Oil and the Gulf War

by Paul Aarts , Michael Renner
published in MER171

No blood for oil! The rallying cry of many of those who took to the streets in protest against the Gulf war is simple. Is it too simple? “Even a dolt understands the principle,” said one unnamed US official, “We need the oil. It’s nice to talk about standing up for freedom, but Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are not exactly democracies, and if their principal export were oranges, a mid-level State Department official would have issued a statement and we would have closed Washington down for August.” [1]

This Is Not Vietnam

by Marilyn Young
published in MER171

In 1926 the French surrealist, Rene Magritte, painted an unmistakable pipe and labeled it, in careful schoolboy script: “This is not a pipe.” In 1991 George Bush began a war in the Persian Gulf which, he insisted, was not Vietnam. Iraq, he pointed out, is a desert; Vietnam was a jungle. Moreover, Iraq was not Vietnam because this time the US would win.

It was at this point that Iraq became Vietnam. The difference between Iraq and Vietnam, according to the president and his men, did not lie in their histories, cultures, political ideologies or geographies, but only in what the US had not done to one and would most certainly do to the other.

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The Intellectuals and the War

An Interview with Edward Said

by Barbara Harlow
published in MER171

Edward Said is Parr Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, a member of the Palestine National Council and a contributing editor of this magazine. Along with Noam Chomsky, he is one of the foremost opposition public intellectuals in the United States, a role he plays in the Arab world as well. Barbara Harlow interviewed him in New York in early April 1991.

How would you characterize the portrayal of the Gulf crisis and war in the US and in Europe?

Eyewitness: Iraq

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER171

Joost Hiltermann, an editor of this magazine, traveled through Iraq from March 23 to April 10, 1991, as Middle East field coordinator of the Boston-based organization Physicians for Human Rights. The delegation, whose mission was to study the impact of the Gulf war and civil conflict on the health of Iraq’s civilian population, went to Baghdad, Basra, al-Zubayr, Karbala’, Najaf, Kirkuk, Suleimaniya and Erbil.

The Other Face of War

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER171

The human toll of the Persian Gulf war -- as many as 100,000 deaths, 5 million displaced persons and over $200 billion in property damage -- ranks this conflict as the single most devastating event in the Middle East since World War I.

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From the Editors

published in MER171

The US military deployment to Saudi Arabia was on a scale not seen since the height of the Vietnam war. The “victory” parade in Washington on June 8 was the largest celebratory military exhibition, we are told, since World War II. The parade, like the war, was designed in part to obliterate the historical memory of Vietnam. So intent was this message that you could see the erasure of significant aspects of the Gulf war as well.

A Scarred Society

by Ann Lesch
published in MER172

Friday, May 24

Gender, Sexuality and the Iraq of Our Imagination

by Anne Norton
published in MER173

Writings on colonialism and post-colonial portrayals of the Third World are rife with constructions of the Other as feminine, or as subject, like women, to the passionate irrationality, weakness, cowardice, traditionalism and superstition that mark the feminine as subordinate in Western discourse. In the image of the Arabs, however, masculinity is foregrounded. The Western construction of Arab masculinity serves, like the ascription of femininity it displaces, to mark the subordination of the Other.

Assessing Storm Damage

by Joel Beinin
published in MER175

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American Jews and Palestine

The Impact of the Gulf War

by Marilyn Neimark
published in MER175

In 1988, in the midst of the intifada, American Jews mustered their forces in opposition to an Israeli government policy and forced the government to back down. At issue was the Israeli government’s decision to change the Law of Return to recognize only Orthodox converts to Judaism. The same American Jewish leaders who vigorously denounced and tried to silence any Jew who dared to speak out against the Israeli occupation and its violation of Palestinian human rights lost not a moment in their rush to criticize Israel publicly on what came to be known as the “Who-Is-A-Jew” question. The pressure worked, and the Israeli government retreated.