Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Power of Nightmares

The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis. Its three one-hour parts consist mostly of a montage of archive footage with Curtis's narration. The series was first broadcast in the United Kingdom in late 2004 and has subsequently been broadcast in multiple countries and shown in several film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

The films compare the rise of the Neo-Conservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and claiming similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies.

The Power of Nightmares has been praised by film critics in both Britain and the United States. Its message and content have also been the subject of various critiques and criticisms from conservatives and progressives.

This film explores the origins in the 1940s and 50s of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East, and Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today. From the introduction to Part 1:

"Both [the Islamists and Neoconservatives] 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, Baby It's Cold Outside.

Part 1 - Baby it's Cold Outside | 64kbps | 256 kbps | mpeg2
Part 2 - The Phantom Victory | 64kbps | 256 kbps | mpeg2
Part 3 - The Shadows in the Cave | 64kbps | 256 kbps | mpeg2

An NTSC DVD ISO is available to make burning this to DVD easier.

This movie is part of the collection: Feature Films

Producer: Adam Curtis
Production Company: BBC
Audio/Visual: sound, color
Keywords: Adam Curtis

Sayyid Qutb (Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ˈsæjjed ˈʔotˤb], Arabic: [ˈsæjjed ˈqotˤb]) (also Said, Syed, Seyyid, Sayid, or Sayed; Koteb, Qutub, Kotb, or Kutb) (Arabic: سيد قطب‎; October 9, 1906[1] – August 29, 1966) was an Egyptian author, educator, Islamist theorist, poet, and the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and '60s.
Author of 24 books, including novels, literary arts’ critique and works on education, he is best known in the Muslim world for his work on what he believed to be the social and political role of Islam, particularly in his books Social Justice and Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq (Milestones). His magnum opus, Fi Zilal al-Qur'an (In the shade of the Qur'an), is a 30-volume commentary on the Qur'an.
During most of his life, Qutb's inner circle mainly consisted of influential politicians, intellectuals, poets and literary figures, both of his age and of the preceding generation. By the mid-1940s, many of his writings were officially among the curricula of schools, colleges and universities.[2]
Even though most of his observations and criticism were leveled at the Muslim world, Qutb is also known for his intense disapproval of the society and culture of the United States,[3][4] which he saw as obsessed with materialism, violence, and sexual pleasures.[5] Views on Qutb vary widely. He has been described by some as a great artist and martyr for Islam,[6][7] but by many Western observers as one who shaped the ideas of Islamists[8] and particularly of groups such as Al Qaeda.[9][10][11][12] Today, his supporters are identified as Qutbists[13] or "Qutbi" (by their opponents, not by themselves).[14]

Leo Strauss (September 20, 1899 – October 18, 1973) was a German-American political philosopher and classicist who specialized in classical political philosophy. He was born in Germany to Jewish parents and later emigrated to the United States. He spent most of his career as a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he taught several generations of students and published fifteen books.[1]
Originally trained in the Neo-Kantian tradition with Ernst Cassirer and immersed in the work of the phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, Strauss later focused his research on the Greek texts of Plato and Aristotle, retracing their interpretation through medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophy, and encouraged application of their ideas to contemporary political theory.[2]

Irving Kristol (January 22, 1920 – September 18, 2009) was an American columnist, journalist, and writer who was dubbed the "godfather of neoconservatism".[1] As the founder, editor, and contributor to various magazines, he played an influential role in the intellectual and political culture of the last half-century;[2] after his death he was described by The Daily Telegraph as being "perhaps the most consequential public intellectual of the latter half of the 20th century".[3]

The BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares is often quoted by 9/11 researchers, in particular for its analysis of al Qaeda. One of the claims it makes is that there is "no evidence that bin Laden used the term “Al Qaeda” to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th, when he realized that this was the term the Americans have given it". Here's the context to that:

There is "no evidence that bin Laden used the term “Al Qaeda” to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th, when he realized that this was the term the Americans have given it"?
Here’s a comment bin Ladin made from an October 2001 interview:

When was the name first established? Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower points to a document called the "Tareek Osama", "a collection of memos, letters, and notes that were taken from an al Qaeda computer captured in Bosnia and entered into evidence in United States v Enaam Arnout". One of these documents details a meeting on August 11, 1988, "when the name al-Qaeda first surfaces", and includes snippets like the following:

Read the United States v Enaam Arnout evidentiary proffer for more.
Wright is sceptical about parts of the document, and its poor translation, but reports communicating with one of the meeting participants (through an intermediary) and receiving confirmation that it happened, and that a vote was taken at the end of the meeting on the formation of al Qaeda.
"Special forces and CIA legend" Billy Waugh reports first hearing the name al Qaeda in 1992:

Wright tells us that the French mentioned al Qaeda in 1993:

Another early reference to al Qaeda came in this US State Department statement on bin Ladin from August 14th 1996:

This information came from a State Department report summarised in Mideast Mirror:

There’s definitely evidence for widespread use of the name al Qaeda before 9/11, then, including confirmation from bin Laden himself. The Power of Nightmares claim simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

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