Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle

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Books by Slavoj Žižek

Book Description

In order to render the strange logic of dreams, Freud quoted the old joke about the borrowed kettle: (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you, (2) I returned it to you unbroken, (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you. Such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments, of course, confirms exactly what it endeavors to deny—that I returned a broken kettle to you ...

That same inconsistency, Zizek argues, characterized the justification of the attack on Iraq, whereby a link between Saddam’s regime and al-Qaeda was transformed into the threat posed by the regime to the region, which was then further transformed into the threat posed to everyone (but the US and Britain especially) by weapons of mass destruction. When no significant weapons were found, we were treated to the same bizarre logic: OK, the two labs we found don’t really prove anything, but even if there are no WMD in Iraq, there are other good reasons to topple a tyrant like Saddam . . .

Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle analyzes the background that such inconsistent argumentation conceals and, simultaneously, cannot help but highlight: what were the actual ideological and political stakes of the attack on Iraq? In classic Zizekian style, it spares nothing and nobody, neither pathetically impotent pacifism nor hypocritical sympathy with the suffering of the Iraqi people.

“Zizek leaves no social or natural phenomenon untheorized, and is the master of the counterintuitive observation.” — The New Yorker

“Zizek’s star keeps rising over Ljubljana for good reason.” — Tikkun

“Zizek will entertain and offend, but never bore.” — The Stranger

Product Details
Zizek, Slavoj. Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle. New York: Verso. November 28, 2005, Paperback, 192 pages, Language English, ISBN: 1844675408. Buy it at,,, or