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Join Gab (@StFerdinandIII) Western Civilisation was and is superior to anything Islam has developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Raising the alarm about the fascism called Submission since 2000.  

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

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Book Review ‘The Great War for Civilization', by Robert Fisk

by Ferdinand III



Robert Fisk is a 30 year veteran of Middle East reporting. Like many reporters and ‘experts’, Fisk is a dues-paying member of equivocal liberalism (in its American context), and its international extant- cultural relativism. His 1200 page tome is a detailed tract of the Western world’s ‘conquest of the Middle East’ (the book’s sub-title), mapped out by his varied, interesting and widely- traveled career as a British journalist. The trouble with the book is that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, (which is probably why it is an international best seller). Even the title is bollicks- the Western world has not conquered or even controlled Middle Eastern affairs since 1945 and more is the pity for that.

Fisk’s skill in reportage, painting vivid scenes with an accessible and personable writing style and infusing emotional drama into hard-to-believe circumstances. His experience and talent are vast and especially compelling at a human level. It is hard to disagree with a man who has witnessed first hand heinous acts of outrage including rape, decapitation, murder, suicide-bombing, and child-torture from Algeria to Iran. As Fisk states, “Yet looking through these pages after months of writing, I find they are filled with accounts of pain and injustice and horror. The sins of father visited upon their children”. This is Fisk at his best- a raconteur of human suffering. A man and not just a reporter, profoundly shocked, outraged, dismayed and ultimately changed by events, so far out of the realm of normalcy, that the rest of us, comfortable and fat in our little, protected lives, could never comprehend.

Who then should gainsay such a personality?

The floridity of Fisk’s literary painting cannot however, brush-out some serious flaws in his major theme. In the complexity of Middle-Eastern Affairs, Fisk assumes the very British position of decency and impartiality, invoking both sides of the story, as it were. This stance is of course just posturing. One only has to read until page 5 of the preface to be exposed to Fisk’s real thesis- that the West, the Americans, the Zionist campaign and globalization, are the real agents of chaos, political incompetence and by extension, regional violence. In their zeal to ‘conquer the Middle East’, the Americans in particular have sown the seeds of war and death.

Cleverly hidden in his reportage, this then is Fisk’s obsession, and everything comes back to it. Fisk, the liberal internationalist, confusingly conflates everything in the past 30 years of Middle Eastern and Arab history to Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Unrelated and disconnected events are magically reconnected and linked back to March 2003. In this world view, Western Imperialist meddling over the past 30 years leads ineluctable to the current ‘chaos’ in Iraq and beyond. Some well-worn but fallacious examples Fisk uses are:

“….brutal Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the computerized death suffered by Iraqis during America’s 2003 invasion….” (P.xxi)
“….George Bush’s (Sr.) refusal to comment on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 238 which called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land… Touchstone of any peace treaty.” (P.470)
“When Israelis slaughter Palestinians, America and other Western Nations… regard these crimes as tragedies (not as terrorism…)”. (P.506)
“By 1996, half a million Iraqi children were estimated to have died as a result of sanctions….” (P.865)
“What weapons did they (the Arabs) have in their arsenal to regress the imbalance of power between East and West, save for the planes and tanks we sold their dictators to increase their own wealth?” (P.895)
“I spent months studying the suiciders of Lebanon. They were mostly single men, occasionally women, often the victims of Israeli torture...” (P.588).

These amongst many other false platitudes populate Fisk’s anti-war encyclopedia. To be anti-war is one thing, but to conjure up irrational explanations to explain away conflicts, terrorism, anti-semiticism or Arab depredations is quite another. For Fisk and other liberal fellow-travelers, the usual litany of blame applies.

-Israel should give up all ‘occupied’ territory (to terrorist governments, who want to wipe it out, one supposes).
-Terrorism is generated through Western and Israeli warring.
-Hussein, Bin-Laden and others, were created and supported by Western States.
-Arab suffering is the direct result of Western economic and military policy.

None of these suppositions is sensible. Fisk in his reporting ignores the systemic causes of Middle Eastern conflicts: the weighty role of Islamic ideology, the strain of fascism promoting irreligious violence within Islam; the poverty of Arab culture, corruption, fraud, deceit and hypocrisy within Arab-Islamic states; and finally the cultural swagger of an impoverished and defective political ideology which chatters about controlling the world. Fisk, passionately anti-war, refuses to see Huntington’s clash of civilizations, substituting tortured Machiavellian logic, for reality. In his very British bid to be decent and tolerant, Fisk comes across as vacillating, cynical and spiteful. The only relief from the usual catalogue of Western culpability is when Fisk unmasks Arafat as a seedy, lying, terrorist, and condemns the Arab world’s alliance with Hitler.

The book is full of interesting facts, interviews, accounts and experiences. Yet it disappoints. I was expecting something more realistic, coherent, balanced and insightful. Unfortunately, for most of its length the book reads like a New York Times or BBC expose on Middle Eastern Affairs. Too bad.


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