The Daze of the Jackals

Conspiracies are for many, a good replacement for religion.  The idea that "someone is behind mysterious events" of the world provides the comforting reassurance of a pilot in the cockpit.  It suggests a public policy universe which makes sense, even if we ourselves fail to see what on earth it could be.  Conspiracy at least for some is infinitely preferable to the alternative: that nobody is in charge and a chasm yawns beneath our feet.

Jimmy Carter, asked about the Paris attacks, has a comforting explanation for it: Israel.

Appearing on “The Daily Show” Monday, Carter was asked by host Jon Stewart whether the violence the world saw on the streets of Paris was actually fueled by something else other than Islamic extremism.

“Well, one of the origins for it is the Palestinian problem,” Carter replied. “And this aggravates people who are affiliated in any way with the Arab people who live in the West Bank and Gaza, what they are doing now — what’s being done to them. So I think that’s part of it.”

Doubtless Jimmy has a theory about why oil is nearing $45 a barrel and why Vladimir Putin is canceling his attendance of the Auschwitz memorial ceremony. Perhaps Carter can also shed some light on why president Obama refused to attend the solidarity march in Paris, when nearly the entire Western alliance was in attendance. It's a puzzle that has the punditry stumped. Maybe it's Israel's fault too.

Of all the puzzles of the last week, none is more baffling than Obama's absence from the City of Light.  Surely it's a deep game the president is playing, a move in some three dimensional chess game that only he can play. It may even be related to a question stumping Thomas Ricks: why is jailing David Petraeus for "gossiping about policy with Paula Broadwell" such a priority for the administration?  The veteran defense correspondent can't figure it out.

Why? Maybe just because.  To hear the White House tell it, the basic reason Obama failed to go to the Paris was random chance. Politico cites sources who explain that the march just sort of sneaked up on the presidency. No one was aware of it until it was too late for the president to take the plane.

Somehow an event that the French didn’t even announce until Friday had quickly gathered momentum, drawing about three dozen foreign leaders to Paris to express their outrage at the killings of French citizens at a satire magazine and a Jewish supermarket last week. ...

White House aides were so caught off guard by the march’s massive size and attention that they hadn’t even asked President Barack Obama if he wanted to go.

Maybe nobody told him that the Saudis wanted to destroy the US oil industry either. Satyajit Das of Market Watch advances the theory that the dramatic fall in oil prices are the results of the Kingdom's efforts to strangle the North American fracking industry in the crib. The Saudis are confident they can hold their financial breath underwater long after everyone else has drowned.

expansion and new investment will be wound back. For example, oil above $100 a barrel would allow deep water reserves, Arctic oil, tar sands or shale deposits in countries including Canada, Poland, Argentina and Venezuela to be profitably developed. Lower prices will make these uneconomic.

But  then why isn't president Obama responding to a Saudi attack on the American energy industry? Doesn't he care? Why is he talking instead about 'free' community college and "fostering increased sharing between government agencies and the private sector to help improve cybersecurity"?

The reason events seem to talk past each other is probably because, however comforting global conspiracy theory might be, there really is nobody in overall charge of the world. The players don't control things as much as respond to them, treating developments as opportunities in the same way that jackals treat carrion they find on the plain as food.  The Europeans are using the Paris attack to push their pet hate speech legislation just as Obama is employing it to advance his cybersecurity legislation.

If there are conspiracies, they are for the most part localized and in competition with those of others. Every crisis provides an opportunity for political entrepreneurs to "never let it go to waste."  For example, according to the Mark Scott in the New York Times David Cameron believes the time has come to forbid encrypted messaging apps to the public.

Popular messaging services like Snapchat and WhatsApp are in the cross hairs in Britain.

That was the message delivered on Monday by Prime Minister David Cameron, who said he would pursue banning encrypted messaging services if Britain’s intelligence services were not given access to the communications.

The statement comes as many European politicians are demanding that Internet companies like Google and Facebook provide greater information about people’s online activities after several recent terrorist threats, including the attacks in Paris.

Not to be outdone the Hollande administration is deploying 10,000 troops in across France to protect Jewish targets. It's a brilliant strategy. First Europe welcomes thousands of jihadis in the name of multiculturalism , then it floods the streets with thousands of troops in order to control them.

The average person thinks that leaders are solving problems because that's what they would do.  Instead leaders use problems to extend their power, and see no difference between solutions and their own aggrandizement.  The answers to the crisis if it comes, will be due more blind chance than we care to admit.  "Who is in charge of the clattering train?" No one.  And perhaps it is better that way.


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