Henry Kissinger’s world view of the Middle East

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In his new book “World Order,” Henry Kissinger reveals the extent to which classical Orientalism lives on the mindset and worldviews of thinkers, writers, journalists, and scholars. New scholarship on the Middle East hold little sway in comparison to the classical Orientalist literature which validates the worst impressions and misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims. In Kissinger’s new book, in the section dealing with the Middle East he seems totally indebted to the writings of Majid Khadduri.

Someone has to write about this but it is clear that the writings of Majid Khadduri had a great impact on American public and official views of the Middle East and Islam. Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar who taught in Iraq before settling in the US. He taught at several American universities and founded the Middle East program at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies. He became an expert on Islamic international law.

But the field of Islamic international law can also be studied historically and not as a field of contemporary political science. Yet, Khadduri left the lines between what was historical and what is contemporary rather murky and thus fueled Orientalist imagination that insisted that one has to hark back on the classical Islamic literature on all matters in order to understand the political behavior of current Muslims. Of all the writings on Islamic law by Khadduri, this was its legacy for classical Orientalists and for those US government and media is the dogmatic Zhdanovian split into the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. According to this ancient Islamic legal dichotomy, the Muslims are obligated to expand the Abode of Islam, thus implying that the Muslims would be in a state of constant war.

In reality, the adherence to such principles of Islamic law was dubious at best. Khadduri seemed to ignore the Abode of Sulh (Peace of Conciliation) that governed, for example, the relationship between Muhammad and the Christians of Najran. The reliance on this worldview was rejuvenated in the vulgar rejuvenation of the most vulgar forms of classical Orientalism (not the erudite and learned forms). In the book by Kissinger, his obsession with this classical worldview became an art form. In all his analysis of Arabs and Muslims, Kissinger strictly adheres to this interpretation of their behavior. This realist couldn’t countenance that Arabs and Muslims could act according to the same impulses of other states in the world. Kissinger has no problem applying his realist doctrine to understanding Chinese foreign policy but then again, the man has had deep business and consulting ventures there.

There are at least two flaws in this silly adherence. First, Muslims even in history never strictly adhered to this split of the two abodes. In the era of the Crusades, Muslims rulers often aligned with Crusader kingdoms against other fellow Muslim rulers. The rule of the Crusades relied much more on assistance of opportunistic local Muslim rulers than on the insignificant role played by Lebanese Maronites – which got to be exaggerated in Maronite patriarchate lore in order to remind the West of past services rendered. Second, what is the relevance of classical and antiquated Islamic laws in explaining the behavior of Muslim states today? The wishes of the US government play a far bigger role in determining the foreign policy orientations of Arab and Muslim states than the rules and regulations of Islamic law.

It is fitting that Kissinger, in his promotion of the Islamic and Arab threat, would fall onto the vulgar dogmas of classical Orientalism. “They” always have to operate according to norms and rules of behavior that apply to no other people on this earth.

Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a Professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil

Comments

I think we look at well-dressed people who live in big white houses or at the top of sky-scrapers in clean prosperous cities (don't look too closely) and we assume that, even if the people we look at are doing stupid things, they must have sober intelligent people "behind the scenes" to tell them what to do. In short, we suppose that they are a lot more intelligent than they seem, a lot more sane.
Once in a while we see some news item that confirms that they are as stupid in their high councils and executive functions as they seem when we see them at a basketball game. As Mao would say, it takes time for people--I mean us--to get the tyrant out of their heads.

A few years ago Austin Cline wrote an article about Billy Graham & how he has privilege at the White House.
Billy Graham, a religious leader, has had a one on one with every president of the US since way back when.
Austin, an atheist & the keeper of the website Atheists & Agnostics, rightly expressed concern as to the they undue influence & in a religious way, Billy Graham may have with the presidents administration.
Billy Graham ... born November 7 1918 is 96 today - so he was about 92/93 at the time of Austins article.
I pointed out to Austin that, yes, Billy Graham was indeed a powerful & influential man, at his peak, however today he is a geriatric & probably not of sound capacity & maybe wearing an incontinence nappy - incontinence surgery is not as good as they make it out to be - trust me - every one makes promises that are way beyond reality.
What is wrong with us that we cannot see reality, age has consequences. A visit to the beauty shop can take 20 even 30 years of your looks but does nothing to rejuvenated an aged mind.

Years ago I read this interesting article, which helped me to understand why people lie incessantly. The article is as relevant today.

New Scientist - Life
Mind Fiction: Why your brain tells tall tales
07 October 2006 by Helen Phillips
Magazine issue 2572

Sir, thank you for the link but I do not think that I will read it. For the simple reason that I know the "rag" VERY WELL.
if you notice all the journals/international org sites are in the hands of those vile ugly barbarians aka west.
they have been controlling everything.
they apply sanctions and do not allow leaders of other countries - a dictator called US controls everything and the rest hang around like vultures to pick up the tidbits/leftovers
New Scientist is peer reviewed and what is ACCEPTED is what the "peer" consider acceptable
though I do not think that we need someone to tell us Bush/b liar/obomba/cameron hideous sarkozy/hollande/merkel are the worst insane barbarians & thugs

why do they LIE?hell they are:
evile vile brutal zionised mafiosi butchers scumbag THUGS

Sir, this is the so called "indespensible stupid" that is strongley dispensible/useless/BS
how idiots living in their own excrement yak:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40601.htm
Hyperempire: Spreading Chaos and Trivia Everywhere in Its Path

By John Chuckman
"Consider also the fact that if you make what can be viewed as a threatening comment or presentation of any kind against the President of the United States, you will be visited and interviewed by the Secret Service, who will then keep you on file permanently. Why is it okay to make a movie about the assassination of North Korea’s president then, the subject of The Interview? Sony certainly has right to do stupidly foolish things, but it is more than a little muddled for the President eagerly to support it. Will he now address the rights of porn actors in California to work without condoms?

As I write this, a British newspaper reports that some Sony employees have been quietly dismissed. Reported also is the discovery of a web site strongly suggesting disgruntled employees. See what I mean about America overlooking the facts before it acts?2

Majid Khadduri was born to Greek Orthodox parents.
After WW2 he helped draft what eventually became the charter of the world body / the founding of the United Nations.
I wonder if he suspected what bastardry they were creating, what an assistant to criminal bastardry the UN would become.

Henry Kissinger - born May 27 1923 ... he is 91 years & he wrote a book (?) - really (?) - incredible (!) - & most likely impossible at his age.

I put it to you that this book was written by OTHER BODIES & IT IS NOTHING MORE THAN a put up job / PROPAGANDA getting the necessary message across.

I mean you no disrespect Professor AbuKhalil
But please, Oh please.
Professor, I worked for several years in a nursing home for the aged run by City Missions.
Dorothy was 90 years old when she died her mind was razor sharp & as clear as a bell, she told me such wonderful stories about her youth in the Australian out back, their father ran a property out there. She & her sister were horse women you know ... none of it was true..
Simon would sing Russian love songs to me & propose, we were going to run away together & live happily ever after, he dies at 87 & went straight to heaven.
When will the divine forces relieve this world of that fake Henry Kissinger ?

I noticed that your the K in your name is silent (?) - I thought that it was a capital letter because the h was silent Professor Jim Al-Khalili is pronounced with the K.
* my son has arrived see ya !
Happy Holidays & Happy New Year.

Sir, I do know "nursing home for the aged" which is oh so FASIONABLE in the west. it is a place where those who can afford it "dump" their aged parents. By west we also include the non-whites who are 3rd,4th, 5th generations
It is sad to see that these aged are dumped by their children. Sometimes I would see these aged glued to the window and when they saw someone of their "skin tones" a smile would appear because they thought it was "family"

but let me share with you about a magnificent lady aged 107yrs old. a very unfortunate lady - lost her husband in world war bombing, lost her two children in a car crash -a widow left totally alone in the mountainous region. she had extended family and when she communicated with her great great grandchildren and they would shout down the phone she would say "why are you shouting, I am not deaf"
Brilliant, we say!
As regards the disgusting revolting WAR CRIMINAL we totally agree with you besides what can an ugly barbaric brute think of to put in words. We wish the bastard HELL – may he have nightmares for the numbers of innocents the shitty scum killed and we pray that it gives him harrowing nightmares

re: Majid Khadduri
Maybe you know of the ugly in all sense of the word hideous Magdi Allam, Muslim Convert, Leaves Catholic Church, Says It's Too Weak Against Islam
He claimed Muslims were angry, threatening him blah blah blah etc. The god man in vatikano gave him so much publicity that the Catholic Church on March 22, 2008 during an Easter Vigil service, receiving baptism directly from Benedict. – ha ha ha
Those who know him well claim that he was NEVER a Muslim – what a crass kitschy show!
We can reassure you that the REAL Muslims have no time for or to waste on a rabid vile publicity seeking moron. The writer of this comment said “good riddance to this hateful nasty character and was glad when the ugly brute left Islam”
So we know the “Khadduri” types very well. They are the Malalas and think being a whore will hide it from their ethnicity.
Never worked. We know these idiots who think that because they speak Arabic, have brown/black skin they can fool people – the words they utter or claim to write is not even their own, they can’t even fool their pimps, and we are having a GOOD laugh

Yeah, all Muslims are the same - just like all Christians are
LOL
But all imperialists are really the same - no matter whether liberal, like Cole, or not - like Kissinger.

Ask Arabs, let alone Muslims, about the term "Abode of Peace", that is "dar es-salam" in Arabic, and they will think of the Tansanian city. "Adobe of War", that is "dar el-harb", they may think it's a joke.
How removed are these people from the way politics is thought and conducted in Arab countries?
Picking only the terms and facts, which are convenient for your set of imperial interests, is the very definition of ideology. Realpolitik, my a***! I mean, this is not silly, this is plaine stupid!

I absolutely love to read your articles. Kissinger and his likes are relentless in their attacks. Thank you for your efforts.

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