The good news is we have one less thing to worry about: So-called Havana Syndrome turns out not to be caused by a mysterious super-weapon to harm American diplomats and military personnel, despite numerous press reports warning of a hypothetical ray gun created by a foreign foe (Cuba? Russia? China?). Instead, an assessment by the National Intelligence Council concluded that the symptoms of Havana Syndrome, reported by hundreds of government officials working all over the world) likely had “medical, environmental, and social factors that plausibly can explain.” In less polite terms, this was an example of a mass psychogenic illness, a product of hysteria and overactive imaginations.
Writing in Jacobin, Branko Marcetic links the Havana Syndrome frenzy to other examples of national security paranoia such as the false reports of Russians paying for Taliban bounty hunters and the recent meltdown over Chinese surveillance balloons. I talked with Branko about both the Havana Syndrome, and the reasons—political and psychological—that the military-industrial complex is going into over drive conjuring up imaginary or overhyped threats.
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