No, I have not become a conspiracy theory nut. But I have just been made to think by an Argentine gentleman I won't name who alluded to a possible collusion between "terrorists" and spies to push countries like Syria to a self-destructive boil.
Yes, it sounded crazy to me at first. There are so many folks who will tell you the CIA was behind AIDS, the crack epidemic and hell, the hangnail they woke up with, that such claims can't be taken at face value. In my experience, and I have personally met at least a good half-dozen actual CIA officers and perhaps more that I didn't know were CIA, that's not how the world works.
However, once you pose the ancient Roman lawyer's question qui bono (who benefits?) it begins to be a bit less absurd. Why wouldn't intelligence services of the post-Cold War era seek to invent enemies to keep their budgets fat? It's not like that hasn't been done before.
Remember Vietnam? The United States would never have gotten so deeply enmeshed in, nor so wrongheadedly misdirected, the fate of the Republic of South Vietnam were it not for the CIA careerists who set in motion the assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, albeit with the well-documented casual consent of President Kennedy.
And what about that splendid little anti-Soviet revolt in Hungary in 1956, with Czech weapons supplied by MI6 and the French DGSE as a political distraction during the Franco-English seizure of Suez?
And so on and so forth ...
My friend included drug cartels in the mix, a not implausible partner, as the Iran-Contra scandal taught us. Or should have.
It makes perfect sense that Al-Qaeda, whose founder and leader Osama Bin Laden was demonstrably CIA trained and supported, might collude with the guys at Langley.
What's the use of an intelligence service if there is no war? What's the use of a Jihad without endless money and weapons? It's win-win for both.
Now we have an endless "war" against an invisible "enemy" that can justify anything the spooks want to justify.
The "terrorists," who frankly do not inspire terror in me, are clearly a useful Boogeyman; they enjoy the role.
So do the hundreds of thousands of (mostly) men who get good pay to do everything from running the security theater at airports and federal buildings, to concocting new ways to blow up Third World countries.
These countries are handpicked because their governments refuse in some way to be client states, cheerfully handing over their national resources to Western corporations, often under thinly veiled "democracies" run by leaders bought and paid for by ... the CIA, MI6, the Mossad and who knows who else.
It doesn't have to be outright refusal, either.
Iran's Mossadegh in 1954 was merely a nationalist. Not pro-Soviet by a very, very long stretch. Saddam Hussein, like Tito, was a classic Bonapartist dictator who had made himself indispensable to keep his country together within admittedly artificial borders. Iraq was invented in 1931 and its borders drawn in London by the Foreign Office. Yugoslavia was a creature of the Versailles Treaty (as was Czechoslovakia). Look what happened when the dictators were removed (can anyone reading this spell S-a-r-a-j-e-v-o and F-a-l-l-u-j-a-h?).
The capital sin of these tin-horn dictators was not that they were Communist. No, they just weren't wildly enthusiastic cheerleaders of Western profitmaking at their countries' expense. (Plus, overthrowing them helped the careers of many intelligence officers at little political expense to the players in question.)
So, what do we do with this thought? Unfortunately, here is where I fall short. I don't have an intelligence service of my own to overthrow the CIA, MI6 and their pals.
Still, there is one thing of which, my experience as a journalist has taught me: government wrongdoing abhors the light of day. And humor. And respectful, civil disobedience. And common sense.