The Power of Nightmares — Background


Here is a brief transcript I made of a section in the first of the monumental tour de force by Adam Curtis, The Power of Nightmares (BBC, now on Google videos), "Baby, It's Cold Outside".  This section starts at 23:14 (min/sec).


(Narrator): But to do this, the Neoconservatives would have to defeat one of the most powerful men in the world.  Henry Kissinger was the Secretary of State under President Nixon.  And he didn't believe in a world of good and evil.  What drove Kissinger was a ruthless pragmatic vision of power in the world.  With America's growing political and social chaos, Kissinger wanted the country to give up its ideological battles.  Instead, it should come to terms with countries like the Soviet Union, to create a new kind of global interdependence — a world in which America would be safe.


(Henry Kissinger, interviewed in 1975):  "I believe that, with all the dislocations we now experience, there also exists an extraordinary opportunity to form for the first time in history a truly global society carried up by the principle of interdependence.  And if we act wisely, and with vision, I think we can look back to all this turmoil, as the birth pangs of a more creative and better system.


(Narrator):  Kissinger had begun this process in 1972, when he persuaded the Soviet Union to sign a treaty with America, limiting nuclear arms.  It was the start of what was called détente.  And President Nixon returned to America to announce that the "Age of Fear" was over.



(Nixon):  "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 leve of fear by reducing the causes of fear, for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world."


(Narrator): "But a world without fear was not what the Neo-Conservatives needed to pursue their project.  They now set out to destroy Henry Kissinger's vision [ie., of détente].  What gave them their opportunity was the growing collapse of American political power, both at home and abroad.  The defeat in Vietnam and the resignation of Nixon over Watergate led to a crisis of confidence in America's political class.  And the Neo-Conservatives seized their moment.  They allied themselves with two right-wingers in the new administration of Gerald Ford.  One was Donald Rumsfeld, the new Secretary of Defense.  The other was Dick Cheney, the president's Chief of Staff.


"Rumsfeld began to make speeches, alleging that the Soviets were ignoring Kissinger's treaties, and secretly building up their weapons, with the intention of attacking America."


(Rumsfeld to press conference): "The Soviet Union has been busy.  They've been busy in terms of their 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 ability to in- — increasingly improve the sophistication of those weapons. 


"[bold smirk] Year after year after year they've been demonstrating that they have steadiness of purpose, that they're purposeful about what they're doing.  Now, your question is, 'What — what ought one to be doing about that?'"


(Narrator — spacey music, footage of satellites drifting lazily over a Google-earth-style picture of a coastline at night, with wharves):  "The CIA and other agencies who watched the Soviet Union continuously for any sign of threat, said that this was a complete fiction.  There was no truth to Rumsfeld's allegations.  But Rumsfeld used his influence to persuade President Ford to set up an independent inquiry.  He said it would prove that there was a hidden threat to America.  And the inquiry would be run by a group of Neo-Conservatives, one of whom was Paul Wolfowitz.  The aim was to change the way America saw the Soviet Union."


(Melvin Goodman — Head of Office of Soviet Affairs, CIA, 1976-87): "Rumsfeld won that very intense and <i>tense</i> political battle that was waged in 1975 and 1976.  Now as part of that battle, Rumsfeld and others, such as Paul Wolfowitz, wanted to get into the CIA.  And the mission was, to create a much more severe view of the Soviet Union, Soviet intentions,  Soviet views about fighting and winning a nuclear war."


(Narrator):  "The Neo-Conservatives chose a well-known critic and historian of the Soviet Union, called Richard Pipes.  Pipes was convinced that whatever the Soviets said publicly, secretly they still intended to attack and conquer America.  This was their hidden mindset.  The inquiry was called 'Team B', and the other leading member was Paul Wolfowitz."


Please take the opportunity to view this fantastic and rivetting piece of video scholarship.


Suffice to say, Team B was wrong, and the CIA was right:  the USSR was tottering on the brink of collapse.  Notwithstanding, the Reagan administration ultimately spent a TRILLION DOLLARS OF YOUR MONEY, shorting infrastructure, schools, healthcare, and allowing the minimum wage to fall behind inflation (it would be about $17/hr now if it had kept up), all to build up a military-industrial complex with its madman dreams of sole ownership of space, with its never-ending covert wars and dirty tricks, above all its mad belief that a nuclear war will be a net gain for them and theirs.  Then, Reagan takes credit for the fall of the USSR, which we now know would have fallen anyway, probably even without the push given to it by Carter and Brzezinski when they baited the Soviets into Afghanistan, and gave Stinger missiles to the mujaheddin.


Most of this is well covered in this piece called Team B: The Trillion Dollar Experiment, by Dr. Anne Hessing Cahn, who is interviewed in this first of the three videos.  This article was on the web for years, but has since been taken down.  I have written to the rights holders requesting permission to post it — I trust they will not be offended in the meantime, as all the original copyrights are still in place.  I'm still waiting to hear from them.


The obvious comment is, "Isn't that exactly what they did at the Office of Special Plans in Doug Feiths office, dig through the trash at the CIA and come up with entirely fictional WMDs to justify massive expenditures into the military-industrial complex and outrageous loss of life and world political structure?"  Answer:  Um, yup.