Sunday, October 12, 2008

Conspiracy Theorists

The most recognizable landmark in Baghdad, the famous "Crossed Swords". People come from all over to be photographed under the swords.

Explaining the American presidential election process to our Iraqi staff is always an entertaining challenge. They cannot accept the fact that everyone gets only one vote. Iraqis understand that Americans go to the polls and vote, but they have it in their collective head that in the end, a "group of powerful Israel-supporting senators" will have the ultimate say and choose the candidate that it wants; in this case John McCain. It's telling of their culture and political process.

There is no greater conspiracy theorist than the Iraqi man on the street. Over the years I've heard some outlandish claims such as Iraqi dust storms are purposely caused by nuclear explosions somewhere in the world, or the American tethered radio antennae balloons that dot the Baghdad horizon are armed with powerful cameras and Hellfire missiles constantly searching for miscreants. Iraqis love to believe the outrageous; the bigger the story the more conviction they have that it's true. Weaving some tale that would even make Hollywood blush makes an Iraqi appear powerful and knowledgeable to his family and friends. No one ever calls "bullshit' as that would be a slap in the face, so the stories just keep getting bigger and better.

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