A culture of maneuver and guile

I missed when it came out, but via David Rees, the genius creator of Get Your War On and My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable, take a look at this excerpt from a New York Times story by their Baghdad bureau chief John Burns:

To a great extent, the American story in Iraq has been one of a profound clash of cultures - of invaders who came with a belief that they could transplant the virtues of democratic bargaining and a civil society that secures the vital interests of all, only to be confounded by what Iraqis themselves often describe as the culture of Ali Baba, the mythical villain of Baghdad.

In that culture, maneuver and guile, secrets and untruths, terror and treachery are, too often, the coin of the realm for deciding who gets wealth and power.
Ya salaam! Burns is obviously a graduate of the Bernard Lewis School of Arab Studies.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.