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Book Review Picture This: March 6

Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations, Part Three: 1984-2013
Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B
(SelfMadeHero £14.99)

PARTS one and two of Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B’s The Best of Enemies series served as a potent example of the power of comics to take complex subjects like the 300-year history of America and the Middle East and present them in a concise and entertaining manner.

Volume three continues that tradition, taking readers through 29 years of US imperial meddling, backstabbing and invasions, from Ronald Reagan’s humiliations to the wars of Bush father and son on Iraq, Clinton’s hijacking of the Israel-Palestine peace talks, the Afghanistan war and Obama’s Libyan and Syrian campaigns.

Right from the outset, B's interpretations of Filiu’s concise descriptions are beautifully surreal. There are US politicians with guns and tanks for heads, Osama Bin Laden’s turban brandishing swords to fight off his enemies and Ariel Sharon emerging from the barrel of a gun pointing a revolver at Yasser Arafat.

When Saddam Hussein annexes Kuwait, he's depicted as a Godzilla-like colossus squatting over the state with an AK-47 to hand.

The corporate-controlled media tends to operate in a permanent state of amnesia. Rarely, if ever, does it explain the West’s imperial history in the Middle East and filling in the gaps are racists, big business interest, right-wing politicians and lobbyists. These three books go a long way to counter that and should be read by anyone with an interest in the region.

But, politically, the book's ending disappoints. It implies that the people of the Middle East are reliant upon the US to save them. It’s almost as if the civilians killed by the US and its jihadist allies are somehow less worthy than those killed by their enemies.

The people of the Middle East have been the victims of imperialism for most of the past century and it should not be up to anyone else but themselves to determine their future. The US ought to support their interests, not its own, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.


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