BBC: Straussianism, Qutb, Neo-Conservatism, and Islamic Terrorism

Monday, Oct 05, 2009

Narrator: Just as in America, there is no evidence yet of the terrifying and sinister network lurking under the surface of our society which both government and the media continually tell us is there.

Narrator: So there was no network?

Bill Durodie, Director International Centre for Security Analysis, Kings College: No.

Narrator: No?

Bill Durodie: Probably not.

Narrator: We invented it?

Bill Durodie: Invention's too strong a term. I think we projected it. We projected our own worst fears and that what we see is a fantasy that's been created ... I'm not saying that an atrocity might not happen on the British mainland. What I am saying is that we have an exaggerated view of the possibility of terrorism that is quite disabling. And we only need to look at the evidence to understand that the figures simply don't bear out the way we have responded as a society.

Narrator: What the British and American governments have done is both distort and exaggerate the real nature of the threat. There are dangerous and fanatical groups around the world who have been inspired by the extreme Islamist theories. And they are prepared to use the techniques of mass terror on civilians. The bombings in Madrid show this only too clearly. But this is not a new phenomenon. What is new is the way the American and other governments have transformed this complex and disparate threat into a simplistic fantasy of an organized web of uniquely powerful terrorists who may strike anywhere, at any moment. But no one questions this fantasy, because increasingly it was serving the interests of so many people. For the press, television, and hundreds of terror experts, the fact that it seems so like fiction made it irresistable to their audiences. And the Islamists too began to realize that by feeding this media fantasy, they could become a powerful organization again, if only in people's imaginations.

British Broadcasting Corporation, Part III, 39:30, http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=power+of+nightmares.

This story began over 30 years ago as a dream that politics could create a better world began to fall apart. Out of that collapse came two groups: the Islamists and the Neo-Conservatives. Looking back, we can now see that these groups were the last politics ideas, who in an age of growing dissolution tried to reassert the inspirational power of political visions that would give meaning to people's lives. But both have failed in their attempts to transform the world. Instead, together they have created today's strange fantasy of fear which politicians have seized on. Because in an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power.

Ibid, 55:35.