The Power Of Nightmares

When Adam Curtis produced the three TV documentaries, “The Power of Nightmares” for the BBC, they were an instant hit in the UK. Spread over three nights, these hour long films charted the rise of both radical Islam and American neoconservatism.

One of many obvious similarities between both opposing forces has been the efforts of the relative few in each camp to force the majority of us into lives we have no wish to live. Their reason for this is, quite simply, their own personal ideology. Politicians no longer consider themselves servants of the people, but rather our masters – decreeing our futures and how we must live our lives. Radical Islam suffers similar arrogance. Curtis highlights how the ‘Islamic state’ kills democracy by negating the need for more than one political party. After all, the law of the Koran is invariable, so there is nothing to debate.

Although the films have played in some small independent theaters in America, it seems the American public will have no opportunity to view them on national television. According to Curtis:

“Something extraordinary has happened to American TV since September 11. A head of the leading networks who had better remain nameless said to me that there was no way they could show it. He said, ‘Who are you to say this?’ and then he added, ‘We would get slaughtered if we put this out.’ When I was in New York I took a DVD to the head of documentaries at HBO. I still haven’t heard from him.”

Land of the Free?

Having watched all three films recently, I found the research impeccable and the arguments verifiable. They are fully in tune with my own research and ideas.

The last film of the three lays to rest a myth still regularly perpetrated by politicians in the West – that a dirty bomb would cause untold damage if exploded near a major city. Nothing could be further from the truth, as atomic scientists have been saying for years. Politicians, however, still use this and many other fantasies from their arsenal, to try and frighten us.

Most important of all, the films portray how “Al Qaeda” was never more than an invention of the American political psyche , and no worldwide, interlinked network of terrorism ever existed before or after 9/11.

Given the continued, hostile attitude of America towards the Middle East, however, that situation may well already be changing.

Videos of all three films have been released on the internet and may be viewed free of charge HERE.

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6 Replies to “The Power Of Nightmares”

  1. I’m almost afraid to watch them. Sometimes I sit back and try to look at all things from an individual point of view without the daily talking points getting involved. The more I remove all the bs, the more the harsh reality shows through. Two groups of people who in other times would be considered just sick, are now vowing to rule the world. Yes, that is a nightmare but we can’t seem to wake up and escape it.

  2. We were able to watch it some time ago and it turned some hairs white. This nightmare is a quagmire and we are all struggling to get out of it. I believe we will with persistence and believe it or not, humor. It seems to me that when the humorists began to chip away at the lies and horrors spewed on us, things finally began to change – people woke up. With drama and dire threats, people curl deeper under their “bankies”.

  3. PoP – the way out of any nightmare is to wake up and see reality for what it is really is. George Bush, (or probably more accurately, Dick Cheney) in company with his neoconservative-controlled administration, has created the nightmare of terror they say we can only combat by fighting a world war. Like all nightmares, it’s not real. We will defeat both Islamic terrorism and the neocons by simply refusing to succumb to their tactics. Literally, by refusing to be afraid. Watch the films. They will instil knowledge, and knowing the facts – or, at least, some of them – helps dispel fear.

    PM – I’m glad you were able to see it. You are right that humor has a part to play in helping us out the quagmire. Humor dissipates fear, and fear is what both sides are desperately trying to instill in us.

  4. Sorry to come to the discussion so late… !

    Mr. Adams, i am not a shaikh (scholar of Islam) or a head of state, so i can only offer a grassroots opinion based on my experience of being Muslim for nigh on 12 years now. I am fairly well acquainted with the laws of Islam, as are the majority of Muslims, and would like to offer that they are laws of peace, not discord, in which everyone receives their rights; men, women, children, old and young, handicapped and whole… even in war, our adversaries have rights.

    And we are not allowed to fight except under certain conditions; namely, to protect our homes and families, and to be allowed to worship freely. Even then, the laws of jihad do not allow old people, women, or children to be killed, and environmental damage is forbidden. We are not allowed to kill with fire (ie. bombs, for example). The SOLDIERS we are to fight with get advance warnings. These are sent out only after extensive negotiation has failed.

    This is our history and the notion that Islam was spread with the sword had pretty well been laid to rest at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Currently, nobody in the Middle East had even heard of al Qaida until they watched the American news – that’s what i keep hearing, over and over.

    Attack the US? I hardly think so. The fall of the Ottoman Empire has left a great feeling of despondency and helplessness throughout the Islamic world, a sort of ‘how could this happen to us?’ that led people to try and learn from the West. It is still an accepted custom to send kids to university in the US, for example. (We are told to seek knowledge, even if we have to go to China.)

    There was anti-Americanism, yes, just like most of the remainder of the planet, but the general consensus was that America was headed down a very unhealthy road and would eventually succumb to its own vices. No need to kick over a sick cow, after all. The fight against vice that i hear referred to so often usually meant that we, as Muslims, should fight against our own vices and maintain the laws of peace.

    Accusing Muslims of being terrorists is sort of like accusing the Amish of taking to the streets and lobbing Maltov cocktails at random. It’s so freakish, it’s laughable. Many people have chosen not to even respond to the claims, because they ARE so laughable. Unfortunately, this quietism has been our downfall; those who would discredit us have taken full advantage of the silence to throw their own lies into the void. Most of us just hope that one day, ONE DAY, logic and reason will prevail and the truth will out.

    That could be a while.

  5. And if i may, i would just like to write a small note about government in Islam, as well…

    Leaders of Muslim countries are responsible for the welfare of every single person under their consideration, and anything that is amiss with any one of their citizens will come up as a possible punishment on the Day of Judgement. This understanding leads to a completely different mindset than that currently seen in the US. People do not push themselves forward with grand claims.

    Traditionally, they are pushed forward, usually with great protest, to take this responsibility, and only after they have demonstrated a first-rate knowledge of the laws of peace. They serve in fear and trembling, begging their Creator to forgive them their errors. Any Muslim citizen can correct them publicly. The laws of Islam can and have been implemented under just about any political system.

    Don’t forget; there are about a billion of us, and we’re not all crowded onto the Gaza strip! Islam has adapted itself to cultures and governments throughout the entire world. The laws of the Qur’an (and why can’t anybody seem to get that name right?) are universal and inclusive, not narrow and oppressive.

    However (and this is a big however), it’s sort of common knowledge that most of the Muslim rulers now in power do not follow the traditional ways; that in fact, they are probably corrupt. No, not with Islamofascism or Islamoterrorism or Radical Islamism (what exactly ARE those things, anyway, outside of the American media?), but with Western influences.

    People are quite disgusted with the way leaders seem to be willing to suck up to the US and follow the same amoral conduct that now appears to be destroying America. They don’t listen to their citizens anymore, or even the shaikhs, and have chosen to go their own way, in emulation of the West.

    But us little people, like little people everywhere, just live the little life the best way we can, with the best behaviour we can. May Allah Forgive us our shortcomings, and increase us in peace.

  6. Anan – thank you so much for your perspective, appreciated as always.

    One of the conclusions to come out of these documentaries, as anyone researched in the subject will already be aware, was that the very term “Al Qaeda” was coined by Americans in the US. So, as you rightly point out, no-one in the Middle East would have heard of it, except from Western news media.

    A major problem we have as human beings is separating our perceived notions of another, from actual reality. When humans evaluate other nations and religious beliefs, for most their knowledge base comes from their national media, which in turn reports the happenings of those in power, or making the news through violent acts and aggression. (Media, of course, thrives on such ‘news’, but only – sadly – because we all tend to). This presents us with a highly distorted image of the nation involved, and hence we get the conversations insisting “all Americans are arrogant and aggressive”; or, “Islam is a religion of violence and hate”; or, even as mundane as, “The British are a nation with bad teeth”.

    We construct our view of people and their beliefs on the misdeeds of a minute number of them, totally disregarding the other 99% whose views and opinions of the extremist minority are in sympathy with our own.

    One of the suggestions of “The Power of Nightmares” was that both ‘Radical Islam’ and ‘US neoconservatism’ play on that human failing by amplifying the natural fear and trepidation we all experience when hearing of people maimed or killed by suicide bombers, or – in the case of Middle eastern nations – the threat of Western coercion and interventionism. I believe that is a correct assumption.

    The effect on Western audiences of huge overdoses of TV news violence (supported by the irresponsible rhetoric of Western politicians) reportedly perpetrated by ‘Islamic extremists’, is as mentioned above i.e. a tendency for the masses to view ordinary peace-loving Muslims as labeled with the same extremist badge. A similar effect occurs when those who’ve twisted Islam to suit their nefarious ends continually bombard the Islamic populations with distorted ideals of Western interventionism.

    Sadly, all the great religions of the world without exception have been used and abused by those who seek only the selfish desire for wealth and power over others. We, the masses, are so prone to listen and believe their words because they promise hope and glory, or a better life, or simply martyrdom. Those most attentive have little hope of glory, or a better life. To some, martyrdom is probably their only reasonable prospect.

    You write of ‘little people everywhere’, yet there are billions more of us little people than those who would control and suppress us.

    Why do we always let them get away with it?

    Is it perhaps because they’ve already succeeded?

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