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Monday, July 6, 2015

The sinfulness and destructiveness of Conspiracy Theories


Isiah 8:12-13
"Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy.
Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
    He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread.


Matthew 12:36-38
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

An Example from Texas”[1]

A recent conspiracy theory (hereafter abbreviated as “CT”) has garnered much national attention. It involves “Jade Helm 15,” an Armed Services training exercise employing the elite units of the Armed Forces in counter-terrorist warfare. About 1,200 servicemen will run exercises throughout the South West states including California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It is somewhat larger in area than the normal exercise of this sort, but the planners wanted to focus on problems of long range intrusion and evacuation of troops in sparsely populated desert terrain.   That was certainly prudent in view of the ISIS situation in Syria/Iraq and in West Africa.

The CT about the Jade Helm maneuvers is not the first time that such exercises have aroused suspicion from the far Right. Something similar happened in the 1960s when John F. Kennedy was President. He was Catholic, which right off made him suspicious to many in the far right. They suspected that an Army exercise at the time, “Water Moccasin,” was really designed to open the door for a foreign invasion of the United States. Several versions of this CT circulated, but US Congressman, James Utt (R-CA) spread the most popular version in a letter to his constituents. It suggested that Water Moccasin was the first stage of a UN (and ultimately communist) plot to invade the United States.[2] 

War exercises have been held since the 1940’s, when the Army began mobilizing for World War II.  General Eisenhower (then a colonel) was a staff office in the “Battle of Louisiana” back in 1940 when that state was “invaded” by two American Armies. The Louisiana residents warmly welcomed the roughly 400,000 soldiers, who were often graciously billeted in private homes without cost.  It was the last big exercise before the real war, and American military planners were worried over the success of the Nazi blitzkrieg which had recently overrun Poland and France. Important lessons were learned in this exercise, including the need to form independent armored divisions.

But back to the present. The surprising and disheartening aspect of Jade Helm 15 is the reaction of many sincere Christians who see this exercise through the eyes of a far right CT. They are informed, or rather misinformed, by right wing anti-Obama web sites, and talk radio commentators such as Alex Jones.

The current CT affirms that Jade Helm is a preparation for the invasion of Texas by some sort of politicized U.S. Armed Forces task force. The ultimate intent being the disarming and arresting of those Texans opposed to the Obama Administration. Part of this CT includes the belief that certain temporarily vacant Walmarts will be used by these elite forces as staging areas and/or prisons for the arrested Texans. Some of the “evidence” that this theory is true is the fact that the Jade Helms exercise maps have Texas labeled as “enemy territory.”  (Indeed, Eisenhower had a similar map with parts of Louisiana labeled as “enemy.” That’s part of what you do in a training exercise.)

The public briefing about Jade Helm in Bastrop, Texas, by the Army information officer, Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, turned nasty. The CT believers called the officer a liar, and that he was hiding the “true intent” of the exercise.[3][3] The CT believers credit the soldiers participating as true patriots but, “They are merely following orders. What’s under question are those who are pulling the strings at the top of Jade Helm 15 back in Washington.”[4]

But possibly the worst element of this CT incident is that it has been given partial credence by the current governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. He ordered the Texas National Guard to “monitor” the various Armed Forces units that are taking part in the exercise.[5]

The elements of this CT, like most others, are illogical and ludicrous. This irrationality is occulted in the believer’s mind by the accumulated distrust, disdain and fear of the Obama administration. This pattern of suspended logical thinking is one of the marks of a true CT.

Let me take more time than I should to deconstruct this particular CT.

·   A majority of Texans disapprove of the Obama Administration. Using “back of the envelope” figures, that comes to at least 10,000,000 Texans who seriously dislike or distrust Obama. That is a whole lot of “opposition” to disarm and herd into various Walmarts. Especially given that Texans are among the most heavily armed segment of the American population, with untold numbers of hand-guns, assault rifles, 50 caliber sniper rifles, etc., in their possession. Our Special Forces and Seals and other anti-terrorist units contain some of the best soldiers in the world, but 1,200 against 10,000,000 is not possible except in action hero comic books.
  • Most officers and enlisted personnel of our Armed Forces are of a center, or right wing political opinion. Left leaning youth generally have distrust or contempt for our Armed Forces. Thus, few left wing persons join our Armed forces, either at the officer or enlisted level. The demographics of the Armed Forces makes any campaign against right-wing civilians in Texas, or any other part of America that is “opposed to Obama” impossible.
  • Officers and non-coms of all branches are educated, as part of their training, to disobey “illegal orders.”  I remember instructions on this in my training during the Vietnam War. We had a film showing an imaginary incident in which an officer instructed a sergeant to force prisoners to march in front of his platoon to set off mines in a suspected minefield. That is against the Geneva Convention and the order by the officer was an illegal order. Our class was shown how to disobey such an order. The Armed forces still do that type of instruction. American officers and non-com would simply not obey the “mother and father” of all illegal orders – to arrest the “Obama opposition” even if such an insane order were given. Next time your son or cousin comes home for leave ask him if he would obey an order to arrest and possibly shoot the “Obama opposition.” This CT is a slander to the American Armed Forces.
Even before this current Jade Helm CT started doing its rounds, there were other web-based CTs about a government takeover on the web and talk-radio. One was that the Federal Government agents were disarming the American population by buying up all small arms ammunition. Again, Walmart got into the CT with the claim that Walmart was completely sold out of small arms ammunition. Actually, many Walmarts, which are known for their low pricing on ammo, routinely sell out stock of small arms ammo, and then restock within a few days.

To deconstruct: this CT is impossible. Small arms ammo is easy to manufacture, and manufactures would be delighted to have the government agents try to out buy their production capacity. This does not even take into account that so many people in the country have home repacking machines in which they reload their spent cartages. I was told this CT by a very nice, intelligent couple in a church I attended for a while. Again, the anger and distrust accumulated against Obama occulted reasonableness and logic.

CTs defined:

Let me give a tentative definition of just what a CT is:
It is a story that focuses on one group or person to explain the “wrongness,” or evil of a historical event, present situation, or future imagined event.  Such theories avoid the issue of mankind’s universal sinfulness, error and foolishness. Conspiracy theories usually hold that when something bad happened in history, it was intentional by some group or person. Many historical conspiracy theories assume that that there are no “SNAFUS” or random events that influence history – it is all intentional.  Similarly, a predictive CTs (as in the Jade Helms 15 CT) is an invented story that an evil group or person is about to do something terrible. In CTs suspicions are considered as facts, and little or no attempt is made to verify the information on logical or evidential grounds. The anger, suspicion and distrust of the CT believer diminishes or destroys logical or factual verification.

It is often easier to understand the illogical nature of a CT from a foreign country than one that deals with our own fears and suspicions. For instance, few Americans would hold the CT that the crash that killed Princess Diana was a conspiracy devised by Queen Elizabeth and carried out by British intelligence (or the CIA – pick your villain, perhaps even a Bulgarian intelligence operative).
Let me again deconstruct this one. The tragic accident that led to Diana’s death was one of those things impossible to fine tune into a planned assassination. How do you manipulate the driver to be inebriated enough to crash, but not so staggering drunk that the Princess would have not gotten into the car with him? What about the speed of the car and angle of the crash? Minor differences would have resulted in a broken leg and arm, not death, etc. Car crashes are poor instruments of assassinations – much better some poisoned food from the Queen’s kitchen, again with a Bulgarian intelligence operative as the agent! The Princess Diana CT has been mostly harmless, except that, as all CTs, it reinforced the hold of unwarranted suspicion and illogical thinking on the CT believer’s mind.

Other CTs leave wide wakes of destructiveness. When I taught public school at a predominantly African American high school in the 1970’s I saw the establishment of a CT that was far from harmless. It related to recent moon landings by the NASA astronauts (first one was in 1969). Most of the children in the school refused to believe the landing really took place, but were staged in some warehouse.[6] Given the state of alienation of the African American children from the government and its scientific efforts, it is easy to see why this CT was attractive. The NASA team had no visible African-American presence. Less easy to discern was why it was destructive, aside from the fact that it was an accepted lie.

This CT made science and scientific achievement less exciting and important among the children who accepted it, than those who understood that a lunar landing had really taken place. Great scientists and engineers are generally people who as children got excited about science, making model airplanes, rockets, etc., They most likely did special library research (now internet) and school science project with enthusiasm. Much of that was short circuited among African American children by the CT about the faked moon landing. Why do science if it is just a White Man’s plot to fool people. Just how many potentially great scientists among the African American community were side tracked from developing their true talents in science and engineering is impossible for us to know. From my experience at this one school I suspect many (but have no CT on this yet). 


Moon landing a hoax?

Anti-Semitism as multiple CTs:

Some CTs are more destructive, and even genocidal in their effects. The Nazi extermination of the Jews in Europe can be seen as the product of multiple conspiracy theories, some dating back centuries which blamed the Jews for all sorts of evil. One of the most infamous was The Protocols of Zion, a concoction written about 1903, which purported to be the minuets of a plot by prominent Jewish leaders to rule the world through increasing control of banking, newspapers and government. It was definitively exposed in 1921 as a fraud. But no matter, it continued to be believed in as authentic by many, including Henry Ford who paid to have half a million copies printed and distributed in the United States.

The Protocols of Zion was one of the corner stones of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. The Nazis added to it by inventing the CT that they had lost the World War I because they had been “stabbed in the back” by Jewish radicals and communists. That was not true of course, but as many CTs, it had a shadow of truth. Radical and Marxist Jews did take part in the anti-War agitation in Germany in 1918, and had leading roles in the Communist-ruled temporary governments that appeared in 1918-1919, as in Bavaria and Berlin. But the main factors in the German’s loss of the War were the injection in 1918 of fresh American divisions in the fighting, and the effective blockade of the British fleet which left the German people and Army in starvation status. German armies were in retreat in the Western front, and had collapsed on the Macedonian front, exposing Austria to immediate invasion.  Again, plain facts are of little importance over the emotional need of a CT to give comfort or reassurance. That is, the new CT confirms a set of older ones, and the German public had a great backlog of older CTs about the Jews.

Stabbed in the back by Jews!

Most Christians today are aware of Nazi anti-Semitism and its CT myths, but have little knowledge of the long and tragic history of anti-Semitism in European Christianity and the part that CTs played in that tragic history. There were pogroms against Jews by Christina throughout the Middle Ages. This reached a murderous crescendo when the bubonic plague spread among in Europe in the years 1347 to 1352, killing over 30% of the population. As the plague was taking its deadly toll a CT spread that the Jews were causing it by poisoning the wells and other imagined means. (No one had the slightest idea that the disease was broadcast by rat lice.) Mobs rioted, chased down and murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews, often burning them to death. Jews were banished from most countries in Western Europe and fled to Poland, where the plague had not spread, and to Arabic lands.[7][7]

The illogical coupling of death by plague and Jews in a causative relationship points to how easily conspiracy theories are generated. All that is needed is a negative or tragic situation, and a hated group or person – no provable or logical connections needed.


Jews being burned to death for spreading the plague!


The CIA did it!

A recent example of a CT with no discernible connection grew out of the tragic floods that afflicted Pakistan in 2010. The floods were unprecedented in Pakistan history. In some areas twelve feet of rain fell in a week’s time. Over 700,000 people were made homeless and the death toll was very high (and suppressed by the government to avoid political fallout). The immediate cause was an unusual shift in the jet stream which pushed the monsoon rains to the north and upon the treeless mountains of north Pakistan. A strong high pressure front in China kept the rains in place. Weather scientists blamed this unusual chain of events on climate change.

But the disaster was also man made. In 1948 the newly independent Pakistan was one third forest, mostly in the mountains. Only about 4% remained forested when the rains came in 2010. Few trees were left to absorb the rains and slow the water. That change had been caused by the expanding population’s needs for wood for cooking, but mostly by the “tree mafia” which illegally cut trees in great numbers and bribed politicians and police in order to get away with it.[8] However, on the city streets another reason was given for the floods, “The Americans did it!” How? No explanations given, the CIA is known to be evil, smart and technically savvy. Further, when the chaos of the situation prevented the quick arrival of US Aid the Pakistanis anger towards the Americans went up another notch.[9]

Similarly, certain left-wing and Afro-centric groups in America blamed the CIA or other government agencies for creating the HIV virus as a  genocidal tool aimed at African Americans and homosexuals. Unlike other CTs which have nebulous origins, we now know where this one came from. It originated as a propaganda piece produced by the Communist East German Government as part of the anti-American campaign they supported for decades.[10] That claim was repeated in African American and left-wing journals in the United States and overseas. Scientific studies have conclusively shown that the HIV virus jumped from Green Monkeys (where it was non-lethal to the monkeys) to humans sometime in the early Twentieth Century, but remained localized until the 1970s when better transportation made the spread possible.[11] Even today many people believe in this “made in America” CT. Again, good science does not matter in the face of a need to invent a villain as the cause of a great tragedy.

The majority of the CTs circulating in the United States nowadays come from right wing sources. But this has not always been the case, nor necessarily so. The Rev. Jim Jones of Guyana was a radical left-winger who disguised himself as a Christian pastor although he was really a non-believer. He established a commune in California which he then moved to Guyana. His group was known for placing social activism and racial integration on top of their agenda. Before they relocated to South America they had attracted many luminaries of the Democratic Party who did not discern Jones’ radically communist agenda (or chose to ignore it). 

Jones blended Marxist doctrine with New Age ideas and topped it off with a conspiracy theory that CIA was coming to destroy the group in a paratroop attack. Jones assured his group that the way out was to be “translated” to a socialist paradise in another planet by way of suicide. That mass suicide/murder of his commune in 1978 cost of lives of over nine hundred people, three hundred of which were children.[12]   Such a horrific ending indicates that there was much demonic activity involved, or even possession, as in the case of Jim Jones himself.[13]

The suicides and murdered at the Jim Jones cult.

William Buckley spares the Republicans of CT domination:

The founder of the modern American Conservative Movement was William F. Buckley, Jr. His book God and Man at Yale launched him as the preeminent spokesman for the anti-liberal and conservative view.[14] He worked for several years in the conservative Journal, The American Mercury, but resigned from it when he noticed a creeping anti-Semitism in its writers. In 1955 he established the National Review that serves to this day as the main voice of American Conservatism. He was a devout Catholic, and strong anti-Communist. Significantly, he strongly opposed the influence of Ayn Rand on conservatism, seeing her atheism as destructive to the conservative’s sense of religion and spiritual accountability.

 
The young William F. Buckley

Few people remember that Buckley was the main figure in banishing John Walsh and his CT laden John Birch Society from the Republican Party. Ironically it was a real conspiracy between him, Russell Kirk, Senator Barry Goldwater and a few others who met secretly in 1961 in Palm Beach, Florida. (For those under forty, Senator Goldwater was the spokesman of the conservative wing of the Republican Party in the Senate. He was the Republican nominee for president in 1964, and was defeated by Lyndon Johnson in that election.) Thee Palm Beach group brainstormed what to do about the John Birch Society’s growing influence on both the Conservative movement and the Republican Party.[15]

The John Birch Society was founded just after World War II by John Walsh, a businessman, to counter the rise of Communism. This laudable goal was marred by a cluster of CTs about why Communism was advancing, as in for instance, the fall of anti-Communist Nationalist China and the triumph of Moe’s Communist “Peoples’ Republic.” John Walsh believed it was due to a Communist takeover of the American Government, which ultimately allowed the triumph of Mao’s Red Army. Among other things Walsh believed that President Dwight Eisenhower was a “conscious agent of communism” and American foreign policy was a sly scheme to turn the world over to communism, just as in China. Other CTs of the Society included the belief that the fluoridation of water was also a communist conspiracy to ruin the health of the American people.[16]

The great anthology of CTs

At the Palm Beach meeting Senator Goldwater, who was preparing to run for president, expressed both his admiration and concern of the John Birchers. They were enthusiastic anti-Communists and great donors to the Republican Party. But these crazy CTs, what was wrong with them? Buckley answered that the fallacy was “the assumption that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence: we lost China to the Communists, therefore the President of the United States and the Secretary of State wished China to go to the Communists.”[17]  This of course is at the heart of many CTs.

Goldwater thanked Buckley for his insight, and those at the meeting agreed on a plan to finesse the Birchers out of the Republican Party. Goldwater proceeded to publicly attack the Birchers’ CTs, while still lauding its members as patriots. Buckley used the National Review to publish a series of searing articles, by himself and others, on the Society and John Walsh. In a letter to the National Review, Goldwater publicly affirmed Buckley’s position:

I think you have clearly stated the problem which Mr. Welch’s continued leadership of the John Birch Society poses for sincere conservatives. . . . Mr. Welch is only one man, and I do not believe his views, far removed from reality and common sense as they are, represent the feelings of most members of the John Birch Society. . . . Because of this, I believe the best thing Mr. Welch could do to serve the cause of anti-Communism in the United States would be to resign. . . . We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner.[18]
John Foster Dulles (secretary of state) with President Eisenhower,
 "conscious agents of the Communist conspiracy!"

The "Palm Beach Conspiracy" ultimately worked. Although Welch did not resign, and the John Birch Society continued in its CTs, it was shunned and marginalized by the Republican leadership and faded from influence. The Republican Party went on its path of "rational conservatism," i.e. reasoned arguments which avoided CTs. It became the party that got Ronald Regan elected as president.

(Folks at opposite ends of the political spectrum do not like to admit that the opposition has reasonable arguments and see their opposition as irrational and even consciously evil. All mankind is sinful, so that all politicians are tainted with the sins of mankind. But for the Christian it is best to view the political opposition as rational, but with different assumptions as to what is important and real.)

Unfortunately, in the recent decade some of the John Birch Societies’ now gray haired veterans and their literature have influenced the Tea Party, which has become increasingly CT in its thinking.[19] Several commentators on both the left and right of American politics have lamented that at the present moment there is no one among American conservatives with the prestige, intelligence and authority of Buckley to place the Tea Party and its CTs, including the Jade Helm  CT, in its place.[20]

The "Loss" of China to Communism:

We need to say a few words about the loss of China to Communism. It is still an issue in right wing web sites. No, it was not because President Harry Truman (1945-1952) wanted the Communists to win. What really happened was that Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Army had been severely mauled in their war with the Japanese (1937-1945) while Mao’s “Peoples’ Liberation Army” stuck to low casualty, guerrilla warfare against the Japanese. They came out of the World War II in relatively good shape.[21]

When the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalist and the Communists resumed (1946) the Truman administration gave Chiang-Kai-shek and his Nationalist Army much support in terms of American arms and ammunition to modernize and re-equip the Army, and fortify it in its war against Mao’s forces. Those armaments were superior to the captured Japanese arms that Russia supplied to Mao. Stalin gained possession of a large cache of Japanese weapons in the closing days of World War II when his Army invaded Manchuria and overran the Japanese puppet regime and its army. In any case, the Nationalist Army was better armed than the Peoples’ Liberation Army, but it lost one campaign after another in the years 1946-1949, until it was kicked out of the Chinese mainland. The deciding factor was the morale and integrity of the competing armies.

Chinese nationalist troops with American tanks and arms. 

Mao’s soldiers were highly indoctrinated and motivated with the Communist myth that victory would result in a “socialist paradise,” with peace and plenty for all. The Red Army was well disciplined and free of bribery and corruption. To the contrary, the Nationalist Army had officers from the upper classes of Chinese society, while its peasant soldiers had little real motivation for the fight – they had no comparable heroic myth. In the Nationalist Army corruption was long standing, and for instance, the artillery branch, which was highest in prestige, actually charged the infantry unites for each round of artillery spent in support. This Chinese Civil war was not the last time that a better armed force lost out to a less well armed foe, but one that had high morale and a supporting myth.

We saw a repeat of the Chinese Civil War in Vietnam. A better equipped army losing to a myth indoctrinated and high morale army. In fact, after the American fighting forces left Vietnam, the South Vietnamese Army quickly descended into corruption, and, for instance, returned to the old Chinese habit of charging infantry units for artillery support.[22]  We have seen in the last two years a similar dynamics between the highly (demonically) motivated ISIS forces in Syrian and Iraq, who have consistently defeated the much better equipped but corrupt Iraqi army.

All of which is to say, China was lost to Communism, and into the hands of a genocidal maniac, not by a conspiracy within the Truman administration, but by the Chinese Nationalist themselves.

A Classic American Conspiracy Theory: Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor.

When I was in high school, our history teacher was a fervent Republican and an avowed Roosevelt hater. He was a believer in the CT that FDR enticed the Japanese into attacking the US fleet at Pearl Harbor in order to get the United States into World War II. Further, Roosevelt prevented the American fleet from being forewarned of the attack. That CT was based on a book written in 1944 and subsequently elaborated in other works. The CT was thrashed about in the 1950s, but rebutted by reputable historians. It made a new appearance in 2000 with the book Day of Deceit.[23] Again, reputable military historians have dismissed it. It supposes a large and extremely well nit group of conspirators all the way from General Marshall, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a man of enormous integrity, to mid-level and junior offers all over the Pacific.

December 7, 1941 

Day of Deceit is elaborate nonsense that confuses the SNAFUs of military life with conspiracies. Militarily informed reviewers, such as Dr. Conrad Crane of the US Army War College, have lambasted the book as inaccurate at its critical points.[24] But many anti-Obama Republicans enjoy reading Day of Deceit, as it confirms their suspicion that in the past there was another Democratic president as destructive and evil as Obama.

The movie Tora, Tora, Tora gave an excellent presentation of what really happened and how the sneak attack was almost intercepted. Part of the CT was that the US Pacific Fleet moved from San Diego to Pearl Harbor in order to “lure” the Japanese into an attack.  No, the intention was to dissuade the Japanese, who were already in a war with China, form further attacking the Dutch East Indies and other areas in the Pacific. The move was a form of intimidation – it did not work.

Roosevelt and his military planners in the US really wanted to postpone war with Japan while limiting its advances, and fight Nazi Germany first. The Administration was indeed moving to get American pubic to go to war with Germany. In fact there was an undeclared destroyer vs. submarines war with Germany for weeks before December 7 in which one U.S. destroyer had already been sunk.

The American Navy believed that a Japanese attack would likely target the Panama Canal or the Philippines, with a fast battleship fleet, not the well defended base at Pearl Harbor. The cross ocean attack by five large carries and supporting ships was a daring innovation, and something that was only devised early in 1941 by the Japanese. The ability to launch a massive 350 plane attack was something not anticipated by American naval planers, especially as they believed the Japanese to be technically behind our forces. In fact, Japanese carrier operations, including ground crew training and their Zero fighter, were superior to ours.

Indeed, an important diplomatic message from Tokyo was decoded by American code-breakers a few hours before the attack. It was to the Japanese staff in Washington informing the delegation to end negotiations with Washington on December 7, and that “things will automatically happen.”  This seems to be a huge red flag to the American decoders, and an indicator to place all the Pacific Forces on a war footing. However, the warning message had a problem in transmission via short wave radio and was sent via telegram, which was much slower. The telegram arrived in the middle of the Japanese attack. There was a sin/arrogance fueled SNAFU here. The Army officer in charge of the decoding saw the problem at the Army short wave facility and suggested the message be sent via the Navy short wave radio. His superior officer ridiculed the idea, believing the Navy short wave could not be clear if the Army one was not – in fact it was.

At Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th the newly installed Army radar operators saw the massive Japanese attack coming and warned the duty office. He had been briefed the night before that a squadron of B-17s was coming in to reinforce Pearl. He disregarded even the second warning by the radar operator as some sort of inexperience and exaggeration. There was no conspiracy in these events, merely carelessness and arrogance which led to SNAFUs and tragedy.

In Battle of Jutland, the greatest naval battle of World War I, there was a similar communications SANFU. German Navy could have been trapped and destroyed in the battle, possibly ending the war earlier. The German naval code had been broken by a secret group of British mathematicians. However an important message deciphered during the battle and giving the location and destination of the German fleet was delayed as the officer in charge thought it was of little importance. Again, the SANFU was partly sin/arrogance based, as the officer was an aristocrat who disdained his middle class cryptographers .[25]

We should also note that the Pearl Harbor CT writers, who are passionately anti-Roosevelt, have never invented a conspiracy theory about how General MacArthur “allowed” the American Army in the Philippines to be surprised by the initial Japanese attack.  That attack took place twelve hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most of the American planes were destroyed on the ground, just as at Pearl Harbor.

 
Japanese bombers over the Philippines informing MacArthur that his 
wish for a neutral Philippines would not work! 

The truth is clear but somewhat complex. MacArthur wore two hats in the Philippines. He was commander of the American Armed Forces there, but also the commander of the semi-autonomous Philippine Armed Forces. He and Philippine President Quezon had a hope that a war between the US and Japan would bypass the Philippines. Thus MacArthur initially avoided any aggressive moves against Japanese targets, as in sending out his B-17 bombers. Also, his Air Corps chief, who knew more about aerial warfare than MacArthur, and would have immediately dispersed the aircraft, was in Australia coordinating with that government for the possible war. It was a misjudgment and SNAFU on MacArthur’s part.[26] Of course General MacArthur is one of the heroes of the American Right and so there is no emotional gain from forming a CT about how he “enticed” the Japanese to attack but not dispersing his aircraft.
  
Lack of historical wisdom is costly:

We in West live in societies that are normally supportive and appreciative of historical knowledge and the wisdom it gives. CTs are normally looked upon with suspicion. This heritage of sound historical understanding is due to the Biblical foundations of Western culture, with an assist from the Greek and Roman classical tradition.[27] When on goes to a book store in the West one can find a wide variety of well written histories that ultimately follow the biblical model of telling the truth as far as it can be discerned, attempting to understand the true motives and goals of all the persons involved, and including criticizing the faults and mistakes of national heroes.

Cultures that do not have this biblical and classical heritage are less historically conscious, and their history books are often little more than propaganda for the national or religious elites. This is most obvious in Islamic cultures. Bernard Lewis, the great Arab scholar noted this in his recent book, What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East. He saw that Arab countries have been anxious to adopt Western technology and science, but have been disinterested in adopting Western tradition of critical historical thinking and writing.[28]

The Koran is the origins of this problem, as it has no separate historical books such as 1 & 2 Chronicles, Acts, etc. Rather, there are historical vignettes scattered about the Koran, with no clear chain of historical consequences. There is nothing in Koran to parallel the magnificent and tragic ending of 2 Chronicles where the author relentlessly exposes the ultimate cause of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple via the apostasy and disobedience of the Jewish people:

The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there. (2 Chron 36:15-19, NIV)

Faall of Jerusalem
Neither are there in the Koran any prophetic books similar to Isaiah or Jeremiah which criticize the People of God for forsaking the Law of God. In the Bible even the historical books blend in the prophetic and reproof motif, as in Nathan’s reproof of David for his sins of murder and adultery. (2 Sam 12:1-13)
Lacking these models, the Muslims, with their heightened sense of God’s sovereignty, can only think in terms of Allah’s will, and the faults and sins of other peoples. Accepting fault for national sins seems to be an insult on the Koran and Islam. For instance, the attempt of Turkey to join the European Union was obstructed by the Turkish government’s refusal to acknowledge their responsibility in the Armenian genocide of 1915-1918. There is simply no model for such a critical self-judgment in the Koran.

Often the Muslim reaction to critical and embarrassing aspects of their own history is to ignore the matter or cover it up. Again, for instance, the Turkish government has gone to great lengths to bulldoze the remnants of its abandoned Armenian villages – thus, they never existed. Similarly, Palestinians in the West Bank have frequently purposely pulverized ancient Temple artifacts in the attempt to negate that there really was an ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem.[29] Without a true sense of critical history, Islamic peoples are wide open to CTs. This happens even at a local business enterprise level where offices and plants are riddled by factionalism because disputes and normal disagreements devolve into local CTs between “them” vs. “us.”[30]

This comparison is important to the discussion of our current epidemic of CTs. The more the American public gives way to the CT pattern of thinking the more it walks away from its heritage of biblical and Western ways of historical thinking and political events, and becomes, ironically, “Islamized.”

Suspicion as necessary in a sinful world:

In this article I have used “suspicion” in a negative sense as a major component of CTs. But suspicion is not necessarily evil, and in fact is a necessary component of wisdom in a fallen and sinful world. Let me give an example via a situation in an imaginary church (a parable).[31]

At St. John’s Church, a visitor comes on Sunday and is convicted of his sins during the sermon. He continues in attendance and later witness to his conversion. He had been a card shark and gambler, and often cheated at gambling with slights of hand.  He was skilled at this and never caught. He vowed to “live clean” and now had a job as a salesman. At church he volunteered to be an usher.
However, from the Sunday he began ushering there was a noticeable decrease in the cash receipts of the offering. The rector became suspicious. He thought, perhaps the man was tempted by the cash fell into his old habits? Discreetly the rector moved him to the greeters’ ministry. The shortfall ceased. At this point the rector’s suspicion seemed to have been verified, although there was no proof of any theft. Perhaps the shortfall variations were a coincidence? The rector considered sharing his suspicion with his vestry, but decided not to, as there was no direct evidence about the matter and the shortfalls had ceased.  Six months later his organist comes to him, guilt ridden, and confesses that she took the money from the safe. When she leaves he gives a sigh of relief that he never shared his suspicion with the vestry. It would have been merely gossip.

In this parable we see the right use of suspicion. Suspicions should not be shared until there is positive evidence. What separates normal and useful suspicions from CTs is that in CTs suspicions are given the credence of facts, and any coincidences are viewed as verification of the conspiracy. For instance, that a map at a war game room labels Texas as “enemy” verifies that Obama is planning an invasion of Texas.

Some conspiracies are not evil and may even be necessary. They happen all the time. A company develops a new product at great expense and secretly plans its launch and marketing program.  That is a conspiracy of sorts, and it is necessary to profit on its innovation. We saw also how William Buckley, Senator Goldwater and others conspired to remove the John Birch Society from the center of the Republican Party. That Palm Beach meeting had to be secret, and it ultimately did much good. Conspiracies are secret plans, CTs are beliefs that secret plans have been launched and have produced evil when there is only a suspicion of such plans.

The Biblical view of history vs. CTs of history:

Why is it that so many of the books of the Bible are historical? That type of religious writings is not found in the scriptures of other world religions. Especially unique in the Bible are the historical books that repeat with different perspectives the same events, as the Gospels or the books of 1 &2 Chronicles. What type of wisdom does God expect us to receive from historical books? These are important questions that must keep in mind as we compare the Biblical view of history with CTs.

The historical books of the Bible stress man’s freedom and responsibility in obeying or disobeying God and His commandments. God does not interfere in man’s freedom to obey or disobey, or to be foolish, but rather works though sin and foolishness to get His providential way. An example is found in the account of Joseph and his brothers. After all the sin and pain Joseph experienced he said to his brothers:
… “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (Gen 45: 4-7)
In the Bible evil and destruction are often the fruit of mankind’s own foolishness and sin. Note in the fall of Jerusalem as described in 2 Chronicles 36 (cited above). There is no hint of a conspiracy. Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed not because some traitorous and conspiratorial party within Jerusalem opened the grates to the Babylonian Army. No, the Babylonians succeeded via the superiority of their army that was ultimately put in motion by Israel’s sins and disobedience.

The Bible sense of history also gives us hope. We may be disobedient, but after pain there is restoration and gain. But in contrast to CTs, restoration does not depend on the elimination or political ousting of an evil conspiratorial group, but on repentance and a return to righteousness of God’s people. Those things bring about positive circumstances and Divine protection.

We see this work out in the Israeli exile and return from their captivity in Babylon. In fact, the captives were first enticed by false prophecy to believe that they would be immediately returned to Jerusalem by a prophet called Hananiah. He was prophesying out of his “flesh,” as Paul would put it, and confused his yearnings for God’s word. It pleased and confused the exiles. But Jeremiah put Hananiah in his place:

Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, 


“Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against the Lord.’” (Jer 28: 15-16)


To the contrary Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles which really reflected God’s will and plans for them. It deflated heroic expectancy of the exiles.  No hero would rescue them, the Babylonian King would not die in battle, etc.. Instead the true prophet had mundane but spiritually significant instructions:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  (Jer 29:4-7)

The exiles obeyed the true word of God, settled, blessed and prayed for the local government, and awaited Divine restoration. That came, as described in the same chapter of Chronicles which described the horrible fall of the Jerusalem, via an unexpected source, a Pagan king:

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:  “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’” (2 Chron 36: 22-23)

This passage also suggests that Divine Providence is most often different from natural expectations and the false wisdom of CTs which play on the fears of their host group. God, in his respect for human freedom, allows great tragedy to happen in the lives of nations, but there is always his hidden hand to make a way out. Again, let us take the example of China. Mao triumphed over Chiang-Kai-shek, and this led to horrific consequences in millions of persons, executed, starved to death by irrational communist policies, and a “Great Leap Forward” that left tens of millions dead, imprisoned and exiled for no reason.[32]

But through the ashes of destruction and millions killed came a rebirth of the Christian Church in China, totally indigenous, evangelical and powerful in prayer. That was an expected event. Back in the 1940s Western Christians were horrified by the Communist's destruction of churches, and the take-over of hospitals and schools founded by its missionaries, etc. They had no idea that a rebirth of Chinese Christianity could happen until reports of the new Chinese house churches began filtering out in the 1990s. Mao was not overthrown, the Communists still rule in China, but so does God’s Providence.

CT as a counterfeit to the wisdom of history:

From the biblical standard, CTs are counterfeit history.  They rob a person of the wisdom one should have in reading and understanding historical situations and present crisis. Persons under the sway of a CT, Christian or not, assume that the elimination of an evil group and the triumph of a “good” faction will bring about peace and harmony. This over values the worth of whatever faction favored, Tea Party, John Birch Society, etc. and exaggerates the evil and power of the opposite political faction or party. In effect politics is confused with messianic expectations.

Christians who buy into CTs often cannot see, and are not willing to allow God’s Providential work in history and culture. They must give Divine Providence a hand to get things right on the planet. They want their offensive group or faction out, destroyed and negated, so that the “golden age” may come forth. That dream might be as the Tea Party wishes, a Liberal/Democrat free America and a return to a minimalist interpretation of the Constitution.  A left wing Christian might dream of a Republican free America with a socialist economic system. Naturally, if perchance such goals are reached, paradise does not occur because man is inherently sinful, and unintended consequences of policies breed a new generation of severe problems. 


Let us recall that the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and communism in its virulent, state established form was destroyed.[33]  A political scientist declared in a famous essay that the world had come to “The end of history.” That is, that democracy and free enterprise had won out, and would become universal, and serious world conflicts would not reoccur.[34] Well, guess what?


The spiritual harm of CTs:

Christians who hold to CTs are subject to various distortions and detours in their Christian walk. For one, they acquire a sense of superiority over the “common folk” who don’t believe in their CT. They view themselves as having superior wisdom and discernment, when in fact the opposite is true. CTs create a form of Gnosticism in the congregation, in which elite statues is reserved for those who are in the “know” of the world situation. Real spiritual progress demands the humility to know we are all sinners, and that our political views of the present situation is marred by our sinful limitations and practical obstacles in discerning which news stories and sources are most accurate.

In many “mono-political” churches in the United States, CTs of one sort or another are believed by practically everyone in the congregation.  This makes a critical evaluation of the CT difficult, and almost an offense worthy of dis-fellow-shipping. For instance, Anglo congregations  in the Bible Belt accept right wing CTs such as the Jade Helm one with ease, and with little attempt at logical or factual analysis. Similarly, churches that have a predominantly left-wing congregation, such as certain African-American churches, will be captivated by left Wing CTs, such as the CIA invention of AIDS. The end result is that these churches will have less empathy for Christians of opposite political leanings (and conflicting CTs), and less communication and cooperation in areas that the Church should be united.  In short CTs function as one more tool for Satan to use in further dividing the already divided Church.

What can Christian do to resist falling into CTs?

First, as a negative story about the “enemy” begins to circulate. Ask the questions, “Is this probable? Asking the question “Is this possible?” is not helpful, since practically anything is possible. Also ask, “What factors would diminish the possibility of this being true?”  Invite the Holy Spirit to assist in this discernment.

Second, beware of explanatory theories of history or the present world situation that explain too much or are too simple. I once had a member of my congregation try to convince me that World War I began because autos and trucks had just been invented, and Britain, Germany and France all wanted to dominate the new market.  What nonsense![35] But he felt good about being able to understand a major world event in terms of this fantasy Marxist explanation.

Third, understand that Divine Providence does not move in ways we expect. The chaos, “wrongness” and destructiveness of politicians, and destructive groups (such as ISIS and the cartel drug gangs) will continue until the Lord comes. Certainly good politics and good government can make positive changes in certain areas, but disabling or eliminating “the enemy” will not lead to a Christian utopia, a socialist paradise or any such thing. We are stuck with a very imperfect world until the Lord returns.

Fourth, become historically literate to the extent that your state in life allows. For instance read a good history book periodically, or watch a fine TV history series, like Ken Burns “The Civil War.”  Such things bring into focus the complexity and difficulty of history, how SNAFUS and unintended consequences are eternally playing out, and how rarely real conspiracies are the engine of history. It may be spiritually more beneficial for the Christian to watch such a history program than another episode of a nice, overly plump lady sing another hymn on Christian TV, or another missionary pleading for money for Haitian orphans.

Fifth, take seriously Bible’s admonition to respect and honor the governing powers.  This is especially lacking in right-wing Christian today who often have a “fog of hatred” for Obama and everything he does and wish to impeach him. Paul wrote to the Romans who often lived under the rule of less than nice emperors:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.  This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

Now Paul’s admonitions here have been misinterpreted and abused. For instance, many sincere Christian in Nazi Germany believed they could not oppose Hitler because he was “established by God.” But in reality Paul is saying we need to give legitimate governments the benefit of a doubt and be respectful to the governors, and in another epistle, to pray for them (1 Tim 2:1-3).

For us in a blessed country such as America, all this can mean respectful but passionate opposition to the government’s policies. As a registered Republican I have been distressed, and publicly speak against, many liberal elements of Obama’s policies. For instance, those policies which have further the homosexual agenda or limit the Evangelical expression of the Armed Forces chaplains.
But I have also been grieved that from the beginning of the Obama presidency there was a strident group of Republican who were determined to undermine the Administration and criticize it at every single point. This seemed to be a violation of what Paul wrote.

The evil of this came home to me in an area of my particular expertise, anti-Americanism. As a young man and part of the American Hispanic community, I was distressed by the prevalence of ant-Americanism in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s. I did my master’s thesis on the topic.[36]  At the time I understood it as a cultural divide, mixed with Marxists inspired mythology.[37] Subsequently I have kept up with the ebb and flow of anti-Americanism, and knew that during the G. W. Bush Administration anti-Americanism in Latin America, and especially Brazil, rose to a fever pitch.

In this regard the Obama state visit to Brazil was a resounding success. Michelle Obama wowed the Brazilians with her beauty (Brazilians are racially mixed, and she seems like one of them).  Economic ties were strengthened, and a decade of bitter anti-Americanism melted away. However, the right wing talk shows accused Obama of skipping town for the publicity and to take in some carnival time – gross and unfair attack on a well-planned and successful state visit. In fact his restoration of the good will of the Brazilians may be seen as one of his few solid foreign policy accomplishments.[38]

If you as reader are a person who lives in a fog of anger/hatred for Obama, and spread every negative story about him you can find, you need to repent of that attitude, and be aware and forgo the spread of CTs. Your biblical duty is to pray for Obama – that the Holy Spirit move on him every day and give him guidance. Removing him via impeachment will not solve the ungodly state of our nation. Revival will, and for that we must pray ever more forcefully.

Addendum:

An article from Newsweek summarizing various conspiracy theories about the Los Vages massacre. HERE

An article from Christianity Today May, 2017) urging Christian to repent from spreading conspiracy theories. HERE

This past election (2016) produced a swarm of "fake news" items. They are similar to conspiracy theories, the difference being that the perpetrator knows form the start they are false.  Fake news was generated on a vast scale in the small Macedonian town of Veles by teenagers who profited from the  face news items via the adds the items carried. Like conspiracy theories, the items pandered to the fears and hopes of its intended audience. An excellent article from Wired magazine may be accessed HERE

I just discovered a superb book on conspiracy theories that specifically afflict Christians by Dr.  Gregory Camps, Selling Fear; Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia (Grand Rapids; Baker, 1997). It may be purchased HERE.

An article from July 15, 2015 from the New Your Times on the continued paranoia of Texans on the jade helm exercise: HERE 

An article from Wall Street Journal on what would Buckley do about Donald Trump, HERE

 An article from teh Christian Science Monitor on the rise of anti-Americanism in Turkey HERE

A pair of interesting articles on conspiracy theories on the web from Tech News World HERE

A book review on the life of Wiiam Buckley and how he preserved the conservative movement as reasonable: HERE

Announcement:
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The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.




The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]




[1] A brief sermon version of this article was given by the author at Light of Christ Anglican Church on May 17, 2015. A video of it is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN5QhKEaQZ8&feature=youtu.be
[2]Coverage of this brief CT episode is found in the blog posting by Paul Matzko, “Jade Helm, Operation Water Moccasin, and Conservative Conspiracy Theories,” which includes a photo-copy of Utt’s letter.  Posted May 6, 2015. http://paulmatzko.com/jade-helm-operation-water-moccasin-and-conservative-conspiracy-theories/


[3] See this on video:  http://www.occupydemocrats.com/watch-paranoid-texas-lunatics-harass-an-army-colonel-with-texas-takeover-conspiracies-2/

[4]Ibid.
[5] Robert Wilonsky,“Chuck Norris, Greg Abbott still sweating U.S. military’s Texas takeover (and Wal-Mart’s secret tunnels?)”  Dallas Morning News, May 5, 2015.    http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/05/chuck-norris-and-greg-abbott-continue-to-fret-over-military-takeover-of-texas-and-wal-marts-secret-tunnels.html/

[6] The Wikipedia article, “Moon landing conspiracy theories” gives a splendid summary of the theory and how it has been debunked by independent third parties. Verification of the moon landings include pictures from new, high-resolution telescopes which can identify the various lunar landers which are still on the moon.

[7] For instance, Jews only returned to England in 1656 at the invitation of Oliver Cromwell, as he believed that the Jews had an important role to play in the end times.

[8] Nathanial Gronewold, “What Caused the Massive Flooding in Pakistan?”  Scientific American. Posted  October 12, 2010. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-caused-the-massive-flooding-in-pakistan/

[9] Jll McGivering, "Pakistani flood victims' anger at US.” BBC World NewsPosted August 21 2010 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11040904

[10] Christopher Andrew, and Vasili Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. (New York: Basic Books: 1999) 319.

[11] P. M. Sharp. et al, "The origins of acquired immune deficiency syndrome viruses: Where and When?" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 356  No.1410 (2001) 867–76.
[12] On the Jones cult see: David Chidester, Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones, the People's Temple and Jonestown (Bloomington: ndiana University Press, 2004).
[13] I am of the opinion that suicides, especially when combined with multiple murders, are a mark of demonic obsession/possession. See my controversial blog posting on this, “The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings,” The Anglican Pentecostal. Posted, April 25,
[14]William F. Buckley, Jr. God and Man at Yale: The Superstition of “Academic Freedom,” (New York: Henry Regency, 1951).
[15] The conspiracy is described by Buckley himself, who calls it the “Palm Beach Conspiracy.” See his article, “Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me,” Commentary. Posted March 1, 2008.
https://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/goldwater-the-john-birch-society-and-me/

[16] For a book length study of the Society see, D. T. Mulloy, The World of the John Birch Society: Conspiracy, Conservatism, and the Cold War (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).
[17] Buckley, “Goldwater.”

[18] Ibid.

[19] See from the current John Birch Society website: http://www.jbs.org/about-jbs/frequently-asked-questions  The similarities between the John Birch Society and the Tea Party has been noted by various writers, see for example: Adam Gopnik, “The John Birchers’ Tea Party,” New Yorker, Posted, October 11, 2013.

[20]  David Welch, “Where Have You Gone, Bill Buckley?” New York Times, Posted December 3,2012  
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/opinion/where-have-you-gone-bill-buckley.html

[21] An important book on the fall of China was reviewed in the Weekly Standard, a Conservative journal, and succinctly guides the reader to what really caused the triumph of Communism in China. See Arthur Weldron, “How China Was 'Lost' And could it have been saved?” 18 No. 19. Posted January 28, 2013.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/how-china-was-lost_696345.html

[22]This was told to me by Vietnam veterans of the last part of the war.  I left Vietnam in 1979, but even then noticed substantial corruption in the South Vietnamese Army in my work in the civil affairs unit of the 101st Airmobile Division. We had to bribe the local South Vietnamese transportation unit to lend us their trucks so we could ship construction materials and relief supplies to the South Vietnamese people. The bribe was in the way of dismantled plywood crates, which the Vietnamese commanded sold on the market.
[23] Robert Stinnett, Day of Deceit: the Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000).

[24] ] For an authoritative critical review of how Sinnett overstates his case and weaves improbable chains of conspiracy to involve such persons as General Marshall, and dozens of others, high and low level, and confuses SNAFUS for purposeful actions. See Dr. Conrad Crane, Professor at the US Army Military College, “Book Reviews,” US Army War College Quarterly, 31 No. 1 (spring 2001) Accessed, May 26, 2015. http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/Articles/01spring/spr-rev.htm  See also the more caustic review by Judith Greer, “Dive-bombing FDR,” Salon, Posted June 14, 200. http://www.salon.com/2001/06/14/fdr/

[25] Marder, Arthur J. Jutland and after, May 1916 – December 1916. From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow. (London: Oxford University Press, 1966) 148-151.
[26]For a discussion of this, see William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964, (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 1978), chapter 5, “To the Colors, 1941-1942.”
[27] Most scholars of the history of historical writings (“histiography”) would reverse this and say that the Wests’ robust appreciation of historical writings comes mainly from its Greco-Roman tradition. I plan to elaborate my view that the Biblical influence is preeminent in a future book, “The Wisdom of God in History” (forthcoming…with God’s help). For now I would refer the reader to the classic study of historical method and analysis: R.G. Collingwood’s The Idea of History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956) Part II. Collingwood shows that Christian historical writing introduced the concept of character development, or decline, a concept not found in the classical Greco-Roman writers who believed in set destiny and character. See also the book by Thomas Cahill, The Gift of the Jews ( New York: Random House, 1998).
[28] (New York: Harper Collins, 2003). See chapter 6, “Time, Space and Modernity.”
[29]  Mark Ami-El, “The Destruction of the Temple Mount Antiquities,” Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints. Posted August 1, 2002.  http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp483.htm
[30] Arndt Graf, Schirin Fathi, and Ludwig Paul, eds. Orientalism and Conspiracy: Politics and Conspiracy Theory in the Islamic World, (London: I. B. Tauris, 2011).

[30] Arndt Graf, Schirin Fathi, and Ludwig Paul, eds. Orientalism and Conspiracy: Politics and Conspiracy Theory in the Islamic World, (London: I. B. Tauris, 2011). The seminal study on the prevalence of CT in Muslim thought is the work of  Edward Said, Orientalism and Conspiracy: Politics and Conspiracy Theory in the Islamic World (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011).

[31] In this parable I am following the example of Collingwood, who used a parable of a detective solving a murder mystery as a way to demonstrate the principals of historical research.  Idea of History ,270-273.

[32] Leftist are tempted to glamorize and excuse Mao’s reign – its propaganda was so effective and politically romantic. The antidote is real history. See Jung Chang, Mao, The Unknown Story (London Jonathan Cape, 2005) For my speculative and tentative understanding of historical tragedy, and God’s ultimate mercy, see my blog posting, “The Wrath of God in the Present Sunni- Shia War.” The posting mostly examines the wrath of God and His mercy on Germany in World War II. Posted, June 20, 2014. http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.ca/2014/06/the-wrath-of-god-in-present-sunni-shia.html

[33] Incidentally, this definitively proved the John Birch’s CT that Truman, Eisenhower and other US presidents were presiding over a conscious conspiracy to turn the world over to the Communists. Rather, the policy of “containment,” first articulated by the diplomat George F. Kennan, which urged that the Communist nations be contained but not attacked, proved true. Kennan foresaw that Communist society would fall apart in time.
[34] Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History,” National Interest (Summer 1989).
[35] The causes of World War I were complex and tragic. See the classic study on this: Barbara Tuchman The Guns of August (New York: MacMillian,1962). In short, the “usual suspects” of the French quest for revenge, a desire for European domination by Germany and France, inflamed nationalism, Germanic racism, and Austrian diplomatic bumbling, all caused the war.
[36] “The Histiography of anti-Americanism in Latin America,”  MA thesis. (University of Florida at Gainesville, 1970).
[37] I now understand the basis of modern anti-Americanism to be demonically energized. I hope to able to elaborate this in the future.
[38] Taylor Bzarnes, “Trouble at home: Why Brazil’s Rousseff needed US state visit,” Christina Science Monitor, July 1, 2015.  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2015/0701/Trouble-at-home-Why-Brazil-s-Rousseff-needed-US-state-visit-video