from film: HyperNormalisation, 2016, Adam Curtis

  1. 1975. Setting: NY and Damascus; Both see change in power from politics to something… else
    1. NY
      1. Politicians for 30 years had been borrowing money from banks to pay for growing services and welfare
      2. Early ’70s, middle class flees city, their taxes disappear too
      3. Banks lend city even more; worried about whether city could pay back its debt
      4. 1975: lending stops; city holds regular meeting to issue bonds in return for the loans, overseen by city’s financial controller
        1. Banks don’t show up; don’t want bonds
        2. This day marks radical shift in power
        3. Banks insist that, to protect their loans, they should be allowed to take control of the city
        4. New committee set up, made mostly of bankers
      5. Bankers enforce austerity: sack teachers, police, firefighters
      6. Strange thing: no one opposes the bankers, including the left, who retreated
        1. Rise of new powerful individualism that did not jibe with collective action
        2. Individual radical watches city with cool, ironic detachment; experiencing the city, but not wanting to change it
        3. New radicalism would try to change people’s minds with self expression, not collective action
      7. Some of the left saw something else going on: this new generation was losing touch with the reality of power
      8. Trump knew how to use this new kind of power: there was no future in building housing for ordinary people because all the government grants had gone
        1. He saw other ways to get money out of the state: he bought up derelict buildings in NY, saying he’d transform them into luxury hotels and appartments
        2. He negotiates the biggest tax break in city’s history: $160 million
          1. City and banks agree and lend him the money
        3. He pays nothing and transforms the city into one for the rich
    2. Damascus
      1. Conflict between 2 men: US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the president of Syria, Hafez al-Assad
        1. This battle would have profound consequences –> idea that you could run the world as a stable system
      2. Assad was brutal and ruthless, but he believed the violence was for the purpose of uniting Arab countries to stand up to the West
      3. Kissinger, also ruthless, started in 1950s with “the delicate balance of terror”
        1. This system ran the Cold War
        2. Saw himself as a political realist; history is struggle of power between people and nations
        3. Saw the world as a delicate system; must keep system balance
        4. Set to impose this world systems analysis on Middle East; must deal with Assad
      4. Assad convinced that Palestinian refugees must return to homeland if there were going to be peace with Israel
      5. Kissinger thought that strengthening the Arabs would destabilize his balance of power: set out to fracture power of Arab countries by dividing them, pitting them against each other so they’d keep each other in check–“constructive ambiguity
        1. Series of meetings: he persuaded Egypt to sign separate agreement with Israel, while also leading Assad to believe he was working for a wider peace agreement that included Palestinians
        2. In reality, Palestinians were ignored as irrelevant to power balance of the world system
      6. Assad got pissed off over Kissinger’s going behind his back, would “release demons of Arab world”–he retreats and builds a looming palace in Damascus
  2. Inside Soviet Empire
    1. By 1980s, it was clear that the socialist dream had failed–its society no longer believed in a vision of the future
    2. Technocrats, instead of reveal that the socialist dream had failed because of failures in planning, decided to pretend that everything was still going according to plan: a fake version of society emerges (hence the film’s title)
      1. Everyone could see clearly that it wasn’t, but played along because they couldn’t imagine an alternative
      2. Hypernormalization: you were so much a part of the system, that it was impossible to see beyond it; the fakeness was hypernormal (c.f. Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism)
    3. Two brothers give literary voice to a new dissident movement–Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, science fiction writers
      1. Roadside Picnic, which was adapted to film as Stalker
  3. The Human Bomb
    1. Ronald Reagan is sworn in January 20th, 1981
      1. New vision of the world; simple, moral crusade; America must fight “evil” and make the world a better place; no longer Kissinger’s realist approach
      2. Israel now determined to destroy Palestinians; in 1982, Israel sent massive army to encircle Palestinian camps in Lebanon
      3. SABRA camps, 2,000 Palestinian refugees massacred in the camps, Israel allowed it to happen, as a Christian Lebanese faction (Israeli allies) executed it
        1. In face of horror, Reagan insists on sending a neutral group of Marines to Beirut to keep peace
        2. Assad was convinced of another reality: another American-Israeli conspiracy to quash Arabs
      4. Assad set on getting Americans out of Middle East; joins up with new revolutionary force of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran (three years after the Iranian Revolution of 1979)
        1. Khomeini would provide Assad with a new weapon he’d just created: suicide bombings, or “the poor man’s atomic bomb
        2. Khomeini came to power during Iranian revolution; claims that Shia Islamic tradition promotes the bombings (w/ self-mutilation/penitence=killing yourself for the greater good of the revolution)
        3. Khomeini mobilized this force when it was attacked by Iraq and faced with almost certain defeat, given Saddam’s superior weapons, many supplied by America
          1. Khomeini sent many young people to walk though mine fields and use their bodies to open up paths
      5. Assad takes this new human weapon to the West for the first time: this is when it becomes form of suicide bombing
        1. October, 1983, two suicide bombers drove trucks in Marine barracks in Beirut–241 Americans died
        2. This was Hezbollah, mostly Iranian, but under control of Syria and Syrian intelligence agencies
        3. Assad was using Hezbollah as proxies to attack America
      6. Feb. 26, 1984: within 4 months, Reagan withdraws all American troops from Lebanon
        1. American official says they were perplexed; America left and went home
        2. Assad deemed victorious with his new weapon: this new power transcended politics and corruptions of the world; entered “new” and “better” realm
  4. Altered States
    1. Mid 1980s, banking and finance are growing; unlike older systems of power, it was mainly invisible
    2. Corporations were making computerized networks of information that were invisible to politicians and regular folks
      1. These networks gave extraordinary powers of control to the corporations
    3. William Gibson writes series of novels, coins term “cyberspace” and represents it as raw, brutal, corporate power
    4. New visionaries in America take Gibson’s idea and transform it into a new utopia
  5. California
    1. Techno-utopians turn Gibson’s idea on its head; reinvent cyberspace as a place where radical dreams could come true
    2. Computer utopians meshed with retreated radicals; way to escape right-wing politics of Reagan’s America
      1. This culture found its origins in the 1960s and LSD
    3. Acid Flashback (1960s)
      1. LSD would open your mind to new realities; free from politicians and those in power; an LSD society of peace
    4. Cyberspace was real acid trip; free from hierarchies of corruption and corporations
    5. Barlow’s manifesto told politicians and money to stay out: this vision dominates internet for the next 20 years
    6. But 2 hackers call him out for being a utopian: Phiber Obtik and Acid Phreak
      1. Infuriated with claim that cyberspace was without hierarchy
      2. Acid Phreak hacks TRW (who built systems that ran Cold War, then adapted to run new systems of credit and debt)
      3. TRW’s computers amalgamated American’s debt and issued credit ratings
      4. The hackers broke in, stole Barlow’s credit rating, and published it online–demonstrating growing powers of finance; how companies that ran new systems of credit knew more about you, using that info to control your destiny
    7. System that allowed this to happen was the networks of information connected by computer service, a new world power that had replaced politics
  6. The Colonel
    1. After humiliating defeat in Lebanon, Reagan set out to show that America’s crusade was worthy of admiration: so he chose a scapegoat “villain”: Colonel Gaddafi, the ruler of Libya
    2. Americans were going to use Gaddafi to create a fake terrorist mastermind; Gaddafi was going to happily play along because it would turn him into a famous global figure
    3. Gaddafi had taken power from a coup in the 1970s
      1. He believed he was an international revolutionary set to challenge the west
      2. He had attended a course in London from 1966, hated the patronizing racism he experienced
      3. Once in power, he developed his own idea of revolution: “Third Universal Theory”–an alternative to capitalism and communism, he published it and no one read it
      4. He funneled money to Ireland to fight the British colonizers; by 1980s, he had no allies and no global influence
    4. This all changes: Dec. 1985 terrorists attack Rome and Vienna airports simultaneously, 19 people killed, including 5 Americans–pressure for Reagan to retaliate
      1. Reagan immediately claims that Gaddafi was behind the attacks; but European security services that investigated attacks claimed that Libya was not involved at all–in fact, the mastermind behind the attacks was Syria and their intelligence agencies
      2. Gaddafi doesn’t deny anything, leaning into the role and threatening suicidal attacks on America–he grabs publicity from Americans and dramatizes it
    5. Gaddafi’s claims to stand for oppressed people around the world, even black Americans
      1. Promised to supply weapons to 400,000 African American “army” to fight white America
    6. Gaddafi hires German rocket scientists to build him rockets for space exploration
      1. No one believes him: journalists write that he plans to attack Europe
    7. Americans and Gaddafi now locked into mutually reassuring relationship process in which a powerful new image was created and captured the imagination of the West: Gaddafi was the super villain of a “rogue state”
    8. Another terrorist attack at discotec in west Berlin–bomb killed American soldier
      1. Americans release “intercepts” from National Security Agency that they claimed proved Gaddafi was behind bombing and also the mastermind behind range of other attacks–Reagan orders Pentagon to be ready to bomb Libya
      2. Still, there were doubts; this time in the American government itself–analysts were taking Gaddafi’s claims about himself as fact and using it to reinforce real actions
    9. In effect, therefore, America and Gaddafi were playing off of each other and constructing a fake reality
      1. European intelligence claims that it, again, was Syria who attacked in Berlin, but America refused to listen, since attacking Syria was too dangerous
      2. Why go for Gaddafi instead? He had no allies–Americans believed there would be less Arab and Soviet support for Gaddafi
    10. April 1986, Americans attack Libya
      1. Targets: Gaddafi’s own house; he claims his adopted daughter was killed–some children did indeed die because of America’s sloppy bombing techniques (foreshadow: Obama-era drone strikes)
      2. Gaddafi takes theater op to push his 3rd universal theory
  7. The Truth is Out There
    1. 1980s saw uptick in claims of UFO sightings
    2. American government may have made it all up; there were new high-tech weapons; believed Soviets were far stronger than they were and so they ought to develop new weapons
    3. They pick people out and give them forged official documents about UFOs, which spread like wildfire and create the 1990s uptick in obsession with UFOs–it also fueled belief that governments lie to you
    4. Perception Management (1980s): tell dramatic stories that grip public imagination and tell stories about Central America, Middle East, Soviet Union
      1. Didn’t matter if stories were true or false, as long as it distracted you and politicians from having to deal with real-life complexities of the world
    5. Death of Facts–how can you manipulate the American people; reality is something you can play with
  8. But something was about to happen that demonstrated just how far the American government was detached from reality: the fall of the Soviet Union 
    1. No one saw it coming: economists, politicians, academics, journalists, think tank experts
  9. Managed Outcomes
    1. In America, fall of Soviet Union showed that politicians would not rule the world
    2. Instead, there was a new system that had nothing to do with politics–a system that didn’t try to change things, but attempted to manage a post-political world
    3. First to describe this change: left-wing German political thinker: Ulrich Beck: “any politician who claimed to be able to change things was seen as dangerous”–politics was reduced to trying to manage unpredictable events
    4. Larry Fink, a banker, builds supercomputer that will predict the future
      1. He starts company called Black Rock, builds computer called Alladin, housed in a series of large sheds in the apple orchards outside Wenatchee, WA
      2. Could use it to predict risk of investment; computer monitors the world events and compares with past events
      3. Guides $15 trillion
    5. Prozac use increases
    6. Another way of managing people: artificial intelligence
      1. Eliza: computer psychotherapist–just repeats back what the patient said in different words
      2. In an age of individualism, what made people feel secure was having themselves reflected back to them, just like in a mirror
      3. AI grew to do just that via “intelligent agents,” gather massive data about people that then predicted what you’d want in the future–a system that ordered the world in a way that was centered around you
  10. A Cautionary Tale
    1. New system’s flaw: real world can’t be predicted from past data–Trump would later learn this
      1. Jess Marcum receives a phone call in 1990 form Trump asking fro help: the guy is a nuclear scientist-turned gambler who used photographic memory to beat Vegas odds
      2. The banks that lent Trump millions realized that he could no longer pay the interest on the loans–his empire was facing bankruptcy
      3. Kashiwagi comes to Trump’s casino and starts winning millions of dollars, Trump freaks out, seeks help from Marcum who comes up with bet that would get back money; Kashi loses, Trump thinks he’s got his money back, then Kashi gets murdered and Trump never receives his money
  11. 1991 Damascus: Assad didn’t want stability, he wanted revenge on the U.S. for what Kissinger did when he snubbed the Arab world during the Egypt/Israel talks
    1. Dec. 1988: bomb explodes on Pan Am plane over Lockerbie in Scotland–investigators and journalists (justifiably) blame Syria; claim it was in retaliation for America’s shooting down an Iranian airliner in the Gulf months before
      1. But, 18 months later, security agencies come out that they were wrong: indeed, this time it was Libya behind the bombing, they claimed
      2. Still, journalists and politicians didn’t believe it: this was a cynical decision on America’s behalf as it looked for an ally in Assad for the coming Gulf War against Saddam Hussein
      3. So once again, they blame Gaddafi as terrorist mastermind
    2. But Assad was not in control: the “human bomb” he’d introduced was now about to spread like a virus from Sunni to Shia Islam
      1. December 1992, Hamas kidnaps and stabs to death Israeli border guard–Israel’s response was insane, rounding up 415 members of Hamas, bussing them to a mountain in Lebanon, and leaving them in Hezbollah territory
      2. There, they spent 6 months, learned from Hezbollah of power of suicide bombing
      3. Hamas then infiltrates heart of Israel, unleashing newly learned suicide bombing tactics, targeting civilians for the first time
    3. Hamas is Sunni, a sect of Islam that, unlike Shia, doesn’t have rituals of self-sacrifice
      1. Most senior religious leader in Saudi Arabia insisted this new tactic was wrong
      2. But mainstream theologian from Egypt called Sheikh Qaradawi seized the moment, issuing fatwa that justified the attacks—adding “it’s justified to kill civilians, including women, because the latter serve in the military and are part of the army”
    4. Suicide bombs continue to bombard Israel, politics no longer serve to deal with the Palestinian crisis
      1. Israeli election in 1996: Benjamin Netanyahu took power; he turns against the peace process, fulfilling Hamas’ desires
      2. Therefore, suicide bombing had destroyed the very political solution to the Palestinian crisis that Assad had hoped for when he first implemented the tactic
  12. America at the end of the twentieth century
    1. Optimistic visions of future had disappeared; experts begin to focus on dangers hidden in the future; pessimism spreads from rational technocratic world to the whole of culture
      1. Everyone became obsessed with dark forebodings (cue scene of movies with imagery of American cities exploding)
    2. Sept. 11, 2001
      1. Suicide bombs, on a large scale
      2. Reagan had experienced first suicide bomb some 20 years earlier–he leaves Syria, allowing Assad and suicide bombing to fester, going for Colonel Gaddafi instead
        1. This changed the way people saw terrorism; instead of a violence born out of political struggles for power, it became replaced by a much simpler image of an evil tyrant at head of a rogue state
      3. After 9/11: this idea transforms into new and equally simple idea: remove tyrants and the oppressed people will willfully transform into a democracy
    3. Tony Blair and George Bush become obsessed with ridding world of Saddam Hussein
      1. Sept. 2002, head of MI6 rushed to Downing Street to tell Blair excitedly they’d found the source that confirmed everything
      2. “Source” had direct access to Hussein’s chemical weapons program—but someone at MI6 noticed the description matched exactly the plot from 1996 movie “The Rock” starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage
    4. Hafez al-Assad had died in 2000, and his son Bashar alAssad became the new president of Syria
      1. Bashar couldn’t escape the inexorable logic his father had started
      2. He wasn’t into politics, was a computer nerd, loved Electric Light Orchestra, wouldn’t have been president if his brother, Bassel, hadn’t died in a car crash
      3. But still, he saw America’s invasion of Iraq as just the first step of a plot by Western powers to take over whole of middle east
        1. He knew the invasion pissed off radical Islamists in Syria who then wanted to go to Iraq and kill Americans—Bashar instructed Syrian Intelligent Services to help them do this
        2. Syrian agents set up pipeline that began to feed thousands of militants across the border and into the heart of the insurgency
        3. Within a year, almost all of foreign fighters were coming thru Syria—they brought suicide bombing with them
      4. More chaos—most of the jihadists had joined the group alQaeda in Iraq, which then turned to killing Shi’ites in an attempt to create a civil war
        1. The force that had originally been invented by the Shi’ites, suicide bombing, now returned to kill them
      5. Tony Blair and George Bush were faced with a disaster as Iraq was imploding, while at home they were accused of lying to their own people to justify the invasion—they needed something to show the invasion was having a good effect on the Arab world
        1. So, they turned to help from Colonel Gaddafi, who would now be their new best friend and democratic hero
        2. Everyone, not just politicians, would become involved (PR, academics, TV, spies, musicians were all going to help reinvent him)—this would show just how many people in the West had become engineers of this fake world
        3. Cue Blair and Bush making televised statements that Gaddafi was the shit for dismantling his WMDs
          1. But Gaddafi never had WMDs, just old mustard gas in leaking barrels—but now he had to pretend he had them, and the West had to pretend they avoided another global threat
      6. As part of the deal, the West claims that if Gaddafi admitted that Libya had done Lockerbie bombings, they’d lift sanctions
        1. But many who investigated Lockerbie were still convinced Libya hadn’t done, it was Syria
        2. Still, Gaddafi confessed to get sanctions lifted
        3. New lies built upon old likes to construct completely fake work
      7. PR firms come to Libya to “reframe the narrative”
        1. One firm is paid 3 million to turn Gaddafi into a “modern world thinker”
        2. They bring other world thinkers to Libya to discuss Gadaffi’s ideas—like Lord Anthony Giddens, who had a theory called the Third Way
        3. Gaddafi finally achieves life-long dream: he’s invited to the UN and gives talk about his theory for 2 hours; he even calls for investigation into MLK’s and Kennedy’s assassination
          1. When in NY, he’s given a mansion tent, which is organized by Trump
  13. A World Without Power
    1. People in Britain and America turn away from politics; Iraq War causes them to feel they were lied to over WMDs, but also a deeper feeling: that whatever they did or said had no effect
      1. Whole new generation of liberals, leftists, radical retreat, turning away from hypocritical political world to cyberspace
    2. Now, cyberspace was insane with its human-behavior predictive algorithms, etc.
      1. Judea Pearl, scientist, was father of modern AI; his breakthrough was to use Bayesian Belief Networks
        1. BBN: systems that could predict behavior even when the information was incomplete 
        2. To make the system work, Pearl and others import a model of human beings drawn from economics: they created rational agents
      2. Rational agents: software that mimicked human beings but in a very simplified form; model assumed that the agent would always act rationally to get what it wanted and nothing more
        1. Jaron Lanier, early utopian of cyberspace, warns of implications: the agents model will always be a cartoon, and so you’ll see the world as a cartoon through the agent, you’ll never know who they’re working for: you or someone else
    3. Cue talk about fact that anyone and everyone can upload videos to cyberspace—terror videos, death videos, porn, etc.
      1. First terrorist beheading video: victim was Judea Pearl’s own son, Daniel Pearl, journalist for WSJ
      2. This was a world that old systems of power had difficulty dealing with; in wake of 9/11, security agencies secretly collected data on millions of people online
        1. One program was called “Optic Nerve”: took stills from webcam conversations of people across the world in attempt to spot next terrorist attack
        2. The program finds no terrorist; but did discover lots of dicks
    4. But people use new tech to broadcast images of themselves that they want people to see them as
      1. Like 2-way mirror, the simplified agents were watching, predicting, and guiding your hand on the mouse
      2. Cue bubbles of self-interest: people only hear and see what they like, including news feeds
      3. New power: decisions to show or hide certain things from you
    5. Then old utopian vision of cyberspace reemerges: cue Occupy Wall Street
      1. Financial crisis of 2008, politicians save banks but do nothing about massive corruption that was revealed in its wake—reason cited was that it might destabilize the system
      2. Public anger led to Occupy, which took Wall Street and then Washington
      3. Occupy set out to build Barlow’s utopia—each person was an autonomous individual that expressed what they believed, yet still acted as a collective of components in a network that organized itself through the feedback of information around the system (using example the communication in large crowd where crowd repeats the words of one person to relay information to people out of ear-shot of original speaker)
      4. You could organize people without the exercise of power
    6. Cue Arab Spring in Tunisia –> Egypt
      1. January 25, 2011, thousands of Egyptians come out in groups in Cairo and start moving toward Tahrir Square—seemed like a spontaneous uprising, but internet played key role
      2. Egyptian Google employee sets up Facebook that helps to organize it (named Ghonim)
      3. Many Western Liberals see it as a powerful revolution that toppled a 30-year-old tyrant
    7. Liberals weren’t only ones who saw their dreams fulfilled in Arab Spring, many political leaders of the West also supported revolutions, since it fit their simple idea of regime change
      1. Democracy would finally flourish
      2. So when an uprising began in Libya, Britain, France, and America supported it—suddenly, Colonel Gaddafi stopped being a hero of the West
      3. All politicians, PR, and academics suddenly disappear, and Gaddafi becomes an evil dictator once again
    8. November 2011, large convoy was spotted leaving Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte—American drone controlled from desert location in Nevada sent to follow it
      1. Operator fires missile at lead car of convoy—Gaddafi flees to hid from rebel forces, hiding in drainage pipe; he’s murdered
      2. Instead of becoming a democracy, Libya descends into chaos
    9. Everywhere, movements were failing
      1. Occupy reaches gridlock
      2. They have no picture, no utopic vision of the future—their vision was about how you manage things, not an idea
      3. Same in Egypt: once the march arrived in Tahrir Square, there was nothing to do—Muslim Brotherhood rushes in to fill vacuum
        1. Mohamed Morsi becomes president, shocking liberals and left
        2. Liberals and left turn to military to save them from Islamists
        3. In Spring of 2013, military takes action, arresting president and killing hundreds of his protesting supporters—spectacle unravels in square as past internet activists welcome the return of the military (they’d been summoned there, again, via Facebook)
    10. After failure of revolutions, it was not just radicals, no one in the west had an idea of how to change the world
      1. At home, politicians had given all their power away to powers of finance and managerial bureaucracies that they in effect had become managers in themselves
      2. Abroad, their adventures had failed and they’d been exposed as dangerous and destructive
    11. Cue Russia: group of men who saw this era of uncertainty as opportunity theater where nobody knew what was true or fake any longer
      1. They’re called “political technologists”: the key figures behind President Putin, keeping him in power unchallenged for 15 years
      2. Some of them had been dissidents back in the 1970s and were greatly influenced by the Strugatsky brothers’ scifi writing
      3. 20 years later when Soviet falls, they rose up to take control of the media, using it to manipulate the electorate on a mass scale—reality was puddy in their hands
    12. But technologist emerges who takes it all a bit further: Vladislav Surkov
      1. He comes from the theater world, took its avant-garde ideas into the heart of politics
      2. His aim wasn’t merely to manipulate people, but to go deeper and undermine their very perception of the world so they are never sure of what is really happening
      3. He uses Kremlin money to sponsor all kinds of groups: from mass anti-fascist youth organizations to Neo-Nazi skinheads; as well as liberal human rights groups who attacked the government
      4. Key: he let it be known that this is what he was doing: so no one knew what was real and what was fake—a strategy of power that kept people constantly confused, “a ceaseless shape-shifting that is unstoppable because it is indefinable”
      5. Meanwhile, real power is elsewhere, exercised without anyone seeing it
    13. Same thing is happening in the West
      1. By now, it’s obvious the system had deep flaws –every month were new revelations: banks’ involvement in global corruption, massive tax avoidance by all major corporations, secret surveillance of everyone’s emails by NSA
      2. Yet, no one save for low-hanging fruit are prosecuted—and behind it all, the massive inequality kept on growing
      3. Yet, the structure of power remained the same, nothing ever changed, because nothing could be allowed to change the system
    14. Cue: “then shapeshifting began” with Trump’s ever-changing campaign
      1. Politics where everyone could be bought, using words that could have come from the Occupy movement
      2. But he also uses the language of fascist neo-nazis
      3. Doesn’t matter how little what he says relates to reality; this destroys journalism—Putin admires this
      4. Liberals were outraged by Trump, took to internet to express their anger, which changed nothing—algorithms made sure that they only spoke to people they agreed with
      5. Ironically, their massive amounts of angry tweets and facebook posts only benefited the large corporations who ran the social media platforms—“Angry people click more”
    15. Trump and Serkov realize same thing: the version of reality that politics presented was no longer believable; the stories politicians tell their people about the world stopped making sense—in this face, you could play with reality and weaken old forms of power
      1. Another force was about to show just how weak politics had become in the West: Syria
    16. Syrian civil war: what started as Arab Spring exploded into battle to the death
      1. Battle was between Bashar Assad and his opponents
      2. At the heart of the conflict is the force his father brought to the west: suicide bombing
      3. Back in 1980s, Assad saw suicide bombing as a way to drive Americans out of the middle east (when Regan sent “neutral troops” after SAMSA camp massacre)—over 30 years the tactic transformed into something of its opposite: tearing the Arab world apart
      4. Hafez’s dream of a powerful Arab world was destroyed; in Iraq, extremist Sunni groups used suicide bombing to start sectarian war—now, groups like ISIS brought the techniques into Syria to attack not just Assad’s son, but his fellow Shi’ites
      5. Like his father, Bashar retaliated with vengeful fury, and the country fell apart
    17. Faced by war, Western politicians were bewildered: they were determined to claim Bashar was evil, but then realized that his enemies were more evil than he was
      1. Britain, America, and France decide to bomb terrorist threat, effectively keeping Assad in power
    18. Then it became more confusing: the Russians intervene; Putin sends hundreds of planes to combat troops to support Assad
      1. No one knew what their underlying aim was—seemed to be using Serkov’s strategy of “non-linear warfare” that was used in Ukraine
      2. This was a new kind of war where you never knew what your enemy was up to—point wasn’t to “win”, but to create constant confusion in order to manage and control
      3. March 2016, Russians suddenly announce they’re leaving Syria, but in reality, they never left—they’re still there and no one still knows what they really want
    19. Within Syria, there was a new Islamist ideologist that was determined to exploit growing uncertainties in West: Abu Musab al-Suri … “the Syrian”
      1. He’d originally worked with bin Laden in Afghanistan, but had turned against him
      2. He gave powerful lectures, stating bin Laden was wrong to attack America so strongly, since it caused a massive military retaliation that had almost destroyed Islamism
        1. Instead, individuals should stage random small-scale attacks in West to spread fear and uncertainty to undermine waning authority of politicians
      3. Cue speech by British politician stating that what happened in Paris is awful and that there’s a problem with “some” of the Islamic community “in this country” (fodder for Brexit)
      4. “Both the Brexit campaign in Britain and Donald Trump in America had done exactly what al-Suri had predicted”
        1. They used the fear to dramatize a world where everything—even going to a concert—had become a risky event
        2. What had been seen as doomed campaigns on the fringes became frighteningly real

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