The Gulf War Did Not Take Place
by Jean Baudrillard
Trans. by Paul Patton. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. 87 pp. $11.95.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
No one can lack commonsense as much as an intellectual, especially a leftist one, and perhaps most of all a renowned French professor of sociology. To show his brilliance, Baudrillard takes a perfectly obvious fact and devotes a book to proving it wrong. In saying that the Kuwait war "did not take place," he means that the fighting was so lopsided, it did not constitute a war. Brushing aside American fears of heavy casualties, he deems that the war "was won in advance." 61 It was, in his view, "a shameful and pointless hoax, a programmed and melodramatic version of what was the drama of war." 72 From the American point of view, he claims, "no accidents occurred in this war, everything unfolded according to a programmatic order." 73 In all, the events of early 1991 stood in relation to war as computer erotics do to actual sex. 62
Baudrillard's exceedingly slight essay (a compilation of three articles published in the newspaper Libération) ceaselessly hammers away at these themes. He stands midway between the United States and Iraq, faulting each of these main actors about equally. For him, it is all aesthetics and ideology; the deeply important human, economic, and strategic issues raised by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait disappear under the weight of his relentless abstraction. Thus unconnected from reality, Baudrillard mangles everything from the French president's name 79 to the number of traffic fatalities in the United States. The result is a book of profound error and transcendent stupidity, the most inane ever reviewed in these pages.
Related Topics: Daniel Pipes | March 1996 MEQ
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