American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945

American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945

American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945

American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945

Synopsis

Douglas Little explores the stormy American relationship with the Middle East from World War II through the war in Iraq, focusing particularly on the complex and often inconsistent attitudes and interests that helped put the United States on a collision course with radical Islam early in the new millennium. After documenting the persistence of "orientalist" stereotypes in American popular culture, Little examines oil, Israel, and other aspects of U.S. policy. He concludes that a peculiar blend of arrogance and ignorance has led American officials to overestimate their ability to shape events in the Middle East from 1945 through the present day, and that it has been a driving force behind the Iraq war. For this updated third edition, Little covers events through 2007, including a new chapter on the Bush Doctrine, demonstrating that in many important ways, George W. Bush's Middle Eastern policies mark a sharp break with the past.

Excerpt

Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last, wake me up when September
ends. —Green Day, American Idiot (2005)

The question “Who did this to us?” has only led to neurotic fantasies and conspiracy theories.
The other question —“What did we do wrong?”—has led naturally to a second question: “How
do we put it right?” in that question, and in the various answers that are being found, lie the
best hopes for the future.—Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? (2002)

I put the finishing touches on the first edition of this book just a few months after the 9/11 attacks. By late 2001, George W. Bush had rallied support across America and around the world for what most observers agreed was a “just war” against Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the radical Islamic regime in Afghanistan that harbored them. From Western Europe to East Asia and from Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa, people everywhere were heard to say, “We are all Americans.” Six years later, however, Osama remains at large, a resurgent Taliban threatens to topple the American-backed government in Kabul, and 169,000 gis are caught in the crossfire from a bloody civil war in Iraq that erupted soon after the Bush administration decided to depose Saddam Hussein. Today, the United States has become so unpopular that some Americans traveling abroad are heard to say, “We are all Canadians.” the third edition of American Orientalism provides an opportunity to explore “what went . . .

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