This endeavor was initiated as a deeply personal reaction to the Gulf War. It began in April 1991, when I sent the following open letter to the Sixteenth Annual Symposium of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University:
On February 26, I withdrew from participation in this symposium as an expression of my sense of intellectual impotency in the face of the Gulf crisis. Nothing in my intellectual or professional experience had prepared me for the sheer savagery of unfolding events. And speculation about its consequences seemed well beyond the pale of any scientific theory I know. Now, six weeks later, as you initiate the symposium, the situation in the Middle East is even more savage and precarious, and I feel compelled to share with you my professional concerns as they relate to this enterprise.
Six weeks ago, I felt the discipline of political science generalally, and the field of Middle East studies specifically, to be intellectually bankrupt and irrelevant. Now I fear it may have been implicated all along in the trajectory toward genocide by contributing to the obfuscations, mystifications, and, ultimately, falsifications that mask the making of tyrants and warmongers, and sanction their profiteering handmaidens; that mask the perpetration of genocide behind humanitarian handmaidens.
For twenty years, while the Iraqi people suffered the brutality of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, the world flirted with his regime. In this period, the same nations that participated in Operation Desert Storm conducted business with his government, sold him arms, supported his territorial aggressions, and ignored his human rights record. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, in fact, financed his war with Iran and heralded him as a great Arab leader and hero, even while thousands of Iraqis languished in his prisons and died in his torture chambers.
The war to liberate Kuwait destroyed the Iraqi people but