Sometimes, at the moment, politics feels like an entirely unconscious business; just a matter of the right reflexes. Like B.F. Skinner’s religious pigeons (see also here). Tap the right kneejerk and get a pellet. Hence this exchange in a US military press conference:
Q Yes. Do you have any evidence that there are more or fewer Iranian-made weapons going into Iraq?…
MR. MORRELL: I don’t have a strong indication of whether there are more or less, but I think we see persistent evidence that there continues to be Iranian support of special groups who are trying to undermine peace and security in Afghanistan. Whether it be through training or the supply of weapons such as EFPs. Frankly —
MR. MORRELL: You’re asking Iraq.
Q I was asking about Iraq.
MR. MORRELL: Iraq.
Iraq? Afghanistan? Somewhere you can go with BGIA, anyway. And, of course, by definition all opposition comes from Iran, special groups, flah diddysqort, Ping! It’s always been one of the attractions of state-sponsorship theories that you don’t have to think, ascribe motives, accept agency; the seemly emotion (either hysteria, or else Serious Concern, depending on status) is achievable without using the brain at all.
Of course, one effect of this is that in the end everywhere does start to look like Iraq. Afghan private military companies are becoming a problem, but then, who are we to complain when 2 US combatant commands, NATO, several allied but non-NATO states operating in ISAF, a unilateral US command, a couple of civilian organisations, Afghan police, border guards, and army are supposedly the forces of order?