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Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered [Paperback]

by Raymond W. Baker, Shereen T Ismael, Tareq Y. Ismael
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 5, 2010 0745328121 978-0745328126
Why did the invasion of Iraq result in cultural destruction and killings of intellectuals? Convention sees accidents of war and poor planning in a campaign to liberate Iraqis. The authors argue instead that the invasion aimed to dismantle the Iraqi state to remake it as a client regime. Post-invasion chaos created conditions under which the cultural foundations of the state could be undermined. The authors painstakingly document the consequences of the occupiers' willful inaction and worse, which led to the ravaging of one of the world's oldest recorded cultures. Targeted assassination of over 400 academics, kidnapping and the forced flight of thousands of doctors, lawyers, artists and other intellectuals add up to cultural cleansing. This important work lays to rest claims that the invasion aimed to free an educated population to develop its own culture of democracy.

Editorial Reviews


"If you are looking for a textbook that provides a view of Middle East politics free of colonial bias ... [this book plainly fulfil this fundamental requirement. Informed by the empathy of belonging as well as by a critical objectivity enhanced by a long experience in teaching the region to students ... this book is a safe guide to the political intricacies of the Middle East." - Gilbert Achcar, Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London

About the Author

Raymond William Baker is Professor of International Politics, Trinity College, USA, and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo. His most recent book is Islam Without Fear: Egypt and the New Islamists.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745328121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745328126
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,844,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sober appraisal of a taboo subject February 9, 2010
There is ample evidence that the US deliberately dismantled the Iraqi state to return it to a pre-national, primordial condition where Iraqis would be forced to fall back upon their sectarian identities to ride out the American occupation.

In this respect, the Iraq war has been an enormous success for the Americans. The only Arab state which was bold enough to think that it was master of its own house lies broken, its multi-ethnic fabric torn, and nationhood, national identity and sovereignty elusive, very distant dreams.

This book lays out the processes employed to dismantle not only the state but its culture, in effect wiping out the shared identity of Arab, Christian, Kurd, Shia and Sunni Iraqis. All notably, until a few years before the invasion, fought as one against the Iranians.

The larger significance of this book, I think, is in what is implied. Iraq is hardly unique in being a multi-ethnic, multi-faith nation. After reading it, I was left thinking about how fragile the pluralistic nation state is, how fungible national identity is and how easily both are subverted from within or without.

The US, culturally still a predominantly Christian and Protestant nation, had serious issues with John F. Kennedy running on the Democratic ticket for president in 1960.

His Catholic faith was held against him; a Catholic would take orders from the Vatican, it was said, and his fealty would be to the Pope not the wonderful document that is the American constitution.

JFK addressed this issue head on in his speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant pastors. The speech can be found here
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting analaysis from many viewpoints April 7, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An interesting summary of the issue from many viewpoints. As the chapters of the book had multiple contributors there is some repetition and at times it is a little disjointed, but considering the importance of the subject a worthwhile read.

A very helpful insight into the importance of the extermination of the intelligensia as part of an overall program of genocide and how to create the circumstances to achieve that end.
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6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately tainted with the authors red ideology October 4, 2010
Sometimes, you feel there is a topic that is vastly under reported that deserves more attention and study, and the fate of Iraq's cultural and historic inheritance under the US occupation is certainly a issue that deserves a exhaustive account. However, there is a small line between a informed work of scholarship and a raving polemic. Unfortunately, large parts of this book displays the characteristics of the latter. It is all to clear that this has been written by authors belonging to the extreme left-wing, as all the cliches are here( US&Israel involved in a dastardly and nefarious plot to exploit/destroy hapless third world countries). Its almost as if the majority of the authors took a field trip to the bazaar in Sadr City, tape recorded every perceivable conspiracy theory around, assembled it into a book and published it as fact.

Space and time dont allow me to address every point, but if i had to choose 3 of the major faults it would be:

1. The obsessive Israel fixation in the book. What was particular revealing was Glenn E Perry's chapter about "Cultural cleansing in Comparative perspective", where he gives the usual lecture about Israeli cleansings a whooping 5 pages(in a 12 page chapter), while the cleansings in Bosnia barely gets a measly page, almost a token inclusion and figleaf to make it not look as onesided. We also see this tendency in the dealings of foreign meddlers inside Iraq. Nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have each played a major part in inciting and orchestrating the calamity in Iraq is barely mentioned and possible Iranian involvement is casually brushed aside, instead the authors focus on flimsy and limited Kurdish-Israeli cooperation. I know the authors need to pay lip service to the anti-Zionist readership, but give me a break.
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