[war] The Palace of the End — Martin Amis on the coming war in Iraq … Three quotes:

‘Osama bin Laden is an identifiable human type, but on an unidentifiable scale. He is an enormous stirrer – a titanic mixer. Look how he’s shaken us up, both in the heart and in the head. One could say, countervailingly, that on September 11 America was visited by something very alien and unbelievably radical. A completely new kind of enemy for whom death is not death – and for whom life is not life, either, but illusion, a staging-post, merely “the thing which is called World”. No, you wouldn’t expect such a massive world-historical jolt, which will reverberate for centuries, to be effortlessly absorbed. But the suspicion remains that America is not behaving rationally – that America is behaving like someone still in shock.’

‘We hear about the successful “Texanisation” of the Republican party. And doesn’t Texas sometimes seem to resemble a country like Saudi Arabia, with its great heat, its oil wealth, its brimming houses of worship, and its weekly executions?’

‘Saddam’s hands-on years in the dungeons distinguish him from the other great dictators of the 20th century, none of whom had much taste for “the wet stuff”. The mores of his regime have been shaped by this taste for the wet stuff – by a fascinated negative intimacy with the human body, and a connoisseurship of human pain.’

Martin Amis on War in Iraq

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 4th, 2003 at 9:37 pm and is filed under Books, iraq, War.

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1 Comment

A very intelligent essay, as you would expect. But a bit pointless. In the same copy of the Guardian. Matthew Engel writes about why “Liberalism doesn’t get a hearing on American radio or television” at,3604,906875,00.html.

We can take a great argument from Martin Amis: “Why, in our current delirium of faith and fear, would Bush want things to become more theological rather than less theological? The answer is clear enough, in human terms: to put it crudely, it makes him feel easier about being intellectually null. He wants geopolitics to be less about intellect and more about gut-instincts and beliefs – because he knows he’s got them.”

and then spend ten minutes trying and failing to rewrite that for the Daily Mirror or the Sun. As Engel writes that “You are not very well-educated and certainly not well-travelled. You don’t harbour doubts. You are the target audience for American talk radio.”

I would not wish that liberal thought became so short, snappy and devoid of analysis as American talk radio. But can we deliver liberal thought in digestible chunks? I think so. There is strong precedent for writers to recycle their material and republish; I hope that Amis will rewrite (with the verbal fluidity that we all enjoy) these arguments for the Mirror. Otherwise, he has wasted his time pontificating to the Guardian-reading converted rather than providing ammunition to the UK majority who know that “there is something wrong about this war”.


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