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Documentary Series: The Power of Nightmares

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Three-part series,
Commencing Tuesday, 12 July at 7.30 pm

Should we be worried about the threat from organised terrorism or is it simply a phantom menace being used to stop society from falling apart? In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares. The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares.

The three-part documentary series The Power of Nightmares, screening on SBS Television on three successive Tuesday evenings from July 12 at 7.30 pm, explores how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. It is a myth that has spread, unchallenged, throughout politics, the security services and the international media.

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. These two groups have changed the world but not in the way either intended. Together they created today�s nightmare vision of an organised terror network � a fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. Those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.

Episode 1 � Tuesday July 12: Baby It�s Cold Outside

Part one of the program looks at the origins of the neo-conservatives and the radical Islamists in the 1950s. The rise of the politics of fear began in 1949 with two men whose radical ideas would inspire the attack of 9/11 and influence the neo-conservative movement that now dominates Washington. Both these men believed that modern liberal freedoms were eroding the bonds that held society together. The two movements they inspired set out, in their different ways, to rescue their societies from this decay. But in an age of growing disillusion with politics, the neo-conservatives turned to fear in order to pursue their vision. They created a hidden network of evil run by the Soviet Union that only they could see. The Islamists were faced by the refusal of the masses to follow their dream and began to turn to terror to force the people to �see the truth�.

Episode 2 � Tuesday July 19: The Phantom Victory

The Power of Nightmares continues its assessment of whether the threat from a hidden and organized terrorist network is an illusion, examining how the radical Islamists and neo-conservatives, two groups with seemingly opposing ideologies, came together to defeat a common enemy, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

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