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October 24, 2012 7:31 AM   Subscribe

How Colonel Gaddafi and the Western Establishment together created a pantomime world - new blog post by Adam Curtis
posted by Cloud King (16 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Because over those forty years all sorts of people from the west got mixed up with Gaddafi.

Indeed. One of Canada's most powerful companies (and one of the world's largest construction firms) had ties to that wicked, wretched regime.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:34 AM on October 24, 2012


My favorite part is when the National Front hears Gaddafi talking about politics, thinks he has some brilliant ideas, and tries to set up a community based on Gaddafi's Green Book in a suburb of London.
posted by Copronymus at 7:52 AM on October 24, 2012


It's not clear to me how trustworthy that reporting is. It seems to get very conspiracy-minded, especially w/r/t the Lockerbie bombing.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2012


Usually I'd be the first to complain about Curtis' overly conspiratorial tone, but in this article most of the conspiracies referenced are now a matter of public record. In the case of Lockerbie, the point being made is that justice was second to the "perception management" of the event for political ends. Just like some other terrorist attacks that I used to know.
posted by mek at 8:20 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cheese: There's been ongoing allegations that the Lockerbie bombing was an Iranian revenge attack for the USS Vincennes shooting down Iran Air Flight 655. Here's a BBC article from 2000 elaborating on a 60 minutes report based on testimony from an Iranian defector. The allegations surfaced again when Al-Megrahi was sent back to Libya, here's the BBC and the Mail with stories relating to that incident. It may be conspiracy-ish, but it's been a recurring question w.r.t the Lockerbie bombing.

I never completely trust Curtis, because he always seems to be creating a single coherent narrative out of events; and sometimes this leads him to conflate ideas and events where there's no logical link because they fit the narrative. That said, there's always interesting information and analysis in his posts and films, and this was no exception.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:32 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seemed now that when he died, Gaddafi was the richest person in the world and the 8-richest in history
posted by growabrain at 8:49 AM on October 24, 2012


I never completely trust Curtis, because he always seems to be creating a single coherent narrative out of events; and sometimes this leads him to conflate ideas and events where there's no logical link because they fit the narrative

I was fascinated by The Power of Nightmares when I first watched it, and I still credit it with introducing me to certain history in the Cold War and the Middle East. So I had high hopes a couple years later when I sat down to watch The Century of the Self. But while Nightmares was an introduction, I came to Self with an existing interest and near the end of a research project on, among other things, Edward Bernays.

The facts he cited in Century were ones I knew, but he read into them very differently than I did. And it wasn't that Curtis was inaccurate - the dots he connected were all real and on record - it was that he elaborated too far from the basics of what had happened, and with whom, or emphasized certain points unduly while eliding others, so that swaths of the story he assembled were wholecloth implication, unverified. (I wish I could remember the specifics, but this was years ago.) I turned the movie off halfway. Maybe he tied things together in the end, and I missed it.

Skimming through this blog post, I don't know what to make of it. My instinct is that Curtis is right in pointing to this weird semi-collaborative international storytelling as crucially influential, not just re: Gaddafi but in most Big Things. And he brings interesting factiods I would not otherwise have learned - he's good at that and I'm glad to read them. But I'm not equipped to appraise his final assembly of all the different pieces.
posted by postcommunism at 10:17 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never completely trust Curtis, because he always seems to be creating a single coherent narrative out of events

Not really in defense of Curtis, but one of his constantly repeated points is that we cannot live without creating such narratives, and telling his own stories about the creation of such stories is his very point. He is quite conscious of the fact that he himself does the same thing - with varying degrees of success.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2012


It is okay, Pyrogenesis, people need to form a narrative that allows them to marginalize voices that criticize the power structures they are invested in. If that means claiming that "a convenient/contrived narrative" invalidates otherwise well supported arguments, that's just what it takes.

Fucking post-modernism...
posted by Chuckles at 10:49 AM on October 24, 2012


At the beginning of 1981 President Ronald Reagan promised to regenerate America's moral mission in the world - above all to confront the evil empire of the Soviet Union.

But in the back rooms of the CIA, analysts were beginning to question whether this was necessary. They said that all the data they were gathering showed that the Soviet Union was in a terrible state. Even the invasion of Afghanistan, they said, was defensive. There was no way that the Russians wanted to take over the world any longer - even if they ever had.


How strong is the evidence for this? Anybody have a good source on what the Americans knew about the collapse, and maybe what was known publicly for well informed westerners?
Note: When I say known publicly, I mean something like the fact that it was Iran/Syria responsible for Lockerbie (something I'm just learning the full extent of today, even though I remember most of the surrounding news stories very well), or that Iraq never really had significant WMDs.
posted by Chuckles at 10:55 AM on October 24, 2012


Fucking post-modernism...

You have pinpointed the source of true evil in the world.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2012


Perhaps he's referring to something like Team B:
Team B was a competitive analysis exercise commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the 1970s to analyze threats the Soviet Union posed to the security of the United States. Team B, approved by then Director of Central Intelligence George H. W. Bush, was composed of "outside experts" who attempted to counter the positions of intelligence officials within the CIA.[1] Team B concluded that the National Intelligence Estimate on the Soviet Union, generated yearly by the CIA, underestimated Soviet military power and misinterpreted Soviet strategic intentions.
posted by alex_reno at 11:12 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


How Did Gaddafi Die? A Year Later, Unanswered Questions and Bad Blood
posted by homunculus at 3:56 PM on October 24, 2012


Wow, that Vanessa Redgrave clip is embarrassing.
posted by gertzedek at 7:57 PM on October 24, 2012


In that Sweeney Video about the reservoirs, he gives away what a wacko-theory the Libyian WMD/chemical weapons theory is, when he walks through a tunnel and says "tanks and jeeps won't fit through here, killer dolphins maybe..." HAIL ERIS!
posted by marienbad at 3:31 AM on October 25, 2012


I find it ironic that people are accusing Adam Curtis of being a "conspiracy theorist"; precisely his problem is that he largely draws upon main-stream media to outline his claims. That's his methodology; he looks for insight by highlighting the (often ludicrous in hindsight) clash between the established narrative and later events. He is, however, part of the BBC. Let's just say that his insights never cross certain lines, and doesn't go as far as to suggest that the ludicrousness is often very deliberate (one always loves an in joke).

Here's something you can do; go watch this clip, from during the Libyan revolution, filmed in a "rebel stronghold".


See if you can spot the oddity in there.


Adam Curtis hints at what defines our world, but he never crosses the line. In Libya, there was a whole slew of perception management experts on the ground. Also, one should probably look into Aljazeera's ownership and who flew to meet whom and to discuss what about the extent and nature of it's coverage [hint; it's fully co-operative nowadays, such a leap from the bad old days when it got shocked & awed. Velvet glove works better, one finds] Oh, and don't worry about the gold reserves or personal cash, I'm sure it's being held safely for "National Interests" and will be returned to the people of Libya.


Now, if I could only find another Syrian lesbian blogger who needed rescuing, or some incubators that were stolen.



p.s.

Hello Langley ;)
posted by Cheradenine Zakalwe at 5:26 AM on October 25, 2012


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