The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon


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19 Responses

  1. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Everyone, meet Godwin’s Russian cousin!Report

  2. BlaiseP says:

    The Frenchman prays: Mon Dieu, make me the world’s greatest lover.
    The German prays: Herrn Gott, make me the world’s greatest industrialist.
    The Russian prays: Bozhe Moi, my neighbour Dmitri? The one with the nice cow? Make that cow die.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I’ve heard variants of this one several times:

      A hotel. A room for four with four strangers. Three of them soon open a bottle of vodka and proceed to get acquainted, then drunk, then noisy, singing and telling political jokes. The fourth one desperately tries to get some sleep; finally, frustrated, he surreptitiously leaves the room, goes downstairs, and asks the lady concierge to bring tea to Room 67 in ten minutes. Then he returns and joins the party. Five minutes later, he bends over an ashtray and says with utter nonchalance: “Comrade Major, some tea to Room 67, please.” In a few minutes, there’s a knock at the door, and in comes the lady concierge with a tea tray. The room falls silent; the party dies a sudden death, and the conspirator finally gets to sleep. The next morning he wakes up alone in the room. Surprised, he runs downstairs and asks the concierge where his neighbors had gone. “You don’t need to know!” she answers. “B-but… but what about me?” asks the guy in terror. “Oh, you… well… Comrade Major liked your tea gag a lot.”

      And, to tie it back together, here’s a story from when Jet Li was visiting America in the 70’s:

      By the time we got to New York, I started to wonder if it was even true that all of our hotel rooms had been bugged with secret listening devices by the American government. Was it really necessary for us to watch everything we said?

      One day, feeling silly, I faced the telephone (without picking it up) and said, “Hey, I want chocolate, I want chocolate, I want chocolate.” Then I turned to the mirror and said: “I want ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, ice cream.” Lastly, I ran over to the flower vase and said: “I want banana, I want banana, I want banana.” I was having lots of fun. Then somebody came to tell us to get ready for that night’s performance, and I forgot about the whole thing.

      Later that night, when we returned to the hotel, I pushed open the door-and nearly died of fright. My bodyguard was horrified as well.

      There on the desk was chocolate, ice cream, and bananas.

      At first I thought that they were gifts from our sponsors–and that everybody else on the team had received them as well. Surely it was just a coincidence that the gifts happened to be the foods that I’d been craving. I ran to everybody else’s room to check. “Hey, did you guys find any fancy gifts on your desk?”


      My room was the only one. After that incident, I became a little more cautious. Report

      • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        that jet li anecdote really doesn’t make any sense, sounds more like an urban legend. if the gov was spying, the usually don’t want people to know it. that is sort of the point of being covert.Report

        • Chris in reply to greginak says:

          It’s on the official Jet Li page.


          • greginak in reply to Chris says:

            Okay. I still don’t see how it makes any sense. In the 70’s why would the US gov go out of its way to tell Jet Li his room was bugged??? What purpose would it serve? If they were bugging him they would be hoping to hear something useful. If they loudly tell him he was bugged then he would make sure not to say anything useful at all. In the 70’s wouldn’t they have wanted to make real nice and friendly with him. How does telling him he is being bugged make him a friend. Maybe it happened, i don’t know. But it doesn’t make any sense and it doesn’t ring true to me.Why bring him all the stuff he asked for?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              “We know that you know that we know that you know that we bugged your diplomats’ rooms.”

              I mean, we’re stuck between the choice of Nixon being that crazy paranoid or Jet Li fabricating.

              Which seems more likely to you?Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                When did JL say that? Did he say it when he lived in China and might have wanted to say something the gov liked. Nixon was crazy paranoid which doesn’t say anything about JL.

                That isn’t really an explanation for shoving it in his face he was bugged. If you tell him he is bugged then he will never say anything that might be useful. If he is suspicious but has no proof of being bugged he might let something out.

                Odd afterthought. If it happened maybe the Chinese had him bugged since they would want to know what he was saying and doing. The Chinese certainly had motive and personal in the area in the form of his bodyguard and entourage.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Here’s the story again, this time in a CNN interview:

                LH: Is it true that when you went to the United States in 1974, your government told you to be careful of what you say because your room maybe bugged?

                JL: It’s true. At that time, China and America just started relationship between the two countries. It is so funny! When I went there I wanted to try they have a bug or not. So in New York, a big hotel, I talked to the mirrors say I want chocolate and I talked to the flower vase, I want an ice cream. So, next day …I opened the door, chocolates, ice cream, bananas…everything is on my table!

                LH: So it’s true?

                JL: It’s true.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Okay…it still makes no sense why we would do that but who am i to argue with an interview on CNN. could have been terrible spycraft or the Chinese messing with his head.In fact i’m betting it was his own people messing with his head so he didn’t trust us.Report

              • Turgid Jacobian in reply to greginak says:

                Seems that if this is a true story, then it is more likely (by *a lot*) that the Chinese handlers were bugging the room–no defections, bucko!Report

              • zic in reply to greginak says:

                I’d presume the ice cream, flowers, and bananas were a gift from his own people, as Turgid Jacobian (what a name!) suggested, letting Jet Li know how much they cared.Report

  3. CK MacLeod says:

    What does this have to do with Baader-Meinhof?Report

  4. Will H. says:

    I don’t think so.
    I remember when Putin expelled all of the NGOs from Russia; before the Mini-Me.
    Talking about all this stuff with the foreign gov’s doing this-and-that through purported unreported activities. Cries of protest. (Yowl!) Denials of wrong-doing. (Yakkety-yakkety!) Then, wouldn’t you know it, those foreign gov’s (and notably the US) really were doing all that crap they were saying, and more. (Whoomp! There it is!)

    This looks like season 2 where they need a new screenwriter in the stable.Report

    • Murali in reply to Will H. says:

      I’m with Will here. the US is notorious for pulling shit like this. Same way everyone knows that USAid is often a front for CIA agents. Of course in the old days, Russia wasn’t much better either. A lot of trade unions were fronts for ComIntern activities. The covert intervention in the local politics of one country by another has no part to play in forging a commonwealth of nations bound together in perpetual peace. The US really should cut it out.Report

  5. J. Otto Pohl says:

    “Foreign agent” in Russian has the connotation of “foreign spy.” So the implication is that such organizations are in fact agents of foreign intelligence and disloyal to the motherland.Report

  6. Damon says:

    Isn’t there a similiar law in the US regarding the disclosure of “foreign” money? You know, one of those money laundering regs?Report