[Mb-civic] Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power
ean at sbcglobal.net
ean at sbcglobal.net
Thu Dec 9 09:57:45 PST 2004
Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power
by Thom Hartmann
What if there really was no need for much - or even most - of the
Cold War? What if, in fact, the Cold War had been kept alive for two
decades based on phony WMD threats?
What if, similarly, the War On Terror was largely a scam, and the
administration was hyping it to seem larger-than-life? What if our
"enemy" represented a real but relatively small threat posed by
rogue and criminal groups well outside the mainstream of Islam?
What if that hype was done largely to enhance the power,
electability, and stature of George W. Bush and Tony Blair?
And what if the world was to discover the most shocking dimensions
of these twin deceits - that the same men promulgated them in the
1970s and today?
The myth-shattering event took place in England the first three
weeks of October, when the BBC aired a three-hour documentary
written and produced by Adam Curtis, titled "The Power of
Nightmares." If the emails and phone calls many of us in the US
received from friends in the UK - and debate in the pages of
publications like The Guardian are any indicator, this was a seismic
event, one that may have even provoked a hasty meeting between
Blair and Bush a few weeks later.
According to this carefully researched and well-vetted BBC
documentary, Richard Nixon, following in the steps of his mentor
and former boss Dwight D. Eisenhower, believed it was possible to
end the Cold War and eliminate fear from the national psyche. The
nation need no longer be afraid of communism or the Soviet Union.
Nixon worked out a truce with the Soviets, meeting their demands
for safety as well as the US needs for security, and then announced
to Americans that they need no longer be afraid.
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.
"The Soviet Union has been busy," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld
explained to America in 1976. "They've been busy in terms of their
level of effort; they've been busy in terms of the actual weapons
they 've been producing; they've been busy in terms of expanding
production rates; they've been busy in terms of expanding their
institutional capability to produce additional weapons at additional
rates; they've been busy in terms of expanding their capability to
increasingly improve the sophistication of those weapons. Year after
year after year, they've been demonstrating that they have
steadiness of purpose. They're purposeful about what they're
The CIA strongly disagreed, calling Rumsfeld's position a "complete
fiction" and pointing out that the Soviet Union was disintegrating
from within, could barely afford to feed their own people, and would
collapse within a decade or two if simply left alone.
But Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted Americans to believe there was
something nefarious going on, something we should be very afraid
of. To this end, they convinced President Ford to appoint a
commission including their old friend Paul Wolfowitz to prove that
the Soviets were up to no good.
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
The BBC's documentarians asked Dr. Anne Cahn of the U.S. Arms
Control and Disarmament Agency during that time, her thoughts on
Rumsfeld's, Cheney's, and Wolfowitz's 1976 story of the secret
Soviet WMDs. Here's a clip from a transcript of that BBC
" Dr ANNE CAHN, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency,
1977-80: They couldn't say that the Soviets had acoustic
means of picking up American submarines, because they
couldn't find it. So they said, well maybe they have a non-
acoustic means of making our submarine fleet vulnerable.
But there was no evidence that they had a non-acoustic
system. They're saying, 'we can't find evidence that they're
doing it the way that everyone thinks they're doing it, so they
must be doing it a different way. We don't know what that
different way is, but they must be doing it.'
"INTERVIEWER (off-camera): Even though there was no evidence.
"CAHN: Even though there was no evidence.
"INTERVIEWER: So they're saying there, that the fact that the
weapon doesn't exist.
"CAHN: Doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just means that we
haven't found it."
The moderator of the BBC documentary then notes:
" What Team B accused the CIA of missing was a hidden
and sinister reality in the Soviet Union. Not only were there
many secret weapons the CIA hadn't found, but they were
wrong about many of those they could observe, such as the
Soviet air defenses. The CIA were convinced that these were
in a state of collapse, reflecting the growing economic chaos
in the Soviet Union. Team B said that this was actually a
cunning deception by the Soviet régime. The air-defense
system worked perfectly. But the only evidence they
produced to prove this was the official Soviet training manual,
which proudly asserted that their air-defense system was
fully integrated and functioned flawlessly. The CIA accused
Team B of moving into a fantasy world."
Nonetheless, as Melvin Goodman, head of the CIA's Office of
Soviet Affairs, 1976-87, noted in the BBC documentary,
" Rumsfeld won that very intense, intense political battle that
was waged in Washington in 1975 and 1976. Now, as part of
that battle, Rumsfeld and others, people such as Paul
Wolfowitz, wanted to get into the CIA. And their mission was
to create a much more severe view of the Soviet Union,
Soviet intentions, Soviet views about fighting and winning a
Although Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld's assertions of powerful new
Soviet WMDs were unproven - they said the lack of proof proved
that undetectable weapons existed - they nonetheless used their
charges to push for dramatic escalations in military spending to
selected defense contractors, a process that continued through the
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
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
As arms-control expert Cahn noted in the documentary of those
1970s claims by Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Rumsfeld:
"I would say that all of it was fantasy. I mean, they looked at
radars out in Krasnoyarsk and said, 'This is a laser beam
weapon,' when in fact it was nothing of the sort. ... And if you
go through most of Team B's specific allegations about
weapons systems, and you just examine them one by one,
they were all wrong."
"INTERVIEWER: All of them?
"CAHN: All of them.
"INTERVIEWER: Nothing true?
"CAHN: I don't believe anything in [Wolfowitz's 1977] Team B was
But the neocons said it was true, and organized a group - The
Committee on the Present Danger - to promote their worldview. The
Committee produced documentaries, publications, and provided
guests for national talk shows and news reports. They worked hard
to whip up fear and encourage increases in defense spending,
particularly for sophisticated weapons systems offered by the
defense contractors for whom neocons would later become
And they succeeded in recreating an atmosphere of fear in the
United States, and making themselves and their defense contractor
friends richer than most of the kingdoms of the world.
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.
Curtis' documentary suggests that the War On Terror is just as
much a fiction as were the super-WMDs this same group of
neocons said the Soviets had in the 70s. He suggests we've done
more to create terror than to fight it. That the risk was really quite
minimal (at least until we invaded Iraq), and the terrorists are - like
most terrorist groups - simply people on the fringes, rather easily
dispatched by their own people. He even points out that Al Qaeda
itself was a brand we invented, later adopted by bin Laden because
we'd put so many millions into creating worldwide name recognition
Watching "The Terror of Nightmares" is like taking the Red Pill in
the movie The Matrix.
It's the story of idealism gone wrong, of ideologies promoted in the
US by Leo Strauss and his followers (principally Wolfowitz, Feith,
and Pearle), and in the Muslim world by bin Laden's mentor, Ayman
Zawahiri. Both sought to create a utopian world through world
domination; both believe that the ends justify the means; both are
convinced that "the people" must be frightened into embracing
religion and nationalism for the greater good of morality and a stable
state. Each needs the other in order to hold power.
Whatever your plans are for tonight or tomorrow, clip three hours
out of them and take the Red Pill. Get a pair of headphones (the
audio is faint), plug them into your computer, and visit an unofficial
archive of the Curtis' BBC documentary at the Information Clearing
House website. (The first hour of the program, in a more viewable
format, is also available here.)
For those who prefer to read things online, an unofficial but
complete transcript is on this Belgian site.
But be forewarned: You'll never see political reality - and certainly
never hear the words of the Bush or Blair administrations - the same
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project
Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally
syndicated daily progressive talk show. www.thomhartmann.com
His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight,"
"Unequal Protection," "We The People," The Edison Gene, and
"What Would Jefferson Do?."
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Action is the antidote to despair. ----Joan Baez
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