"'Hyping Terror' -- A Response to Thom Hartmann" --by David Adler
To the editor:
Writing about “The Power of Nightmares,” a documentary produced by Adam Curtis and aired recently by the BBC, Thom Hartmann argues that the same neocon crew behind today’s war on terror was also behind the exaggeration of the Soviet WMD threat during the days of the Ford administration. Underlying Hartmann’s piece is the view that today’s terror threat is largely a ruse the Bush administration employs to justify its pernicious foreign policy goals.
It's worth noting that there isn’t a single mention of 9/11 in Hartmann’s analysis. He writes, “[Curtis] suggests we’ve done more to create terror than to fight it. That the risk was really quite minimal (at least until we invaded Iraq), and the terrorists are—like most terrorist groups—simply people on the fringes, rather easily dispatched by their own people.” That Hartmann or anyone else can look at a world with nearly 3,000 dead in lower Manhattan and hundreds more in Madrid, Bali and numerous other locales, and then describe the threat of extremist Islam as “quite minimal” is beyond me. And to anyone who’s followed events in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen and perhaps most of all Iraq, the falsehood that terrorists are “rather easily dispatched by their own people” hardly requires elaborating.
No, to feel threatened by radical Islam is not to be brainwashed, “Matrix”-style, by the Bushies. But the message Americans are getting from Hartmann, Michael Moore and many on the left is that the U.S. should do nothing to combat this vicious ideology. If the left is to have any hope of influencing American public opinion, it must not simply blast Bush’s lies and incompetence. It must put forward an anti-terrorism agenda of its own. The mere perception that John Kerry didn’t have such an agenda helped doom his election prospects.
We live in an era of false dichotomies and crude black-and-white debates, and arguments like Hartmann’s only add to the confusion. There is no reason one can’t deplore the perfidy of the Bush administration *and* hold that Islamist terrorism is far more than a “minimal” threat. Similarly, during the Cold War, the most morally sound liberal position was to decry the arms race and the West’s support of undemocratic anti-Soviet regimes, *and* to assert that the Soviet dictatorship and its wretched satellites were deserving of no sympathy whatsoever.
Need it be said that “The Matrix” was just a movie, that there is no such thing as “the red pill"? Reality is far more complicated than that.
David R. Adler