On SBS last night…

08 Feb

The following YouTube links give you the complete program as broadcast last night on SBS. Be warned, then, that each one is thirty minutes long. There are two more hours for you over the fold, as I have added the others in the series. The Power of Nightmares (BBC 2004) on Wikipedia tells you more about them. Whether or not one accepts their thesis, they contain much useful history and interpretation. They also feature many of the principals involved exposing themselves in quite embarrassing ways, Donald Rumsfeld not least. I find them far more powerful and more convincing than, say, Fahrenheit 9/11.

The Power of Nightmares: The Phantom Victory (Part 1) Transcript.

The Power of Nightmares: The Phantom Victory (Part 2)

Transcript: VO: In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this. But their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered their people. Those dreams failed. And today, people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life. But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism. A powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world. A threat that needs to be fought by a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It’s a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.

VO: This is a series of films about how and why that fantasy was created, and who it benefits. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neoconservatives, and the radical Islamists. In this week’s episode, the two groups come together to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. And both believe that they defeat the Evil Empire, and so had the power to transform the world.

[ SUBTITLE OVER CROWD SCENE : We will fight for an Islamic State, we will die for it! ]

VO: But both failed in their revolutions. In response, the neoconservatives invent a new fantasy enemy, Bill Clinton, to try and regain their power; while the Islamists descend into a desperate cycle of violence and terror to try and persuade the people to follow them. Out of all this come the seeds of the strange world of fantasy, deception, violence, and fear in which we now live.



A must watch documentary. TAGS: Islam, Islamists, US foreign policy, Afghanistan, terrorism, neoncons, religious right, Christian right, fundamentalism, culture wars.

Also on SBS last night, I almost fell off my chair at Family First Senator Steve Fielding on the late news, passionately advocating the return of Guantanamo prisoner David Hicks to Australia. He has also been in the USA lobbying on the matter and was appalled to find powerful US politicians who didn’t even know there was an Australian in Guantanamo! SBS is the only place I have found that Fielding story.

I guess one moral is Fielding really does take each issue on its merits as he sees them and another moral is our home-grown religious right is not necessarily a clone of the US version, whose history you may find also in those videos above. For more on what peculiar people the US religious right really are, see Through a Glass, Darkly: How the Christian right is reimagining U.S. history and Soldiers of Christ: Inside America’s most powerful megachurch with Pastor Ted Haggard, both from Harper’s and both by Jeff Sharlet. I have almost nothing in common with the movements Sharlet describes, and while I differ markedly from Steve Fielding on many issues, I would hesitate to lump him with the assorted ratbags and worse that Sharlet so accurately presents. Relevant too is Adrian Phoon’s latest post Performing for the Flock.

We now know the simple truth about why Hicks is still in Guantanamo as well: Howard CHOOSES to leave him there. Rather than arguing for or against Hicks here, I refer you to the search on the right under “Guantanamo”. See also Jim Belshaw’s entries on Hicks.


I have just corrected the first of those YouTube links as what was there was the wrong episode… Sorry. I am now putting the rest of the series over the break.

And later

Jim Belshaw has written today about Hicks, Blogs and Our View of the Past. It is a lovely, wide-ranging post. Do read it. I hope Jim won’t mind if I quote a snippet from the Hicks section.

With David Hicks we have seen the long, slow, sweep of changing public opinion, a sweep that has now built into a wave. To a degree, the truth or otherwise of the allegations made about him no longer matters, what now matters is the building consensus that he has been badly treated, that we have failed him as a country, that none of us would want to be treated in the same way.

Last night I watched the face on my eldest as the Prime Minister said that the US would have released Hicks at any time had the Government asked.

Then watching Minister Ruddock we appeared to have the position that Hicks is not guilty of any Australian crime, that the Government did not act because they wanted him tried under US law where a crime had, apparently, been committed. Crudely, since Hicks has not broken our law we wanted him tried elsewhere.

Unlike younger Clare, Helen has tended to favour the Liberal party. As I watched her face and listened to her gut reaction to the PM and Minister Ruddock, I could see what I suspect is the final switch in her position as she tracks into her first Commonwealth vote later in the year…

I too hardly believed what I was hearing from the PM and Ruddock last night.

Much later!

Can you believe Rear Admiral Harry Harris, Guantanamo head?

“We are detaining enemy combatants here in Guantanamo,” he said.

“That’s the right of any nation at war to do that and it’s an internationally recognised right.

“There’s no expectation that they be tried or charged, with exception of those that are alleged to have committed war crimes.”

Lawyer David McLeod says the Rear Admiral’s comments make it clear Hicks will not receive a fair trial in the United States.

“This suggestion that because detainees are there, that that is in itself evidence of terrorism, or their being a terrorist, simply puts the lie to any attempt to deal with them in a fair and open manner,” he said.

“To suggest that a prisoner in the Australian criminal courts is guilty would in itself amount to a mistrial or an inability to proceed appropriately and fairly before a court.”

Why have a trial at all? Why not just shoot them? After all, if they are there because they are guilty and guilty because they are there, stuff niceties about petty things like law and fair trial… They just get in the way, you know.


…No blasphemy intended, but I have just been watching Kevin Andrews on Lateline revealing not only a contemptible attitude towards Kevin Rudd but an ignorance of the kind of concerned Christianity Sojourners represents in the US and what I regard as the more enlightened among the Catholics also represent. Apparently if your Christianity doesn’t endorse rampant mammon worship or subscribe to the Liberal Party it can’t possibly be Christianity. The word JERK! did come to mind, along with others like “smarmy” and “Uriah Heep” (cloying humility, obsequiousness, and general insincerity) and even “wanker”, but that may just be me being nasty, or am I being too kind?

I feel very sorry for anyone having dealings with whatever they are calling the Immigration Department this week.

The Power of Nightmares: The Shadows in the Cave (Part 1) Transcript.

The Power of Nightmares: The Shadows in the Cave (Part 2)

The Power of Nightmares: Baby It’s Cold Outside (Part 1)

The Power of Nightmares: Baby It’s Cold Outside (Part 2)

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3 responses to “On SBS last night…

  1. Jim Belshaw

    February 8, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Thank you for the compliment on my latest post, Neil. Like Helen, I could not believe what the PM said.

  2. Lexcen

    February 8, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for posting these. I have watched the first and second and will watch the other two eventually. My first point is that “fantasy fear” is otherwise known as paranoia. Dismissing the threat of terrorism as paranoia is a bit too much to swallow.

    Second, the dirty bomb is referred to as insignificant. This is a quote of the expected damage of a dirty bomb that the documentary considers insignificant: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has estimated that such an attack could cause more than 2000 immediate and long term deaths and billions of dollars in property damage if a cask of spent fuel rods were dispersed in Manhattan at midday.” Reading this, I wouldn’t dismiss the dirty bomb as insignificant.

  3. ninglun

    February 8, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    I would agree with the last point you make, Lexcen. There are some flaws in these documentaries pointed out in the Wikipedia article I preface them with, but it is fair to say they question very persuasively much that we have been told and clarify much of the history behind current threats. Sadly, we can’t rely on the powers that be here or in the US to tell us the truth, and the whole Iraq business has brought that home most powerfully. In that light these documentaries are useful alternative views.

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