Many Americans are outraged that a group of members of Congress led by Rep. Michele Bachmann are promoting conspiracy theories that US officials who are Muslim-American, including top State Department official Huma Abedin and several advisers to the Department of Homeland Security, are part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the US government. Many see Bachmann's actions as part of a broader campaign to demonize American Muslims and marginalize them from participation in our nation's political life.
What has gotten less attention is the impact of Bachmann's actions on US foreign policy in the Middle East. Like the United States, the Middle East suffers from its share of conspiracy theories and many of the Middle East's conspiracy theories revolve around the United States government. In particular, there is a widespread conspiracy theory in Egypt that the US government has deliberately engineered the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's recent elections.
Unfortunately, the popularity of such conspiracy theories in Egypt has real consequences for the United States. Many people in Egypt and the United States would like US officials to speak forthrightly about violations of human rights in Egypt, regardless of which party controls the Egyptian government. The Egyptian government receives significant US military and economic aid, and so people in Egypt and the US correctly perceive that the US bears some responsibility for the Egyptian government's actions. But when the political climate is such that many Egyptians see a dark conspiracy behind every utterance of US officials, that has the effect of discrediting anything US officials might say about human rights and of discouraging them from saying anything. That's not good for the United States and it's not good for the cause of human rights in Egypt, which, as in other countries - including the US - benefits from outside scrutiny. (If there had been no international criticism, maybe Bradley Manning would still be in solitary confinement.)
In this context, the US has worked to avoid doing things that would contribute to a public perception in Egypt that the US is backing one faction over another.
But conspiracy theorists in Egypt who claim that the US is behind the electoral success of the Muslim Brotherhood have cited Bachmann's charges as evidence for their claims. Thus, Bachmann's conspiracy-mongering directly undermines US policy in Egypt.
Although many Americans see Bachmann as a marginal figure in US politics, such distinctions are easily lost in translation. Bachmann was "taken seriously" for a time as a presidential candidate and today she is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Outside the US, her membership in the Intelligence Committee sounds to many like a real credential. And this is why Bachmann's membership in the Intelligence Committee is a serious concern for US policy in the region.
Former US officials, NGO leaders and academics concerned with US policy in the region are circulating a letter to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi, urging that the anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists on the House Intelligence Committee be replaced. The letter is reproduced below:
Find the letter and read more @: Former US Officials Call for Bachmann to Be Replaced on Intelligence Committee
I would like to first say, how the ****ing **** did this ****ing idiot get on the Intelligence Committee?! She spread utter bull**** that she literally makes that actually affect people. She makes us look like a utter morons. This is pathetic. Im defiantly getting behind this letter.