Across the Bay

Friday, December 03, 2004

Arabist Revisionism

IraqPundit has joined in on Iraq the Model's critical post of Rashid Khalidi's romanticized revision of Iraqi history. I had linked to it in an update to an earlier post. IraqPundit is in agreement that Khalidi's reading of history remarkably echoes that propagated by Saddam and the Baath:

"Actually, Khalidi's essay is worse than wrong: As Ali points out, it's consistent with Baathist revisionism. Saddam's regime rewrote the history of post-Ottoman Iraq along self-serving sectarian lines, erasing the role of Shiites and falsely romanticizing the role played by regions of the country allied with his rule. Thus Khalidi, in his zeal to criticize U.S. policy, has ended up offering a history of Iraq consistent with Baathist propaganda (to the applause of Juan Cole)."

IraqPundit's concluding paragraph rings particularly true to me:

"Arabism cost the Arab world the latter half of the 20th century; now some Arabist intellectuals of the West are doing what they can to derail the hope of a liberalized Iraq, including the distortion of Iraqi history."

Actually, I'd say Arabism, in one way or another, cost the region almost the entire 20th century (and counting). The tragido-comical part is that those "Arabist intellectuals of the West" constitute supposedly the "pro-Arab" faction as Bernard Lewis once put it!