Mijn hersenspinsels en gedachtekronkels

Tien jaar na 9/11

Nu het tien jaar is na 9/11 wil ik op deze plaats ook stilstaan bij de aanslagen in Amerika, die grote gevolgen hadden voor de gebeurtenissen in het afgelopen decennium. Ik wil dat doen door hier een aantal documentaires aan te prijzen, waarvan ik zelf geloof dat die belangrijk/ interessant/veelzeggend zijn.

Allereerst natuurlijk het superieure Channel 4 drieluik The Power of Nightmares:

The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a 3 part BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis.
The films compare the rise of the Neo-Conservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and claiming similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organized force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies.

Part 1: Baby It’s Cold Outside:

Zie voor een versie met Nederlandse ondertiteling:

The first part of the series explains the origin of Islamism and Neo-Conservatism. It shows Egyptian civil servant Sayyid Qutb, depicted as the founder of modern Islamist thought, visiting the U.S. to learn about the education system, but becoming disgusted with what he saw as a corruption of morals and virtues in western society through individualism. When he returns to Egypt, he is disturbed by westernization under Gamal Abdel Nasser and becomes convinced that in order to save society it must be completely restructured along the lines of Islamic law while still using western technology. He also becomes convinced that this can only be accomplished through the use of an elite “vanguard” to lead a revolution against the established order. Qutb becomes a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and, after being tortured in one of Nasser’s jails, comes to believe that western-influenced leaders can justly be killed for the sake of removing their corruption. Qutb is executed in 1966, but he influences the future mentor of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to start his own secret Islamist group. Inspired by the 1979 Iranian revolution, Zawahiri and his allies assassinate Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat, in 1981, in hopes of starting their own revolution. The revolution does not materialize, and Zawahiri comes to believe that the majority of Muslims have been corrupted not only by their western-inspired leaders, but Muslims themselves have been affected by jahilliyah and thus both may be legitimate targets of violence if they do not join him. They continued to have the belief that a vanguard was necessary to rise up and overthrow the corrupt regime and replace with a pure Islamist state.

At the same time in the United States, a group of disillusioned liberals, including Irving Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz, look to the political thinking of Leo Strauss after the perceived failure of President Johnson’s “Great Society”. They come to the conclusion that the emphasis on individual liberty was the undoing of the plan. They envisioned restructuring America by uniting the American people against a common evil, and set about creating a mythical enemy. These factions, the Neo-Conservatives, came to power under the Reagan administration, with their allies Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and work to unite the United States in fear of the Soviet Union. The Neo-Conservatives allege the Soviet Union is not following the terms of disarmament between the two countries, and, with the investigation of “Team B”, they accumulate a case to prove this with dubious evidence and methods. President Reagan is convinced nonetheless.

Part 2: The Phantom Victory:

Zie voor een versie met Nederlandse ondertiteling: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7307000565144006714

In the second episode, Islamist factions, rapidly falling under the more radical influence of Zawahiri and his rich Saudi acolyte Osama bin Laden, join the Neo-Conservative-influenced Reagan Administration to combat the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. When the Soviets eventually pull out and when the Eastern Bloc begins to collapse in the late 1980s, both groups believe they are the primary architects of the “Evil Empire’s” defeat. Curtis argues that the Soviets were on their last legs anyway, and were doomed to collapse without intervention.

However, the Islamists see it quite differently, and in their triumph believe that they had the power to create ‘pure’ Islamic states in Egypt and Algeria. However, attempts to create perpetual Islamic states are blocked by force. The Islamists then try to create revolutions in Egypt and Algeria by the use of terrorism to scare the people into rising up. However, the people were terrified by the violence and the Algerian government uses their fear as a way to maintain power. In the end, the Islamists declare the entire populations of the countries as inherently contaminated by western values, and finally in Algeria turn on each other, each believing that other terrorist groups are not pure enough Muslims either.

In America, the Neo-Conservatives’ aspirations to use the United States military power for further destruction of evil are thrown off track by the ascent of George H. W. Bush to the presidency, followed by the 1992 election of Bill Clinton leaving them out of power. The Neo-Conservatives, with their conservative Christian allies, attempt to demonize Clinton throughout his presidency with various real and fabricated stories of corruption and immorality. To their disappointment, however, the American people do not turn against Clinton. The Islamist attempts at revolution end in massive bloodshed, leaving the Islamists without popular support. Zawahiri and bin Laden flee to the sufficiently safe Afghanistan and declare a new strategy; to fight Western-inspired moral decay they must deal a blow to its source: the United States.

Zie voor een versie met Nederlandse ondertiteling: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=551664672370888389

The final episode addresses the actual rise of Al-Qaeda. Curtis argues that, after their failed revolutions, bin Laden and Zawahiri had little or no popular support, let alone a serious complex organization of terrorists, and were dependent upon independent operatives to carry out their new call for jihad. The film instead argues that in order to prosecute bin Laden in absentia for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, US prosecutors had to prove he was the head of a criminal organization responsible for the bombings. They find a former associate of bin Laden, Jamal al-Fadl, and pay him to testify that bin Laden was the head of a massive terrorist organization called “Al-Qaeda”. With the September 11th attacks, Neo-Conservatives in the new Republican government of George W. Bush use this created concept of an organization to justify another crusade against a new evil enemy, leading to the launch of the War on Terrorism.

After the American invasion of Afghanistan fails to uproot the alleged terrorist network, the Neo-Conservatives focus inwards, searching unsuccessfully for terrorist sleeper cells in America. They then extend the war on “terror” to a war against general perceived evils with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The ideas and tactics also spread to the United Kingdom where Tony Blair uses the threat of terrorism to give him a new moral authority. The repercussions of the Neo-Conservative strategy are also explored with an investigation of indefinitely-detained terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, many allegedly taken on the word of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance without actual investigation on the part of the United States military, and other forms of “preemption” against non-existent and unlikely threats made simply on the grounds that the parties involved could later become a threat. Curtis also makes a specific attempt to allay fears of a dirty bomb attack, and concludes by reassuring viewers that politicians will eventually have to concede that some threats are exaggerated and others altogether devoid of reality. “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.”

Said Qutb (rechts), de ‘geestelijk vader’ van de moderne radicale islamistische beweging en belangrijke inspiratiebron voor Bin Laden en Ayman al Zawahiri, in Amerika (Colorado), jaren veertig

 Ayman al-Zawahiri, begin jaren zeventig

De Bin Laden familie in Stockholm in 1971. Tweede van rechts: de veertienjarige Osama.

foto van een Amerikaanse soldaat in Afghanistan (bron: http://www.demorgen.be/dm/nl/8056/Foto/photoalbum/detail/1087714/803005/87/De-oorlog-in-Afghanistan-deel-3.dhtml )

Ander materiaal dat om verschillende redenen de moeite van het bekijken waard is (van de meest overtrokken complottheorieën, tot buitengewoon zinnige bijdragen):

Loose Change: (de bekendste complotfilm over 9/11)

Zembla: Het Complot van 11 september  (een zinnige weerlegging van vooral Loose Change)

9/11 Press for Truth (een hele zinvolle documentaire, vooral een verslag van een groepje nabestaanden van 9/11 die kritische vragen zijn gaan stellen)

Tegenlicht: De Ijzeren Driehoek (over de belangenverstrengeling van de internationale wapenhandel en de politiek en wie er van de War on Terror profiteert. Vooral gericht op de duistere Carlylegroup. Zeer degelijk)

Tegenlicht: De Berg (over wat de drijfveren van de moslimfundamentalisten zijn. Met oa Karen Armstrong, Benjamin Barber, Manuel Castells, Khozh-Ahmed Noukhaev en Mansour Jachimczyk)

Tegenlicht: De Impact; over de betekenis van 9/11 (met Lawrence Wilkerson, Paul Bremer III en Francis Fukuyama over de betekenis van 9/11, tien jaar later)

Fahrenheit 911 (de grote klassieker van Michael Moore. Bijna alle bovenstaande thema’s komen aan bod, zij het dat het minder degelijk en vooral op een polemische- en soms heel geestige- manier wordt gebracht)

Jason Burke: The 9/11 Wars Een buitengewoon interessante korte voordracht van onderzoeksjournalist Jason Burke (‘The Observer’), over tien jaar 9/11 (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). Burke heeft meermaals betoogd dat al-Qaeda eerder een constructie, een mythe, is, dan een daadwerkelijk bestaande organisatie of netwerk.

Ook de Nederlandse publieke omroep stond stil bij tien jaar na 9/11. Bekijk hier de serie 9.11 de dag die de wereld veranderde

Belangrijke primaire bronnen:

The Project for a New American Century Belangrijkste site van de Neo-conservatieven

Sayyid Qutb, Milestones/Ma’alim fi’l-tareeq/معالم في الطريق Sayyid Qutbs belangrijkste geschrift uit 1965 online (Engels). Milestones is een van de belangrijkste manifesten van de milante islamistische beweging en inspiratiebron voor bijv. Bin Laden

Over de (in)directe uitvloeisels van 9/11 en ‘The War on Terror’:

The Road to Guantanamo (een onthutsende documentaire over het lot van drie Britse Moslims die onschuldig vastzaten op Guantanamo Bay

Big Storm; the Lynndie England Story Huiveringwekkende documentaire van Twan Huys (2005) over de daders achter het Abu Ghraib schandaal (Engelstalige versie)

No End in Sight  (over het rampzalige beleid van Amerika, na de invasie van Irak)

En last but not least de geweldige serie ‘De Vloek van Osama’, over tien jaar 9/11, van de Belgische journalist Rudi Vranckx (VRT):

Enkele literatuursuggesties (verre van volledig):

  • Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, 2000 (in het Nederlands: De Strijd om God. Een geschiedenis van het fundamentalisme, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2005)
  • Benjamin Barber (die recent nogal in opspraak is geraakt, omdat hij zich zou hebben laten betalen door Qadhafi  en zitting had in de denktank van Saif Qadhafi, ‘The Monitor Group’, zie hier– dit doet mijns inziens echter niets af aan de waarde van dit werk, FS), Jihad versus Mc World; Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy, Balantine books, New York, 2001 (oorspr. 1995)
  • Jason Burke,  Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam, IB Tauris, Londen, 2003
  • Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation; The Conquest of the Middle East, Londen, 2005 (in het Nederlands:  De grote beschavingsoorlog ; de Verovering van het Midden-Oosten, Ambo, 2005)
  • Seymour M. Hersh, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Haper Collins, New York, 2004 (Nederlands: Bevel van hogerhand; de weg van 11 september tot het Abu Ghraib-Schandaal, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2004)
  • Gilles Kepel, The roots of radical Islam, Saqi Books,  London,  2005
  • Craig Unger, House of Bush House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties. Gibson Square Books, New York, 2004 (Nederlands: De Familie Bush en het Huis van Saud; de verborgen betrekkingen tussen de twee machtigste dynastieën ter wereld, Mets & Schilt, Amsterdam, 2004)

Update april 2012: The 9/11 Decade – The Clash of Civilizations? (documentaire Al Jazeera) Grote aanrader

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