22. sept., 2020

The cynicism of the West

"If, for example, one accepts the postulate that the calamity of our times is the "barbarity of the Muslim world," the observation of Iraq might only reinforce this impression. A bloodthirsty tyrant who reigned by terror for a third of a century, who bled his people, who squandered oil money on military and sumptuary expenses, who invaded his neighbors, who defied the powers that be, who multiplied the romps, to the admiring applause of the Arab crowds, before collapsing without any real struggle; then, as soon as man fell, the country sank into chaos, and the different communities began to massacre each other, as if to say it: You see, it took a dictatorship to hold such a people!

If, on the other hand, one adopts as an axiom the "cynicism of the West", the events can be explained in an equally coherent manner: As a prelude, an embargo, which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, without ever depriving the dictator of his cigars, followed by an invasion, decided under false pretexts, in defiance of public opinion as well as international institutions, and motivated, at least in part, by the desire to get their hands on oil resources; from the American victory, a hasty and arbitrary dissolution of the Iraqi army and the state apparatus, and the explicit establishment of communitarianism at the heart of the institutions, as if one had deliberately chosen to plunge the country into permanent instability; as a bonus, the abuses in the Abu-Ghraib prison, the systemic torture, the incessant humiliations, the "collateral damage", the innumerable unpunished blunders, the looting, the mismanagement?

For some, the case of Iraq demonstrates that the Muslim world is impervious to democracy; for others, it reveals the true face of Western-style "democratization". Even in the filmed death of Saddam Hussein, one could see the ferocity of both Americans and Arabs. For me, both speeches are right, and both are wrong. Each one turns in its own orbit, in front of its audience, which understands it half-word, and which does not hear the opposing discourse.

(Free translation from the French Edition)
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Disordered World : A Vision for the Post-9/11 World, p. 30, Amin Maalouf, 2009