Edward W. Said's basic principles are that 'human beings make history' and that 'reliable information is the greatest enemy of oppression and secret justice.'
His comments written between 2000 and 2003 are hammerings on the same nails: the Israel-Palestine conflict, the US state of the union and the Arab world.
For the Israel-Palestine conflict he sees no military solution. He castigates relentlessly Israel's discriminatory policies against the native Palestinians, based on religious and ethnic grounds. Its policies forbid native people to own or keep land. It violates basic human rights by killing civilians and stone-throwers. But, he also condemns severily suicide-bombings.
His analysis of the Oslo and Camp David agreements, as well as the roadmap, shows that they are disastrous for the Palestinians. However, his own solution - one secular state of jews and Palestinians - will never be accepted, because demographic trends favour one party.
Said is extremely harsh for the Palestinian authorities, which he calls autocratic, corrupt and hypocrite (only interested in their own power).
Said calls the US a country of lawyers, not laws. Its election system is a 'frightening antiquated, inequitable and undemocratic hodgepodge of rules and regulations designed to keep the poor and the disadvantaged out.' In order to maintain the disproportionalities in wealth (2 % of the population owns 80 % of the total wealth), the majority of the population must be kept under control ideologically through the media and / or be kept out of the system.
The US defense budget attains monstrous heights while 40 million citizens have no health insurance.
For Said, the US is a lethal combination of money and power, controlled by the great corporations and lobbying groups.
The US Middle East policy, e.g. Iraq - an old-fashioned colonial occupation -, is based on the security of Israel and the control of plentiful supplies of inexpensive oil.
The Arab world is in an abysmal state. Most countries wallow in corruption, have undemocratic rules and a fatally flawed education system that still has not faced up to the realities of a secular world. The result is illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, unproductivity, and greater degrees of tyranny and mafia-style rule.
The book ends with a glimmer of hope for an independent Palestinian state.
Said's proud, remarkably free and vehement secular voice will be tragically missed, not only by the Palestinians.
It is a sign of the bankruptcy of the Israel lobby that they portrayed the late Edward Said as "The Professor of Terrorism". In the real word, as will be evident to anyone who reads "From Oslo to Iraq and the Roadmap" or any other of his Palestine writings, the mans commitment to justice, equality and democracy were deep and principled, and his criticism of the "armed struggle" trenchant, angry but (and it's no doubt the "but" that earns him the above sobriquet) always qualified by where the fundamental responsibility for the violence lies: with those who have oppressed, dispossessed and humiliated the Palestinians, their society and institutions.
This book is a collection of 46 articles primarily published in the Arabic language newspapers Al-Ahram and Al-Hayat between winter 2000/01 and summer 2003 when he died. It opens with a fine introduction by historian Tony Judt, and is divided into three parts, the first of which "The Second Intifada Begins, Clinton's failure" covers the circumstances in which the Al-Aqsa intifada broke out and the realities of the Clinton administered peace process, as well as the events of the period leading up to 9/11. This is followed by "September 11, the War on Terror, the West Bank and Gaza Reinvaded" whose focus is on how the Sharon government used the Bush administrations so-called War on Terror as both rationale and cover for the increasingly brutal attack on the Palestinian people. The final section "Israel, Iraq and the United States" focuses on the growing momentum towards the US and UK (known in polite circles as "the coalition") invasion of Iraq, while keeping an eye on developments in Palestine and Israel. The book closes with a short Afterword from his son Wadie.
The articles are well written, managing to be coherent as well as angry and urgent. He is blunt and often coruscating in his criticisms whether of Arafat and Abu Mazen, or Clinton, Bush, Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, Ariel Sharon, Saddam Hussein or Ehud Barak. There is also a personal edge including a brief mention of his illness, and examples of the methods used by the Israel lobby when they have attacked him. Despite the urgency and anger of much of the writing, Said's commitment to a real peace, as opposed to the mean, cold and triumphant one that Israel released drop by drop during the Oslo years is clear, as is his admiration for what the Palestinian people as a whole endure year after year.