by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog
The scale and complexity of plots against masses of ordinary people, select prominent individuals, and nations have grown so vast that existing words and expressions fail to adequately define and explain them. The word “conspiracy” is bandied about quite a lot, to the point that it feels inadequate, to frame some major and critical events by distinctly different groups of people with diverse backgrounds. Some, for instance, use the term to genuinely warn about intricate and multi-layered schemes that would ultimately result in severe harms to individuals and/or collective masses. Others use it disparagingly to delegitimize discordant statements and expressions that are nonetheless rooted in very legitimate concerns. There are also some who invent stories at an industrial and massive scale in order to deliberately drown signals of truly malevolent plots in deafening noises of colorful parodies.
It is not the aim of this essay to review and evaluate the roster of major nominees to which the term conspiracy has been applied. Nor is it about the people who invoke the term under given pretexts. Rather, I intend to use the standard definition of the word “conspiracy” in this essay to get us closer to disentangling and defining something analogous, a similar process. It is a process that is far more systematically applied, organically managed, and exceedingly convoluted. It is a method that is also much more sinister and one for which we will hopefully have a clearly defined description by the end of the essay but will not have any precise term that could neatly bundle all components together to offer us lexical conveniences.
Others have put much greater efforts into subjects far less serious. Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, for instance, spent good bit of their precious time writing a book of humor, “The Meaning of Liff,” in which they collected “hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize, but for which no words exist” and joined them in a linguistic matrimony with hundreds of spare words that “spend their time doing nothing but loafing about in signposts pointing at places.” Their mission, as they figured, was “to get these words down off the signposts and into the mouths of babes and sucklings and so on, where they can start earning their keep in everyday conversation and make a more positive contribution to society.”
The world may very well be littered with free-loading words which do not earn their keeps. I do not wish to assume a responsibility as a word sheriff. However, there are indeed some very seriously detrimental mechanisms and organic plots that are concocted by a few to wreak havoc with the existence and meaningful quality of life of many. Such mechanisms and plots, I think, are in dire need of being correctly explained in details and subsequently named. It is not because I consider naming as “an evolutionary necessity fundamental to our ability to distinguish predator from prey” as C. Chang would state, but because naming is the most basic first step in recognizing and dealing with complex problems we are facing today that require much deeper awareness of our own potential roles in them than we are willing to admit.
Onward. Let us first begin with a standard definition of conspiracy. Online Cambridge dictionary defines conspiracy as “a secret agreement made between two or more people or groups to do something bad or illegal that will harm someone else.” The same entry expands the concept and defines a related phrase “Conspiracy of Silence” as “a general agreement to keep silent about a subject for the purpose of keeping it secret.”
Fair enough. But what if there is a secret or a not-so-secret agreement made between two or more people to enlist and coordinate the activities of diverse groups of people and individuals who would each carry out, in disparate cells and compartments, isolated yet inter-linked tasks the sum total of which executes a plan that has as its main goal very serious harms to others or even to the enlisted participants themselves? What would be an appropriate and befitting term for this phenomenon? Furthermore, what if components of that vicious plan are also built upon identified and existing vulnerabilities and routine shortcomings of persons, places, and infrastructures in a given society? What would be the one word that could converge all those pieces and meanings into one distinct and logical bundle of letters?
In this article, I will discuss three specific real life examples of our contemporary societies to help detangle and shed light on individual segments of the above paragraph-long definition for which we do not have any, but would like to have, suitable words.
Example from Iran: Plans to Assassinate Iranian Nuclear Scientists
In a span of less than two years (2009-2011), six prominent Iranian scientists in nuclear physics were assassinated under multiple coordinated planning and executions courtesy of the intelligence agencies of the US, Israel, and the UK, and with immense intelligence help from an “independent” body, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Martyr Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan, Martyr Masood Alimuhammadi, Martyr Reza Ghashghaifard, Martyr Darius Rezainejad, and Martyr Majid Shahriyari were all killed. Freidoon Abbasi Davani and his wife, who was in the car with him at the time of explosion, were critically injured but survived the assassination.
The role of the countries and international bodies named above has been discussed at length by many writers and thinkers in the Western press and media. I do not wish to review their assertions or belabor any of their points here. I am going to briefly point to the role some individuals inside Iran played in these plots since that is actually one of the key points of our topic here.
In Iran, about 53 people were arrested and questioned in connection with those assassinations. The trials for 40 of the accused began in May, 2013. Details about the investigations and the trials were never made public so that the general public could have a full and exact picture of what happened. In cases related to security, intelligence, and counter-intelligence issues, I do not believe there should be a full and detailed disclosure of any sort any way. However, bits and pieces of information from true and false confession interviews that made it through, although not satisfactory, revealed niches that were quite sobering and startling both to the general public and to some of the accused individuals themselves.
Excluding two to three people among the arrested who had direct roles in the killings, most others who had participated in performing apparently innocuous, but still unlawful, tasks did not know they were actually taking part in plans that would ultimately result in killing their own nuclear scientists and damaging their own social wellbeing. Some individuals, for example, had agreed to receive compensation in exchange for keeping a log of the frequency and exact times of targeted individuals’ whereabouts, schedules, their comings and goings for any reason to and from their offices. Apparently they had no knowledge or did not think such information could and would be used in any significantly harmful way. Their task was unlawful, unethical, and against the policy of the places in which they worked.
In addition, security breaches and infiltration by shady characters into the investigations within the Ministry of Information, among other vulnerabilities, led to the slithering away of some key culprits. Had it not been for a serendipitous detection by the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard and an early intervention by the office of the Supreme Leader in the interrogation process, perhaps more damaging events and more killings would have occurred. Several of the people arrested were later freed and compensated a total amount of 4 billion Toman in 2013 for psychological, economic, and reputation damages, according to a statement made by the current Information Minister, Seyyed Mahmoud Alawi, during a closed-session in Majlis last September.
Examining and reviewing the information from multitude of formal and informal sources over the last several years, I was not able to conclude that majority of those who had been arrested and investigated were innocent because most of them had done, albeit unknowingly, one to several unlawful and unethical deeds the sum total of which helped execute successful plans (plotted and coordinated by outsiders) to kill five Iranian nuclear scientists, to seriously injure one, and to cause severe security damages in other areas. I think and I hope that most of them, had they not acted out of carelessness, mindlessness, greed, or whatever other reason, they might not have become pons in a web of deception. God Knows. I, therefore, included this example here not for its importance with from legal, judicial, or intelligence aspects but as it relates to overall structures, components, and inter-linkages of the plots and the role the “insiders” blindly played in the process.
“It is not like you are imagining that the conspiracies against this country are due to delusions and hallucinations. No. This is a fact. Things are being conspired from all directions. It is possible that someone from inside the country moves in the same direction as these plots without knowing at all. To realize this, too, requires sagacity and perceptivity. Some do not possess this perceptivity. We have had experiences with some of them. They don’t know to whose tune they are dancing. But this does not change the facts. Whether they perceive or they do not perceive; whether they know or they do not know. These conspired plots exist. Nevertheless, this country, this system not only does it not crumble or weaken but its scientific institutions, its progressive societies—consisting of this youth who is you— is visibly more forward-looking and advanced today than ten years ago. What does this mean? It means legitimacy and truthfulness. It means authenticity. It means having roots and being original. –Ayatullah Khamenei
Example from Lebanon: Planned “Accidents” in Beirut Port
In the major explosion at Beirut Port on August 4th nearly 200 people died and more than 6,500 people were seriously injured. A few are still missing. Damages to the infrastructure, the economy, and socio-physical fabric of day-to-day living of the ordinary people were enormous. The society as a whole was critically shaken. On Sunday, Sayyed Hasan Nasrullah, as parts of his speech delivered by on the occasion of Ashura, spoke about the incident and emphasized that:
“We ask the Lebanese Military to release the results from a series of technical investigations they have conducted in relation to the explosion disaster in Beirut Port. It is clear that releasing of the results and revealing the outcome of the investigation regarding that event will dismantle all sorts of allegations [against Hizbullah]. Therefore, it is necessary for the outcome of investigation to be announced to the public.”
“Once again, we also insist on a judicial investigation of the Beirut explosion disaster through the judiciary system itself and we believe the judicial bodies must, without considerations and calculations and with seriousness and decisiveness, proceed with its various dimensions and punish the guilty agents.”
This disastrous occurrence would have made for an apt case example for this essay had the results of the investigation been made public already. It was brought about by multi-layer longitudinal plan built upon identified vulnerabilities and routine shortcomings of persons, places, and infrastructures in Lebanon. For the purpose of this essay though, no formal public announcement to which one could refer has been made. Therefore, I would defer dissecting it as an example .
Example from the US: Planned Dismantling of the Police
Articles, films, and other media items abound about the state and the role of the US Police, both as causes and as effects, in the current riots in the United States. It feels more like watching re-runs, or remaking, or sequels to some particularly violent shows every 10 to 20 years. Each new series is getting more violent, more graphic, and more spectacular than the previous ones.
Those interested in sensational aspects of these events, they could just follow the mainstream media presentations and/or some “independent” news blogs and media outlets. There are garden varieties befitting of most tastes. Those interested in a more analytical and academic aspects of the events, Perspective on Policing, published by the National Institute of Justice and US Department of Justice reports feature interesting articles. “The Evolving Strategy of Policing” by Kelling & Moore, “Evolving Strategy of Policing: Case Studies of Strategic Change” by Kelling & Wycoff, and “The Evolving Strategy of Police: A Minority View” by Williams & Murphy are dated but informative, still relevant, and interesting examples.
For the purpose of this essay though, and to elucidate additional segments of the paragraph-long definition for which we have no words, I will briefly examine dimensions of these events that are not sufficiently discussed either in the sensational news or in the academic and analytical articles named above.
Getting help from the familiar health field, I would like to draw a (simplified) parallel between the structure and function of the police in a society and those of the immune system in a human body. Although the role our immune system plays in fighting invading foreign bodies is often highlighted, its most significant and critical role revolves around identifying, isolating, and destroying and/or repairing, and disposing of body’s own rogue and abnormal cells, cells that acquired genetic aberrations during division, toxic accumulations in tissues, organs, joints, and so on. Majority of these functions happen when we are sleeping at night (granted we have not eaten up to our throat before going to bed), or when the body is in a fasting state (which for many, it has become “almost never”. Losing one’s appetite when ill is a healing mechanism.
In cases of autoimmune disorders like allergies, lupus, Grave’s, Hashimoto, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc., however, the immune system loses the ability to adequately distinguish the healthy and normal cells from the unhealthy and abnormal cells. This dysfunction manifests itself in different ways. For instance, the immune system cells begin to indiscriminately attack various cells in different organs and places in the body, including the healthy cells. They could also become jittery and over-react and make mess of things. [Just an important side note: the immune system is quite capable of gaining back its ability to distinguish and act properly.]
So, let us suppose similar things happen with the policing system in a society. That is, let us consider that the police system in a society loses the ability to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the ugly. Or that it over-reacts due to having been chronically badly trained, or chronically over stimulated, or chronically under nourished, or many other reasons that weaken this system. An abstract from more than thirty years ago (1988):
“Some people consider police services as inappropriate for privatization, arguing that such services are public goods that only government can practically provide. The work of E. S. Savas and others, however, has persuasively demonstrated that many government services are not public goods or, at least, not pure public goods. Police services, in fact, have been successfully financed, through user fees, and delivered, via contracting, by the private sector. Moreover, there are some surprising examples of fully privatized police services, both financed and delivered privately. The major barriers to police privatization include tradition and attitudes, concern about control and accountability, union opposition, legal restrictions, and the difficulty of encouraging all beneficiaries to finance these services voluntarily, or privately. All of these barriers can be surmounted under certain circumstances. There are even signs that the privatization of police services, especially some milder forms of privatization, is gradually taking place.”
So in fact, in a very systematic and step-by step manner all the above-mentioned chronic factors have occurred in a sustained and deliberate ways for decades. But why would anyone, in his rightful, truthful, and just mind, want to deliberately weaken the immune systems of persons or the police systems of societies?
I cannot think of even one good reason for these to come from a rightful, truthful, and just mind. I can think of many reasons for these to ooze out of an otherwise mind. When the immunity of a human body or the police system of a society is dismantled, then their functions could be, for example, outsourced to pharmaceutical profiteers and private security firms. Replacing immunity and security apparatuses are profitable to a few at the expense of many.
I wonder, in the case of the police, do all those who are demanding to dismantle police departments in their local communities, or anywhere else for that matter, know that they, in their own isolated corners, are performing inter-linked tasks the sum total of which executes a plan, agreed upon decades ago by a crooked few, ta plan that has as its main goal very serious harms to the masses of ordinary people, including the enlisted participants themselves? In a society that its most vulnerable is not protected, no one is protected.
To UnConclude: Would it not be nice to have just one word that says all that?
*<em> “MISSING WORD”</em>noun
a secret or a not-so-secret agreement made between two or more people to enlist and coordinate activities of diverse groups of people and individuals who would each carry out, in disparate cells and compartments, isolated yet inter-linked tasks the sum total of which executes a plan that has as its main goal very serious harms to others or to the enlisted participants themselves.
a secret or a not-so-secret agreement made between two or more people about a plan the components of which are built upon identified vulnerabilities and routine shortcomings of persons, places, and infrastructures in a given society and to the detriment of that society and its members:
- He was not aware that he was part of a <em> “MISSING WORD”</em> to dismantle the police.
- Their ignorance and mindless participation helped the enemies of their nation to further their <em> “MISSING WORD”</em> to kill the scientists.
 Adams D & Lloyd J (1983). “The Meaning of Liff.” Published by Pan Books Ltd. Faber & Faber Limited, London, England. ISBN 0330281216.
 Chang CR & Bassman R (2019). “Psychiatric Diagnosis and the Power of Names.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, doi:10.1177/0022167819852786.
 Cambridge Dictionary, “Meaning of Conspiracy in English” Accessed online at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/conspiracy
 Tasnim News (2013). “From the trials of the accused in the terror of nuclear scientists to the accusations towards the candidates in the election.” TasnimNews, Khordad 6, 1392 @ 17:34. News Code: 64764.
 Tasnim News (2019). “Four Billion was paid to those accused in nuclear scientists’ assassinations after a not-guilty verdict.” TasnimNews, Shahrivar 12, 1398 @ 20:24. News Code: 2089952.
 An excerpt from Ayatullah Khameni speech to during a visit by the scientific and academic elites on Aban, 6, 1388 [Oct. 28, 2009]. Available online at: https://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=8292
 Hussain Abadian R (2020). “Karbala was the scene of the battle of Truth against Falsehood; Today, the US is the epitome of falsehood.” Mehr News Agency, Shahrivar 8, 1399 @ 13:06. News Code: 5011311
 Kelling GL & Moore ML (1988). “The Evolving Strategy of Policing.” Perspective on Policing, A publication of the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. No. 4, November 1988, Pages 1-15.
 Kelling GL & Wycoff MA (2002). “Evolving Strategy of Policing: Case Studies of Strategic Change.” US DOJ Report on a Federally-funded grant, Award Number: 95-IJ-CX-0059. Doc. No. 198029, December 2002.
 Williams H & Murphy PV (1990). “The Evolving Strategy of Police: A Minority View.” Perspective on Policing, A publication of the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. No. 13, January 1990, Pages 1-15.
 Fixler PE & Poole Jr. RW (1988). “Can Police Services Be Privatized?” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 498; The Private Security Industry: Issues and Trends (July 1988), Pages 108-118, Sage Publications, Inc., DOI: 10.2307/1045386