America’s engagement with the Arab world stretches back far beyond the Iraq wars. According to Milton Viorst, the current conflict is simply the latest round in a 1,400-year struggle between Christianity and Islam, in which the United States became a participant only in the last century.
Today, the Bush Doctrine aims to free the Arab peoples from political oppression and create a democratic Iraq. So why are Arabs, and Iraqis in particular, so suspicious of our efforts? The explanation, Viorst says, is simple: “What the American leadership has miscalculated, or simply dismissed, is Arab nationalism.” In Storm from the East, Viorst offers a balanced, lucid, and vital history of America’s uneasy relationship with the Arab world and argues that brutal conflict in the region will continue until the West, with the United States taking the lead, honors the Arabs’ insistence on deciding their own destiny.
Viorst examines the long struggle of the Arab world to overthrow Western hegemony. He explores the Arab experiences with democracy and military despotism; Nasserite socialism in Egypt and Ba’athism in Syria and Iraq; tribal monarchy in Saudi Arabia and Jordan; guerrilla warfare waged by the Palestinians; and, finally, Islamic rebellion culminating in Osama bin Laden’s extremist al-Qaeda. All have the same goal: the liberation of the Arabs from foreign domination.
Storm from the East is a powerful work that, like no other, limns the political, religious, and social roots of Arab nationalism and the present-day unrest in the Middle East.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Storm from the East|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Storm from the East
I Memory 622—1900
America’s war in Iraq, from its start, did not go as President Bush’s administration had predicted. Though the U.S. army captured Baghdad and Iraq’s other major cities easily enough, and encountered little resistance in abolishing the detested regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraqis did not greet America’s forces with the gratitude that they had been told to expect. Far from treating America’s soldiers as liberators, which is how they looked upon themselves, Iraqis regarded them as conquerors. It was a characterization for which most Americans were shockingly unprepared.
Frustrated, the American invaders believed they were being misunderstood. The leadership in Washington had proclaimed repeatedly that its quarrel was not with the Iraqi people but with Saddam’s regime. It had assured its soldiers of the nobility of their mission, not just to end a dangerous military threat but to wipe out tyranny and create the conditions for democracy. Wasn’t that why the armies of their fathers and grandfathers had disembarked in 1944 in France, to a delirious welcome by the local population? In 1945, moreover, the defeated Germans and Japanese, taking for granted the victors’ benevolence, willingly established free and democratic regimes. So why were the Iraqis so hostile?
Notwithstanding the political and cultural diversity among them, most Iraqis took the position that the American army was their enemy and placed serious obstacles in the way of its efforts to stabilize the country. This was the response of Sunnis and Shi’ites, Baghdadis and provincials, extremists an