Interview With Kanan Makiya

This wide-ranging interview is worth reading for Makiya’s many insights about geopolitics, Islam and the moral failings of the international Left.


I would say that much of the strength of the hostility of the Jihadi movement, and of the forces that have made life so horrible in Iraq, came from the silence of Europe. Europe has a lot to answer for. It’s not even that it was half-hearted. They fell in completely with the language of the non-democratic Arab regimes. They bought their line and they seemed to stand for the same things. They undermined entirely the values of the operation. Europeans knew that the United States was not going to permanently occupy Iraq. Deep down the smarter Europeans must have known it wasn’t just about oil. It was – rightly or wrongly – a way of changing the traditional western attitude towards the Arab Muslim world. It was an end to the support for autocratic and repressive governments. It was a new view that if we are going to succeed in this war against terror then we are going to have to be viewed by the populations of this part of the world in a totally different way. Now Europe might not have thought it was the right time. Europe might have thought it should be done differently. But Europe should never have been seen to be undermining the argument itself.

(Via neo-neocon, whose post on the Makiya interview is also worth reading.)

5 thoughts on “Interview With Kanan Makiya”

  1. Excellent. How did you find this?

    Faced with the cruelty of the Iraqi regime towards its people, parts of the Arab intelligentsia, and the western, often ‘left’, intelligentsia, had offered up a catalogue of evasions: silence, exculpation, complicity, rationalisation, subject changing, denial, avoidance.

    Yes, the “left” we all know and despise.

    AJ: How do we make sense of the left-intellectuals denial? How do we account for their refusal to engage with the first part of Cruelty and Silence? Given the expressed values of the left one would expect them to have tended to it very closely, and to have cared very deeply.

    KM: The left retreated into a politics of cultural relativism during the 1980s. The activist generation, that entered politics for the anti-Vietnam war campaign and the civil rights movement, retreated into academia and began theorising …That which makes us different began to be posited as a positive value in itself. The internationalist concern with those universals that human beings have in common declined in importance. Now, any form of intervention began to be seen as immoral, not just a particular intervention, at a particular time. There is a generalisation against all intervention that takes place from Vietnam onwards.

    Brilliant. I also believe that the “left” began to see and use cultural relativism as a wedge, a tool of divide and conquer politics. Keep the blacks, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, what have you, from integrating into the larger society and dependent economically, socially and politically on the “left” to defend their interest group and look to them for social welfare; and being non-integrated, they will by definition be economically disadvantaged. See, for the latest example, Hillary’s “plantation” remarks or Hurricane Ray Nagin’s “chocolate city” comments. This also goes to the “left” oppostion to private schools. Can’t have a bunch of well educated blacks in the citys; they might become successful and we all know where that leads.

    People like myself…felt betrayed by Europe…It enabled the Jihadis, the Ba’athists, the extreme Arab nationalists, and the Arab regimes, to say ‘Look at the hostility of Europe to what the United States has done!’ Europe made it possible to isolate not just the United States but everything that is represented by the west…I would say that much of the strength of the hostility of the Jihadi movement, and of the forces that have made life so horrible in Iraq, came from the silence of Europe. Europe has a lot to answer for.

    Western Europe (the UK excepted, Canada included) is morally and intellectually bankrupt. They are only concerned with their own self interest and, like the arabs, blaming the “other”, usually the USA, for all their failings and shortcomings. I’ll say again that Americans are fools to offer them military protection in the guise of NATO. The sooner we stop, the better for all.

  2. It’s worth noting that most European countries have some history of colonialism and nation building whereas the US military has primarily been a force of liberation in the past. Thus Europeans had a more pessimistic (realistic?) view of the chances of success in Iraq.

    It’s also important that if Turkey joins the EU then there will be a single border between western Europe and Iraq. As a result, Europeans have both reason to be sceptical of nation building Iraq and wary of its outcomes.

  3. It’s not just Europeans, though. I think Jimmy Carter had a great deal to do with legitimizing terrorism as a political tactic through his willingness to deal with Arafat as if he were a normal political leader. And American universities have also played a malign role in this process.

  4. Coprrect! It was the Left in Europe that got the Islamists to bomb America on 9/11…they are at fault for all things! Stinking Left. The US had no dealings with Saddam as friend, with Saudi corrupt princes etc etc We are GOOD and the Left is always and continually BAD. Now let us give more american money to CHINA at the expense of our econo9my and our workers.

  5. Peter,

    Thanks for sharing your feelings! Perhaps now you will read the interview and comment from a more informed perspective. Or do we have to wait another four months for you to descend from orbit again?

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