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