Today, in the New York Times, I read an article by Frank Rich who so succinctly describes the fall of the neo-cons in our current society. He likens it to the fall of prohibition in the 1930's with the election of Franklin Roosevelt (who famously said upon signing the repeal, "What this country needs now is a drink.")
The article got me thinking about a documentary from the BBC entitled The Power of Nightmares. Brian and I got the documentary through Netflix and spent many weeks avoiding watching it. A political documentary about the rise of radical Islam and neo-conservatism? Sounds exciting!
But in actuality, it was very powerful (no pun intended). The similarities between the two groups (neo-cons and radical Islamists) are fascinating. Below is an excerpt, rather long I apologize, from the introduction:
Enough politics for now! On the lighter side, Frank Rich began life at the New York Times as a theater critic. He wrote about his childhood in Washington, DC, and his introduction to theater in a book entitled, Ghost Light. I highly recommend it, it's a bit lighter than The Power of Nightmares.
In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this, but their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered their people. Those dreams failed and today people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life, but now they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us: from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism, a powerful and sinister network with sleeper cells in countries across the world, a threat that needs to be fought by a War on Terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It's a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media. This is a series of films about how and why that fantasy was created, and who it benefits. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neo-conservatives and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world, and both had a very similar explanation of what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today's nightmare vision of a secret organized evil that threatens the world, a fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.