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The Power of Nightmares, Part 2

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The Power of Nightmares, Part II by Adam Curtis "The Phantom Victory"

"Islamic factions, rapidly falling under the more radical influence of Zawahiri and his rich Saudi acolyte Osama bin Laden, join the nNeo-conservative-influenced Reagan Administration to combat the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.... In America, the neo-conservatives' aspirations to use the United States military power for further destruction of evil are thrown off track by the ascent of George H. W. Bush to the presidency, followed by the 1992 election of Bill Clinton leaving them out of power. The neo-conservatives, with their conservative Christian allies, attempt to demonize Clinton throughout his presidency with various real and fabricated stories of corruption and immorality." Kenneth Starr could not find the evidence.

The Phantom Victory
Summary by Pal Simon

While politicians' main role for past societies had been to promise dreams, that role changed to promise, not dreams, but freedom from nightmares, and to rescue us from terrible dangers in the world... this international terrorism network (fantasy of threat created worldwide by politicians), emanating from a Russian goal of conquering the world.

This was to be the role of the Reagan administration. In 1982 Ronald Reagan dedicated the space shuttle Columbia to the cause of the people of Afghanistan, the freedom fighters. The Reagan doctrine, which purportedly came about by a "small group within Reagan administration", was that these freedom fighters would help spread democracy around the world by defeating Russia.

Richard Perle (Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1981 - 1987), saw himself as a revolutionary who was in a struggle to overcome tyranny in the world, especially the tyranny of the Soviet Union, and accordingly he was taking up the theoretical view of the need for uniting the country for a purpose, to fight evil.



Under the new head of CIA, William Casey, was increased support to the mujahideen, with many more weapons and money sent across the Pakistani border into Afghanistan. And CIA sent in agents to train the mujahideen in assassination, terror tactics and even car bombing, and even provided mujahideen with satellite images on Russian troop movement. The order of William Casey was that the goal should be "winning," no matter what the cost. Then came Arabs from all across the Middle East to go help the mujahideen Afghans free themselves from the invading Russia. (See Note 1 on Russian invasion to support the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, against opposing "multinational groups called mujahideen" composed of Peshawar Seven and Tehran Eight. The mujahideen were opposed to this government that was imposing extensive land and social reforms that were bitterly resented by the devoutly Muslim and largely anticommunist population.)

Because of much propaganda about such threats, neoconservatives in countries around the world, particularly other Arabs, became united against Russia. They had come to believe Russia was the real enemy and their leaders told them to join the mujahideen. Many of these Arabs didn't know anything about the various groups fighting in Afghanistan, or even where they were fighting. But they went anyway and received training to help the fight. Among those who joined the Afghan cause in 1985 was the Saudi Islamic Osama bin Laden, at the behest of Abdullah Yusuf Azzam.

Abdullah Yusuf Azzam (see note 2) raised funds (especially from Osama bin Laden), recruited and organized the international Islamic volunteer effort of Afghan Arabs during the 1980s, and emphasized the political ascension of Islam. Azzam was a member the Muslim Brotherhood that also had a stake in having the mujahideen win against Russia. The Muslim Brotherhood organization sought revolution against all tyrannical governments of the Arab world.

But Azzam, a Palestinian, was not as extremely radical as other Islamists, like Ayman Zawahiri, who also became a great influence on Osama bin Laden and competed with Azzam for bin Laden's financial resources. Zawahiri, we recall, was influenced early in life by Qutb, who was executed under Nasser regime in 1966. Zawahiri, associated with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, believed that anyone who turned away from Islam should be killed. They, as part of and including al-Qaeda, were pushing for violent revolution everywhere. For a time Zawahiri was in prison in Egypt with many other radicals because of assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. After his release he went to Peshawar (in Pakistan bordered on Afghanistan) where he met bin Laden. During the efforts to help the mujahideen, many other extreme radicals joined the effort after being released from prisons in other parts of the Arab world.

Zawahiri called himself and his organization "the real Islamic Front, against communism, Zionism and every kind of ism." And anyone rejecting the Quran must be killed, no matter who it was. In Peshawar he and his followers began to organize against American involvement in Afghanistan and to influence other Arabs to become part of his Islamic jihad. While Azzam and moderate Islamists believed change could come about by peaceful political revolutions, Al Zawahiri and his organizations, al-Qaeda, pushed for violent revolution everywhere. Al Zawahiri persuaded bin Laden to abandon Azzam and, instead, to invest in his organization of Islamic Jehadis and become emir of Islamic jihad. Many in this organization turned against Azzam, would not pray behind him. Those who stood by Azzam became angry with Osama bin-Laden. Some felt that Al Zawahiri was using him for their own means because he had the money. This was a rift among the Islamists during the campaign in Afghanistan. Later, end of 1989, Azzam was assassinated by a car bombing in Peshawar.

Moscow 1987 Mikhail Gorbachev announced he would like to pull Russian troops out of Afghanistan for economic reasons, and he asked for peace terms from Americans to resolve issues by some kind of settlement that would make Russians people feel that all the lives lost had not been in vain.

In 1988, the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the United States and Soviet Union serving as guarantors, signed an agreement settling the major differences between them known as the Geneva Accords.The Arab Jehadis bragged that it was because of them that Russia was defeated, but Americans and Afghans reminded people that the war could not have been won without them. But this "myth" that Jehadis won motivated Islamists world-wide to believe this was the best path to revolutions everywhere. Many Arabs joined organizations like al-Qaeda.

In the 90s, organizations that the assassinated Palestinian, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, had been associated with, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, gained great popularity throughout the Arab world. They wanted non-violent change through education and through trying to convince governments that the people needed and wanted an Islamic government. They did not want military violence to overthrow governments. They believed that if the majority of people wanted an Islamist government, the government must comply.

But Egyptian and Algerian governments had major problems with this because Islamic political framework for society would be based upon dogmatic laws of Quran, which "all politicians had to follow." This meant "political parties would be irrelevant because there could be no disagreement. The people might vote in parties that might use their power to end democracy." The problem was that democracy is non-religious and incompatible with the Quran. If an Islamist party won, they might stay in power forever, based on the Quran.

In Algeria the Islamic Salvation Front won many victories in local elections. In June 1991 the army took over in a coup d'etat and cancelled elections because they did not want the Islamic parties in power. Protesting Islamists were arrested. At the same time in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood began to win mass support, but the government clamped down and arrested many of the Brotherhood members. Many members complained that by doing that, by preventing the moderate Islamists from political activity, the door opened for the more radical Islamists to influence the people to become violent.

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Palsimon, formally educated in journalism & law, is an independent progressive activist & writer, focusing on guarding integrity of media & government. (.)


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This article and the other 2 parts of it will, hop... by Pal Palsimon on Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 at 3:17:56 PM
Critiques of The Power of Nightmares (and links to... by Pal Palsimon on Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014 at 4:51:18 PM