Date: Fri Mar 07 2003 - 14:23:20 EST
This is a very good short essay. While the class analysis may be overly formal--that is, so called fundamentalism has no roots in the proletariat proper-- there are real insights into the nature of so called fundamentalism, the ideological and material contradictions of US foreign policy; there are some excellent historical vignettes, especially of Sa'udi Arabia. Achcar is an extremely well versed social theorist (he edited the excellent verso volume on The Legacy of Ernest Mandel), and this context of war allows him to make new use of Foucault and Elias. Very sharp succinct insights. My main criticism: in a public lecture on this book, he seemed to rely too heavily on the notion that OPEC is a price fixing cartel and that US foreign policy is directed at oil security, i.e., securing the supply of oil to the US. His argument seemed too similar to Michael Klare's about which I have posted criticism before. .The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder by Gilbert Achcar, Peter Drucker (Translator) Product Details * Hardcover: 128 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.57 x 9.48 x 6.06 * Publisher: Monthly Review Press; (November 2002) * ISBN: 1583670823 * In-Print Editions: Paperback * Average Customer Review: Based on 2 reviews. Write a review. Editorial Reviews Book Description The shift in the U.S. global role precipitated by the events of September 11, 2001—although the events were unexpected—was a long time in the making. In this challenging work, Gilbert Achcar analyzes how this shift came about and examines its fateful consequences. Achcar's Clash of Barbarisms traces the rise of militant and anti-Western Islamic fundamentalism to its roots in U.S. policies aimed at control of the oil reserves of the Middle East, and above all, Saudi Arabia—the "Muslim Texas." Achcar examines the political premises of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and show how these led to the massive miscalculation of the September 11 attacks, with results both politically counterproductive and morally reprehensible. The major result of this miscalculation has been to complete a shift from the vision of a world order based on international law and respecting the rights of strong and weak nations alike, announced by George Bush, Sr., in 1991, to the world order being created by the administration of George W. Bush today, in which the United States asserts its own power and pursues its interests without regard for law or rights. In this context, we are living through a "clash of barbarisms" indeed. This important and timely work is already scheduled for publication in French, English, German, Turkish, and Korean. It draws on first-hand knowledge of the Middle East, but looks beyond immediate events to clarify their geopolitical bases. Book Info Traces the rise of militant and anti-Western Islamic fundamentalism to its roots in U.S. policies aimed at control of the oil reserves of the Middle East, and above all, Saudi Arabia-the 'Muslim Texas.' Softcover. --This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all editorial reviews... ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Customer Reviews Avg. Customer Review: Write an online review and share your thoughts with other customers. Excellent, Balanced Viewpoint, February 23, 2003 Reviewer: James Igoe (see more about me) from Hoboken, NJ USA I had the opportunity to listen to Achcar lecture at La Maison Francaise at NYU, and found his view intriguing, if not entirely acceptable, and certainly worthy of inclusion into a broader worldview. His English is faltering, but the translation is excellent and the book is well structured. Also, the book is about 100 pages long, and I found it an easy read, although not simply written. Reading the book would not take a great amount of time, and it provides a wealth of solid, but little known, historical and political information. The largest takeaway from his analysis is a more balanced approach to international interactions, and a detailed analysis of the history of the Middle East and Islam, as it relates to political struggles. His analysis is akin to Chomsky's understanding of American political strategy, but also dovetails contrapuntally with more mainstream writers such as Brzezniski. Was this review helpful to you? 2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: Only Barbarians Clash, January 26, 2003 Reviewer: Paul J. Rask (see more about me) from Portland, Oregon USA After reading this slim volume, one receives the impression that it was a hurried effort, pieced together from previously published writings, not only of Gilbert Achcar's own work, but also of other writers. That, however, does not dull its message which is to portray the United States as the new Roman Empire, the political and military colossus of the 21st Century, the less than noble giant which can take what it wants from the world at large. And what the latter day Leviathan wants is not justice, nor fairness, demonstrating few of the noble principles which gave it birth. Mr. Achcar who teaches politics and international relations in France intended this book to counterpoise with Samuel Huntington's better known book, "The Clash of Civilizations". He contends that it is the barbarism of the West which is currently evident in the US which clashes with the barbarism of the East as practiced by Islamic fundamentalists. His conclusion is that Professor Huntington is wrong; cultured societies don't war but barbaric societies do. In an interesting comparison, Mr. Achcar depicts George W. Bush as a fundamentalist religious leader standing in fierce opposition to Islamic fundamentalists. The inference is that there are religious overtones to a war being planned against Iraq which -- much more likely -- is to control large oil reserves. One point that the book brings out which is overlooked in mass media reports of the Bush Administration's war against terrorism. It is not true, the author asserts, that Islamists hate the USA for its freedom, for its wealth, for its non-Islamic ways. The US is hated for its uncritical support of international policies which are unfair and do not promote justice -- an antithesis of what the USA preaches. Those critics of the USA find a gross hypocrisy about such stands and they hate the duplicity of it all. >From a reader's point of view, the book was a little hard going at times perhaps because it is a translation, after all, from French. Nevertheless, for those who do not become edgy when learning uncomfortable facts about the most significant issue of this century, this book is recommended. =pjr= --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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