Monday, December 13, 2004

Old Habits 

More than once in the past few months we have had occasion to mention The Power of Nightmares, Adam Curtis's three-part BBC documentary about the Straussian underpinnings of the war on terror. (Needless to say, it is a program we did not, and do not, expect ever to see on American television.) We already knew that our distinguished Amsterdam-based colleague Vaara had undertaken the heroic task of transcribing the entire series, but upon visiting Silt 3.0 earlier this evening we were shocked to discover that he has now made all three episodes available for viewing in .AVI format (you'll find the links in the right-hand frame).

If you need any further inducement to start downloading, here -- courtesy of Generik at This Is the Shit -- is a Thom Hartmann's review of the series, with special emphasis on the common thread that runs between the collapse of détente and our present quagmire:
In 1972, President Richard Nixon returned from the Soviet Union with a treaty worked out by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the beginning of a process Kissinger called "détente." On June 1, 1972, Nixon gave a speech in which he said, "Last Friday, in Moscow, we witnessed the beginning of the end of that era which began in 1945. With this step, we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear—for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world."

But Nixon left amid scandal and Ford came in, and Ford's Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) and Chief of Staff (Dick Cheney) believed it was intolerable that Americans might no longer be bound by fear. Without fear, how could Americans be manipulated?

Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort - first secretly and then openly - to undermine Nixon's treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear and, thus, reinstate the Cold War.

And these two men - 1974 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Ford Chief of Staff Dick Cheney - did this by claiming that the Soviets had secret weapons of mass destruction that the president didn't know about, that the CIA didn't know about, that nobody but them knew about. And, they said, because of those weapons, the US must redirect billions of dollars away from domestic programs and instead give the money to defense contractors for whom these two men would one day work . . . .

According to Curtis' BBC documentary, Wolfowitz's group, known as "Team B," came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed several terrifying new weapons of mass destruction, featuring a nuclear-armed submarine fleet that used a sonar system that didn't depend on sound and was, thus, undetectable with our current technology . . . .

But, trillions of dollars and years later, it was proven that they had been wrong all along, and the CIA had been right. Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz lied to America in the 1970s about Soviet WMDs.

Not only do we now know that the Soviets didn't have any new and impressive WMDs, but we also now know that they were, in fact, decaying from within, ripe for collapse any time, regardless of what the US did - just as the CIA (and anybody who visited Soviet states - as I had - during that time could easily predict). The Soviet economic and political system wasn't working, and their military was disintegrating . . . .

The Cold War was good for business, and good for the political power of its advocates, from Rumsfeld to Reagan.

Similarly, according to this documentary, the War On Terror is the same sort of scam, run for many of the same reasons, by the same people. And by hyping it - and then invading Iraq - we may well be bringing into reality terrors and forces that previously existed only on the margins and with very little power to harm us.

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