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.
| August 2, 2010; 6:56 PM ET
Categories: Stromberg | Tags: Stephen Stromberg
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