Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle

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9781844670017: Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle

In order to render the strange logic of dreams, Freud quoted the old joke about the borrowed kettle: (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you, (2) I returned it to you unbroken, (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you. Such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments, of course, confirms exactly what it attempts to deny—that I returned a broken kettle to you ...

That same inconsistency, i ek argues, characterized the justification of the attack on Iraq: A link between Saddam’s regime and al-Qaeda was transformed into the threat posed by the regime to the region, which was then further transformed into the threat posed to everyone (but the US and Britain especially) by weapons of mass destruction. When no significant weapons were found, we were treated to the same bizarre logic: OK, the two labs we found don’t really prove anything, but even if there are no WMD in Iraq, there are other good reasons to topple a tyrant like Saddam ...

Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle analyzes the background that such inconsistent argumentation conceals and, simultaneously, cannot help but highlight: what were the actual ideological and political stakes of the attack on Iraq? In classic i ekian style, it spares nothing and nobody, neither pathetically impotent pacifism nor hypocritical sympathy with the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Praise for Welcome to the Desert of the Real:

‘ i ek is a stimulating writer; with a knack for turning scenes from movies into little parables, and he is adept at spotting other people’s nonsense.’ New Yorker

‘ i ek’s book is perhaps particularly helpful in understanding the ‘we wished for it,’ from his reading of the terrifying predictability of the American response.’ parallax

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About the Author:

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.

From Publishers Weekly:

As Slovenian public intellectual and provocateur Zizek puts it in his pungent sequel to Welcome to the Desert of the Real, a major motivational problem with the U.S.'s Iraq adventure has been "too many reasons for the war." As each pretext collapsed in the face of events, another rose to take its place. Thus, he says, the "war" has been as much on logical consistency as on Iraq. As piercing as Zizek can be about the rhetorical excesses of the Bush administration—his Lacanian reading of Rumsfeld's infamous "known knowns" speech is a tour de force—he doesn't spare what he sees as the smug complacencies of "Old Europe" and the left, putting them under the general rubric of convenient pacifism and selective outrage. Structured as an essay with two long appendixes, Zizek's book is consistently funny, engaging and accessible whether discussing Hitchcock or Heidegger. If some of the philosophical excursions in the book's second half threaten to derail the cogency of its arguments, they generally reward patience. And if the sheer exuberance of Zizek's biting invective acts as something of a tonic, the sobriety of his basic message—that we have entered a permanent, Orwellian "state of emergency" that threatens the very freedoms we are supposedly defending—is never lost. Simultaneously invigorating, depressing and maddening, Zizek's book reveals him to be an intellectual made for these times, a mixed blessing if ever there was one.
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