Bitter Lake is a 2015 BBC documentary film by documentarian Adam Curtis, most notable for a trilogy of documentaries that began with The Century of The Self (2002) a series of four films that explored how Sigmund Freud’s theories concerning the unconscious, led to the development of public relations by his relative Edward Bernays, who showed the corporate state how to motivate desires over need and use self-actualisation as a means of achieving economic growth and the political control of populations.
Curtis followed up with The Power of Nightmares (2004), that drew parallels between the rise of Wahhabist Islam in the Arab world and neoconservatism in the United States, postulating how both function via the use of fear tactics, inflating the meme of a dangerous enemy to create sympathy and support; and concluded with The Trap (2007), A BBC series of three films exploring the modern conceptualization of the neoliberal vision of freedom.
Bitter Lake recounts the recent history of Afghanistan and attempts to illuminate how past interventions in the internal affairs of this volatile country by forces from the West and Russia, have failed and why.
It also outlines the US’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, especially the former’s agreement to buy Saudi oil, for control of a key energy supplier during the cold-war era, with Saudi Arabia gaining wealth and security in return, with agreement withstanding provided it was allowed to continue its violent and fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, uninhibited from external influence. This in turn has fed like a feedback loop back into the many troubles the world faces with regards to various pseudo-Jihadic forces spanning the 1970s to present day; be they the Mujahideen, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and into IS.
It tells a big historical narrative that interweaves America, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia. It shows how politicians in the west lost confidence – and began to simplify the stories they told. It explains why this happened – because they increasingly gave their power away to other forces, above all to global finance.
—- Adam Curtis.