The deep state and the boomerang effect
Jerry Kroth, Ph.D.
Academic psychology does not rank high on solutions to international crises, but it does have a concept worthy of our attention, “reactance” or the boomerang effect.
It means that the more you push in one direction, the more the opposite result occurs as a powerful form blowback. The greater the sanctions on North Korea to stop its nuclear program, for example, the more rapidly it develops its weapons, and the further grows the range of its ballistic missiles. The more the U.S. tries to decapitate Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the more Al-Qaeda storefronts open in over 14 countries from Uganda to Uzbekistan. 
The more you push forward, the greater the pushback. It is curious how mainstream media wonks on Meet the Press or Face The Nation rarely venture into this terrain. For one thing, there is almost no discussion of Israel’s nuclear cruise missiles on three submarines stationed off the coast of Iran. They patrol 24-7, and they can reach any target in Iran in a matter of minutes. Corporate media censorship on this issue is absolute and ironclad. How can one talk about Iran’s development of nuclear weapons—as a boomerang reaction to Israel’s constant nuclear threat—if there is no permissible discussion of Israel’s nuclear threat in the first instance?
And there isn’t.
So our punditocracy obsessively blathers about the myriad dangers facing the United States with little interest in how many of these external threats are actually boomerang reactions to our own behavior.
The deep state
Before we explore this blowback idea further, let us pause to examine the conspiracy theory of the “deep state” and the so-called military-intelligence axis we hear so much about.
The New York Times and The New Yorker recently sermonized that the “Deep State” is nothing but a fiction.  It is all a “trumped” up conspiracy. “The problem in Washington is not a conspiracy against the President, it’s the President himself,” so opines David Remnick in his piece “There is no deep state!” The Atlantic similarly scolds, “There is no American deep state!”  Denials are all over the corporate media.
But the Donald insists he was bugged, that his conversations with the Australian prime minister and others were tapped and then released to the press.  The substance of those conversations could only have come from FBI, NSA, or CIA counterintelligence sources, he says, along with leaks to the press. So is this a wild conspiracy theory or an inconvenient truth?
The mainstream media rejoinder is that it is all just unpresidential, paranoiac, early-morning tweeting, nothing more— “President Trump has offered no evidence backing his claims.”  So echoes the New York Times, the New York Daily News, spokespersons for the House Intelligence Chairman, et. al.,
But progressives like Dennis Kucinich surprisingly believe the deep state not only exists, but that Trump’s wiretapping assertions are not all that crazy.  Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey thinks Trump was bugged too. 
NSA whistleblower William Binney said “Trump is actually right. Everything was being monitored.” Two separate sources “with links to the counter-intelligence community” have confirmed ... that a FISA court warrant was issued to surveille Trump as far back as October, concluding “Obama’s fingerprints are all over this.”  More intrigue comes from Evelyn Farkas, assistant secretary of defense under Obama, who alleged “that not only was the previous administration collecting intelligence on the Trump team, it was attempting to share it as far and wide as possible.”  [Under scrutiny, though, she walked back those comments.]
Curiously, Obama’s national security counsel, Susan Rice, admitted some wiretaps occurred.  Mark Levin, a former Reagan official, summarizes:
“The Obama administration’s targeting of the Trump organization, in the middle of a presidential campaign, was a more egregious abuse of executive power than Nixon exercised with the Watergate break in. . . an attempted coup to prevent Trump from assuming office.” 
If there is a deep state plying these clandestine waters, who are they? Those on the left wag their fingers, at least on the political front, at Diane Feinstein,  Adam Schiff, other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Lindsey Graham—who wants boots on the ground in Syria now— along with noted war-hawk John McCain. There are other persons of interest too.   But there is also a possibility that a corps of entrenched bureaucrats, embedded anonymously inside the NSA, CIA, and FBI, populate a putative shadow government along with what others call so-called Wall Street cohorts.  
Strangely, Trump first appeared to the American electorate dressed in the garb of a resolute isolationist who questioned the relevance of NATO, thought the Iraq war was a mistake, and wanted to get comfy with Russia. Fast forward 100 days, and his wardrobe change is breathtaking. It boasts a number of new deep-state insignias: He let Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse himself in the Russia investigation; he stayed silent as favorite Michael Flynn left in disgrace; he withheld support as Steve Bannon got booted out of the National Security Council; Trump advisor and crony, Sebastian Gorka, of Muslim-ban fame also got his walking papers.  Besides those drapersonnel changes, Trump sent an ominous flotilla to North Korean shores saying “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will!”  And then he added a touch of bravado by sending 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria, all to the applause of his critics.
Quite a turn around. Left face! Right face! About face, Mr. President!
It looks like Donald has embarked on John McCain’s doomsday train dragging the rest of us with him. All aboard!
As this transition is happening The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock forward to 2 ½ minutes before midnight. It hasn’t been that close in 58 years. 
Princeton professor Steven Cohen says this is the most dangerous moment in U.S. history since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Michael Moore tweets that “Donald Trump is going to get us killed!”
An amazing conversion for an America-first isolationist. His come-to-Jesus baptism by the deep state also reversed his comments about NATO: “I said it was obsolete. . . It’s no longer obsolete.”  As for NAFTA, he flipped again with “I was psyched to terminate NAFTA, but reconsidered.”
Is this a personality disorder with a dollop of bipolarity, or are we witnessing the stealthy tentacles of the deep state slowly enveloping its prey?
From sea to shining sea
We don’t know quite how our shadow government works, but it does tilt to the aggressive. It sends a flotilla into the Black Sea, and when Russia feels uncomfortable, it accuses the Russians of harassment.  Far to the north, it patrols the waters of the Baltic brazenly parking off the coast of Russia’s enclave in Kaliningrad. When the Russians get rattled, the headline reads “Why the Russians decided to harass that U.S. Navy destroyer this week.” Our poor flotillas, just 7,000 miles from home, seem perpetually harassed by Putin goons.
On the other side of the world in the South China Sea, the U.S. routinely flies spy missions 12 miles off China’s shores,  more than once a day.  Ah, if only China performed similar feats in LA and San Francisco.
In addition, though, we are building a $10 billion base in South Korea called Camp Humphreys only 150 miles from China’s borders.  Most Americans never even heard of it, much less than the cost for this single installation is 20 times larger than the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Arts, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting combined. 
Can you imagine China building a $10 billion base in the Bahamas where 36,000 Chinese Red Army and Navy personnel would be permanently stationed?
When China bristles at all this intrusiveness—and it does—the corporate media obediently bellows how “aggressive” the Chinese are becoming, and The Atlantic calls their behavior a “dangerous game.” 
Indeed, if there is a deep state, it seems resolute, undeterred, and incredibly unflappable. While Russia and China together have only 2 overseas military bases, the U.S. boasts 1,000, with even more lily pad installations built under Obama.  This morbid obesity just keeps growing regardless of administrations from the Ukraine to Latvia, central Africa, all the way to the Polish border where we recently installed a brigade. 
There is a certain macho to this too: The U.S. actually deployed troops a mere 300 meters from the Russian border, as if to say “So what are you gonna do about that buddy!” 
According to Jill Stein, under Trump and Obama, the US is fighting and killing people in seven countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Sudan, and Libya, and Special Forces are now deployed in 138 nations. 
Imagine that, seven ongoing war fronts in the spring of 2017.
While the deep state continues to broaden its footprint, it does so quite indifferent to what the American people want: 70 percent of Americans are against military intervention in the Ukraine; 80 percent oppose troops on the ground in Syria (sorry Sen. Graham); 75 percent oppose aiding Syrian rebels at all, and 67 percent are fed up with Afghanistan too.
Majority rule and the deep state mix like oil and water.
Back to boomerangs:
Returning to psychology’s “reactance:” If we assume that the more you push, the greater the pushback—the boomerang effect—then, let us think through some scenarios that fit. Here are a few guesses of what that might look like:
Boomerang 1: North Korea, pushed to the brink by American exercises, asset freezes, carrier groups, and newly installed missile batteries, rather than succumbing to such pressure, decides to sell dirty bombs on the black market as Hezbollah and ISIS stand in line with cash for any such purchases. A dirty bomb detonated in Haifa, Israel would make a 36 square block area virtually uninhabitable with clean up costs close to a trillion dollars as huge numbers of Israelis evacuated the country.  Is that storyline impossible? The tunnels are already dug; only the package needs delivering.
Boomerang 2: ISIS momentarily suspends its erstwhile genocide to enlist 20 martyrs who still possess valid international passports. They volunteer to become infected with Ebola and board planes to the U.S. early in their infection. They will not be contagious for another 4-10 days. Those who can’t make it through passport control enlist Mexican cartels to get smuggled into the U.S. through one of over 80 tunnels dug under the border.  The cartels gladly accept cash in return for safe passage. ISIS martyrs spread out across the country, and when they are properly contagious, they sneeze their way through every bus stop, train station, airport, homeless shelter, and football stadium they can find. The mortality rate for Ebola is 30 percent: that’s 100 million Americans. Impossible to track down all their contacts. And there are other brews too, biological weapons and synthetic super pathogens, that can exact even heavier tolls. 
Boomerang 3: The film Fahrenheit 451 showed that the U.S. had only two border patrol officers covering over 50 miles of Oregon coastline. This vast “landing zone” from Seattle to Northern California could host a hostile drop of a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb smuggled quite easily into the West Coast.  Ditto for the porous Canadian border. Some suitcase nuclear weapons can be as small as a backpack.
There are allegedly 84 “missing” Russian suitcase bombs that cannot be accounted for,  and in 2015 there had been a total of “four attempts by Moldovan residents to smuggle nuclear materials into the hands of unscrupulous buyers.”
The Nuclear Threat Initiative recently warned about the lack of controls on highly enriched uranium saying “an amount small enough to fit in a 5-pound bag of sugar could be used to build a nuclear device with the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people.” And just how many possible boomerang return addresses do we now have to keep track of? Al Qaeda, North Korea, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Al Nusra Front, Ansar al-Sharia, the Taliban, Abu Sayyaf ? 
Boomerang 4: If that isn’t enough darkness for your morning coffee, flash to Pakistan which has been experimenting with “tiny” nuclear bombs, the smallest tactical nuclear weapons known. The U.S. has some too like “Little John” which is so small it can be fired as an artillery shell.  France has the Pluton that can fly 120 km and a deliver a Hiroshima-sized warhead. Pakistan is now a member of this club.
Over 66 percent of Pakistanis oppose U.S. drone strikes on their territory—after all, we’ve been bombing them for 13 years — so their attraction to boomerangs might be a bit high.  But in addition, they maintain dubious control over their nuclear arsenal in the first place, so through theft, or by way of black market dealings, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, or ISIS, could obtain a nuclear device. Smuggled into Lebanon, it could be carried through Hezbollah tunnels to Israel’s third largest city, Haifa, launched atop an Iranian Fateh short-range missile, or perhaps delivered as an artillery shell. It only has 90 miles to travel to hit its target. Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome, Arrow, or David’s Sling defense systems might shoot it down,  but it also could be overwhelmed by a fusillade of decoy missiles. Hezbollah has 150,000.  If successful, thousands of Haifa residents would be killed and a mass exodus of Israelis begun. In the meantime, once Israel found the source of the bomb, it would use its own arsenal to obliterate the sender.
Welcome to World War III.
The doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), we would all like to believe will prevent such surreptitious weapons transfers, but unfortunately, it is now a shibboleth which will not deter stateless actors who are spread thin, found all over the place, and quite fully prepped for martyrdom anyway.  
This scenario may sound unduly alarmist, but Israel has already bombed Syria many times in order to prevent transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.  How much more preposterous is it to think the weapon they are trying to prevent could be a tactical nuclear device?
We conclude this dark and ominous exercise by returning to North Korea. Kim Jon-un is very young for a world leader, only 33, deeply paranoid, recently had his stepbrother whacked, and, to make a point, shot an artillery shell into his defense minister.  He is obsessed with incinerating America, and his stentorian threats are clear: “Our super-might preemptive strike will reduce America’s military to ashes.”  All the while, Kim does not bend or capitulate to flotillas, exercises, a $10 billion Camp Humphrey, or American sanctions. His missiles get larger, and his nuclear weapons cache grows by the day—estimated at more than 20 at this writing.
That’s 20 more than he had 10 years ago, and Kim is the youngest person—and perhaps the least stable person on the planet—with the capability of launching a nuclear war.
The question to consider is this: Do John McCain and America’s deep state gurus have sufficient perspicacity to psychoanalyze Kim and know he will eventually cave into pressures and succumb to America’s might instead of directing a boomerang back to us?
And if you aren’t that impressed with McCain’s acumen, we might redirect the question and try to end this article on a more positive note: Does psychology have any remedy for any or all these horrific scenarios?
The answer is probably yes:
To avoid pushback, stop pushing!
Jerry Kroth, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor Emeritus from Santa Clara University in California and may be reached through his website, collectivepsych.com
 Democracy Now, April 13, 2017