No, he's not kidding. And Bosworth finds it refreshing that the book resists the belief (which, for obvious reasons, he attributes to no-one in particular) that "the West is responsible for all the Middle East's ills". Instead, it details various histories revealing Islam's imperial dreams. It's almost comical though how Bosworth plays down the impact of the West's real life imperialism. He does condemn Russia for being "a ruthlessly exploitative power" and even calls the Russians "invaders" but you won't find these words applied to any other Western nation, let alone their ruthless exploitative histories, despite two rather prominent recent examples. Also, apparently the British Empire extended to Mesopotamia only because:
First World War British officialdom, persuaded by advocates of the Arab cause like TE Lawrence, were taken in by the grandiose claims of the Sahrif Husayn ... to express the real will and aspirations of all Arabs in greater Syria and Iraq.Ah, yes, of course, that makes perfect sense. Britain was benignly concerned to meet the aspirations of Arabs only for them to be ruined by wicked Islamic imperialists! According to the author and reviewer, the US is now in Britain's position. They both say the violence afflicting the region is:
largely directed against the United States (the book was presumably written before the London Tube bombings of 2005), but this is only because America's position as a pre-eminent world power blocks Arab and Islamic imperialist aspirations. If America and Israel disappeared off the map instantly, the attitudes would still be there, albeit with newly found specific targets.So the US needs to invade and occupy countries for years on end in a totally non-imperialist way in order to protect the world from Islamic imperialism, and any resistance is an expression of Islam's latent imperialism? Bosworth is for good reason a professor of Arabic Studies and not elementary logic. Isn't the reason why the US is a pre-eminent power a major factor in what is happening the Middle East? That is, wouldn't it disappear tomorrow if there was no oil to be found there?
Bosworth admits that Karsh's analysis "will not convince Western liberals with minds fixated on their own guilt, let alone any Muslims". Well, I should hope not, though I do admit I am fixated on the issue of guilt. But it's not guilt I feel. What I feel very strongly is shame and anger that I share this freedom with those for whom professional servility to power takes precedence over the deaths of over a million people, which are not only unmentionable but apparently irrelevant. Or maybe this review was written before any of that happened.