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bun-u
28-10-2004, 12:30 PM
Has anyone been watching it? Excellent documentary… he perhaps overstates the power of (Leo Strauss')theory over money in US politics, and there are one or two other holes…but good on Curtis for making it (and use if Eno's 'another green world' to boot!)

sufi
28-10-2004, 10:36 PM
thoroghly enjoyed
did not beleive 1 single word
very interesting nonetheless
excellent sayid qutb footage also

Rambler
29-10-2004, 09:59 AM
How far the conclusions he reaches are actually 'true' isn't really the point though. It does smell like conspiracy-theory, and he's obviously using the facts to tell a particular story with a particular agenda. What makes it so important however is that he makes clear that the other side is a story too - any interpretation of history is - and that it is one that has gone unquestioned for years. That makes the whole exercise valuable; and on the way he makes some excellent points, even if suspicions remain about his complete thesis. I also like the fact that he hasn't fallen into the trap that if one side is bad, then the other must be good. I sense that he's very ambivalent about Kissinger, even though he represents the opposite to the neocons.

And it's fantastic TV as well - he's pulled out some amazing footage.

Greg
04-11-2004, 07:10 PM
is there a DVD release of this fantastic series planned? Better, scarier, funnier and more enlightning than Farenheit 9/11.

prehaps i'm being hyperbolic, but this is the best television I have seen all year.

HMGovt
04-11-2004, 07:57 PM
prehaps i'm being hyperbolic, but this is the best television I have seen all year.

You're not joking. I was impressed by the clear-eyed confidence as the conclusion was elaborated amid footage of Tony Blair. As he visibly spun his own peculiar brand of fearmongering, the lack of connection with reality was hammered home by the narrator.

And the demolition of Tora Bora and the organisation of Al Qaeda was masterly.

Probably available for download at somewhere like uknova

HMGovt

Sphaleotas
04-11-2004, 10:21 PM
is there a DVD release of this fantastic series planned?

Petition BBC Worldwide. Videogram rights to sourced music and archives are far more expensive than broadcast rights, and they would only be willing to pursue a DVD release if there's a demonstrably broad interest.

BBC Worldwide Limited
Woodlands
80 Wood Lane
London W12 0TT
UK

Tel: + 44 (0) 20 8433 2000
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 8749 0538

craner
05-11-2004, 12:08 AM
This programme had great footage, but was just plain wrong.

Totally overestimated the neoconservatives and totally underestimated the global jihadi/Islamist/Arab nationalist network. Well of course it's not simply al-Qaeda; yes Burke was right, and misrepresented.

Here's a small example for you to check out in Google or something: the links between Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed in Iraq and the Syrian Ba'athists. And hey, why not Syria and Hezbollah while we're at it. Why not Iran and Hezbollah. Uh, why not Iran and al-Sadr. Um, why not Iran and Saudi Arabia and Syria and Hamas.

Oh yeah, because it's all a hoax devised by Osama bin Laden and Paul Wolfowitz. Sorry, I think I was just fucking forgetting myself there.

Greg
05-11-2004, 06:22 AM
This programme had great footage, but was just plain wrong.

Totally overestimated the neoconservatives and totally underestimated the global jihadi/Islamist/Arab nationalist network. Well of course it's not simply al-Qaeda; yes Burke was right, and misrepresented.

Here's a small example for you to check out in Google or something: the links between Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed in Iraq and the Syrian Ba'athists. And hey, why not Syria and Hezbollah while we're at it. Why not Iran and Hezbollah. Uh, why not Iran and al-Sadr. Um, why not Iran and Saudi Arabia and Syria and Hamas.

Oh yeah, because it's all a hoax devised by Osama bin Laden and Paul Wolfowitz. Sorry, I think I was just fucking forgetting myself there.

I suspected that Curtis's focus was on the myth of al-Qaeda and not Islamist terrorism per se. He made little mention of primarily Arab or middle-Eastern based groups, although did say that most of those trained in Afghanistan left to pursue their own localised struggles and had no interest in attacking America.

I don't think he was disputing a wider reach of radical Islam. What he seemed to be attacking was the extent to which these groups were organised against western civilian populations. As a debunking of the Bin Laden group myth, it was effective.

His weakest agruments were definately those of the power of the neo-cons as an equally organised network (another myth), and his argument that Islamism (is that a word?) had died with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan - that is grossly underestimated.

luka
05-11-2004, 10:16 AM
olivers got a bee in his bonnet about muslims for some reason. i couldn't watch the programme but from what i've heard there wasn't a great deal of conspiracy anything in there just mostly truisms. politicans expolit fear. yes, its true, they really do.

craner
08-11-2004, 10:30 PM
I don't know Greg, it doesn't make sense.

Curtis wasn't disputing the rider reach of Islamic radicalism and yet he was disputing the "myth" of al-Qaida?

But he was using this supposed myth to undermine the very basis of the War on Terror.

Therefore ignoring all links and alliances between various jihadi/Islamist groups and state and private sponsors; in fact his tactic in denying the validity of the war rested on ignoring this extensive, and real, network. (Which doesn't reduce to Islam <em>necessarily</em>, certainly not to all practising Muslims (thank you very much, Luke).)

It was fundametally wrong: as skewed as Moore and Fox.

Greg
09-11-2004, 09:23 PM
I don't know Greg, it doesn't make sense.

Curtis wasn't disputing the rider reach of Islamic radicalism and yet he was disputing the "myth" of al-Qaida?

But he was using this supposed myth to undermine the very basis of the War on Terror.

Therefore ignoring all links and alliances between various jihadi/Islamist groups and state and private sponsors; in fact his tactic in denying the validity of the war rested on ignoring this extensive, and real, network. (Which doesn't reduce to Islam <em>necessarily</em>, certainly not to all practising Muslims (thank you very much, Luke).)

It was fundametally wrong: as skewed as Moore and Fox.

I think it was more of an attack on the way that the powers that be within the west (more specifically the U.K. and U.S.A) have manipulated public opinion using the terror-fear card since September 11. I think Burke made it clear that al-Qaida as a far reaching terror group bent on a consistant and violent struggle against the west simply did not exist.

The systematic reduction of all terror groups into a single element has been a part of the post 9/11 world political/media stage. The complexities of localized terror activities are made null in the rhetoric of the moment - i.e. Chechyan terror is treated as if it comes from the same root as Palestinian terror or terror attacks in post-occupation Iraq.

As for state-terror links, I don't think this was really the point of the film (although he did seem to rubbish the Saddam - "al-Qaida" link. Fair enough, there has been little conclusive evidence of a strong association).

I believe the film had a tighter focus prehaps than you are suggesting. He had to make some simplification in the background perhaps, and a little too much on the role of neo-conservatism (especially ignoring the fact that the neocon movement had little effect on British policy), but I still argue that this was a robust series. Not without its flaws mind you.

craner
10-11-2004, 09:34 AM
Actually, I think the tight focus was necessary to sustain, or even <em>make</em>, his argument, which is why i think it was more than just flawed.

Jules Bonnot
22-11-2004, 07:32 PM
Therefore ignoring all links and alliances between various jihadi/Islamist groups and state and private sponsors; in fact his tactic in denying the validity of the war rested on ignoring this extensive, and real, network.

He doesnt ignore this, he demonstrates that it is nonsense. There is no doubt that there is a great edal of share ideology amongt extremeist islamists. But the concept of a network requires channals of cash equipment and detailed information. This is clearly not going on (or at least not yet) not least because many of the groups have very localised goals. The terror threat is total nonsense here in britain we had real terrorism from the IRA in a decade of sustained bombing ni civilian areas. No great fuss was made of this then (should we haved invaded Ireland or more analogously scotland) because it was not politically advantageous to do so. The key point that this series made was that Bush is totally dependednt on the perceived threat for his power. Ironically the islamist fundamentalist are all dependent on Bush for their power. Osama Bin Laden must have celebrated during the invasion or Iraq and then again on the reelection of Bush. With Bin Laden and Bush mutually backing up each others fantasys i suspect tighter networks will emerge on both sides. But until then we should be highly skeptical about these networks if anything to slow down or prevent their formation.

craner
22-11-2004, 09:41 PM
Yeah, look I think the Bush Administration and bin Laden do have some kind of weird symbiotic relationship, as it happens. I don't deny this part of the thesis.

I think he's wrong to reduce to War on Terror <em>just to this</em> however.

The war, which I think is more accurately and usefully termed World War IV, is a vast transnational and proxy set of alliances and backchannels that underpin an extensive conflict between Western Democracy and what Ian Buruma and Avishi Margalit call Occidentalism.

It's a war based on <em>de facto</em> coalitions <em>and</em> schisms, most of which were ignored in the program. The idea that the whole thing reduces to Bush and Wolfowitz and bin Laden and Zawahiri is just absurd, and dangerous.

I explain this fully <a href="http://worldwarfour.blogspot.com/2004_10_01_worldwarfour_archive.html#1098987958888 17862">here</a>.

If you have a considered and detailed response to what I wrote, I'd be really interested to read it.

craner
22-11-2004, 09:46 PM
Your comparison to Ireland is just pernicious, by the way.

If, however, you think this comparison somehow contradicts the transnational, cynical, promiscuous nature of terrorism I'd remind you of IRA links to organised crime and the IRA dudes arrested in Columbia a few years ago giving training tips to FARC geurillas.

Melmoth
23-11-2004, 11:45 AM
If, however, you think this comparison somehow contradicts the transnational, cynical, promiscuous nature of terrorism I'd remind you of IRA links to organised crime and the IRA dudes arrested in Columbia a few years ago giving training tips to FARC geurillas.

Also Gadaffi supplying the Provos with semtex and RPGs throughout the eighties.

Grievous Angel
23-11-2004, 11:59 AM
Oliver:
> It was fundametally wrong: as skewed as Moore and Fox.

Tosh.

You'll be telling us we all need to worry about dirty bombs next.

luka
23-11-2004, 01:38 PM
erm, actually, oliver is worried about dirty bombs!
snigger snigger

Jules Bonnot
23-11-2004, 01:46 PM
Yes i am preparing for the terror threat cowering under the stairs with my tined food. The war on terror is self propelling like the war on drugs the enemy is created by the war. In a few years we will have wide spread terrorism if people continue to buy into the fantasy. The illegal occupation of palestine and americans fascism lite are what create terrorism. Incidentally it maybe true that the IRA were in contact with various groups but then no one doubts that that was terrorism. If alquaida are such a delveloped network they seem have trouble getting pro active staff.

craner
23-11-2004, 03:39 PM
The consensus in Dissensus seems to be that America is a fascist superstate, and that a bunch of ex-Ba'athists and Shia Islamists are the world's most eminent freedom fighters. And yet <em>I'm</em> the one with twisted and paranoid thinking.

For what it's worth, I don't live in fear at all.

Jules Bonnot
23-11-2004, 04:26 PM
There is no need for normative lanugage like freedon fighters and terrorists. They are just rival interest groups. Unfortunatly America needs to preclude the possibility of live and let live in order to shore up the current administrations power.

craner
23-11-2004, 04:44 PM
"They are just rival interest groups."

Surely <em>this</em> is the real reduction? And, surely, such obfuscation, denial, disinterest, and distancing, is what led us here in the first place? Have you paid any attention to the 90s? If so, have you learnt nothing?

Your whole position is one of supreme detachment. Rival interest groups are not just rival interest groups to those whose fate they determine.

Jules Bonnot
23-11-2004, 06:03 PM
It is exactly this kind of detachment that is necesscary for a sensible perspective. It is, at least ,certainly the responiblity of our "elected representatives" to adopt this stance. The only way i can understand those who support the current actions of the american goverment, without losing all faith in human sanity, is that they are acting under an emotional cloud. Those who are unable to distance themselves from the emotional aspect of any decision are unlikely to be rational.
Resorting to the claim that those who oppose the "war on terror" are detached amounts to a kind of subjectivist position or failing that religous faith in ones own righteousness. If there was a valid argument for current US policy made from a strictly detached/rational standpoint i would be interested.

craner
24-11-2004, 09:41 AM
Do you mean to imply that it <em>wasn't</em> a moral, humanitarian, cultural and political tragedy that the Taliban were able to win Afghanistan and subject its population to a crude, brutal formulation of Sharia law enforced by public executions, mutilation, and the expulsion of women from civil society? That it was just the actions of anothe "power interest"?

You mean to assert, I take it, that there can be no moral judgement of the Hussein regime, or jihadis who execute civilians and aid workers, or US and IDF soldiers who execute indiscriminate, collective punishment, because, as the agents and minions of rival power interests, they escape moral law?

Is this your sensible perspective?

Maybe you think that alliances or detente pacts between Hussein or the Taliban or Iran would've been more prudent, for the sake of short-term stability, i.e. the balance of power. Maybe you don't, but it's the logical conclusion of your position.

Your notion of detachment in the context of global politics and your relativistic attitude to "rival power interests" (essentially reducing their real character to nothing, an effective blank cheque for state crime) are more akin to Kissinger than Jules Bonnot.

There is a whole tradition of rational argument that frames contemporary US foreign policy and the Bush Doctrine - it's a foreign policy debate that's been developing in Washington over the last fifty years.

"Detached foreign policy" is simply an oxymoron.

johneffay
24-11-2004, 10:09 AM
"Detached foreign policy" is simply an oxymoron.

Absolutely. The question that has to be asked of all foreign policies is who they actually serve and why.

Oliver, why is the comparison with Ireland 'pernicious'?

Jules Bonnot
24-11-2004, 11:09 AM
erm
Detached in the sense of calm and rational, obviously we are all located within interest groups. I am certainly not arguing for some kind of relativism, what american is doing is wrong in absolute terms. The point is that a detached and rational approach is safer i.e in your interests. Wading in there like a demented cowboy alienating and enraging half the planet dont seem too clever to me.
What american is doing is bad for America. I am not asking them to support oppressive states (despite their love for seting them up when it suits them) but rather to mind their own buisness. American foreign policy just keeps fucking everything up at the expense of people all over the world.
Who could seriously maintain that the Iraqis are better off now?
The first thing true "democracy" would vote for in the middle east would be to punish america and second to abolish democracy.
Rumsfeld and his fellow undeads all know this, they are full of shit.
Their are currently 3000 children in texas with no access to health care, one in 3 black men are in some stage of the prison service, elections in the US are known to have been rigged etc etc should we invade america?
No. As Hegel says consciousness cannot be rasied by external forces but must evolve organically within the community. You cannot impose a way of thinking on people they have to develop it themselves. So we should leave the oppressed people all over the world to fight their own battles once their revelutionary/democratic conscioussness has been realised( maybe with some financial and medical help).

craner
25-11-2004, 04:50 PM
Ok, so let's get this straight, everyone's a rival power interest, except the US, because the US is wrong in absolute terms.

Delivering Afghanistan from Sunni fanatics and terrorism, and leading to its first and fairly successful election was <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Striking out a corrupt, venal, murderous tyranny which was going septic and heading towards explosion, with the intention of installing the rudimentary structures of civil law, was <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Applying hard diplomatic pressure on North Korea and Iran in the attempt to prevent them developing and exporting nuclear technology is <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>. (And forcing Musharraf to flush out A. Khan's labs in Pakistan, must've been wrong too, I guess.)

Encouraging reform in Iran and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Encouraging secular politics in the Middle East is <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Preventing nuclear war between Pakistan and India...that was <em>wrong in absolute terms</em> too, was it?

I take it that you don't support any of these actions or policies because you reject utterly anything the US does, whatever that is?

Don't quote Hegel, read some history, you div.

KaBuT
25-11-2004, 07:43 PM
If anyone wants a rather hastily assembled home DVD of the three parts of the Power of Nightmares, drop me a PM,
I'd be happy to help.

Jules Bonnot
25-11-2004, 09:56 PM
Fuck off Craner you delusional death sucker i treat your posts with respect so i would like it returned.
On a serious note i was talking of the invasion of iraq when i spoke of abslute terms.
It is entirly possible that american could inadverty cause some good (not in the iraq case) but that is certainly not the motivation in the examples you give. Anyway it is clear that we are geting nowhere on this but i willl accept your apology at the apocolypse.

gff
26-11-2004, 05:08 AM
haha one demented cowboy to another!

Greg
26-11-2004, 09:42 AM
Ok, so let's get this straight, everyone's a rival power interest, except the US, because the US is wrong in absolute terms.

Delivering Afghanistan from Sunni fanatics and terrorism, and leading to its first and fairly successful election was <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Striking out a corrupt, venal, murderous tyranny which was going septic and heading towards explosion, with the intention of installing the rudimentary structures of civil law, was <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Applying hard diplomatic pressure on North Korea and Iran in the attempt to prevent them developing and exporting nuclear technology is <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>. (And forcing Musharraf to flush out A. Khan's labs in Pakistan, must've been wrong too, I guess.)

Encouraging reform in Iran and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Encouraging secular politics in the Middle East is <em>wrong in absolute terms</em>.

Preventing nuclear war between Pakistan and India...that was <em>wrong in absolute terms</em> too, was it?

I take it that you don't support any of these actions or policies because you reject utterly anything the US does, whatever that is?

Don't quote Hegel, read some history, you div.
At the same time it can be argued that the United States will lean towards actions that protect its own interests (as does any State - entrenched or internationalist) . The examples above only serve to highlight US policy as self interest.

The United States had no intention of routing the Taliban prior to 9/11. It was a public policy exercise. As a result a democracy had to be established both to subdue international criticism and because structurally a democratic state lead by a US sympathiser would provide better protection against terrorist harbours. In practice this remains to be seen, we are still to close to the event. For the most part, Afghanistan is still a lawless mass.

Secondly the United States has no interest in the proliferation of nuclear weapons whatsoever. Fair enough, but as nuclear weapons are still the only effective way of strategically striking against the US you can see why they abhor their spread (conventional warfare has long passed to their advantage).

Also the US fears the ability of these weapons to stalemate unilateral foreign policy. The last thing the US hawks want is a situation akin to the Cold War - where a number of nuclear powers can influence US decision-making. Had Iraq built a nuclear device, there almost certainly would have been no "liberation" for the Iraqi people.

Hence the shift to preemptive warfare. If the United States does invade Iran, it will be to stop the building of a WMD (in Iraq that issue was just a smokescreen. The US knew that Saddam had no nuclear capability at the time of invasion).

craner
26-11-2004, 10:09 PM
Foreign policy <em>is</em> self-interest. It doesn't exist any other way. This goes for invading Iraq purely on oil calculations (which I'm sure nobody still believes was the case) and intervening in Rwanda to uphold and honour the definition of genocide (can nobody see that the Clinton administartion refusing to do anything about Rwanda with the weasle-words "acts of genocide may have occured" was more nefarious and venal than the Bush administration intervening in Afghanistan and Iraq with the pledge to deliver sulf-sustaining democracies on the post-WWII model of Japan and Korea?)

Also, you can't advance this argument without recognising the fundamental shift in Republican foreign policy (the Republicans are, post-Kennedy, America's <em>only</em> foreign policy party) that occured between the Kissinger-Nixon-H.W.Bush-Scowcroft generation and the Cheney-Wolfowitz-W.Bush generation. And that fact that the thing that really affected the neocons, who took effective hold of the Bush Administration only after 9/11, was the late-80s democracy movements and revolutions in Eastern Europe, as well as the personal and political ideas of some of those involved, notably Wolfowitz. (Bosnia was another moment too: they were all calling for intervention to counter Serbain attrocties, and override the arms embargo on Bosnia's muslims, through the Bush and early Clinton administration. There was no oil involved there.)

And since I've mentioned it, that little detail 9/11, which changed the whole dynamic. It's impossible to compare pre-9/11 and post-9/11 US policy on Afghanistan. Post-9/11, W. Bush - and he deserves credit for this - totally flipped the script, on himself as much as anybody else. Which is why Wolfowitz's rhetoric and ideas define the War on Terror: that is supporting democratic reform in tyrannical and totalitarian states is not only in long-term US interest, but also morally right. And that has nothing to do with Evangelical or Crusader zeal, that's to do with post-WWII international human law.

Here's somthing from a very recent <em>Prospect</em> interview with Wolfowitz; he says:

<em>There was a wonderful moment at a conference here in Washington where someone said it's arrogant of us to impose our values on the Arab world, and an Arab got up and said it's arrogant of you to say these are your values because they are universal values.</em>

And by the same token, surely we <em>all</em> abhor the idea of Iran and North Korea obtaining nuclear weapons. Right?

Woebot
17-01-2005, 08:42 AM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4171213.stm

This programme is being re-screened:

Tuesday 23.20 BBC2

Wednesday 23.20 BBC2

Thursday 23.20 BBC2

Woebot
20-01-2005, 12:03 PM
like a twat i recorded newsnight by mistake. has anyone managed to record these?

k-punk
21-01-2005, 02:28 PM
It's impossible to compare pre-9/11 and post-9/11 US policy on Afghanistan.

Yes, but 9/11 signalled a shift in American psychology, not a shift in the geopolitical situation (except that wrought by the US going into rabid resentment mode). Americans had to confront terrorism on their own soil from agents of a foreign power. Gee whizz. It's not that big a deal, the whole of the rest of the world has faced it forever. WoT is the pathetic flailing of a superpower so obesely complacent and self-satisfied that it can't imagine losing, outraged at the realisation that it has. It is not the beginning of a thousand year war, as the neocons no doubt hope, but the beginning of the end of Amerikan hegemony.

Countdown to the subsumption into China.



Here's somthing from a very recent <em>Prospect</em> interview with Wolfowitz; he says:

<em>There was a wonderful moment at a conference here in Washington where someone said it's arrogant of us to impose our values on the Arab world, and an Arab got up and said it's arrogant of you to say these are your values because they are universal values.</em>

What are these 'universal' values? I agree that there are such values, but they are not those of capitalist parliamentarianism or bourgeois utilitarianism (i.e. neo-con values).


And by the same token, surely we <em>all</em> abhor the idea of Iran and North Korea obtaining nuclear weapons. Right?

But that would be straightforward racism, wouldn't it? Since the only nation to have USED nuclear weapons is, wait, let me see, oh, yes, the US.... But it's OK when 'we' level cities because WE are good people. We're good, of course, not because of what we do, but because of who we are, where we were born and what class we belong to. WE are safe, reliable. Not like those oriental savages, with their beliefs in collective rights and the like...

btw, hadn't seen the Power of Nightmares actually till this week. What I found most interesting was the account of Leo Strauss's ideas, which I'd never really been exposed to previously in any depth.

Strauss - at least according to Curtis - seemed to have taken his political theory directly from Ivan Karamazov's Grand Inquisitor. The masses are venal, herd animals that need to be forcefed edifying fictions (such as nationhood, progress etc) in order to give a focus to their lives. The elite need not share these values, they need only encourage their propagation amongst the duped populace.

All of which suggests that the main difference between neo-con Straussians like Wolfowitz and neo-con apologists like Blair and Oliver is that the latter actually BELIEVE in democracy, progress and the superiority of the west, whereas the former only claim to for reasons of expediency. Not sure who is worse, really, the cynics or the innocynics.

craner
21-01-2005, 07:44 PM
"Yes, but..."

No, but the change in US foreign policy will have greater effects than the shift in US "psychology." That change has (had) a direct effect on global politics. 9/11 brought an underground war out into the open. Or, at least, unleashed it in the full glare of media prime time. It wasn't like the USS Cole, or Nairobi, or the first World Trade Centre bombing had happened in isolation, like freak natural occurances or something. But their subsequent relevance was a massive indictment of US drift during the 90s.

All this is in the shadow of the end of the Cold War. So: there's a vast shift. Clunk. Plonk.

It's also a mistake to think that Islamist ire is aimed squarely at Amerikan Hegemony: it's aimed more at the universal values you agree exist.

But I was wondering which ones you agreed exist, actually.

How do you asign values (say, universal humanitarian values) to capitalist parliamentarianism or bourgeois utilitarianism... it'd be interesting to ask the people who drafted Charter 77: both what they thought then, and what they think now.

Is bourgeois the same as Middle Class now? I should know, just to clarify my existence. Is it worse or better than liberalism, or being a liberal? I know hypocrasy used to be a big defining factor in both of these pejorative categories.

The thing about nuclear weapons has got nothing to do with racism. It has to do with 1. being against nuclear weapons, and 2. not wanting crooked dictatorships and the world's largest State sponsor of terrorism getting their hands on such terrifying things.

Obviously I abhor Rumsfeld's 02 Nuclear Posture Review. It's appalling.

+

The documentary was anything but an in-depth account of Leo Strauss's ideas or method: Curtis has simply given you a crude caricature to work with.

Both of you sucumb to the classic mistake of over-emphasising Leo Strauss. Why not Allan Bloom? Why not Albert Wohlstetter? Why not George Schlutz? Why not people involved with policy making in the Reagan Administration? Or the Nixon one?

If it has to be Strauss, then why not Plato, or Machiavelli, or Hobbes, or Locke? Maybe then at least you'd get around to engaging with Strauss. And, perhaps, effectively countering him.

Incidentally, I know that I'm a worse person than Leo Strauss.

scottdisco
21-01-2005, 09:51 PM
Oliver:
>The thing about nuclear weapons has got nothing to do with racism. It has to do with 1. being against nuclear weapons, and 2. not wanting >crooked dictatorships and the world's largest State sponsor of terrorism getting their hands on such terrifying things.

that seems pretty sensible to me.

crooked seems a little harsh on the North Korean govt. though Craner - i prefer 'quirky'.
for instance, i'm sure Pyongyang had the best interests of everyone at heart with their recent memorable declaration on hair styles for men...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4157121.stm
...i've not seen the programme, unfortunately, so can't comment further.

turtles
21-01-2005, 10:03 PM
Hot diggity, I enjoyed reading that post K-punk! I've been trying to tell Oliver something kinda like that for a while now, but you've done a much better job of it.


Anyway, recently reading Safire's editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/21/opinion/21safire.html?oref=login&hp) (NY times, free registration req'd of course) on Bush's inauguration speech really brought this whole neocon thing into focus for me. If you read it with the right lense, it actually sounds very inspiring and positive. I think this pretty much sums it up:


The change in emphasis was addressed to accommodationists who make "peace" and "the peace process" the No. 1 priority of foreign policy. Others of us - formerly known as hardliners, now called Wilsonian idealists - put freedom first, recalling that the U.S. has often had to go to war to gain and preserve it. Bush makes clear that it is human liberty, not peace, that takes precedence, and that it is tyrants who enslave peoples, start wars and provoke revolution. Thus, the spread of freedom is the prerequisite to world peace.
Hey great! Spread freedom and the world will become more peaceful. Sounds good to me.

But of course, there's actually a whole lot more to it. I think you're right Oliver, to wonder what exactly are these universal values that everyone should have. I think one of the big issues is that the "values" that America is pushing on the rest of the world under the guise of Freedom are not necessarily the values that people around the world really want or need. Political freedom, religious freedom--great. Economic freedom? Doesn't really enter into the picture. And actually political freedom is only relative, confined within the bounds of legitimate politics as set by the US.

I think related to this is the issue of who actually gets to decide what these values are. If the US really was imposing these universal values that everyone had already agreed upon and were totally uncontroversial, then I'm sure the iraqi's would be quite happy. But of course these values are in fact quite controversial, and so there is very much a perceived arrogance about the Americans that they have decided what is good for the world, and now intend to implement it, whether the rest of the world likes it or not. This is the crusade aspect of the WoT, which even if the US was imposing the right values, would still cause problems for people.

Again the case of Indonesia is a usefull reference point here, where soon after the US stopped supporting Suharto he was forced to step down due to intense internal pressures against him, and now they've had successful democratic elections. With far far FAR less death and suffering involved (though there's still plenty of problems there--even without the tsunami).

And of course the final, overarching part of all this is whether you actually believe anything these people say. Whether you believe their high-minded rhetoric, or think that there are other ulterior motives afoot (oil, maintaining economic hegemony, racism, religious fanaticism...). Personally my default position is to not trust politicians unless given solid evidence to the contrary. And given the whole administration's performance in the run up to the iraq war, i think i have plenty of reason NOT to trust them. I really think there was a pretty uniform attempt at deception across the entire gov't there.

Jon Stewart last night adding his small print to Bush's claim to bring liberty to the oppressed people of the world: "Offer void in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan..."

Anyway, i think there's really 3 main points of contention for me with this whole neocon game

1. what kind of world do we actually want to be brought about
2. who should bring about this world and how should it be done (or should we really do anything).
3. whether we should believe any of their rhetoric anyhow.


Lastly, a few parting shots:


It's also a mistake to think that Islamist ire is aimed squarely at Amerikan Hegemony: it's aimed more at the universal values you agree exist.
I'm trying not to read it this way, but are you just essentially repeating the argument "they hate freedom?" which is pretty dumb IMHO.

also, i just can't resist posting this little gem from wolfowitz, from this article (http://sg.news.yahoo.com/050120/1/3pz6t.html) :


"I'm more concerned about bringing down our casualties than bringing down our numbers," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in an interview with PBS television's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" program. "And it is worth saying that since June 1, there have been more Iraqi police and military killed in action than Americans."
speaks for itself, i think.

scottdisco
21-01-2005, 10:17 PM
Safire is a complete idiot, it must be said :)

always angers me whenever he slurs the BBC as some anti-Semitic hotbed...

luka
21-01-2005, 11:14 PM
i think mark vs oliver is a fight worth staging. hope mark sticks around and responds becasue oliver's questions need to be answered.

turtles
21-01-2005, 11:22 PM
agreed on both posts above...obviously i was quoting safire to disagree with him. actually i don't know what prompted me to read his piece, but hey, i guess it's good to see what the other side is plotting sometimes.

anyway: round 2 please!

luka
25-01-2005, 11:50 AM
http://www.daanspeak.com/TranscriptPowerOfNightmares1.html

luka
25-01-2005, 12:29 PM
reading that i can't help thinking that people who beleive what they read in books are dangerous.
people who disregard the evidence of their own experience and base their beleifs on what they read=nutters. in fact people who beleive things=nutters. why don't they just leave us alone?

Yuri
20-02-2005, 03:22 AM
The Videos are available here if some have not seen it.

http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=4281

Regarding Strauss
http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle08022003.html

dominic
27-02-2005, 01:52 AM
The documentary was anything but an in-depth account of Leo Strauss's ideas or method: Curtis has simply given you a crude caricature to work with.

Both of you sucumb to the classic mistake of over-emphasising Leo Strauss. Why not Allan Bloom? Why not Albert Wohlstetter? Why not George Schlutz? Why not people involved with policy making in the Reagan Administration? Or the Nixon one?

If it has to be Strauss, then why not Plato, or Machiavelli, or Hobbes, or Locke? Maybe then at least you'd get around to engaging with Strauss. And, perhaps, effectively countering him.

Incidentally, I know that I'm a worse person than Leo Strauss.

some would argue that every thinker is responsible for his epigones. maybe. but i agree with oliver crane that the bbc doc "power of nightmares," which i've read in transcript but have not seen in video, provides only a crude caricature of strauss . . . .

if resort to secondary literature you must, then i'd recommend, w/ some reservations, Anne Norton's "Leo Strauss and The Politics of American Empire" (Yale, 2004).

and if you can track down the essays, Gregory Bruce Smith's "Leo Strauss and the Straussians: An Anti-Democratic Cult?" (PS: Political Science and Politics, June 1997) , and Robert Pippin's "The Modern World of Leo Strauss" (Political Theory, August 1992)

but if you can find the time, i'd suggest reading Strauss himself. whatever his politics or final positions, he is without question intricate, subtle, profound . . . .

for most, i'd suggest beginning with his book "natural right and history."

for people with a particular interest in plato, spinoza, machiavelli, or hobbes, strauss has books on each of these thinkers . . . .

also, strauss' "on tyranny," though it begins as a commentary of xenophon's "hiero," contains in its published form an extensive debate with kojeve concerning the modern state, liberal democrary, the end of history, the last man, etc

and the u. of chicago edition of schmitt's "concept of the political" also contains leo strauss' critique of schmitt's thesis . . . .

but getting back to what the bbc doc says about strauss, i can only reply that strauss is a notoriously difficult thinker to pin-down to any final position (largely because, like Derrida, he presented himself as a scholar-commentator, writing about other texts, not writing in his own name) . . . . if anything, strauss' thought pivots around "eternal" questions, reason vs revelation, ancients versus moderns, the relationship of philosophy to the city, without ever resolving these questions . . . . whether he is for (1) plato (philosophy as man's highest end and the best way of life); (2) nietzsche/machiavelli (philosophy as will to power); (3) heidegger/revelation; (4) some eccentric brand of judaism; or (5) position 2 read into position 1 == i imagine very few people can say with certainty strauss' final position

clearly strauss accepts much of the nietzschean/heideggerian critique of modernity (and liberal democracy), but then so does every other interesting thinker of the past 100 years

as for the political views of strauss' students, it is clear that many of his most prominent students were/are political conservatives. but they're not monolithic in their conservatism. joseph cropsey is not harvey mansfield is not allen bloom is not harry jaffa. and many of his other students, say stanley rosen, are not identified with political commitments. and still others are on the left, albeit not nearly so prominent as his conservative students ------ but really, if you're looking for the story of the movement from Strauss to (1) the so-called Straussians and the Neo-Conservatives now making U.S. policy, as distiingusihed from (2) students of Strauss and of his writings and interpretive techniques. . . . then consult the Anne Norton book, that is, the real story of American neo-conservatism is the APPROPRIATION of Strauss by people like Irving Kristol, the use of his name to give pedigree to a program largely at odds with his thought

also, much of the distrust of Strauss is connected to his theory of esoteric/exoteric writing. certainly his interpretations of past thinkers are disturbing -- in some cases (like Locke, like Xenophon), it does seem that Strauss does serious violence to the text; in other cases (like Machiavelli, like Plato), his approach may well be correct ------- of course to really assess Strauss' readings of philosophic texts, you have to study the texts closely in conjunction with Strauss' commentary -- that is, this is the very same procedure that you have to use in assessing Derrida's readings . . . . AND OF COURSE, most people are not going to make the investment in time and effort (myself included, sadly) -- for most readers, the experience of strauss' profound cunning and insight is reason enough to read him (but won't entitle you to defend or attack his interpretations of this or that past thinker)

and last, i should add that Strauss exerts through his writings a strange charisma (the intoxicating effect of his intellectual cunning), and that charismatic men attract all kinds of followers, some first class, some mediocre, others power-hungry and ambitious

and one last point -- nothing could be further from Strauss that the neo-conservative enterprise to "ennoble" America by fighting "evil" in Iraq (as "Power of Nightmares" presents the matter) -- Only when fought b/w relative equals is war ennobling. And even if so fought, in the age of technology everything about war is so altered that perhaps even wwii was not, in the end, noble or ennobling -- So Strauss would have criticized the invasion of Iraq both on prudential grounds and because the war, as experienced by most Americans watching on tv, is the very opposite of ennobling

as for Oliver Craner's wider views on the global situation and the war in iraq, i find his arguments worth taking seriously and hope that others here will continue to take his arguments up

as for my own position on the global situation, i'm not sure what to think . . . . but my inclination is to believe that the terrorism threat, especially here in America, has been way over hyped -- so if anything, i'm sympathetic to the argument of "Power of Nightmares," except for the scapegoating of Leo Strauss

luka
10-03-2005, 06:56 PM
jesus christ craner, how long is this response going to be, you've been writing it for half an hour!

craner
10-03-2005, 07:00 PM
Hey. Phew. Yowza.

I only just caught this, Dominic, and I'm impressed! (I bet that makes your day!) How come you know so much about Strauss eh eh?

Tackling a couple of Strauss books last year left me pained but wanting to go right back to the beginning. So I am. But that's another story.

The Anne Norton book was good for all the (hilarious) gossip (toga parties in Bloom's college boarding house!) but I didn't think it was all that.

Plus, I think your (good) potted summary of Strauss happens to illustrate why the documentary's caricature was a deliberate and almost mendacious misrepresentation.

I think this documentary (when not simply stating the obvious) is full of deliberate distortions. Curtis is easily as cynical as Perle.

The blanket, goggle-eyed acceptance of his pernicious conclusions rather dismays me.

Well, slightly.

craner
10-03-2005, 07:02 PM
I'm at work dealing with public people. Are you fucking spying on me Vandross?

dominic
10-03-2005, 11:26 PM
How come you know so much about Strauss?

(1) i've read several of his books

(2) i don't confuse his account of somebody else's position w/ his own position (e.g., "noble lies")

(3) probably more open to strauss than i o/w would have been as i took courses in college w/ (1) a student of cropsey and (2) a student of rosen

(4) at same time strauss and his milieu "fascinate" me -- (a) emigre intellectuals who moved from east to west, i.e., russia to paris, germany to u.s. -- strauss, arendt, kojeve, koyre, nabakov, frankfurt school, hans jonas -- they all had so much more depth & verve than their anglo-american contemporaries; (b) plus strauss' sustained friendship & correspondence w/ opponents -- kojeve, carl schmitt, gadamer, gershom scholem -- as well as the high regard that first-generation frankfurt school had for strauss -- suggests to me an essential difference b/w the character of strauss & the character of the so-called straussians (and then there's the very strange personal enmity b/w strauss & arendt, whose orientations are so similar -- except that strauss counsels prudence & arendt ecstatic or revolutionary action); (c) plus the weird symmetry b/w strauss & derrida, the way both bring a kind of "talmudic" spirit to heideggerian deconstruction of the tradition

(5) should add that i've had "bad experiences" w/ reading strauss, especially his work on xenophon -- think that he may have gone slightly mad or perhaps lost his intellectual acuity in the 1960s

(6) i probably would have tried to go to grad school for this kind of thing had i not had serious emotional difficulties in my last year of college -- and then closed myself off from philosophy for a few years -- then tried to do the "sensible" thing by going to law school -- and now not at all pleased w/ the options i've given myself


Tackling a couple of Strauss books last year left me pained but wanting to go right back to the beginning. So I am. But that's another story.

i have a similar game plan -- that is, i've read a lot of 1940s & 50s strauss, but want to go back to 30s:

(1) read spinoza, i.e., the ethics & perhaps political-theological treatise -- then read strauss & deleuze on spinoza -- think deleuze's spinoza book may be a good entry point into his thought -- that is, i find "thousand plateaus" intermittently brilliant but for the most part impossible to follow -- have gotten the impression that deleuze is much clearer writer in his studies of other thinkers

(2) then read strauss' hobbes book -- probably against nobbio's book on hobbes (UNLESS somebody here has a better suggestion?)

ALSO you may want to investigate Cropsey's book on Plato -- which i intend to do a piece on someday in my rather pathetic & neglected blog

BUT SADLY, my ambitions for reading far surpass the reading that i actually accomplish, i.e., i need to get some order in my life, some kind of daily routine, such that i devote the same set hours every day to reading

craner
11-03-2005, 09:43 AM
That stuff Norton writes about the Heidegger-Arendt-Strauss love triangle is fascinating, isn't it?

I like a bit of gossip.

k-punk
11-03-2005, 03:42 PM
Yes, interesting and informative Dominix...

I'm fascinated with Strauss, too( and btw I didn't think the doc necessarily scapegoated Strauss - his position came over as complex and serious, not at all glib and facile - for that we have Mark Steyn :p ). I've been reading a book on Strauss and Schmitt. I also have one on Strauss and Nietzsche at work. Will report back when I've processed em.

HMGovt
11-03-2005, 05:54 PM
have gotten the impression that deleuze is much clearer writer in his studies of other thinkers

How is he on Bergson? I met someone in Tokyo last year and we got onto the subject of Henri Bergson and it turns out he's taught in schools in Japan, part of the syllabus in fact. Largely ignored in the UK as far as I can ascertain.

I've read De Landa on Deleuze in Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, wherein he discusses ATP, Anti-Oedipus and What is Philosophy, but he doesn't mention Bergsonism.

tryptych
10-07-2005, 03:19 AM
I haven't seen "The Power of Nightmares", but does the recent bombing of London have any implications for what people have argued in this thread, about the lack of terror threat in Britain.

Nick Cohen argues that it does in the Guardian this weekend:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/comment/story/0,16141,1525261,00.html

"All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him.

I'd say the 'power of nightmares' side of that oxymoronic argument is too bloodied to be worth discussing this weekend and it's better to stick with the wider delusion."

henrymiller
11-07-2005, 11:17 AM
cohen is right. i don't agree with everything he says, but the power of nightmares argument that, because it isn't as tightly drilled as SMERSH, al-qaeda doesn't exist, was always dubious. (also bizarre: why latch on to strauss?) quite clearly there is a terrorist threat, and while the doc provided some brilliant insights, its general claims about the politicians' need for power underpinning the new security scenario were plain wrongheaded.

Grievous Angel
11-07-2005, 11:30 AM
There's a threat, and always was, but never the kind or scale of threat posited by, in particular, American politicians. Refer back to the invented islamist terrorists in the states which the documentary covered so well.

There's a connection between our illegal occupation of Iraq, and our being a target, but we would probably have been a target anyway (being the junior partner to Amerikkka and all that).

The doc didn't say "al quaeda doesn't exist", it said it doesn't exist in the way politicans (continue to) say it exists, as a discrete organisation.

And so on and so forth. The fact that the terrorist threat manifested itself does not mean that politicians do not exaggerate and distort that threat in specific and self-serving ways. Nor does focusing on "the enemy within" actually help to reduce the terrorist threat: ultra-islamist nutters would have got nowhere with recruiting cannon fodder without the gobsmackingly stupid and self-damaging blunders of the west in Palestine, Iraq anbd elsewhere.

henrymiller
11-07-2005, 12:45 PM
i dunno how palestine gets dragged into this, really. i agree about US politicians, but i don't think the british government has overstated the terrorist threat that much, and i never got the impression AQ was as tightly organized as the IRA from them. it is deadly surely *because* it's decentralized and out of control.

Yuri
11-07-2005, 02:44 PM
Here is a rather different take on Qutb.
http://www.redmoonrising.com/Ikhwan/MB.htm

Found it as a reference in this "short story"
http://www.rense.com/general66/blair.htm

Grievous Angel
11-07-2005, 03:21 PM
i dunno how palestine gets dragged into this, really.
Because it's an issue that angers the entire muslim world, rightly, and is the number one reason why they can recruit cannon fodder so easily, especially from nice integrated middle class muslim families who don't look like terrorists.

henrymiller
12-07-2005, 03:11 PM
plenty of people all over hampstead are angered, 'rightly', by palestine too, but there's a fatal lack of clarity in what you're saying: i'm thinking people driven to bomb buses in london by the situation (highly dubious proposition) are likely also to be against the very idea of israel in the first place, which takes us into a different place. but where does the 'rightly' come from? what are you affirming here?