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Another One Bites the Dust?
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12447
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2004 1:36 pm    Post subject: Age cannot wither nor custom stale . . . Reply with quote

Dear Cleopatra,
I think you're right; I don't recall any mention of the "New Year" in the Arab News before. But as for you're being an "old cynic", heck, you're not so old.
Regards,
John
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12447
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 11:33 am    Post subject: The Return of Friedman Reply with quote

Friedman's back - with a 5 part series that might be interesting. Here's a teaser from Part One:

" But today, alas, there is no bedrock agreement on what is shameful, what is outside the boundary of a civilized world. Unlike the Soviet Union, the Islamist terrorists are neither a state subject to conventional deterrence or international rules, nor individuals deterred by the fear of death. And their home societies, in too many cases, have not stigmatized their acts as "shameful." In too many cases, their spiritual leaders have provided them with religious cover, and their local charities have provided them with money. That is why suicide bombing is spreading.

We cannot change other societies and cultures on our own. But we also can't just do nothing in the face of this mounting threat. What we can do is partner with the forces of moderation within these societies to help them fight the war of ideas. Because ultimately this is a struggle within the Arab-Muslim world, and we have to help our allies there, just as we did in World Wars I and II.

This column is the first in a five-part series on how we can do that."

What I especially liked to see was the following:

" We cannot change other societies and cultures on our own. "

Would somebody please tell the current administration this?

Regards,
John
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16003
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,

As I understand it, our leader can't (says he won't, bet he can't) even read - gets all his information from his 'controllers' and since they would vehemently disagree with Tom, therein lies the problem.

VS
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12211
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:18 am    Post subject: Futurology ? Reply with quote

Crytal balls are not my line. I would just caution against predictions.

In 1970-1972 when I was first here I thought this place would collapse any day. What happened ? The oil hike of 1973 and undreamed of prosperity.

After the "Juhaiman Incident" in 1979 "experts" were predicting more such disturbances. Internally nothing much happened - maybe because the fundos were too busy concentrating on Afghanistan, together with their buddies from Langley, Virginia.

(For those who have forgotten, the "Juhaiman Incident" involved a large number of armed Islamists occupying the Grand Mosque in Mecca. They were defeated by military force and there was a large number of executions.)

Be wary of those who foretell the future whether they be the three Witches in the Scottish play or Mr Friedman. Knowledge of the future is not vouchsafed to mortal man - or woman.
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Cleopatra



Joined: 28 Jun 2003
Posts: 3657
Location: Tuamago Archipelago

PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All,

I agree with you Scot, the Fall of the House of Saud (anyone read that book?) has been predicted many times in the past, and nothing has happened. That may well turn out to be the case this time. I think the problem is that most of those "experts" don't actually have a clue about the way Saudi society works, and are not aware that revolutions are not the thing here, and that it's more likely that the socieity will find its own way to move forward - but not neccessarily according to a "Western" timetable.

As for Friedman, I'm no fan, but I do think he has a point when he says that what we're dealing with is not so much "Islam vs the "West" but a civil war within Islam itself. I think that is very plain from current goings-on in KSA, even within the Royal family.

As for the "West" helping out 'moderates'within the Islamic world, that is laudable, but unlikely to happen with Terminator lll in the White House, and Poodle Dog in Whitehall. Also, I don't hink it's entirely fair (though entirely predictable) to put all the blame on the Islamic world, as though "Western" policies and the occupation of Palestine were of no relevance whatsoever!
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12447
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:02 pm    Post subject: Let's terminate the Terminator Reply with quote

Dear Cleopatra,
Yet once again, I agree with all your points. My only addition would be that, while I concur

"it's (not) entirely fair (though entirely predictable) to put all the blame on the Islamic world, as though "Western" policies and the occupation of Palestine were of no relevance whatsoever!"

I would also like to see the Islamic world accepting at least some of the responsibility for its current condition. Denial and putting all the blame on others are, unfortunately, fairly widespread practices there, in my opinion.
Regards,
John
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Mark100



Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 441

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2004 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem in Saudi is that no one seems to really know what is going on re the extent of the problem and that most definitely includes the Royals themselves....
One thing is for sure something will give if they don't find something for the mass of restless unemployed youth to do...no hope, no future, no money, equals recipe for disaster.
Apportioning blame is also non productive. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the west and the Saudis themselves have contributed to the currrent situation.
The question is what are they going to do to help remedy the situation.
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Cleopatra



Joined: 28 Jun 2003
Posts: 3657
Location: Tuamago Archipelago

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2004 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all,

John, you are right of course. The Saudis - and the ARab world in general - must shoulder a large part of the blame for the mess their countries are in now. Israel is a convenient scapegoat for them, just as the "War on Terror" is for Dubya and his sidekicks.

However, my fear is that the world is becoming increasingly polarized between "Muslims" and "Westerners". In the current climate, when the Arab world feels - not without reason - that it is under attack, things are not favourable for encouraging introspection and self-criticism among Arabs, however neccessary it might be.

Of course, a stark division between "Islam" and the "West" was precisely what Osama wanted all along. Looks like he's getting his wish!

I agree with you, Mark, that th ehuge numbers of unemployed youth is a ticking time bomb for the Saudis. Combined with a lack of democracy, it will force these men underground and straight into the arms of "fundamentalists". It has done so already, to a considerable extent. The government may be taking steps to remedy the dire situation, but as both John and I have asked before, the question is whether they have left it too late already.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12447
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2004 6:38 pm    Post subject: The blame game Reply with quote

Dear Mark100,
"Apportioning blame is also non productive."

Well, approtioning it, perhaps. But claiming it in an essential first step to working on the problems. And even recognizing that there IS a problem has to come before that. Unfortunately, both the Bush White House and most Islamic governments are rife with denial, misconceptions and blame-shifting.
Regards,
John
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12447
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2004 12:02 pm    Post subject: Yet another "domino theory" - pizza, anyone? Reply with quote

From Mr. Friedman's latest:

"Those who scoff at the idea of a democratic domino theory in the Arab world don't know what they're talking about. "

Oh, Tommy, Tommy - yes, we do. And I love the way you left that sentence just lying there - with NO back-up at all, no explanation of just how and why we "scoffers" are deluded. What does it take, Tommy, for you to realize that democracy is almost never an "exportable product"? Put your dominoes back in the box and try reading a little recent history instead.

Regards,
John
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Truth Hurts



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Posts: 115
Location: Truthville

PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear John

A few days ago I watched a fascinating BBC documentary on the rise and fall of the defunct Shah of Iran and the dynamics that led up to the Islamic Shi'ite revolution of Iran.

It occured to me then how utterly nonsensical a democratic domino theory is but more crucially why the Carter doctrine is so vital to US political/economic interests. The only reason we pontificate about democracy to the Arab gulf states is in order to open the region up to corporate America and of course to facilitate access to strategic natural resources in the region.

I would like to suggest you watch the documentary, if you get a chance.

Kind regards

TH


The Carter Doctrine:

"An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States . . . [and] will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."
Democratic President Jimmy Carter, in his 1980 State of the Union Address
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12447
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2004 5:45 pm    Post subject: Shah mat Reply with quote

Dear Truth Hurts,
Actually, I was in Iran (in Shiraz) slightly before (arrived August, 1978) during and after (departed April, 1979) the revolution there. Interesting times. The Shah, in my opnion, was a meglomanic, a despot and a crook on a grand scale. I only wish the people of Iran had gotten better successors. It seems to me that the "hard-liners" have stacked the deck there so that all the efforts of President Khatami and his adherents to institute reforms that the people there seem to want (as evidinced by his landslide victories) are being thwarted.
Here's a story from The Observer that pretty much sums up the way I believe the situation stands:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,997168,00.html

As for the "Carter Doctrine", that seems to me another illustration of a basic, universal fact: that nations have no friends, only occasional allies, and that nations always act first and foremost in their own self-interest.
Will that ever change? Even I'm not THAT much of an optimist. But perhaps sometime, way down the road, more and more people will see that we're all linked, that in hurting others we hurt ourselves, as well. And that we help ourselves when we disinterestedly help others. I don't expect pure altruism ever to reign supreme, but I can hope that enlightened self-interest will become more prevelant one day. Don't hold your breath, though.
Thanks for the recommendation of that documentary; I'll search around and see if I can come up with a copy.
Regards,
John


Last edited by johnslat on Fri Jan 16, 2004 12:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16003
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2004 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi guys,

I would love to get ahold of that program too. I so wish that BBC America would show more of this type of thing rather than entertainment programs. I have written to them complaining and requesting more news and documentaries, but they just ignore me. Confused

There is a very interesting book that came out last year called 'Answering Only to God' by Geneive Abdo and Jonathan Lyons. This is a married American couple who were/are the only American journalists to live and work in Iran since the revolution - I believe for a European news organization - they were there from 1998 to 2001 - at which time they were thrown out. It is a rather poorly organized book - very confusingly goes back and forth in time, but what it does well is explain how the clerics have consolidated their power and why Khatami has been unable to bring about the change hoped by those that voted for him.

It is a must read for anyone who wants a look into what is really happening in Iranian politics - at least up to 2001. It gives you a frame of reference to what we are reading in the papers right now about the current election process there. There was also an interesting article in the Washington Post online print edition today (1/15) concerning women and fashion in urban Iran. Sorry that I am not as efficient as John with links.

VS
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ohman



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 239
Location: B' Um Fouk, Egypt

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2004 5:54 am    Post subject: Arab Culture for Dummies Reply with quote

In 1998, nearly six years ago, a local Kuwaiti English daily ran a front page headline announcing that within five to seven years women would be driving in Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Jaber's handlers, not to have their man upstaged, ran a secondary article that stated within a similar time frame women would be able to vote in Kuwait.

By my calculations I expect that women will have limited driving rights in Saudi and Kuwaiti women will be voting by late summer, early fall 2007.

I base my calculations on a formula I'd devised during my experiences in Kuwait and throughout the Gulf whenever I had to deal with payroll, ministries, banks, etc. AND my dealings had for some reason reached a phase that required a stamp from a national, i.e. I had to go beyond the Egyptian in a suit.

Here's how it works:
A(2)=B ; B/ Pi = C; B - C = D (your answer)

Take the maximum inshaillah time, this case 7 years. Double it. Take that number and divide it by Pi. Take this answer and subtract it from the doubled number.

The next time you need, say, a stamp from a native poobah and you are told to come back in 3 days, you should not concern yourself with the stamp for at least 4 days, sometime between 10 AM and noon.

Sahel.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12447
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:27 pm    Post subject: The scientific method Reply with quote

Dear ohman,
Hey, welcome back - it's been a while. Glad to see we seem (pretty much) to agree:

YOU: By my calculations I expect that women will have limited driving rights in Saudi and Kuwaiti women will be voting by late summer, early fall 2007.

ME: I'll bet there'll be women driving (legally) in the Kingdom within the next 3 years - any takers?

But my method of "calculation" is far less scientific than yours; I go strictly by feel/hunch/intuition. Same way I throw together my recipes; no measuring cups, no teaspoons/tablespoons - just pour until that little inner voice says: "Enough". Which may sound risky, but has worked every time (so far, anyway).
Regards,
John
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