In "The Power of Nightmares," which I wrote about here
, one thing stands out: the role of Donald Rumsfeld in shaping US Foreign Policy over the past 40 years.
In this documentary, Adam Curtis makes the case that Rumsfeld and allies like Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney inflated the extent of Russia's weapons development and involvement around the world in supporting Communist countries and insurgencies. The reason he does this isn't clear to me, except it provides a narrative that supports the military adventurism that Rumsfeld and others felt ideologically compelled to pursue. Rumsfeld set up his own intelligence unit to review the work done by the CIA on Russia, to justify the 'Evil Empire' policy position, just as he has done during the administration of George W Bush.
The CIA was convinced that Russia's capabilities and influence were much weaker than Rumsfeld wanted to believe, based on their informants and field work. Rumsfeld's group were convinced that a lack of evidence of Russian military technology and offensive weapons did not indicate that Russia's military power was, in fact, threadbare and decaying. Rather it showed just how sneaky and treacherous they were. In other words, the fact that the CIA didn't find much was because the Russians were so good at hiding it.
If you give a shit about this, and what it says about the current clusterfuck Rumsfeld and Cheney have gotten us into, it's worth testing Curtis' thesis with a little web research. The National Review's Clive Davis sees Curtis' documentary as being unfounded character assasination
on distinguished Kremlinologist Richard Pipes
. Yet while condemning the documentary, any substantive refutation is thin on the ground; he expects somehow that Pipes' reputation should be enough to counter Curtis' arguments.
Ultimately, what this all points to is this: Rumsfeld is a serial threat inflator. The work he did to demonize the Soviet Union in the 70s and 80s directly steered American foreign policy. Now, he's done it again, and steered our country into another disastrous confrontation with the rest of humanity, chasing a phantom enemy. I am all for a prudent engagement with realistic threats to our country, but at this point we've killed hundreds of thousands of people, and spent uncounted billions of dollars, with no real improvement to our country's security, and it's all based on lies and fantasies.