Samir Amin was on Aljazeera for a full hour. So rare to watch and listen and read someone whose every sentence is meaningful and original. I enjoyed every moment of it, and some one should find us the show to post here. He largely spoke about the various Western reports about “failed states” and rejected those (and other) Western standards of political and economic developments out of hand. He stuck to his global analysis of the capitalist economy, and addressed the crisis of modern Arab states.
He disagrees with Arab nationalists about their reading of Arab history, but considered Arab unity a (necessary and rational) future for the region. He considers Israel a failed state by the same Western standards and said that Israel would not have been able, say economically, to stand on its own without US largess. You can say the same about Israeli military posture, of course.
The witty host, Sami Klayb said: well, if Israel is a failed state and yet it has been able to do all that it has done to the Arabs, what does that say about the Arabs? Amin said: it is not the strength of Israel, but the weakness of the Arabs. He believes that the US invaded Iraq to destroy the Iraqi state. He also (while of course acknowledging the tyranny of Saddam) does not believe that Saddam’s rule was a Sunni rule (unlike the monarchist era in Iraqi history).
I have discussed this matter with my friend Amer who is working on the Iraqi state for his PhD in political science at UC, Berkeley. Amer also disagrees with the notion of the Ba`thist state as a sectarian state. It is known that most of the wanted Iraqi Ba`thist officials in the era of US occupation are Shi`ites. He argues that Nasser’s regime had legitimacy because it met the needs and had the support of “popular classes”, while the Sadat and Mubarak regimes don’t.
He believes the little relative space in Egypt is only accorded to sectors of the middle class, while the poor majority had no powers and rights whatsoever. I was riveted watching him talk and analyze Arab politics. If you want to read him in English, read his Arab Nation or his (dated) Arab Economy Today. I have always learned from this man: I have, however, come to disagree with his wholesale categorization and generalizations about Islamic movements in the region.
I used to hold that view but modified it in recent years because the Islamic movements are now more varied different: i.e. some are tools of ruling autocrats and some are not; some are largely silent on Israeli occupation and some are not; some are sympathetic to terrorism of Al-Qa`idah, and the majority are not, etc. By the way, his two-volume memoirs are out.
PS Jerome kindly sent me the link.

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