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The foreigner's gift : the Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq

A whirlwind From Amazon This is a short review. I liked the book but I felt it was somewhat too long and was lacking order. Sometimes the writer introduced a character only to say that this character knew another one and starts talking about the second one. This is the second book I read by Ajami. I felt the same kind of confusion and lack of order in The Dream Palace of the Arabs, on the first chapter, the one about Lebanon.

I tend to think that the whirlwind of characters, anecdotes, impressions, evaluations, sayings and images of the country is deliberate in these two cases: both places Lebanon during the Civil War and Iraq at the present are or were in the midst of a maelstrom of violence and sectarianism and Ajami wants to convey some of this overwhelming mayhem to the reader through this lack of order.

The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq - Fouad Ajami - Google книги

The Foreigner's gift is like the chapter about Lebanon but through pages! Although I got tired sometimes, I liked it. The more I read about the Arab world, the more I appreciate the efforts of counted men and women to modernize their world, and I appreciate the obstacles they have to fight. Sometimes when reading about the politicians who want to make their country better but fight against unsurmountable odds and the inertia of the system and the people, I went on to think about Argentina where I come from and how it is not such a different situation minus the homicide bombings.

Hence, I was able to enter minds of some Arabs as if they were my own people and stop considering them an unknowable "other" this doesn't apply of course to the pathological homicide bombers. Ajami is succesful in presenting a story of people reacting to great changes. And he is optimist.

Fouad Ajami

I hope that Iraq succeeds. This is a book for those who like America and for those who hate it. You can't hate what you know. And people need to know all the things that America is doing for the Iraqis, and how many Iraqis depend on the success of the reconstruction effort and the war on terrorism. Pamphlet-writer still fooling many From Amazon 1. Or were you one of those nice folks who thought they were sent in to save your babies from mushroom clouds?

And finally, 4. Will Americans ever learn to spot the Belgian Nun?

The Iraqis who trusted America the most.

Well written, but with massive holes From Amazon I read "The Foreigner's gift" in a mere two or three sittings, them re-read it for good measure. Some observations Ajami writes with feeling and skill, and his on-the-scene reporting is commendable, and I am glad I read it. But there are some very serious holes in this book. The first and most major lacuna? The role of Islam, the essential bedrock to which Islamic peoples and Islamic lands gravitationally return was almost completely ignored. Totally absent was any discussion of Islam's basic threefold theology, namely- 1.

As a side-note, observe in Europe just how little violence is needed in the forms of street crime, intimidation, rape, and small explosions to intimidate entire societies once they believe in the nothingness and weakness of liberal guilt-driven tolerance. Also- far too many dispersed meanderings along the lines of the Victor Davis Hanson-style "isn't it unfair that they don't love us?!

The only surprising thing about Americans is that 3rd world resentment still surprises them. They are thus ill-prepared for how 3rd world populations will act as they increasingly seize demographic control of America itself. In parts, the book had the disjointed feel of a series of U.

News columns tacked together. The last few years have had me thinking along unexpected lines. If the success of the Iraq insurgency is all that separates us from Fukuyama's "end of history", an Arab spring and the triumph of global liberalism, this places me in a strange situation. America's survival as a distinct people, with a distinct culture and identity and borders would therefore depend on the shattering of our illusions in Iraq. Am I, as an American patriot, in a position of hoping for "American" "failure" in Iraq as the only way to set back that globalization?


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Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 31, Joseph Stieb rated it it was ok Shelves: iraq. Ajami portrays Arab political culture as truly depraved: conspiracy theories abound, hatred of Israel and the Shia have surpassed all rational proportion, the violence of Arab regimes is excused or ignored, anger is projected onto the United States, and a vicious fundamentalism is on the rise.

In other books, he traces this failure to the problems and pathologies of Arab nationalism in the midth century. The book is called the Foreigner's Gift because Ajami believes that the US invasion gave the Iraqis, and maybe the region, the chance to break out of this cycle and put things on a better track.

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The book was written in during the elections when maybe this was a more plausible thing to think. He did make the very interesting observation that millions of Arabs, including Arab intellectuals and the media, who said hardly a peep about the Baathist tyranny reacted to Abu Ghraib with the utmost horror and anger. Ajami points out that Arab regimes are perfectly happy to deflect their people's anger onto the infidel Americans, Jews, and Shia even as they commit vastly worse crimes. The lament of Ajami's career is that Arab intellectuals let themselves be suckered into this game.

Ajami's a good writer, and he did go to IQ to scope things out for himself. He often provides interesting portraits of key figures in Iraqi and Arab politics and culture. However, the book has literally no structure: chapters go on covering whatever seems to pop into Ajami's head, and a lot of it is mere generalities.

This book's central message could have been a New Yorker piece; instead it became a rambling page monster that really only makes 1 or 2 big points.

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I can't believe his editors let him get away with this. Unless you are literally doing a dissertation on Arab intellectuals, do not bother with this one. Apr 24, P rated it it was ok.


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I respect Ajami both for his position at a fabulous graduate school and for the subtlety of his earlier work, especially "Dream Palace of the Arabs. This book his I respect Ajami both for his position at a fabulous graduate school and for the subtlety of his earlier work, especially "Dream Palace of the Arabs. This book his below him. He discusses the sincerity and goodness of the US occupation force, yet he fails to point how how grievously wrong the Americans are.

Jerusalem's Afro Palestinians feel more integrated

Innocence is not an excuse for incompetence. He quotes a soldier from the South who says that he does not understand why, since Iraq has been around since the Bible, Iraq can't be as great as America has made itself in a few hundred years. Ajami references Iraq's artificiality in passing, but he refuses to directly refute flawed assumptions with actual facts that he probably knows. Another example is his insistence on the use of the term "homicide bomber" which was invented by Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer in and not used anywhere outside of Bush's defenders.


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  6. He grossly overrates positive things, despite what really happened. For example he praises Ahmad Chalabi, a pathological liar who combines the blustering arrogance of Donald Trump with the business "savvy" of John Merriweather. In Ajami's telling, Chalabi is the victim of other actors' machinations. Ajami repeatedly references the importance of the tearing down of the Saddam statue in Fidros Square on April 9, as a crucial event. As we know, 8 years in Iraq later, the statue pull did not change much. In addition, every video of the event is an extremely narrow close-up because few Iraqis actually were at the event.

    Look online for photos contradicting the crowd there with the crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square who stood up against Hosni Mubarak. I am deeply disappointed in this book because I hold Ajami to high expectations. In one scene, he gives a Marine a copy of "The Quiet American" and remarks about how Graham Greene discusses American innocence in the book.

    Either Ajami does not understand Greene's masterpiece or more likely he refuses to engage the full text with the reality of the Iraq occupation because it would so strongly contradict his "American occupation!