Attacking the 'face' of 'Satan' at Fallujah, black propaganda and "The Power of Nightmares"

Holy War: Evangelical Marines Prepare to Battle Barbarians:

With US forces massing outside Fallujah, 35 marines swayed to Christian rock music and asked Jesus Christ to protect them in what could be the biggest battle since American troops invaded Iraq last year.

Men with buzzcuts and clad in their camouflage waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles beside them, and chanted heavy metal-flavoured lyrics in praise of Christ late on Friday in a yellow-brick chapel.


"You are the sovereign. You're name is holy. You are the pure spotless lamb," a female voice cried out on the loudspeakers as the marines clapped their hands and closed their eyes, reflecting on what lay ahead for them.

Between the service's electric guitar religious tunes, marines stepped up on the chapel's small stage and recited a verse of scripture, meant to fortify them for war.

One spoke of their Old Testament hero, a shepherd who would become Israel's king, battling the Philistines 3,000 years ago.

"Thus David prevailed over the Philistines," the marine said, reading from scripture, and the marines shouted back "Hoorah, King David," using their signature grunt of approval.

The marines drew parallels from the verse with their present situation, where they perceive themselves as warriors fighting barbaric men opposed to all that is good in the world.

"Victory belongs to the Lord," another young marine read.

Their chaplain, named Horne, told the worshippers they were stationed outside Fallujah to bring the Iraqis "freedom from oppression, rape, torture and murder ... We ask you God to bless us in that effort."

"American Marines attack Fallujah" via ScotlandToday:

Colonel Gary Brandl of the United States Marine Corps commented:

"The enemy has a face. It is Satan's. He is in Fallujah, and we are going to destroy him."

The Americans needed to free up hundreds of troops for this operation and the Black Watch was moved from the relatively benign Basra area to allow that to happen.

On Thursday, three soldiers died in only their second day in the area - Sergeant Stuart Gray and Privates Paul Lowe and Scott McArdle, all of whom were from Fife.

There's an interesting documentary that I found out about called "THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES: THE RISE OF THE POLITICS OF FEAR" by Adam Curtis, originally aired in late October on BBC2. You could have gotten part 1 via BitTorrent, but it seems to be gone now.

This guy made a transcript of the whole thing (Part 1 [A B], part 2 [A B] part 3 [A B])

It starts with the adventures of one Sayyed Qutb in Colorado, 1949. The writings of this guy have been highly influential in forming Sunni fundamentalist ideas. Then it flips straight over to Leo Strauss. Regardless of how you think these guys fit into the scheme, they are definitely part of the intellectual backdrop of both sides of the 'War o' Terror.'

I have two main threads to post here from the documentary. One theme is the origins of modern Islamist ideology. The other is how the neoconservatives filtered into power and manipulated how the U.S. perceived the threat from the Soviet Union. Both of these are quite important, yes?

Voiceover: This was Truman’s America, and many Americans today regard it as a golden age of their civilization. But for [Sayyid] Qutb, he saw a sinister side in this. All around him was crassness, corruption, vulgarity—talk centered on movie stars and automobile prices. He was also very concerned that the inhabitants of Greeley [Colorado] spent a lot of time in lawn care. Pruning their hedges, cutting their lawns. This, for Qutb, was indicative of the selfish and materialistic aspect of American life. Americans lived these isolated lives surrounded by their lawns. They lusted after material goods. And this, says Qutb quite succinctly, is the taste of America.

VO: What Qutb believed he was seeing was a hidden and dangerous reality underneath the surface of ordinary American life. One summer night, he went to a dance at a local church hall. He later wrote that what he saw that night crystallized his vision.

CALVERT: He talks about how the pastor played on the gramophone one of the big-band hits of the day, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” He dimmed the lights so as to create a dreamy, romantic effect. And then, Qutb says that “chests met chests, arms circled waists, and the hall was full of lust and love.”

VO: To most people watching this dance, it would have been an innocent picture of youthful happiness. But Qutb saw something else: the dancers in front of him were tragic lost souls. They believed that they were free. But in reality, they were trapped by their own selfish and greedy desires. American society was not going forwards; it was taking people backwards. They were becoming isolated beings, driven by primitive animal forces. Such creatures, Qutb believed, could corrode the very bonds that held society together. And he became determined that night to prevent this culture of selfish individualism taking over his own country.


VO: But Qutb was not alone. At the same time, in Chicago, there was another man who shared the same fears about the destructive force of individualism in America. He was an obscure political philosopher at the University of Chicago. But his ideas would also have far-reaching consequences, because they would become the shaping force behind the neoconservative movement, which now dominates the American administration. He was called Leo Strauss. Strauss is a mysterious figure. He refused to be filmed or interviewed. He devoted his time to creating a loyal band of students. And what he taught them was that the prosperous liberal society they were living in contained the seeds of its own destruction.

Professor HARVEY MANSFIELD, Straussian Philosopher, Harvard University: He didn’t give interviews, or write political essays, or appear on the radio—there wasn’t TV yet—or things like that. But he did want to get a school of students to see what he had seen: that Western liberalism led to nihilism, and had undergone a development at the end of which it could no longer define itself or defend itself. A development which took everything praiseworthy and admirable out of human beings, and made us into dwarf animals. Made us into herd animals—sick little dwarves, satisfied with a dangerous life in which nothing is true and everything is permitted.

VO: Strauss believed that the liberal idea of individual freedom led people to question everything—all values, all moral truths. Instead, people were led by their own selfish desires. And this threatened to tear apart the shared values which held society together. But there was a way to stop this, Strauss believed. It was for politicians to assert powerful and inspiring myths that everyone could believe in. They might not be true, but they were necessary illusions. One of these was religion; the other was the myth of the nation. And in America, that was the idea that the country had a unique destiny to battle the forces of evil throughout the world. This myth was epitomized, Strauss told his students, in his favorite television program: Gunsmoke.

The episode quickly goes into Qutb's philosophy of jahiliyya (roughly "the pervasively corrupting influence of the West that has poisoned our people and must be destroyed") and how that led to Ayman Zawahiri starting Islamic Jihad.

The documentary also talks about how the neoconservative clique wormed its way into Washington with Cheney and Rumsfeld in 1975-76. Then Paul Wolfowitz started the 'Team B' plan to demonize the Soviet Union and exaggerate the threat it represents. Then the Committee on the Present Danger was created to propagate their bollox findings. A fascinating tale of cold war hawk propaganda.

Suddenly I realize why they titled this "The Power of Nightmares"... But wait, Michael Ledeen makes an appearance!

VO: To persuade the President [Reagan that the Soviets were a global threat], the neoconservatives set out to prove that the Soviet threat was far greater than anyone, even Team B, had previously shown. They would demonstrate that the majority of terrorism and revolutionary movements around the world were actually part of a secret network, coordinated by Moscow, to take over the world. The main proponent of this theory was a leading neoconservative who was the special adviser to the Secretary of State. His name was Michael Ledeen, and he had been influenced by a best-selling book called The Terror Network. It alleged that terrorism was not the fragmented phenomenon that it appeared to be. In reality, all terrorist groups, from the PLO to the Baader-Meinhof group in Germany, and the Provisional IRA, all of them were a part of a coordinated strategy of terror run by the Soviet Union. But the CIA completely disagreed. They said this was just another neoconservative fantasy.

MICHAEL LEDEEN , Special Adviser to the US Secretary of State 1981-1982: The CIA denied it. They tried to convince people that we were really crazy. I mean, they never believed that the Soviet Union was a driving force in the international terror network. They always wanted to believe that terrorist organizations were just what they said they were: local groups trying to avenge terrible evils done to them, or trying to rectify terrible social conditions, and things like that. And the CIA really did buy into the rhetoric. I don’t know what their motive was. I mean, I don’t know what people’s motives are, hardly ever. And I don’t much worry about motives.

VO: But the neoconservatives had a powerful ally. He was William Casey, and he was the new head of the CIA. Casey was sympathetic to the neoconservative view. And when he read the Terror Network book, he was convinced. He called a meeting of the CIA’s Soviet analysts at their headquarters, and told them to produce a report for the President that proved this hidden network existed. But the analysts told him that this would be impossible, because much of the information in the book came from black propaganda the CIA themselves had invented to smear the Soviet Union. They knew that the terror network didn’t exist, because they themselves had made it up.

MELVIN GOODMAN , Head of Soviet Affairs CIA, 1976-87: And when we looked through the book, we found very clear episodes where CIA black propaganda—clandestine information that was designed under a covert action plan to be planted in European newspapers—were picked up and put in this book. A lot of it was made up. It was made up out of whole cloth.

So in other words, neoconservatives used the CIA's black propaganda against the policymaking process of the American people. That's clever! Ledeen again, and he really sounds like he did when he came to Macalester:

VO: [Reagan's 1983 order authorizing covert action against leftists globally was a] triumph for the neoconservatives. America was now setting out to do battle against the forces of evil in the world. But what had started out as the kind of myth that Leo Strauss had said was necessary for the American people increasingly came to be seen as the truth by the neoconservatives. They began to believe their own fiction. They had become what they called “democratic revolutionaries,” who were going to use force to change the world.

LEDEEN : We were aiming for an expansion of the zone of freedom in the world. And in part that had to do with fighting Communism, and in part that had to do with fighting other kinds of tyrannies. But that’s what we were about, and that’s what we’re still about.

INTERVIEWER (off-camera): When you say you were democratic revolutionaries, what do you mean?

LEDEEN : It meant that we wanted to support the people who wanted to carry out revolutions against tyrannical régimes in the name of democracy, in order to install a democratic system.

INTERVIEWER : As simple as that.

LEDEEN : Yeah. It’s not nuclear physics, you know. I mean, freedom is a fairly simple thing to get.

In a nutshell, then, we have gone from the faked threat from the Soviet Union to a situation where our armed forces claim to be fighting the face of Satan in Fallujah.

Ah, the sweet, sweet power of fake moral frameworks. I hope this illustrates a little of how they lied to us before, and how they found the political power of racist dehumanization...

Commenting on this Story is closed.

Tags for Attacking the 'face' of 'Satan' at Fallujah, black propaganda and "The Power of Nightmares"