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Edward Said Discusses the Cycle of Violence

December 26, 2001

Just as the Afghanistan’s new provisional government was preparing to take power last week, offering a possible end to decades of violence, President Bush announced that, 2002 would still be a "War Year" for the United States. Echoing a statement he made at the beginning of his campaign against Al Qaeda, the President warned that the "war on terrorism" had only just begun and was likely to spread to other corners of the globe. While Bush has not yet confirmed any targets, he has hinted, along with his advisers, that Somalia, Yemen, or even Iraq could be next.

Well, just a few moments ago, we heard Pakistani peace activist, Zia Mian, speak of war as a kind of "midwife ofhistory," bringing latent conflicts to life. If this is the case, then how are we to view the United States’expanding "war on terrorism"? What children will it deliver? And what child has it already bore?

Scholar and author Edward Said addressed this question recently in a speech he gave at a conference on the escalationof the Middle East Conflict. The speech begins broadly with a discussion of the US "war on terrorism" and then movesmore specifically into the case of Israel and Palestine.

Edward Said, who is a professor of comparative literature at Columbia, was born in Jerusalem in 1935, beforePartition, and has been an eloquent voice for justice throughout the Palestinian struggle. We go now to his speechfor the rest of the hour.


  • Edward Said, professor of comparative literature, Columbia University and author of numerous books,articles, and essays.