CRUELTY AND SILENCE by Kanan Makiya

CRUELTY AND SILENCE

War, Tyranny, Uprising, and the Arab World
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A courageous examination of the moral failures of the Arab world, by the man who, as ``Samir al-Khalil,'' wrote perhaps the best book on modern Iraq, Republic of Fear (1989). Makiya believes that the Gulf crisis was ``an Arab moral failure of historic portions'' and that the responsibility for it lies in the cruelty endemic to the Arab world, as well as in the almost universal failure of Arab intellectuals to speak out on the subject. The author first presents stories of individual Iraqis and Kurds to illustrate the crimes that have been perpetrated throughout Iraq. He adduces persuasive evidence to show that, in Saddam's 1980's campaign against the Kurds, more than 100,000 were killed, using every method, including poison gas. The campaign, Makiya says, led to the destruction of 12,076 Kurdish villages, far more than the 369 Palestinian villages ``eliminated'' by the Israelis. Yet Arab intellectuals have seen fit not to dwell on the Iraqis' actions even as they draw attention to those of the Israelis. Nor has there been any interest in Iraqi army responsibility for the uprooting of parliamentary life inside Iraq after 1958 or for the deaths of between 500,000 and one million Iraqis and Iranians in the war between the two countries. The West, too, suffers Makiya's ire. While the author points out that the US had no obligation to act in the Gulf, once it did act, he says, it acquired a responsibility to end things differently. But even so, it's ``painfully self-evident'' to Makiya that Western culture ``is immeasurably more tolerant of cultural, religious, and ethnic differences than Arab culture.'' A powerful yet evenhanded indictment. (Photographs)

Pub Date: April 29th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03108-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993