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The return of Neil Clark

When I saw the title of Neil Clark’s piece in the Guardian today The Return of Arabophobia I thought this was the kind of article that would merit some blog criticism.

After all Clark is the man who penned this appalling column after the assasination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and on a similar theme one of the worst articles ever written about Slobodan Milosevic, claiming the dictator was being victimised for his stubborn socialism.

Clark, described at the foot of his piece as a writer and journalist specialising in Middle Eastern and Balkan affairs is true to form in his latest effort which begins like this:

First, they tried to dismiss Iraqi resistance as the work of “Saddam loyalists”. Then they sought to blame “outside forces”. Now, as it becomes clear that Iraqis of all sects oppose the occupation, a third explanation has arisen. Terrorism, anarchy and criminality are prevalent in Iraq because … er … terrorism, anarchy and criminality are what Iraqis do.

Arabophobia has been part of western culture since the Crusades, with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden only the latest in a long line of Arab bogeymen. For centuries the Arab has played the role of villain, seducer of our women, hustler and thief – the barbarian lurking at the gates of civilisation.

Well like most of you I read a lot of news and comment about Iraq and I have to say I haven’t noticed this new line or argument that ‘what do you expect from Iraqis?’ Most statements from official sources continue to talk about the reistance coming primarily from Ba’athists and terrorist groups.

And Saddam and Bin Laden are bogeymen?

Unless I am mistaken that’s an American phrase and so I looked it up to be sure I hadn’t misunderstood. The online dictionaries describe:an imaginary, frightening man that supposedly carries away disobedient children; boogeyman.

I can’t think of a better example of the denial that some are still suffering from about Bin Laden and Saddam.

And there is an echo of Clark’s previously displayed attitude to Milosevic when he talks of Saddam’s Iraq:

Up until the imposition of sanctions by Britain and the US, independent Ba’athist Iraq, although a dictatorship, had the most developed infrastructure, the best healthcare and the best universities of any country in the Middle East.

After reading that I really can’t be bothered going through the rest of Clark’s drivel. It might be good sport but really, what is the point?

Update: Jackie at Au Currant is obviously keener on the sport than I am. The barrel’s always full but let’s shoot the fish anyway.

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