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Author: Tim Aistrope

Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy examines the relationship between secrecy, power and interpretation around international political controversy, where foreign policy orthodoxy comes up hard against alternative interpretations. It does so in the context of American foreign policy during the War on Terror, a conflict that was quintessentially covert and conspiratorial. This book adds a new dimension to the debate by examining what I coin the ‘Arab-Muslim paranoia narrative’: the view that Arab-Muslim resentment towards America was motivated to some degree by a paranoid perception of American power in the Middle East. Immediately after 9/11, prominent commentators pointed to an Arab-Muslim culture of blame and a related tendency towards conspiracy theories about America’s regional influence as an important cultural driver of anti-Americanism. This narrative subsequently made its way into numerous US Government policy documents and initiatives advancing a War of Ideas strategy aimed at winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of Arab-Muslims. The book provides a novel reading of the processes through which legitimacy and illegitimacy is produced in foreign policy discourses. It will also appeal to a wider cross-disciplinary audience interested in the burgeoning issues of conspiracy, paranoia, and popular knowledge, including their relationship to and consequences for contemporary politics.

Abstract only
Tim Aistrope

WHILE CONSPIRACY theories have usually been understood as fringe beliefs, commentators and scholars increasingly note their prevalence in mainstream American culture – in the activist left and movement conservatism, in foreign policy rhetoric about looming threats, and in popular narratives from the spy thriller novel through to gamer culture. According to

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
Tim Aistrope

talk shows and in the newspapers, conspiracy theories are everywhere – underscoring the challenge facing the United States as it seeks to convince Pakistan’s overwhelmingly anti-American population that it faces a shared enemy in the Taliban. 2 This excerpt fits comfortably

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
Tim Aistrope

CHAPTER 2 CONCLUDED with the observation that ‘anti-conspiracy discourse’, the long-running public and intellectual concern about the problem of conspiracy theory, tends to deter and contain serious investigations of political controversy. 1 I proposed that disincentives against critical engagement with political power or ideological dissent

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
Abstract only
Tim Aistrope

Conspiracy theories exist in a world of myth, where imaginations run wild, fears trump facts, and evidence is ignored. As a superpower, the United States is often cast as a villain in these dramas. (United States State Department) 1

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
Abstract only
Tim Aistrope

particular liberal view of populism, which I explored via an engagement with the Richard Hofstadter’s ‘paranoid style’ paradigm. In this paradigmatic account conspiracy theories are located on the periphery of pluralistic American democracy as the irrational pathology of angry extremists, and contrasted with a rational political centre where sensible politics occurs. I associated this

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
Tim Aistrope

: Responding to a quickly debunking misinformation, conspiracy theories, and urban legends is crucial to success in the war of ideas. The State Department maintains a public ‘Identifying Misinformation’ website in English and Arabic, devoted to countering false stories that appear in extremist websites and other web sources. The site

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
Abstract only
Tim Aistrope

propaganda and conspiracy theories that twist American policy into grotesque caricatures.     These views pose a serious challenge for our country. At their worst and most intense, they create a climate of bitterness and grievance, in which extremists find a sympathetic ear. And such views can hold entire societies captive to failed

in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
Vicky Randall

Ottoman Power opens with a lengthy elucidation of Freeman’s paranoid conspiracy theory: Disraeli, by virtue of his Jewish descent, was a foreigner, and was allied with the Islamic Ottoman Empire in an attempt to execute the downfall of European Christendom. While Freeman’s account of the Jew as an ‘alien’ or an ‘Asiatic in Europe’ runs parallel to his narrative regarding the barbarism of the Turk, his ‘two discourses for Semites’ do not merely resemble each other but are inextricably linked, in a way that complicates Said’s understanding of modern Orientalism. Far from

in History, empire, and Islam
"On the political passions in Europe and America and their implications for Transatlantic History"
Charles S. Maier

of psychopathological fringe, which found its recurring phenomenology in beliefs in conspiracy theories. The ideological passions that roiled Europe could only surface as pathologies in the United States. Earlier theories focused less on the specific resistance to political extremism than the conditions that were conducive to democracy. As Frederick Jackson Turner had argued (borrowing from Achille Loria, the Italian advocate of cooperatives), access to free land also made a difference. By making it possible for rural settlers to become

in The TransAtlantic reconsidered