G. Bush: US in Holy War Against Iraq?

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Thu Jan 20 23:36:55 PST 2000

Daniel wrote:
>I have known that colonialist ideology runs amuck on the so-called "left,"
>from journalists and activists to prof.'s and scholars, which was why I was
>so pleased today, to snag from the library James Blaut's book on The
>Colonizer's Model of the World. But I used to think that Said over-stated
>the case in re Islam and Arabic culture *specifically* (at the expense
>of the so-called Far East, China in particular, and the "Asiatic" more
>generally). I know better now, and not least b/c of all the various
>"wars", ideological and material, over Kosova, as well as the self-serving
>and self-righteous hand-wringing over the Taliban.

We have to keep in mind, however, that bourgeois realpolitik isn't as simple-mindedly ethnocentric and Orientalist as Bush, etc. let on. Ethnocentrism & Orientalism are mainly for *official consumption*, put out in their efforts to keep enough workers mired in petty prejudices that are useful for management of the system. Geopolitical designs of the ruling class have and will make use of anyone, including those of "Islamic and/or Arabic culture." The KLA has been a great vehicle for the U.S. design on the Balkans. So were "freedom fighters" from Afghanistan. In fact, if you make a list of the governments that can be said to be influenced by "Islam" and/or "Arabic culture" _and_ have been used by the U.S. government, such a list would be much longer than those on the enemy list like Iraq, especially in recent history.

Yes, "American culture" has been Orientalist, but that didn't stop the American governing elite from building up Japan -- perhaps the enemy No. 1 during the "Good War" -- as the pillar of post-WW2 capitalist reconstruction in the Asia-Pacific theater. Perhaps Said should have paid more attention to the "Far East," after all. If he had, he would have had to revise his theory.

Orientalism does exist, but it doesn't affect their geopolitical thinking as much as Said may think it does. They are, if anything, more Machiavellian than Orientalist. Perhaps the fault of leftists is that many of them seem unable to imagine that the ruling class really don't give a damn about "culture" in itself (except when "culture" issues can be manipulated in their interest). Questions on their minds are, above all, "Who benefits?" "What works?" "At what cost?" Orientalism doesn't get in the way of recruiting Asians, Muslim or otherwise, as allies, temporary or long-term.


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