"They have so much power," I recall him saying. I reacted with the tolerant and condescending attitude of the Western liberal. The real sources of Afghan misery, obviously, were tribal, political and religious rivalry, and while it was tempting for people with lower levels of political understanding to blame a foreign mastermind for their troubles, such conspiratorial thinking was actually part of the problem in the Mideast, as in Eastern Europe. Right?
Afghanistan and Pakistan are where liberalism goes to die. In the years since, it's become increasingly clear that my traveling companion was at least partially right: when trying to explain a social or political event in Afghanistan or Pakistan, it's entirely rational to assume that it stems from a plot by an intelligence agency, quite likely the CIA. The sickest confirmation of this point was the recent revelation that the CIA ran an operation to verify Osama bin Laden's location by gathering DNA samples through a false-flag hepatitis B vaccination programme. As James Fallows notes, American officials are defending this operation, not denying it. This is despicable and stupid.
All over the world, poor people resist vaccination campaigns in the belief that they are part of a plot by powerful authorities to take advantage of them