Babylon at the Movies: Edward Said on Alternative Views Discusses Gulf War I


For years, Alternative Views, a modest public access broadcast in Austin, Texas, offered one of the most stimulating and thought-provoking commentaries on current events with a Marxian lens. This interview with the late, great Dr. Edward Said, recorded in 1990, provides a few valuable insights.

With the hindsight of almost three decades, one is able to look back on the period of the First Intifada, the Palestinian nonviolent civil disobedience campaign that arose to challenge Israeli brutality, and see a world that clearly does not exist any longer. The first Gulf War, the major topic of discussion, was a moment of transition for both the region and the globe. In this moment, the old alignment of forces under the heading of the Cold War was rent asunder. George HW Bush proclaimed a ‘New World Order’ was at hand while the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union entered its terminal implosion phase.

Now America seems to be entering its own moment of implosion. President Donald Trump’s blundering mismanagement of the empire is stimulating an acceleration of forces that were made manifest when America faltered upon its invasion of…Iraq! In the annals of history, it may well be recorded that Gulf War II demonstrated the American behemoth was a nude emperor. The failure of the invasion force and its prolonged, bloody consequences set in motion events that will likely result in the emergence of a multi-polar as opposed to uni-polar world. How bloody and painful it will be is anyone’s guess. But in this sense, Dr. Said’s interview is an eloquent elaboration upon the prequel to that decline.

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