The Power of Nightmares examines how politicians have used our fears to increase their power and control over society. It looks at the American neo-conservative movement and its depiction of the threat first from the Soviet Union and then from radical Islamists.
Part one, Baby It's Cold Outside, traces the origins of the modern neo-conservative and radical Islamist movements in the post-war period, how they both saw modern liberal freedoms as a threat to society and how the Soviet Union was represented as "the evil empire".
POWER OF NIGHTMARES
BBC Two, 2320 GMT
Part 1: Tue 18 January
Part 2: Wed 19 January
Part 3: Thu 20 January
The second programme, The Phantom Victory explores how the two groups with seemingly opposing ideologies, the radical Islamists and neo-conservatives, came together to fight and defeat Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
Finally, The Shadows In The Cave, looks at how in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the neo-conservatives reconstructed the radical Islamists in the image of their last evil enemy, the Soviet Union - a sinister web of terror run from the centre by Osama Bin Laden in his lair in Afghanistan. And asks who benefits from this?
There have been well over 1,000 comments about the series and a selection of these are shown below, reflecting the balance and range of views we have received.
I don't like conspiracy theories. But which is the conspiracy theory? Is there a cabal in Washington pretending that there is an international terrorist network, or is there an international terrorist network co-ordinating attacks the world over. Occam's Razor makes me think that the smaller conspiracy must be true.
And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.
Constantine P. Cavafy (1904)
Brilliant! Excellent series both for its content and its technical merit. I was in New York on Sept 11th and lived there for two years afterwards. I saw all the flag-waving begin, and watched in dismay as it developed into paranoid hatred and aggression. I sincerely hope this program reaches the US and is seen by many.
The only other thing I can say is make another series! We need more information about the events of 9/11, and the terrorist attacks in Madrid, Bali, the ricin finds in London, etc, or at least we need to know what has been made up. Congratulations to Mr Curtis for keeping the spirit of imaginative and open media strong.
Reading these replies has been a very depressing experience. Just how many people have these BBC producers deceived? This cynical attitude that fails to believe anything any more is a disease of this age. A disease of the political left. The threat from those who wish to "Islamise" the world, is real and is dangerous. Enough Muslims are prepared to die for this cause (and much less), and some rich Arabs are prepared to fund them to this end. In an age of nuclear proliferation, if the BBC producers of The Power of Nightmares cannot perceive such simple realities, they are themselves the ones who are deceived (and deceiving).
Steven Smith, Birmingham
This series of programmes provided stunningly exciting and compelling viewing, being controversial and intelligent, and as such, deserved a huge audience. I agree with many of the arguments that the terrorist threat has been far over-hyped, and is in fact a creature largely of our own politicians' making, although I would not say it's as much of a fantasy as the programme makes out. However, it did seem one-sided. The editing and narration is largely biased, and is something I'd not have expected to come from the BBC. However, I think this was valid and necessary. The key points raised by the programme would not be changed by a fuller and more balanced analysis. I think for all those of us who have caught up in the fantasy portrayed, this programme gives a hard kick in the other direction, the 'red pill' as Morpheus said, from which the viewer can look for the balanced view in a new light. And hopefully, the BBC are working on a further series of programmes that will do just that.
A very interesting and thought-provoking programme! I am concerned about the message about "dirty bombs" being presented by the BBC. In the "Power of Nightmares", a number of experts suggested that the risk from such devices was minimal. A Sunday night BBC factual drama about 2 months ago (can't remember its name) described the consequences of exploding such a bomb in the centre of London, again supported by expert advice. Which one was correct in its description of the effects???
Paul Harrison, Taunton
I certainly wish, what sounds like a fascinating series, had been shown in the US prior to our election! Might have made a difference. Any chance of us seeing it sometime?
Nicholas Downey, New York
I lived in London for two years, now my son lives there. I have great respect and appreciation for the integrity of the BBC. I was able to view the first two episodes of "The Power of Nightmares" on an American website. I can hardly wait to see number three. It has moved me to rethink many assumptions that I have closely held. I was working with the Republican Party in the early '80's. I witnessed the "coup" by the religious Right, and was a victim of it. I knew 25 years ago that the US was in for a drastic culture clash. Thank you for exposing this nefarious force that now threatens the world, with their Right-eous Rage.
Lin Volpe, Ohio
Nothing is as simple as this documentary tries to describe. There is always a grey area between black and white but thank you for showing a bit of the white side. Let's just not take it as the whole truth though.
About time something like this was broadcast. The BBC has long been a leader in producing propaganda wrapped up as "impartiality". A study by Cardiff University found that the BBC aired less "dissenting" opinions during the initial invasion of Iraq than did the Fox network. The Power of Nightmares was welcome relief from the relentless peddling of inflated fears and the parroting of government spokesmen. Terrorists have killed fewer people in the last 10 years than the number of Iraqis who died every month (for 12 years) under US/UK enforced sanctions. That's the real picture. Indeed it was one of the rationales claimed by bin Laden.
Grant Wakefield, Marlborough
I don't believe either that there is an organised group with sleeper cells because the problem is being shown as a gang who should be rounded up and everything will be OK. The real problem was mentioned in one sentence - young Muslim males who are taking up the cause of Islamic fundamentalism worldwide. All they need is focus, money and the equipment to do the job. Once they get it, the foregoing Dave Sparts who lead safe supermarket lives that have commented on here are going to be eaten alive. In case you think I am some "neo-con" I have spent the past 34 years on and off in the Middle East and I would suggest that you buy yourself a ticket out there and listen to what is coming out of the mosques and what is being talked about in the shops and streets. It has been coming for some time and last but not least these people don't want! to be your best mate either.
Keith, West Berks
I admit bewilderment and a certain disillusionment regarding this entire situation. A good hard kick in the head was what I for one needed to restore some sense of proportion and a healthy level of scepticism to what are potentially mind-boggling world events. This programme did that for me with big black army boots. I think the posted criticisms of lack of depth are justifiable but its clearly unreasonable to expect too much from a three hour summary of 30 years of events. Where are the in depth follow ups? People like me want to see them. I only take a passing interest in current news and events and I expect there are many others like me. This programme spoke to me, a verifiable news recluse, and made me want to think. I think the narrator helped. It wasn't over the top. I didn't feel I was being badgered into how to think, so much that it became overwhelming anyway. Thanks. Don't just repeat it make more. More TV like this please. Whatever the BBC is smoking let me have some.
John Marshall, Sheffield
Incredible! I'm not sure whether to laugh at the absurdity of the cynicism it instils; or allow it to grow on the cynicism that is already there.
I feel I'm following the herd in applauding one of the best documentaries ever made (in my humble opinion). More heartening is the quality and quantity of positive feedback. For me the series preached to the choir, but before watching and reading I didn't feel part of a choir, just a "naive and trusting" lone voice. The path of fear leads to a world none of us deserve to live in. Faith in your fellow man is the path to a brighter future. Terrorism is real, but you're more likely to meet your maker on your daily commute or handling of a badly wired plug. Television like this offers perspective, while also hammering home the value of public service broadcasting. Congratulations to all involved, a BAFTA should be a formality. A quick DVD release would really simplify my Christmas shopping :). Intellectual liberals of the world unite and provide the neo-conservatives with something real to concern themselves with.
Carl Wilson, Leeds
A few people seem to misunderstand Adam Curtis's argument or are judging it from the trailers alone without seeing the programme itself. He is not arguing that Bin Laden and terrorists do not exist or are no threat, just that the potential power of Al-Qaeda has been grossly exaggerated based on speculation and our own fears rather than any actual evidence. There is a threat, but it must be put in proportion and our governments should act accordingly. This series is a wonderful follow-up to Adam Curtis's last piece - "Century of the Self". I have been waiting for a long time for this to be released on DVD, so with all the voices asking for "The Power of Nightmares" to be released on DVD, may I hope for a joint release with "Century of the Self"?
Daryl Millar, Mildenhall, Suffolk
Suddenly paying the TV licence makes sense again. Thanks for such a brave documentary.
Jordi Bares, London
The programme did not say that there is no terrorist threat, rather that the threat has been massively and deliberately exaggerated. The best TV I've seen this year - when will it be repeated?
The programme dealt extremely effectively with debunking many of the myths surrounding al-Qaeda. However it does beg the question that if al-Qaeda is not what it is popularly conceived to be, what in fact is it? It is too simplistic to state that there is no al-Qaeda whatsoever, and I would venture that it is far more helpful to view al-Qaeda as an ideology or a methodology. After all as well as 'The Base' al-Qaeda also translates as 'The Basic Rules or Principles.' (Jason Burke explains this in greater detail in his book.) There are other examples, perhaps most significantly a statement by bin Laden's mentor Abdullah Azzam who envisioned a vanguard of Muslims who would create 'al-Qaeda al-Sulbah' (the strong foundation) for the expected society. This is an area of analysis which has not been focused on greatly, and should perhaps be examined in greater detail.
Chris Slater, London
Not since the last Adam Curtis venture, The Century of the Self, has British TV dared to risk dealing with such big and complex ideas, especially ones so counter-intuitive to the public. The central argument of the series, I believe, is more or less correct and is desperately in need of as much exposure as possible. So, congratulations to the BBC for backing this ambitious series.
However, there were flaws. Jason Burke's excellent work on demystifying Al-Qaeda was given prominence in the third episode. The programme gave the impression that Al-Qaeda doesn't really exist. This is not what Burke argues in his book. Burke argues that Al-Qaeda exists not as a highly organised and structured group but as a terrifically powerful ideology, capable of mobilising very disparate groups to act more or less independently of any central organising structure. The difference is important and one of Burke's central arguments is that the inchoate nature of Al-Qaeda makes it more dangerous, not less so.
While effectively debunking the tragi-comic delusions of Blair and the neo-cons that highly organised cells are invading our body politic, the programme failed to give due prominence to the success of Al-Qaeda as a call to arms which has inflamed the passions of young Muslims in many different parts of the world to seek revenge on what they perceive as a corrupt and imperialistic new world order. Rightly in my view, Burke sees much to worry about in the rapid spread of a murderous ideology but he suggests that our fears should be rational rather than irrational and that we attempt to deal with a very real problem armed with a clearer and deeper understanding of its true nature. The rather flippant end to The Power of Nightmares seems to suggest that we should merely ignore any attempt to construe Al-Qaeda as a serious threat.
Nick Haeffner, London
What a brilliant programme this was (all three parts). That is the journalism badly needed in this day and age where we are all being spun propaganda to entice fear in order for us to agree with what the American government wants the British one to do. I cannot agree with the view expressed by some that the programme was not balanced. I would like to see a rerun, a book and a DVD coming out - would even buy a DVD recorder if that happened. This is something that should be shown in schools, under the subject "Citizenship"!!!
We need more of this type of programme which investigates the truths, however much unpalatable to some people.
Rose Greenbank, Chester
Presumably the 4,000 people murdered by Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the last 3 years in New York, Washington, Madrid and Bali are just a nightmarish figment of our collective imaginations. A manipulative and distorting series. But as many of these comments attest, glossy and watchable enough to make useful idiots feel they're hearing the truth.
Ian Stewart, London
Quo usque tandem patiemini? Very happy to see so many comments on Adam Curtis' brilliant work. We old Europeans haven't lost our confidence in you British. We watch the BBC.
How you British have endured all this is rather baffling to us. We hope you tell him what in the next election. If not, he'll be turning you into 'the living dead'
Incidentally another stupendous thrillogy by Adam Curtis.
Jo Smets, Belgium
Simplistic ideas, repeated over and over, followed by a voiceover "the fact that.." to hypnotise us into believing these selected talking heads. Not all of the viewing public can be fooled that simply. There is plenty to gain in promoting cynicism and paranoia - the BBC uses it to increase its viewing figures in everything from disaster-scenario panel programmes to the trailers for this stuff. Total hypocrisy to level the same accusation against governments.
If the promotion of murder in the name of religion is a fantasy, what about the victims in New York, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, Istanbul? Worse still, the program claims that political ideology is dead. Are Capitalism, Marxism and Establishment Liberalism the only ideas on offer? Practical political ideology is alive and well, promoting universal access to food, democracy, education, work, healthcare, justice, opportunity, safety, housing, free speech. Throw away your television, you don't have to accept this propaganda.
Please release this excellent series on DVD/video so I can pass it on to all my friends who missed it for Christmas!
Ruth Hutt, London
It is time to focus on the real problem and that is global warming.
Last week a famous Dutch film maker, Theo van Gogh, was killed near where I live. Apparently a 26 year old Islamist shot and stabbed him on religious grounds. Yesterday 8 friends of the accused have been arrested on the grounds of belonging to a "terrorist-cell", possibly with ties to al-Qaeda. After seeing your documentary I'm suddenly not so ready to believe that any more. How sad to see "western society", especially governments and media, creating this monster by themselves. Maybe we should pay less attention to "world-wide terrorist networks" and more to what's going on in the minds of young people from minority cultures in our countries. Make more of an effort towards integration and accept the IDEA of Al-Qaeda as the more manifest danger: It seems to give some people some kind of moral right to put their twisted ideas into action. Please show more of these well-researched documentaries!
Martin van den Oetelaar, Amsterdam
Starting from Episode one the mind is spun by what are simple historical truths which are presented here with such horrifying clarity and in true context. Will people stop insinuating that Adam Curtis is in denial about terrorist threats. He is asking you to only accept them for what they are not what Tony and George Dubya want you to believe. I had lost respect for television in this country but this series is one I will tell my grandchildren about.
Jack McCann, London
Brilliant series which should become compulsory viewing for all citizens of the world.
Paul Davis, London
I only saw the final episode but it seemed to be a programme as unbalanced as the neo-conservatives it was attacking. I'm not saying the programme was lying but it was omitting some events such as the terror arrests in London where ricin was found or the Arabian males attempting to buy radioactive materials from reporters. These events may have ended up being blown out of proportion, but as they weren't addressed it seems that the journalist wanted to omit events which took credence from the story he was trying to sell. I enjoyed the programme thoroughly but wanted balanced journalism, not an entirely one-sided view. Otherwise very good programming.
Glyn Martin, Manchester
Naturally, this excellent programme will be repeated at prime-time on BBC1, discussed at length on Today, and available immediately on DVD. Won't it?
Fabulous TV - the argument was convincing, but even those who disagree with it should accept that having their beliefs challenged in this way now and again is intellectually healthy: Nietzsche called it philosophising with a hammer. Quite aside from that, the series showed what TV can do as a medium in its own right: as a piece of programming, it was artful and smart. There really ought to be a DVD, book, or at least a rerun of this series. And then a BAFTA. Incidentally, a couple of correspondents to this site has criticised the programme for liberalism and intellectualism. Since when have these been vices? Personally, I've always thought that if there is a liberal and intellectual elite, it'd be rather nice to think I could join it.
I wasn't overly impressed as I felt the programme had many flaws. In particular it felt as if you were downplaying the risks as much as the Bush administration overplays them. Tony Blair seems damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. If he came on TV and said 'don't worry, it all seems much worse than it is and there's not a lot I need to do'. If he ignored 9/11, Bali, Madrid, the bombing in Turkey etc.. he'd be ripped apart by the media. Probably in a very clever and quite smug BBC2, 3 part documentary.
Andy Jones, Wolverhampton
Like most people I have to say thank you. Myself and my family thought this was an excellent documentary, even though it was preaching to the converted. Like most people have said, repeat on BBC 1 with book and DVD release.
Congratulations to the BBC for having the courage to deliver probably the most watchable, incisive and thought-provoking documentary I have EVER witnessed. One of the comments on this 'feedback section' stated: "It surprises me that the BBC allowed three hours for this drivel". Forgive me, but I would rather pay 10 times the licence fee and watch 300 hours of this 'drivel' instead of 30 minutes of Big Brother, Eastenders or any other so-called 'entertainment'. Please get this series out on DVD as soon as possible. It will be in the Christmas stockings of all of my large family.
Tony Roberts, Bournemouth
Stephen Franklin's comments are spot on. This programme assumed what it wanted to prove. The research sources were incredibly partisan, for one side or the other. It would have been interesting to hear whether the French Intelligence Service agreed with your conclusions. They have been studying Islamic fundamentalism for years, yet are certainly not pro-Bush
Steve Souhami, Camberley
What on earth is the BBC smoking? And what are most of the readers above smoking? Terror is very real, and linking the Islamic jihadis with the neo-conservative movement is ludicrous.
Eva, Wisconsin, USA
I think some of the critics in these comments are guilty of inventing their own fantasy adversary: 'The Liberal Elite' - no doubt a shady bunch of bearded pipe smoking intellectuals who gather in darkened rooms to plot the downfall of conservatism. Resorting to baseless ad-hominem attacks doesn't nullify the argument! Excellent programme, I hope there are plans to loop it continually on BBC America.
This is the most important television programme of our troubled times. It should be repeated on a loop, and given much higher profile and an international DVD release. The programme raised such fundamental issues that I fear the content available on this website is insufficient. Viewing this programme was like seeing a jigsaw come together - I knew what the final picture was, for I had seen the packaging. However witnessing its formation was alarming, astounding and terrifying. All presented in a perfectly understated manner, by (the voice, at least, of) the brilliant Adam Curtis and his team, this was a credible series of an incredible story that impacts upon all of our lives and it ought to send shock waves around the world.
Thank you for an entertaining and fascinating documentary. Congratulations to both the film-makers and those with the courage to run the programme on national television.
Thank you for saying very clearly that much of the fear of terrorism is fear of a phantom. I thought the series was well put together and makes Guantanamo Bay look more and more like a Salem witch hunt all over again.
Louis Priest, London
This has been the most inspirational TV in decades - since Bronowski, Clarke and Cooke! (though mustn't forget Jonathan Miller's Disbelief.) Not just brilliant political analysis, but the artistic film creativity - from the "Baby It's Cold Outside" of both the US prom dancers and the Taliban youths in the first episode to the schmaltzy music and the Hollywood Ali Baba of the third - wonderful stuff!
Dr Christine Allen, Carlisle
Your whole series is doing exactly what it accuses the US and British governments of doing. It starts with conclusions and makes up the evidence to support it. The neo-conservatives didn't come to power in the US as a result of 9/11. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were already in the Defence Department before 9/11. No intelligent person could call Colin Powell, the Secretary of State a neo-colonialist.
Al Qa'ida is not a vast terrorist organisation. It is a co-ordinating body financed by various sources including money originating from Bin Laden business consortium. They provide training and expertise to Islamic fundamentalist groups around the world and in return members of these groups carry out acts against parties of Al Qa'ida's choosing with Al Qa'ida's logistical support and expert guidance.
The threat is not a fantasy it is real and attacks in the UK and elsewhere have been intercepted. Other attacks around the world have not been prevented with horrible consequences. There is no doubt that if Al Qa'ida got hold of small lightweight WMD (such as those developed by former Soviet scientists, a few of whom may now be available to the highest bidder) they would use them. A dirty bomb may not be the most effective, but some types of biological or chemical (or even suitcase atom bombs such as those hidden in various parts of the west 20 years ago by Soviet special forces) could be very effective.
It would be both stupid and dangerous to underestimate the very real threat. I wish the threat were a fantasy invented by the politicians but it isn't.
Stephen Franklin, London
In 2001 (the very worst year for terrorism in America), you were more likely to die of malnutrition than terrorism. You were 10 times more likely to die in a shooting, about 7 times more likely to die from alcohol, 6 times more likely to die from drug mis-use, 18 times more likely to die in an automobile accident, and a massive 260 times more likely to die from a heart attack. Maybe we all, but particularly the Americans need to get a sense of proportion. The risk from co-ordinated terrorism may be real or imagined. In either case it is vanishingly small when compared to other more mundane risks that get taken for granted.
Overall a very good series, but why so little on the actual events of 9/11? This meticulously planned attack on 4 key US sites including most spectacularly the Twin Towers is too key to the whole issue to be dismissed casually in one sentence - and excuse me what was the name again of the Sheikh who planned and executed it? And where is he now, and what's happened to him and his associates? This was reality and not fantasy. By copping out of analysing it fully the series undermined its basic premise.
Michelle Russell, London
This kind of bold, innovative programming would be impossible without the license fee and is what makes the BBC so valuable. Regardless of whether the viewer ultimately agreed with its conclusions, no one could say that this was TV that had failed to make them think.
Stephen Rylance, London
I watched the final programme of the power of nightmares and was very surprised at how laughably one sided the viewpoint of this programme was. I've heard many concerns about the bias of the BBC but this programme was a joke. In fact it became almost hypocritical by the narrow one-sided view that it put across on this subject. The BBC needs to take a good look at itself. Its claims of impartiality have been shown to be completely false. It's disgusting that I have to pay a license fee to pay for this kind of drivel.
Tom Wooding, London
I spent most of the 1980's in the US Navy and saw first hand that the Soviet Union was not the power the West had painted them to be. They never had the capacity we did and never posed any real threat to the West just as we posed no threat to them. It was a mutual exercise in controlling their own citizenry.
Alan D., Dublin
A breath of fresh air to cut through government propaganda, presented to us daily as if it were objectively culled "news". Unfortunately, when the BBC did start to question the rubbish they are fed, a careless mistake allowed the government to crush the organisation and cause them to cower again.
Peter Williams, Billingshurst
Challenging, cogently argued, brilliantly interwoven. Programming at its best and definitely worth my whole licence fee. thank you.
Susan Lea-Wilson, Nottingham
Since the invasion of Iraq I've been waiting for the BBC to make this programme. Prophetic journalism at its best. If there was ever any doubt about who we can trust, the BBC has removed it. Please get this series on DVD and in the shops as soon as possible.
Nigel Dawkins, Cambridge
A question for all interested. If Bin Laden and al-Qaeda don't exist, who planned the 9/11 attacks? And how are the so-called top aides to al-Qaeda related to this organisation and Bin Laden himself?
Adnan Kadir, London
I suppose that the BBC is entitled to give us the benefit of its views on the "war on terror", however I really do believe the producers of the programme Nightmares are the ones living in cloud cuckoo land! That's not to say that a few of the points made in the program were not good ones. However the program is simplistic in its paradigm that all the world's problems are driven by a general loss of belief and that all firm leadership based on "a belief" is (by BBC definition) a delusion that we the public crave for. Sorry BBC, but could you be the ones who are deluded? However some of the points made will no doubt make for a good debate.
Mike Weekes, Redhill
The power of nightmares - what an outrageous programme. The over-riding impression given was that there is no terrorist threat in the world, only a conspiracy by a few people in power to convince the population that we are in danger. Making the claim that the Al-Qaeda network is not real may be valid, but the concept of Al-Qaeda is real, as is the tangible evidence of activity associated with this imaginary network.
That programme was typical naive liberal nonsense. The producers clearly have no real understanding of the mindset of radical apostate Islam. These individuals will eventually acquire nuclear weapons and unlike any previous terror organisation or nation state, will not hesitate to use such weapons. Unfortunately the mindset of those liberals that cynically believe it is all a fantasy represent just the kind of weak liberal naive mindset that will sow the seeds of our own destruction and defeat.
Russell Brown, Coventry
The most stunning series of programmes I have watched in years. Please replay this at prime time on BBC and follow it with a Question Time special with Blair among the guests to put the case made in the programme. Equally, let's hear the case for the defence, assuming there is one! Well done the BBC. Scrap the home improvement programmes and give us more of this!!
It is quite simply the best piece of television I have ever seen, what inspired use of footage, what an incredible narrative!
Paul Evans, Somerset
Is this the best you can do? No discussion board, just a filtered view of some peoples comments on Thursday. If this is not manufacturing consent then what is? I understand that TV costs £100,000 an hour on average and yet your web pages show not much effort beyond £1000.
Peter Bone, Norwich
I think that the "Nightmares" series is the most important the BBC has ever made. I am so grateful that they made the programmes and feel angry that we have been deceived by our leaders. But how would I feel if I had sent my son to die in Iraq for this imaginary "cause"?
Amelia Bennett, Maidenhead
After 38 years of paying a licence fee I have finally seen a programme which has made it worth the money. This series of visual essays should be repeated on BBC1 at prime time giving more people the opportunity to see the way in which we allow ourselves to be 'ruled' and increase our awareness of our own capacity for self delusion. Allied with the recent series by Jonathon Miller on disbelief, a strong antidote to the dumbing down of society which ,unfortunately, the BBC have been at the forefront of. Take a lesson - less Llewellyn Bowen, more BRAINS!!! - There is an audience
Simon Higgins, Brighton
It all now makes complete sense. What an excellent series! Fear is also being used more and more in other situations, such as mobile phone masts, bicycle helmets, the need to carry a mobile phone, insurance for everything. We really need to understand and teach the nature of risk more comprehensively. Only then will people be able to put fear into perspective, and be free from intimidation by terrorists and our leaders.
Anthony Cartmell, Worthing
Utterly compelling, from beginning to end. Illuminating, frightening and a brilliant example of documentary-making at its best. Adam Curtis should be applauded and rewarded for this series. Could this and the equally brilliant Century Of The Self be made available to buy, please?
Helen McLaughlin, Lancs
At last. Someone prepared to question the codswallop we have been fed since 11 September 2001. Full marks to the BBC for presenting this incisive series, and for having the courage to do so. I just hope it reaches a wide audience. Well done!
Derek Robinson, Ipswich
That's my licence fee's worth, right there. This series of programmes is superb. Full marks for starting so far back, for establishing your premise so early before applying it to current events. I understand that citizenship is to be part of the school curriculum in the UK. "Power of Nightmares" should be on the syllabus. The very best quote is at the end; for those who believe in nothing, there is only fear. Fear of those who believe in anything.
This was one of the best contributions from any mass media about the phenomenon of the bogus war on terror. Well done BBC!
Eric Cross, London
Peter in London, you seem to have missed the point completely. There is a terrorist threat, but not on the scale that Blair and Blush would have us believe. There is no such thing as al-Qaeda, but that doesn't mean that disaffected individuals wont attack us... of course they will. You obviously watched the programme with your ideas already formed. Open your eyes and get your facts right!
Have never before felt the need to say well done to any media organisation, but, erm, well done - FANTASTIC series, especially last night's.
Jon Baker, Tunbridge Wells
Congratulations to the BBC for finally making a documentary that makes real sense of the fearful world we are now living in. A job very well done!
Totally with Megan here. This should not have been put out against British Isles. You guys wasted a lot of the impact that this excellent program could have had on a much bigger audience.
Congratulations Adam Curtis and well done BBC Two for giving this series a decent schedule time. It was utterly compelling and one of the best programmes I've seen this year. Narrative argument was simply told supported by great research. Deserves to win awards - but probably won't.
Lynne Trenery, Oxford
Lies work best when they're based on a grain of truth. In order to expose the lies you have to work right back to that grain and expose the small untruth which first skewed the story. Then you can start to tell the story again. I wish I had time to do that kind of thing for myself but I haven't, and it's because of that I'm truly thankful this programme was made.
Thank you for The Power of Nightmares, a series of unprecedented intelligence. This alone is worth my licence fee for the year, and is exactly the kind of programme the BBC should be making - a little heard voice which is truly in the public interest.
Josh Cunliffe, London
It surprises me that the BBC allowed three hours for this drivel. Come on Beeb! You can do better than this.
Stephen Lyall, Farnham
My thanks to Adam Curtis for a refreshing blast of reality. Perhaps the whole BBC news department could be encouraged to view it and learn not to be so gullible. But then that would not be fashionable.
John Ryan, Stockport
While I enjoyed episodes one and two, episode three is ludicrous. It almost suggests that 9/11, Bali, Madrid, USS Cole, Kenya etc, were all fantasies! They were committed by real live living terrorists, not fantasies as you put it. You harp on about the al-Qaeda "organisation not existing". Yes it didn't exist because.... it wasn't an "organisation"! It was a network, something that Adam Curtis obviously does not understand.
Networks don't have leaders, or strong links, but they exist and support each other loosely. The neo-conservatives who help protect us by admittedly exaggerating the threats to us should be given medals. I feel much safer, only one suicide bomb by one nut would be too much and a high state of alert prevents that. Liberalism puts us into a weakened state of inertia which is exploited by some groups. 9/11 proved that.
Andy Mitchell, London
This programme is the perfect antidote to the lies told to us by politicians and the media (including the BBC). A must see for everyone with a mind of their own.
I often wonder how the government aims to create a "multicultural society" when it begins to persecute people without evidence and hold people without trial.
Claire Burnell-Hornby, London
Thank you BBC. This is true public service broadcasting.
Everything about it impressed: the depth and precision of the argument, the quality of the evidence presented, the calibre of the interviewees, the visual imagery and the music. I watched the first episode with a friend and we both kept looking at one another in amazement. This is a very brave piece of programming, and I hope for the sake of the country the BBC will be bold enough to commission more documentaries of this extremely high standard.
Wonder why Curtis left out Abdullah Azzam? Azzam helped Bin Laden start the Maktab Khadamat al-Mujihideen. In 1989 renamed al-Qaeda (the Base) The real Nightmare is the BBC wasted money on this rubbish.
S L Garbutt, Leeds
Absolutely marvellous programme. In this day of sound bites and five minute analysis it was so refreshing to see an in-depth consideration of a complex issue. It has said what I am sure many have been thinking but have not had the opportunity or the ability to voice. This programme has said what needed to be said. I congratulate the BBC for making and airing this incredible piece of investigative and intellectual journalism.
Asker Husain, London
I want to thank the BBC for airing this excellent and insightful series. As an ex-American, who fled that country when I saw the current situation forming, I'm still amazed at the incredible gullibility and isolationist views of the American (and British) people. Yesterday's re-election of Bush only serves to underscore the power of nightmares.
D Cooper, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The emperor marched in the procession under the beautiful canopy, and all who saw him in the street and out of the windows exclaimed: "Indeed, the emperor's new suit is incomparable! What a long train he has! How well it fits him!". Nobody wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then he would have been unfit for his office or too stupid. Never were emperor's clothes more admired.
"But he has nothing on at all," said a little child at last. "Good heavens! Listen to the voice of an innocent child," said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. "But he has nothing on at all," cried at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself: "Now I must bear up to the end." And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist.
Paul Rivers, Farncombe, Surrey
An excellent series and a final episode which owes much to Jason Burke's analysis of al-Qaeda. It deserves the widest audience and discussion possible. Please repeat it with a studio audience discussion to follow. I hope it will be shown in the US.
Iskra Begum, Karachi, Pakistan
I agree with pretty much everything the programmes have been saying. However, I think this programme could have produced more damning evidence. There were places where I felt the evidence given was just as flimsy as that given by the CIA etc.
Ian Miller, Oxford
Finally someone said it. I salute you for broadcasting this programme, I only wish that everyone saw it.
Adham Ghoz, London
As someone who has barely been able to believe the twaddle of this Anglo-American fantasy, I have persisted in criticising and condemning the media for being so uncritical of the established view. Will you now stop playing their game? Will you stop banging on about the "War of Terror"? Will you stop banging on about the "terror network"? In a few moments we will get Newsnight. Paxman has already done a promo in which he referred to terrorism again. Will you stop this - TONIGHT?
Kris Harris, Birmingham
Best documentary programme on TV this year, and arguably for a number of years. If the issues at stake weren't so devastating it would all be quite amusing.
Innes Ferguson, London
The programme confirmed a trend long predicted that governments are heading towards failure. Your programme's final comment was the most chilling that nobody believes anything and thus fear rules. Well you should read biblical prophecy as this is exactly what is predicted. So what next - the anti-Christ who is a man of solutions for a shattered disillusioned world? Thanks for reminding me to pray for our rulers, they obviously need a wake-up call.
Absolutely fantastic television, beats Fahrenheit 9/11 hands down, a real eye opener. Wrap it up, slap it on DVD and sell a million copies.
Tom Norman, Carlisle
The thing that struck me most was a quote: "A society that believes in nothing, fear is the key for controlling the masses." My point is this is nothing new. Governments have been doing this for a very long. Our insecurities keep us sleeping. I think it's time we awoke. And that's the governments' fear, that we might wake up.
Yasser Kassana, Slough
This program brought tears from many emotions to my eyes this evening, fantastic! Probably the only programme God himself would have watched.
Very very poor. Reflecting the liberal elite's prejudices back at them is hardly brave television. There was a decent show in there trying to get out, but it was ruined by sledgehammer-subtle arguments and incredibly one-sided editing.
This is not what the BBC should be doing - there was no attempt at balance or nuance or even trying to get beneath the surface of the issues. Lazy television.
Dave Fuller, Southampton
I have long disbelieved the imagined nonsense put forward by the US administration. It was good to see a well-written and well-researched programme that gives the lie effectively to the outlandish claims that have been put forward. It's all totally depressing on a day when Bush got back in - but even more depressing is the fact that Kerry, even if he secretly disbelieved the big lie, would not have been able to admit that to the hoodwinked US public.
Paul Cardin, Wallasey
Hopefully this might make a few people wake up and take notice of what this government is doing - frightening the people into giving up their rights and creating an Orwellian state.
Rich Manley-Reeve, Newcastle
Thanks for showing a most excellent series of films. It has gone a long way to restoring my faith in the BBC as an independent broadcaster. If only you had been showing it in the US.
Rob Belcham, Stourport-On-Severn
Jump cuts, irrelevant archive, and an unfashionably complex polemic delivering one of the most perceptive insights into our mad mad world I've seen on television. If my entire licence fee went on this series, I'd consider it good value. The best thing Curtis has done since Pandora's box.
Denman Rooke, London
If only the majority of Americans had seen this series before the election. I am certain the outcome of the election would have been different.
I am a US citizen and would like to share this brilliant documentary with friends and family at home. It is a shame this could not have been broadcast on prime time television there.
Maggie Pullen, London
One of the most convincingly researched pieces of documentary journalism I believe I am ever likely to see. I slept better after the final programme than after any "reassurance" provided by Bush or Blair.
P Bates, Windsor
A fascinating, thoroughly absorbing series. Little presented to the viewer is based on speculation, affording the series the kind of integrity other documentaries so often fail to achieve.
Quite simply television at its finest. Educational, persuasive, thought-provoking and gut-churningly enthralling in its descriptions of recent history and, worse, the future. A compelling vision.
Greg Thomas, Swindon
Let's hope that this programme helps bring rationality back into debates on security and allows people to sleep easier, without lowering people's guard too much against the non-imaginary threat of Madrid-style attacks.
Richard Stone, Bath
I would like to thank the BBC for showing this powerful piece of TV. Presented in a coherent way, it explained how and why the world is the way it is today. Bravo for intelligent film making!
The real nightmare is Bush's re-election. If only this had been broadcast in America instead. Anyway, congratulations on perhaps the best programme I've seen from the BBC in years. When is it going to be repeated?
A powerful and chilling description of the character of modern politics. Creating an illusion has made true the idea that a frighten society is a compliant society. However, if we know and understand this illusion, we have only to fear our leaders, not our "enemies". The next phase of political momentum will be in deciding how to redress the balance in our society and acting on it.
Steve, Lampeter, West Wales
What a great serious! Brilliant research, excellent presentation, the best documentary on TV in years.
Mark Featherstone, Keele, Staffordshire
A superb programme without the political or tabloid hype associated with the subject. Would it have made a difference if it had been shown in the US before the election?
Adrian Dorling, Oxford
An astonishingly well researched programme. A welcome breath of fresh air in a bizarre media frenzy of fear. Put up giant video screens across the world and play it 24 hours a day until everyone sees it.
Paul, Newton Aycliffe
This programme should be on every American history curriculum to show every child just how scary their country has become. Truly saddening that the masses buy these fantasies so willingly - a fantastic series.
Jonathan Cosgrove, Bristol
That was the most amazing show I've ever seen. It makes me wonder on the purpose of even the most critical mainstream journalism in our society. It should be about criticising politics and the society it creates. Yet even though I work with these issues every day, I have never heard much of the information in your programme before, and I'm pretty ashamed and also angry. Really really cool.
Nick Dearden, London
The last interviewee said that it was because our society "does not believe in anything" that it has only fear and targets any sort of fundamentalist. But surely both Bush and Blair both call themselves Christians. And are there not a lot of churchgoing Americans?
Jennifer Smith, Oxford
A good programme showing how much we can trust the media and the governments.
Brilliant, brilliant documentary. If only this could have been shown in the USA instead of Fahrenheit 9/11 in the run up to the elections. Thank you BBC.
This is a most biased programme. It is very easy with the benefit of hindsight to pick out certain events while playing the theme music to Riley Ace of Spies and put a liberal spin on them. Has Adam Curtis forgotten the last 30 years in Ulster, the bombs in both Ireland and UK for which very few were convicted. The problem there is still not solved.
Sheila Bagliami, Co Galway
Excellent Programme. Opened blind eyes!
Why, in the name of heaven, was this not shown in the States BEFORE the elections??!! From an ex-Pat Yank (who did NOT vote for GWB)
John Snyder, Ludlow
This is without a doubt the most important three hours of programming I have ever seen, I just had to say thank you and wished that it had been seen by more or even all people. World changing.
Dennis Knowles, Northam, Devon
The best programme on television in a long long time - I hope Tony Blair was watching. I am so angry right now about the US election result, it was nice to have the programme end with a positive message! There is still hope for the world as long as programmes like this still get made.
Paul Smith, Kings Lynn
Excellently researched and argued series, thought-provoking and informative. Now I am left to wonder: my government claims to be trying to protect me from terrorists, with its identity cards, justice "short cuts" and surveillance. Who or what will protect me from my government?
Liz Tyndall, Newark
This was a brilliant series - very depressing at times but brilliantly uplifting in another sense. If we can dispel the myths of fear we start to live and behave in a way that safety allows - a world where we are not afraid to trust, to share and to believe in humanity. Thanks. Can i get the series on DVD? I want to send it to everyone I know!
Olivia Knight, London
Thank you BBC. This refreshing programme has affirmed our faith in free speech and free information at a time when those things are becoming all too rare.
Cuil Short, Rochdale
The programme seemed focussed towards the suggestion that the "al-Qaeda" network was a myth created by the American government to create a prosecution against Bin Laden. It may well have been created but to suggest that it was not a network that existed is surely wrong. Everything needs a name.
Although it may not be referred to by its Western name by the Islamic rebels or even acknowledged by sceptics, there should be no doubt that an organisation exists and is well funded. It should also be apparent that all terrorists are dangerous no matter what their cause.
Vaughan Jones, Nuneaton
What a refreshing, interesting and challenging series. Somewhat sad and ironic that the final part should be shown today of all days - given it's content. In some ways it made me less fearful - of terror and the myths surrounding it - however in other ways it scared me more - that is, the neo-conservatives in the USA! Is the BBC planning a DVD or book release for the series?
Kes Moore, Tamworth
Fair enough. This is all true but you're playing the game too.
Craig Clarke, Lincoln
Stunning series. The first open progressive unashamed journalism post-Hutton. Please release on DVD.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Thank you for the best and most thoughtful analysis of the so-called "war on terror" that we have been given so far. A real eye-opener. Should be shown at peak time on BBC1.
Tom Gosling, St Albans
Excellent series and so well put together. Takes a serious topic and presents it with such simplicity and clarity that I found myself asking how we can all be so damn stupid as to let ourselves be fooled! Our '"leaders" on both sides have fooled us and continue to do so. As a Muslim, I am appalled at the way some have chosen to manipulate Islam. As a Westener, I am appalled at how some have chosen to manipulate democracy. Now tell me, how'd I get a copy of the series?
Amazing, the best thing I have seen on TV in the better part of 10 years. I have long been a doubter of the war on terror, barely daring to raise an opinion in the prevailing hysterical atmosphere. It is good to know that there is alternative reading to the rubbish we are all force-fed 24/7. Without doubt the best revelation of this whole production so far was the delicious irony that both the neo-conservatives and Islamic Jihad/al-Qaeda can trace the root of their ideology back to the same place. Many thanks for having the confidence and balls to commission and show this, it can't have been an easy call. How about a DVD release?
This is a documentary that I believe everyone in the US should watch. Both terrifying and fascinating.
Karl Jackson, Oregon, USA
Great television and powerful investigative journalism. Please give these programmes a wider audience by screening them on BBC World. The world needs this perspective on global political manipulation, from the lies that were spread against the Soviet Union to the current "enemy" terrorism.
Rod Evan, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I am an American living temporarily in Scotland. This is by far the best documentary I have seen that assesses the current geopolitical situation. I have to say, much of what The Power of Nightmares says about the US is spot on. Please make this available in the US. It should be required viewing for everyone.
I find the programme quite misguiding and full of lies. The coverage is very superficial which shows the lack of very understanding of the problem. I can strongly confirm that especially when the Algerian crisis was covered. This is because I lived there during that bloody y decade, and I was myself exposed to the horrors and violence and we know exactly what happened and who was behind it. This is a very poor programme which rushes in accusing Islamists. It is full of lies. It really gives the impression of being deliberately produced to stigmatise the image of the Islamic religion and produce more fanatic people. That programme contributes greatly to destabilising the world.
What absolute rubbish to suggest there is no terrorist threat. Who carried out 9/11, Bali, Istanbul, Madrid etc etc? I can't think whose interests programmes like this serve, except those who so-called "liberal intellectuals" who will side with anyone who wants to destroy Western civilisation. There is no "moral equivalence" between the US and the terrorists - just moral bankruptcy from those who try to pretend there is.
I sympathise with this view of the neo-conservatives, who now seem set for a further four years of crusading. Thankfully, the grip of these semi-fanatics has not yet extended beyond US borders, so that discussions like this can continue. Also, the grip can't be that tight even inside the US, otherwise people like Michael Moore would not be able to publish books and films attacking the neo-conservatives so viciously.
Instead of all the dumbed-down politics, sound bites and banner and flag waving, the American public should have been forced to watch this outstanding series. This has revealed to the neutral viewer the mindsets that have influenced world politics over the last few decades. I for one view things completely differently now.
Seeing how the American public have seemingly voted in again such an ill-informed puppet of the neo-conservatives and evangelical right - a decision that affects all of us - I really begun to question whether we are indeed living in a democracy and are as free as we think. This is, in a twisted way, exactly what the terrorists who have attacked the West believe, and it is worrying that if you look behind the smokescreens and mirrors, it is increasingly easy to see their point.
Ben Gibney, Douglas, Isle of Man
Is this series going to be repeated? I can't believe the BBC was so nearsighted as to think that people who wanted to watch the British Isles wouldn't be interested in this... sort out your scheduling!
Had this not come from the BBC, I would have thought it to be a fantastic story from a crackpot. Its implications are truly mind-boggling.
Camden, Socorro, New Mexico, US