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Friday, August 11, 2006

The Power of Nightmares, Part 2 of 3, “The Phantom Victory”:

This is the second in a weekly series of documentaries designed to offer insights into today’s events, making it easy to understand them by linking them to the larger historical context. These documentaries are mostly done by the BBC, and rely on accurate historical records and the highest standards of scholarship and journalism. The ideas in these documentaries are not designed to advance one version of the events or act as propaganda for one party or the other, they are designed to provide the reader with enough facts to help them better understand the larger historical context to which today’s events belong.

The first of these documentaries is entitled “The Power of Nightmares”.

In This fascinating and award winning documentary, Adam Curtis, Writer, Producer and Narrator explores the origins of two movements, Islamic fundamentalism and the Neo-conservative movement, whose views and ideas, he argues, contributed the most to bringing our world to where it is today.

Broadcast by BBC 2 in the fall of 2004, this series of three one hour documentaries questions whether the threat of terrorism to the West is a politically driven fantasy and if al-Qaeda really is an organized network. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neo-conservatives, and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today's nightmare vision of a secret, organized evil that threatens the world. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.

The Power of Nightmares was turned into a feature film and was shown out of competition at the prestigious Cannes' film festival which began on 11 May, 2005.

For more information about this documentary and its author, visit its web page on the BBC’s web site or its web page on the Cannes' film festival’s web site

Parte II, “The Phantom Victory”:
The Power of Nightmares continues its assessment of whether the threat from a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. Part two, the Phantom Victory looks at how two groups, radical Islamists and neo-conservatives with seemingly opposing ideologies came together to defeat a common enemy.

On 25 December 1979, Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan. Moscow was able to install a friendly government in a neighbouring country but at a price. The invasion gave a common cause to an extraordinary alliance of radical Islamists in Afghanistan and around the world and to the neo-conservatives in the US. It was a key battleground of the Cold War. Washington provided money and arms including even Stinger missiles capable of shooting down Soviet helicopters. But it was Islamic Mujahideen fighters who would fire them.

Among the many foreigners drawn to Afghanistan was a young, wealthy Saudi called Osama Bin Laden. Long before 9/11, he would have been seen by neo-conservatives in Washington as one of their foot soldiers, helping fight America's cause.

After nearly 10 years of fighting, Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan. Both the neo-conservatives and the Islamists believed that it is they who defeated the "evil empire" and now had the power to transform the world. But both failed in their revolutions.

In response, the neo-conservatives invented a new fantasy enemy, Bill Clinton, focusing on the scandal surrounding him and Monica Lewinsky. Meanwhile, the Islamists descend into a desperate cycle of violence and terror to try to persuade the people to follow them. Out of all this comes the seeds of the strange world of fantasy, deception, violence and fear in which we now live.

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