Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power
brian.holmes on Sat, 18 Dec 2004 19:51:21 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power

[The allegations here concerning the role of Cheney, Rumsfeld and 
Wolfowitz in concocting the 'second Cold War' that emerged under the 
Reagan administration give you the sickening feeling that comes from 
understanding the success of long- term strategies. As for the composition 
and actions of The Committee on the Present Danger (link below), here is 
the clearly visible process of elite concertation for the purposes of 
population control through military organization of the economy and of 
the media system. The effort of exposure, counter-propaganda and 
ultimately, counter-epistemology required to dissolve this new fabric of 
lies will probably last a decade or more. Fortunately, it is already 
well underway. - BH]

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 a nd 
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 

It happened.

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 
(www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,12780,1327904,00.html), 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 "d=E9tente." 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=97for 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 doing."

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 technology.

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 documentary:

" 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 regime. 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 nuclear 

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 Reagan administration.

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.

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 really 

But the neocons said it was true, and organized a group - The Committee on 
the Present Danger - to promote their worldview (www.fightingterror.org). 
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 lobbyists.

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 for it.

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 
(www.informationclearinghouse.info/video1037.htm). (The third 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: www.silt3.com/ index.php?id=3D573.

But be forewarned: You'll never see political reality - and certainly 
never hear the words of the Bush or Blair administrations - the same 

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net