I devoted years of my life to the two books on conspiracy theories – but never did anyone allege that a think tank secretly runs the United States. (Plenty of people worry, of course, about the Council on Foreign Relations running the world, but it is in the first place a membership organization and the worry derives from its long list of members, not its production of thoughts.) The fear of think tanks has apparently widespread appeal in Islamabad, Pakistan, according to Sabrina Tavernise writing at "U.S. Heads a Cast of Villains in Pakistan's Conspiracy Talk":
Americans may think that the failed Times Square bomb was planted by a man named Faisal Shahzad. But the view in the Supreme Court Bar Association here in Pakistan's capital is that the culprit was an American "think tank." No one seems to know its name, but everyone has an opinion about it. It is powerful and shadowy, and seems to control just about everything in the American government, including President Obama.
A typical anti-American demonstration in Pakistan.
"They have planted this character Faisal Shahzad to implement their script," said Hashmat Ali Habib, a lawyer and a member of the bar association.
Who are they?
"You must know, you are from America," he said smiling. "My advice for the American nation is, get free of these think tanks."
Comments: (1) Of course, as head of two think tanks over the past quarter century, I am curious to know its name. (2) There's no compliment so sincere as a back-handed one. The notion that a think tank – rather than business or the military leadership – runs the United States testifies that we live in the age of the think tank, or – more broadly – the NGO. (May 25, 2010)