A History of AIDS in Africa: the conspiracy theory

We’re all accustomed to the media stories that place former president George W. Bush behind Adolph Hitler as the second most evil scoundrel in world history, and we’re used to the conspiracy theories that suggest that Bush tried to wipe various minority groups off the planet, but have you ever heard the story that the former president might have saved Africa?

One story of AIDS in Africa is a conspiracy theory, and like most conspiracy theories being told nowadays, it involves the Nazis.

120701062737-bush-zambia-story-topThe Nazi regime, as we all know, was comprised of an evil dream team of destruction. One of the primary players of this dream team was a man named Dr. Josef Mengele, otherwise known as The Angel of Death. Mengele gained his infamous stature in history through experiments performed in Auschwitz concentration camps. If you are not informed of Mengele’s infamous exploits, you may want to read through some of the documentation that lists the horror this undiagnosed psychopath conducted on the unfortunate subjects of his science. Suffice it to say that if the term collateral damage was not invented for the thousands of lives Mengele destroyed, he and the Nazis took the term to an unprecedented level.

For the purpose of the conspiracy theory, it’s important to note that Dr. Josef Mengele began his career as an Anthropologist. In his Anthropological studies, Mengele took human blood samples and viral samples to study the differences between the races. He visited Africa many times to study the black race and figure out the differentiation between the races to eventually attempt to develop a race-specific plague that would hopefully wipe out those races that weren’t Aryan.

As we all know, the Germans lost WWII, and their dream of wiping out races, religions, and what they considered aberrant behavior ended with that defeat. The Nazis did come close to winning, however, and anyone who doubts this needs to study up on their history a little bit. The harrowing nature of how close they came is especially harrowing considering how relatively small Germany is (relative to the space covered by Russia, the U.S., England, and France). They nearly pulled off the unthinkable. How did they do it? Was it pure militaristic power, or was it a combination of militaristic know how and science?

The U.S. needed to know the specifics of how Germany almost did it, because a new threat arose from the ashes of WWII. Some would say that the problem before the war was grave, but that the Allied Forces needed to pick from the least of two evils to defeat the Nazis. In the immediate aftermath of the war, most recognized the threat Russia posed, but they felt that owed something to Stalin for his loyalty to the Allied Forces during the war. General George S. Patton was one that fervently believed that the U.S., and the allies, should move against Russia while Russia was weakened by Nazi maneuvers. Historians list the loyalty factor as one reason the Allied forces did not invade Russia after the war, but they also list the idea that Americans grew tired of war after the lengthy World War. Few in power could deny that Russia was becoming a problem however, and the U.S. decided that the scientific research conducted in Germany could assist them greatly in their eventual attempts to defeat Russia.

Their initial pursuit for post-war Germany knowledge and technology involved the rocket and missile technology the Germans perfected in some cases and nearly perfected in others (some have said the Nazis were on the brink of discovering long range missile technology that would reach the U.S., but that they didn’t quite achieve that goal by the end of the war). The U.S. was also in pursuit of their engineering designs of aircraft, medicines and electronics. In the midst of this search through the Nazi knowledge and technology, U.S. intelligence officials discovered a jewel in the rough: The Nazi scientists. The U.S. officials, left in charge of sifting through the proverbial rubble of post-war Germany, exited the country believing that it was the scientists who were almost solely responsible for how close Germany came to the unthinkable.

(Editor’s Note: Almost everything written to this point is 100% researched and believed to be true. What follows is the conspiracy theory.)  

From this post-WWII gathering of Nazi scientific information, it is theorized that the Americans discovered what Dr. Josef Mengele found, and the Nazi plans to manipulate, it’s called the CCR5 Delta-32 gene, a gene that happens to be particularly strong in those of Northern European extraction. The evolutionary strength of this gene in some Northern Europeans is said to be what allowed them to survive The Plague (AKA The Black Plague, Great Plague, Great Pestilence, or the Great Mortality) that nearly wiped out Europe. This plague is suspected to have wiped out anywhere from 30-60% of Europe’s population.

Those who survived Europe’s Great Plague are believed to have done so based upon the strength of this particular gene, CCR5 Delta-32 gene, or the resultant strengthening of it, and they passed that strength on to future generations. This same immunity, or evolutionary strength, was not present in Africans, as Africans and Europeans had very little interaction at the time, and as a result the plague largely did not make it across the continent to Africa.

Some have suggested that all of Mengele’s anthropological efforts with blood and viral samples in Africa paid off in this regard, and that he found a susceptibility in the CCR5 Delta-32 gene among Africans that wasn’t as susceptible in the Europeans due to evolution, or the natural selection that occurred as a result The Plague in Europe. There is some evidence that suggests testing of this gene occurred in German concentration camps that some could theorize resulted in various discoveries regarding immunity and susceptibility rates. Some suggest that these findings provided a pathway for the Nazi plans to properly manipulate the CCR5 Delta-32 gene. The conspiracy theory suggests that Mengele found a scientific path, through genetic engineering to fulfill the Nazi plan of the Aryan race domination, and that he might have wanted to introduce The Black Plague, or some strain of the disease, to the African continent. The gene Mengele sought to manipulate, the CCR5 Delta-32 gene, is now believed to be the receptor that allows for the onset of the human immunodeficiency virus (or HIV or AIDS) among those with weaker CCR5 Delta-32 genes. The conspiracy theory does not include the eradication of homosexuals in this specific manner, but if he didn’t plan on their destruction in this regard, I think Mengele would have considered their suffering a happy byproduct.

The Germans lost the war, of course, and Mengele was never able to see his plans to fruition. Some have suggested that the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, AIDS, what have you might have been the genetically engineered strain of The Black Plague that Mengele beset upon Africa to capitalize on the weakness of the gene in a percentage of Africans, and that it was the parting gift of a dying man to the master race. Mengele died in 1979, and the available data suggests that the AIDS epidemic started in Africa, in the mid- to late 1970s. Some suspect that either he went underground after the dissolution of the Nazi regime in fear of his own safety, but others suggest he whittled away in labs trying to come up with the perfect disease to capitalize on his findings. 

(Editor’s note: Back to the facts)

The original intent of bringing the German scientists to America was to simply debrief them in the normal manner intelligence agencies debrief enemy combatants, and send them on their way. They wanted to learn of the technologies, as stated earlier, but they weren’t sure how much, if any, information the Nazi scientists would divulge. The extent of the knowledge these scientists eventually divulged overwhelmed the intelligence officials, and they considered it imprudent to send them back to Germany. What if their knowledge was collected and used by the Russians against America, the intelligence officials worried. The problem for America was that these Nazi scientists had horrible human rights violations listed on their record, and as a result their visas were denied. The American intelligence officials feared losing these scientists, and the cold war as a result of the Russians harboring them.

Enter Operation (or Project) Paperclip. Project Paperclip was a top secret agenda signed by President Harry S Truman in 1945. The idea behind Project Paperclip was that America would use scientific information discovered in post-war Germany to defeat the Russians. The one problem was that Truman expressly forbade the use of individual scientists associated with the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Some elements of this project were initially dumped at the president’s wishes, but the records of the objectionable Nazi scientists were rectified by cleaning their records in such a manner that made them appear less threatening. The latter was done, it would appear, without Truman’s knowledge.

Up to this point, the theory seems credible. Americans ally with the Russians to defeat the Germans in the war, and the Americans then ally themselves with the Germans (their scientists at least) to defeat the Russians in the subsequent cold war. The winning side of any war often finds themselves allying with the least objectionable parties. It sounds perfectly reasonable.

To this point in the conspiracy, it appears as though the Americans wanted to have the technology so that the Russians wouldn’t have it. There is also the implicit statement that such technology could be used if it ever came down to it, but there is no evidence that the Americans ever planned to use the scientific weapon that Mengele and the Nazi scientists discovered.

Enter Henry Kissinger’s report to the National Security Council in 1974. In this report, Kissinger warned that overpopulation of third world countries was the greatest threat to America. He talked about the correlations between creations of Banana Republics and the countries’ populations spinning out of control. The only solution to Kissinger’s declarations in the report, say the conspiracy theorists, is the depopulation of Africa. How would one depopulate a continent in a manner that didn’t involve war or mass genocide on a public scale? Well, the theorists say, Kissinger delivered this report in 1974, and the first appearance of the AIDS epidemic in Africa occurred in the mid to late seventies, some even say that the first case appeared in 1975, one year after Kissinger’s report.

This conspiracy theory, and that which most reasonable people reject, is that Kissinger’s people used Mengele’s findings regarding the African weakness in the CCR5 Delta-32 genes to depopulate the African continent with what would later be called the AIDS virus. The theory also states that not all Europeans had strengthened, or immune, CCR5 Delta-32 genes, and they also contracted the disease as a result. The conspiracy theorists state that in any action of this sort, there is going to be collateral damage, but that those who acted on this science projected that the collateral damage would be minimal.

Some have said that AIDS spreading to the point of an epidemic, began in missionary hospitals in which needles were used and reused, and that the true explosion that occurred between 1976 and 1980 arose in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. It was in these areas where most of Africa’s richest natural resources (such as gold and diamonds) were, and that these former European colonies enriched their mother countries. This implies that if these countries had not been depopulated, the citizens may have used up many of the resources, and they may have kept the booty.

Where this conspiracy succeeds, as all conspiracy theories do, is in the open spaces left by history. How did AIDS start? We all know how it was spread, as stated earlier, and we’ve all heard a number of other widely believed theories regarding how it started, but we may never have concrete proof of its origins. We’ve heard tales of the Pan Troglodyte sub-group of chimpanzees of west-central Africa eating the spot-nosed chimpanzees and incurring a hybridization of immune deficiencies that culminated in HIV in those humans with the weak CCR5 Delta-32 gene that then hunted and ate these chimpanzees. If this is all true, and it should be noted that the conspiracy theory says it isn’t, then why didn’t this disease rear its ugly head until the 1970’s? If these viruses culminated in the food chain, as described above, why did it take so long to achieve a worldwide epidemic? It’s possible that the viruses evolved over time for their own survival, but it’s also possible when one looks long and hard enough at the timeline long enough to see open spaces that need filling, and coincidences, that have occurred and fashion a conspiracy theory out of it that greedy capitalists used to enrich themselves by murdering Africans and plundering their resources. The conspiracy theory not only fills open spaces in the time line, but it fills open spaces that people have in themselves.

The explosion of the AIDS epidemic did reach a point where people no longer cared how it started, we just wanted it to end. We wanted some form of treatment. After a time, we reached a point where we developed preventative measures, then we developed medicines that allowed a person to live with HIV in their system in our country, but it was still an epidemic in Africa. Politicians the world around led causes to fight AIDS in Africa, but like most politicians they extended their hearts to Africa in asking for more money, but they never truly did anything substantial to end the threat. It is typical of warlords, corrupt world leaders, and American politicians to enjoy the fruit derived from caring about an issue more than the search for a cure. This isn’t to say that anyone did anything to avoid finding a cure. Some attempts were more symbolic than others, for if an individual leads a substantial and pointed effort and they fail, the failure would receive more publicity than the attempt. It’s much more beneficial to a politician to display symbolic concern than it is to actually do anything to solve the problem. 

Enter George W. Bush. It has been said by liberal luminaries, from Bob Geldof to Bono, that Bush did more for the fight against AIDS in Africa than any other U.S. President. None other than the far left extremists at MSNBC praised Bush’s efforts (post-Obama election of course). Geldof was quoted in a Time magazine article as saying: “The Bush administration has saved millions of lives (in Africa).” An assistant professor of Public Health at Columbia, Josh Ruxin, says: “The administration and Bush himself deserve a lot more credit than they received for getting this job done.” Regardless, the personal opinions of these people, the Bush administration sent fifteen billion in 2003 to expand treatment, prevention, and support programs to twelve of the hardest hit African countries. The goal was to have three million people on AIDS drugs by 2005. They achieved that goal.

The important part of any conspiracy theory is to provide the story, give some of the facts, allow the readers to draw their own conclusions through some perpendicular lines and through some parallels, and then tie it all up in a conclusion that may seem improbable or plausible depending on the reader. If you see this piece as partisan, consider that many believe the African AIDS explosion began in the Carter administration and ended in the George W. Bush administration. In this period, there were two Republican administrations and two Democrat administrations that seemed to do nothing. In all of these administrations there was a lot of head shaking and hand wringing over the problem. In some of these administrations there were special envoys sent to try and rectify the problem and rock concerts to raise revenue for aid. In most of these administrations millions were sent in aid, public proclamations were made for civilian donations, and a greater percentage of these funds ended up in the hands of warlords and corrupt leaders. Good intentions were the course of the day for these administrations, but in the end nothing was accomplished, until George W. Bush decided to actually do something about it.

Whether the reader believes that Mengele initiated the spread of the AIDS epidemic, or that Kissinger used some science Mengele is purported to discover, we do have some ironclad facts. The estimates suggest that 36 million citizens of Africa died as a result of the virus, and the idea that it might further decimate the African population was such a real fear of the time that it dominated headlines around the world for decades.

The Bush presidency did not end the AIDS virus, but his administration did do more to end those fears than any of the world leaders, and the previous four U.S. presidents before him. The question is was Bush privy to better science and better information than the previous presidents in question, or did they selectively ignore the pressing concern of the people of the African continent. Or is this simply a conspiracy theory where all the stars line up so conveniently that it makes for interesting reading and nothing more? Whatever the case, I find it delicious that the man the media has all but called the second worst man in history appears to have cleaned up what nearly two generations of world leaders in general, and U.S. Presidents in particular, either could not or would not.

3) Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

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