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Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle

Žižek analyzes the bizarre logic used to justify the attack on Iraq.

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, Žižek 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 – which can be considered as a sequel to Žižek's acclaimed post-9/11 Welcome to the Desert of the Real – 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 Žižekian style, it spares nothing and nobody, neither pathetically impotent pacifism nor hypocritical sympathy with the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Reviews

  • “Žižek will entertain and offend, but never bore.”
  • “Hopping from peak to peak, and periodically descending into the valley of present-day culture for refreshment, Žižek outlines a topology of activity that recovers revealed truths.”
  • “Žižek 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.”

Blog

  • After Chilcot: A Reading List on Iraq and the “War on Terror”

    “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.” — John Chilcot.

    The long-awaited Chilcot Report, spanning almost a decade of UK government policy decisions between 2001 and 2009, was released today. The report finds that there was no “imminent threat” from Saddam Hussein, and that Tony Blair had gone to war before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted — the UK's invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not a “last resort”.

    Verso presents a reading list of books that contextualize the disaster resulting from the "War on Terror" and the refugee crisis rooted in its violence. After the invasion by coalition forces in 2003, Iraq began fracturing along sectarian lines, unleashing years of violence and displacement. With the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011, ISIS exploited the chaos and societal tensions of the region to sweep to power on a brutal campaign that has displaced millions of civilians. The Iraq War, too, led to increased risk of terrorism in Europe as well as within the Middle East. 


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  • 50% off all Slavoj Žižek books through Sunday!


    To celebrate the release of the paperback edition of Absolute Recoil (on sale today!), every single Slavoj Žižek title is now 50% off until Sunday at 8pm ET.

    In the New York Review of Books, John Gray states that, "few thinkers illustrate the contradictions of contemporary capitalism better than the Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek." 

    Now is your chance to collect every book in his vast bookshelf, from his plea to repeat and expand on the ideas of Hegel, in Less Than Nothing, his analysis of how Western society can face up to the end times if the end of capitalism means the end of the world, in Living in the End Times, and the connections between totalitarianism and modern liberal democracy in Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?

    You can browse every title in the Žižek bookshelf sale below and by clicking the book jackets here ==============>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Includes free shipping (worldwide) and free bundled ebook where available.

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  • Some Bewildered Clarifications: A Response to Noam Chomsky by Slavoj Žižek

    Since Noam Chomsky’s "Fantasies" (July 21, 2013) present themselves as a reaction to my reply to his interview with a critical dismissal of my work, a brief clarification is needed. What Chomsky refers to as my "reply" is a non-authorized and not accurate transcription of my answer to a question from the public during a recent debate at Birkbeck college in London. As it would be clear from a full transcription, at that moment I didn’t even know about Chomsky’s attack on me—I was just asked what do I think about his total dismissal of my work (together with that of Lacan and Derrida) as a case of fanciful posturing without any foundation in empirical facts and scientific reasoning, and I improvised a reaction on the spot. Chomsky’s remark that I "cite nothing" to justify my claim about his inaccuracies is thus ridiculous—how could I have done it in an improvised reply to an unexpected question? Probably to illustrate my disrespect for facts, Chomsky also dwells on the characterization of Obama that I wrongly attributed to him; there is no mystery about it, upon learning about my mistake, I unambiguously apologized—here is the text of my apology (from Harper’s magazine):

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