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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on April 16, 2003
The whole theory behind this book is flawed. I think what Berman is talking about is one small part of a whole phenomenon that has manifested itself increasingly in the last few years, namely the phenomenon of religious Absolutism(i.e. Religious Fundamentalism). It exists increasingly in all major religions, i.e. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Jewish religions. Actually the so called war against terrorism is basically a war between manifestations of that absolutism in the U.S., The Arab/Muslim world, and Israel. The major problem, that we are facing is that Islamic religious absolutism, is a great recruitment for christian, jewish, and Hindu religious absolutism, and vice versa. Good and evil, Black and White, us and them, believers and non believers, chosen and non chosen people, are the common language used to express religious absolutism. If liberals and religious pragmatists cannot change this vocabulary, than we are in for some crazy times in this world.
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on May 7, 2004
Here's a typical example of why Berman's book is not just politically reactionary, but worthless: There's a nine-page put-down of Noam Chomsky, primarily for the latter's response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but also for other things Chomsky has said, on topics ranging from Cambodia to linguistics. And in these nine pages, there's not a single actual quote from Chomsky! (By the way, since Berman's book not only contains no footnotes but no index either, I'll tell you that the anti-Chomsky screed starts on page 144.)

Most of Berman's other attacks on leftists also contain either no quotes or short quotes (usually not even full sentences) without citations that would allow the reader to locate the context of the quote.

Berman does extensively quote certain Islamist writers (though again without citations). This makes me think that he knows that Islamist ideas (or at least the ones he quotes) will, unlike leftist ideas, not appeal to those he is trying to win over to his position, which is essentially support of Western capitalism in general and Israel in particular.

Those who are looking for a balanced refutation of both Islamism and its Western imperialist pseudo-opposition would be much better served by starting with Tariq Ali's "The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity" (ISBN 185984457X).
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on May 16, 2004
Despite a fair summary of Qutb and a few critical comments about Sharon, Berman defends aggressive attacks on the "enemy". The book and thesis are essentially sophomoric simplification that seems to have impressed (from plaudits printed inside) numerous other unqualified readers who know the subject no better. It meets emotional needs for some but adds no depth of understanding..
The thesis is a defense of aggression based on little more that Pop Psychology about totalitarianism and "suicidal" violence - referring to Camus but lacking his broader understanding. Broad categories and labels are grotesquely inaccurate lumping Islamic Fundamentalists together and describing them as Fascist and Totalitarian. There is considerable diversity in the real world with some ready to participate in elections, and most who are not terrorists. Many are concerned almost exclusively with their own homelands. In the case of Iraq a secular, anti Fundamentalist, enemy of Al Qaeda was the US target. Consider too that there are proportionally probably more Christian Fundamentalists in the US than Muslim ones outside Saudi and Afghanistan. The history (including questionable conclusions describing the fall of France to the Nazis as solely from "liberal/socialist" lack of backbone) and psychology (sex, suicide, and totalitarianism are a syndrome) are not valid. They do, however, serve as propaganda demonizing Muslims in support of US and Israeli state counter terror. Again they provide a reason to avoid looking at the real issues and grievances resulting from those policies or the essential source of terror training and broad contacts from the CIA and ISI trained alumni of the Afghan-US war against the Soviets in Central Asia. (These are the folks whose leaders trained in the US and who were called, like the Contras, "the moral equivalent of our founding Fathers" by Reagan!) At least Berman's book it is not quite the insult to one's intelligence as explaining 9-11 by "they are jealous of our freedoms" but it is just as muddled thinking and equally motivated by propaganda rather than serious analysis - just this time for a book rather than a sound bite.
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on March 30, 2003
This book is nothing but rubbish directed against intellectuals and thinkers to counter the so-called Islamic threat. Mr. Berman tries to convince his readers that the Islam teaches terrorism and hate, but he does not want to be in the same pot as Salman Rushtie, so he hides behind Syyed Qutb (may God be pleased with him). Syyed Qutb gave his life to tell the TRUTH and spread to all the humanity. It is too bad that Mr. Berman has chosen to turn his back from God and justice. This book is nothing but stupid propaganda from so called expert.
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on February 9, 2004
This book is totally out of line, the author seems to me too extremist and biased with his statist and reactionary view. Even the government admits that there are no dangerous weapons in Iraq, the so called WMDs war is not about religion fundamentalism or to fight religion-terrorism but about oil. Another of the author's labeling is to equally label all progressive movements as terrorists. He places all communists and leftists along the line with criminals, fascists, nazis, and extremists. This is a Ronald Reagan, Churchill, Mussolini type of statist and reactionary language used by neo-cons think-tanks to destroy opposite views. We have to point out that religion have always been used by empires and states to rule people. Religion and religious language is used by governmnets to fool and opiate the masses into wars and the government agendas. Another wrong point i see is that there was no physical evidence of the link between the events of 9-11, Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden. The author bases himself on absolute blind faith instead of sound arguments backed by credible evidence, he even bashes the award winning literary professor Noam Chomsky. So do your self a favor, don't believe the corporate-media, the reactionary writters and think for yourself first, question the authorities and what they tell you through the media, books, etc.
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on February 28, 2004
Probably the reason Paul Berman doesn't write about good "Third Force" alternatives is because there aren't any. It's just a dirty deal that probably won't get done.
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on February 20, 2004
Paul Berman's attempt to make a case for war on Iraq is based on anecdotal evidence that so far has not been borne out.
The first part of the book is his attempt to 'prove' he is a liberal.
Sir, I really don't care if you are a zebra. You were co-opted by the conservatives you so despised. What a fool!
Berman's arguments for war are based on discursive 'facts' and hearsay. His arguments for a liberal regime in Iraq are also faulty. And his discussion of 'terrorism' fails to convince.
Right now, you are probably very disconcerted how things have turned out (no WMD) but your rationale ('but Sadam was a WMD.') is a weak case for a first strike.
Leave this book for the political science class of 2053 as they try to make 'sense' of the Iraq War and how 'rational' people could have supported such a lark.
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