SAIS' Fouad Ajami Publishes New Book on
By Felisa Neuringer Klubes
Fouad Ajami, the Majid Khadduri Professor of
Middle East Studies and director of the Middle East Studies
Program at SAIS,
has recently published The Foreigner's Gift: The
Americans, the Arabs and the Iraqis in Iraq. Free Press
released the book on July 10.
One of the world's foremost authorities on Middle
Eastern politics, Ajami has made many trips to Iraq since
the war began and has met Iraqis of all ethnicities,
religions, politics and regions. In The Foreigner's
Gift, he provides the reader with a portrait of the
whole Iraq — the one that is not on the evening news
and that is necessary to understand in order to know what
the future might hold.
Ajami shows the unseen Iraq through interviews with
Baathist insurgents, reclusive Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani, political figure Ahmad Chalabi, American
soldiers, Kurdish politicians, Iraqi policemen and ordinary
citizens voting for the first time. In Iraq's endless
variety, he sees the possibility for a harmonious, diverse,
fluid society — or for an acrimonious, war-torn place
stunted by power struggles.
In the book, he argues that the country would have
been better off if Iraqis had brought about their own
liberty and demolished Saddam Hussein's prisons and statues
on their own, the United States had entered into its path
in Iraq with a better understanding of the region, and the
Iraqis had not been too proud to admit that they needed a
foreigner's gift. But this gift of liberty granted them by
an American-led war, he says, is what Iraqis now have to
work with if they are to make a history that goes beyond
the sorrow and violence of the country's recent past.
Ajami serves as a consultant to CBS News on Middle
Eastern affairs and is a contributing editor to U.S.
News & World Report and a frequent contributor to
Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal and The
New Republic. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and
a Bradley Prize, he is the author of The Dream Palace of
the Arabs and The Arab Predicament.
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