Conspiracy Theory Embarrasses Journalists

Jan 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Conspiracy Theories

Aside from the many problems that conspiracy theories create at home, it also is a problem that these conspiracy theories make us look particularly silly in the rest of the world. Take, for example, a 23 January article in The New York Times, an American newspaper that is read all over the world. The article I refer to addresses the recent visit of American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. In the article, Pakistan’s media gets a mention, but not for asking hard-hitting questions about the war or American foreign policy. No, our journalists ask about a worn-out conspiracy theory. How embarrassing.

Pakistani journalists asked Mr. Gates if the United States had plans to take over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons (Mr. Gates said no)…

First, it is time to retire this tired conspiracy theory, born of a paranoid misreading of an article by American journalist Seymour Hersh. Mr. Hersh’s article claims that there are secret agreements between the American and Pakistani militaries to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the unlikely event that Taliban militants overrun Islamabad. A suggestion that the Foreign Ministry firmly denies. It does not say that the US wants to steal Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

Even if Mr. Hersh’s claim is true, though, and we have some agreement with the US to defend our nuclear arsenal against militants, that is not the same as the US trying to take our weapons. Let’s look at the facts: According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the US possesses over 5,000 nuclear weapons. According to the same group, Pakistan possesses 70-90 nuclear weapons. Now, let us think rationally for a moment. Why would the US, with 5,000 nuclear bombs, want to steal our arsenal of 90? It does not make any sense.

And yet, despite the fact that Mr. Hersh’s article does not talk about stealing our nuclear weapons, and the fact that this worn-out conspiracy theory does not make sense for five minutes, here in the international press are Pakistan’s journalists quoted as asking the American Secretary of Defense if he has secret plans to steal our nukes. This is the state of our media? It’s shamefully embarrassing.

Journalists had the opportunity to ask important, hard-hitting questions of the American Secretary. They had the opportunity to ask about delayed payments for the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), American reactions to sabre-rattling by India, or the transfer of defense technology so that we have the tools to defend ourselves against militants. Instead, they chose to ask about a conspiracy theory. Next time, I hope they do a better job.

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