Occam’s razor is the principle that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. A common example states that if you hear hoof beats in the wild, think horses, not zebras (unless you live in Africa, obviously).
But Trump Derangement Syndrome, or former President Barack Obama’s insistence that America’s enemies were not actually enemies and its friends were not actually its friends, seems to be crushing the judgment of some who know better.
At Politico, two former national security officials — who each worked under Democrat presidents — admit that after learning oil tankers in the Persian Gulf were bombed a couple weeks ago, they decided to believe wild conspiracy theories rather than the simple, evidence-based answer: That Iran did it.
Former State Department counterterrorism coordinator (during Obama’s first term) Daniel Benjamin and former National Security senior director Steven Simon (who served under President Bill Clinton and Obama) wrote the following opening when discussing the future of war:
Who really bombed the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf two weeks ago? Was it Iran, as the Trump administration assured us? Or was it Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Israel—or some combination of the three?
Here’s a confession from two former senior government officials: For days after the attacks, we weren’t sure. Both of us believed in all sincerity there was a good chance these actions were part of a false flag operation, an effort by outsiders to trigger a war between the United States and Iran. Even the film of Iranians hauling in an unexploded limpet mine from near the side of tanker, we reasoned, might be a fabrication—deep fake footage just like the clip of Nancy Pelosi staggering around drunk.
So, instead of listening to the U.S. government’s intelligence or accepting the video evidence, these two concocted a wild theory that this was an Alex Jones-style false flag conspiracy and that the video was faked to accuse Iran. They bring up the video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appearing to sound drunk as an example of a “deep fake.”
It’s not. Someone simply slowed down her speech and altered her voice levels to give the impression she was drunk or ill. A “deep fake” requires much more than simple manipulation (that has been available for decades). A deep fake video requires much more, as this phony Obama video shows.
Benjamin and Simon embarrass themselves further by pointing out their “30 years of government service and almost 20 more as think tankers” right after admitting their willful ignorance. They even acknowledge they went to Alex Jones levels of conspiracy. Later in the article, they make it clear they went out of their way to absolve Iran because they are anti-Trump:
All of this would be challenging enough in the best of times. What makes the current situation so ominous is that the technology of confusion is being augmented by the human-generated falsehoods of Donald Trump. The relentless dishonesty of the commander-in-chief is bound to undercut belief in the “official version” coming out of Washington—as we found out with the tanker attacks—and it also has a disorienting effect. Even for people who are well grounded in reality and not susceptible to conspiracy thinking, it is increasingly difficult to find one’s way toward a reasonable understanding of current events.
As if Obama never lied. Sure, the fact checkers mostly ignored his lies, but if they had focused on him with as much hostility as they do Trump, things would have been different.
Could war be started with deep-fake videos? Maybe in the future, but we’re not there yet. But that’s not enough for the people who worked in an administration that supported Iran over our actual allies in the Middle East.