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The Power of Nightmares, Part 2

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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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In fact, Osama bin Laden and al Zawahiri increased their efforts to foment uncompromising Islamic jihad against the governments of Egypt and Algeria and around the world. According to historian Gilles Kepel, they believed they could duplicate the Afghan victory and by capturing the hearts and minds of the masses of this, "they were convinced that strength and victory were on the side of the Jehadis."

In 1991 Washington was bent on the goal of destroying tyrannical governments all over the world and to promote Democracy. Conservative theorist Michael Ladeen states the case: "We want free countries.... down with tyranny.... we think the world is better off with free countries that have to appeal to their own people for the sources of their power, and we think if the whole world were like that then we would be more secure... I think this is America's destiny because we always come under attack from tyrants."

And one of the most tyrannical governments in their view was that of Saddam Hussain of Iraq. In the 1980s he had been a close ally of America, but in 1990 he had invaded Kuwait. The Bush Senior administration had successfully helped liberate Kuwait and pushed back against Iraq, but others in the administration, including Wolfowitz in the Department of Defense, wanted to push on to Bagdad and overthrow Saddam. According to Professor Stephen Holmes, Wolfowitz and others believed the battle against Saddam and "other petty tyrants" was important to keep up the idea of preserving the uniting idea of good against evil, after the battle against the Soviet Union had been won. But President Bush ordered all fighting to cease once Kuwait was relieved.

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Adam Curtis said that like Kissinger, George Bush saw questions of good and evil as irrelevant. Their main goal was to achieve stability in the Middle East. In 1996 the National Security Adviser to President Bush, Brent Scowcroft, said that Saddam Hussein was not a threat to the world, even if he was a nuisance. He said that if they had attempted to overthrow Saddam, they would have turned a "great success into defeat".... and we would be in Iraq a long time and probably not win. This angered the neoconservatives and they saw this as the corruption of liberal policies they hated, "moral relativism that was prepared to compromise with the forces of evil in the world." Curtis says the neoconservatives turned again to the theories of Leo Strauss, the belief that politicians need to reassert absolute moral values, and uncompromisingly defeat liberal relativism. The neoconservative William Kristol, Chief of Staff to Vice President from 1998 to 1992, said that Strauss considered even though liberalism could in some ways be defended, it should not be defended because it was a "dead end" and it does not produce higher values, show us how to live, how to produce noble human lives, therefore, politicians do not have to accept moral relativism of liberals.

So neoconservatives began to appeal to leaders of the "Culture Wars" - many religious leaders against liberal ideas - even though they believed, as did Strauss, that religion was only a myth, but a necessary myth to give meaning and purpose to society. Journalist Michael Lind says "religion is what Plato called a noble lie told to the majority of society by the philosophical elite in order to insure social order." Michael Lind goes on to argue that the neocons have a covert political and philosophical vision that the majority will not understand, so they promote themselves to the masses through religious ideas of good vs evil that they do understand. He attempts in some way to compare Straussian philosophy with that of Marx and Lenin?

Republicans promoting themselves as being against abortion, multiculturalism and gay rights gained support of the religious right. They campaigned to make "liberal" a bad word. Thus the religious right gained control of the Republican Party machine. And at the Republican Convention in 1992 the traditional conservatives promoting the values of individual freedom were "booed off the stage." This conflict within the party was the reason so many main stream Americans, frightened by the ultra-conservative agenda, Americans turned to Bill Clinton.

In response to this annoyance with Clinton support, neoconservatives set an agenda to transform Bill Clinton into an image of evil so American voters would realize the truth of the corruption of America.

At the same time in early 90s, violent Jehadis were revolting in Egypt and Algeria and other Arab countries, violent organizations that were responding to the appeal of bin-Laden and al Zawahiri. Violence was everywhere in Egypt and Algeria and other Arab countries. A former general who had fought alongside Americans in Afghanistan returned to Algeria. He was Abdullah Anas, a member of the Political Council of the Islamic Salvation Front in 1993, and he stated in this video that people were being killed because if they voted for politicians or did not rise up against them, or were politically passive, they were no longer considered true Islamists. They killed anyone who was not Islamist. Thousands of civilians were killed in Algeria. And this was even encouraged by some of the Algerian governments so that they could turn to the West and show how they were facing terrorists... "using fear to stay in power."

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By mid 1990s the dominating issue in the United States was the moral character of Bill Clinton. Many of these stories orchestrated by neoconservatives were untrue, i.e. that Bill and Hillary were involved in Whitewater (corrupt property deal); that they murdered their friend, Vince Foster; and that Clinton was involved in drug smuggling from a small airstrip in Arkansas; as well as stories of sexual harassment. David Brock of the American Spectator was the journalist that was doing investigations and accusing the Clintons. Brock later admitted that there was no criminal wrong-doing in Whitewater, and that Vince Foster was not murdered, but killed himself; and that the Clintons absolutely did not smuggle drugs. In an interview he admitted that those who were reporting those stories did not care whether they were true or not; they just appreciated the devastating effect the stories were having. He admitted that he had been an agent of "political terrorism."

But the right-wing Federalist Society investigator, Kenneth Starr, continued pressing an investigation to try to find evidence that the stories were true. Judge Robert Bork, a senior member of the right-wing Federalist Society, claimed Clinton was a sociopath who had no true feelings for the people he charmed, but only sought his own gratification.... that we had a dysfunctional man as president of the U.S. As hard as they tried, they could find no evidence of any of these accusations, not even of sexual harassment... until finally they learned of his affair with Monica Lewinsky. And as to that, Clinton lied. This satisfied the neoconservatives to show that Clinton was not fit to be President of the country and should be impeached. But the impeachment failed to unseat him and showed that voters did not really care about these moral issues. Joe Conason, who wrote The Hunting of the President, said that in the leadership of the administration "there was an element of corruption, the willingness to do anything to achieve the goal of bringing Clinton down, and those that were trying to prove Clinton was immoral were behaving immorally themselves."

By 1997, the extreme Islamist Revolution was losing the support of a majority of their people who were fed up with the killings, and yet some of the violent groups continued. But many radical Islamists began to disagree among themselves and began killing each other. One chicken farmer, Mr. Zouabri (see note 3 below), led the GIA (Armed Islamic Group), the main Islamist group in Algeria, and he killed almost anybody, claiming that those who followed him were the only true Islamists and all the rest must be killed.... in fact, all society except themselves should be killed.

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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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