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August 12, 2010


Joseph Fouche

I think various adversaries of the United States have made serious miscalculations because they don't understand that sometimes the wishes of the American people do rise to the surface and "complicate" U.S. foreign relations. A worse problem is that various "leaders" of the United States make the same sort of miscalculations. If a U.S. negotiator is closer in spirit to his foreign counterparts than to his fellow countrymen, the signals such a negotiator sends may fatally mislead foreign leaders who lack cultural understanding of the American people.


Have you read Robert D. Kaplan's books on Arabists: http://www.amazon.com/Arabists-American-Robert-D-Kaplan/dp/0028740238

Joseph Fouche

That's one book by the Kaplan I've never read.

I often slip into the habit of viewing the State Department as nothing more than a hive of ineffectual fellow travelers and useful idiots that ought to be replaced by a diplomatic corps. I probably thought it was merely saying the obvious and skipped over it when I bought a giant pile of cheap paperbacks written by the Kaplan a few years ago.

Adrienne Redd

The occidentalist misreading of Western culture and intentions is exacerbated by the fear of having one's cultural and national sovereignty violated. I discuss this in my new book, Fallen Walls and Fallen Towers: The Fate of the Nation in a Global World. ~ Adrienne Redd

Matthew Doye

There is a substantial difference.

Orientalism refers to a coherent set of views held by generalised western culture about all those from the 'east', whether they be Egyptians, Japanese or anything in between.

Occidentalism, in contrast is fragmented by country and culture; one can observe different occidentalisms in Turkey Israel Pakistan India China and so on. Even within the 'Arab world' perceptions of the west and it's values vary so much that one realises the phrase Occidentalism is, in fact, invalid and a product of our Orientalism.


The key phrase in Buruma's book is "viewed by the enemies of the West" i.e it is a coherent set of views that those who consider themselves broadly anti-Western hold. So it is not a product of Orientalism and nor is as necessarily as broad as Orientalism.

What it is, though, like Orientalism, is a product of the West itself, refracted through a various set of differing mirrors.

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