February 28, 2005


I haven't entirely given up writing about Sayyid Qutb or his brother, though it increasingly appears that history is moving in such a contrary direction so quickly that I might as well be writing about the politics of the Byzantine empire (a subject that actually does interest me, but let's not stray too far from the point). Egypt and Lebanon following on the heels of Afghanistan and Iraq (of course, one could throw Ukraine in there as well) -- it's early days, but Christopher Hitchens puts it nicely:

This doesn't entitle those of us in the regime-change camp to claim the "street" either. It simply means that those who once annexed the term have been forced to drop it, and for a good reason. The struggle for public opinion in the region is a continuing one and cannot be determined in advance, least of all by pseudo-populists who grant the violent Islamists their first premise.

The rest of the Hitchens piece, by the way, is fantastic. As for the struggle for public opinion, well, let the struggle begin. Much nicer to be focus grouped than to have the boot on one's face!

Posted by Ideofact at February 28, 2005 11:24 PM

No, stray - stray! Which period of Byzantine history? I was kind of interested in the subject when I was at school, but I've kind of fallen away from the faith. The folks who write on the subject tend to be less accessible stylistically than most other periods, at least in English...

Posted by: Mitch H. at March 1, 2005 12:00 PM

I've been reading recently about Maurice and other great Byzantine military leaders in an overview of guerilla warfare. I wish I knew more about the empire generally.

Hitchens' piece is fantastic, but I wonder if Tom Friedman's counter-metaphor, the "Arab Basement" is as equally undermined.

Posted by: Stygius at March 1, 2005 07:55 PM

Well, mostly what I know of the Byzantine's comes from Steve Runciman's works, which aren't exactly the most cutting edge of scholarship.

I did pick up a more recent work a while back, but never got around to reading it (it looked really good, but for the life of me I can't remember the title).

I'm particularly interested in the period of the great Balkans heresies, and later, of the early crusades, but that's because I read all that Runciman...

Like I said, I'm interested in Byzantine politics, but I certainly wouldn't call myself particularly well informed...

Maurice is of a somewhat earlier period, but he is interesting; I'd also like to know more about what was happening in Constantinople during the latter part of the 7th Century -- how did they view the rise of the Caliphate in their former dominions...

Posted by: Bill at March 3, 2005 05:43 PM