What form, what direction this blog will take is in question. My circumstances are entirely different now that I am settled in Canada. I explore this question with me, myself and I. There are many factors to be weighed, to be explored, to be considered
Exploration of blog statistics reveals that most of my readers are in the United States. However, I have no intention of continuing my immersion in the politics of the United States – not the politics, nor the dire consequences of no gun control, nor the repercussions of the Supreme Court rulings, nor the machinations of the Republicans etc, etc. I consider myself freed of all that. If I loose American readers it is of no matter as I make no money from my writing. Therefore not numbers driven.
Machinations: schemes plots, intrigues, conspiracies, devices, ploys, ruses, tricks, wiles, tactics, maneuvers, contrivances, expedients. Those Republicans surely plot, conspire, trick and wile behind closed doors but that is no longer my problem.
I am winding up my Middle East preoccupation, I think. Contacts with people from the region remain but we concern ourselves with other matters and it is probably best for them that I keep my thoughts to myself. Do not feel particularly censored. So little is known about the Middle East by the Western press, but my insights (achieved on the ground with discussions with some of the key players) are going to do nothing to change the situation. Do not feel particularly driven to return to the region at this particular time. Of course, I have an obligation to go to Mecca but that can wait until it is safer and until I have an opportunity to learn more about its significance. It will then become an informed faith filled journey.
Just in time, The Economist provided an enlightening article which adds perspective and is a provides an opportunity to close some doors that for me need to be closed. How to Deal with Despots, its link: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2022/07/28/how-to-deal-with-despots. The photograph illustrating the problem shows President Biden and “MBS” in their now infamous fist bump.
Word definition again: Infamous; well known for some bad quality or deed. Synonyms that are applicable to this: disreputable, ill-famed, of ill-repute; legendary, fabled, well known. An apt antonym is reputable.
The article begins: “For about 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Western foreign policy seemed to rest on sure foundations. Liberal values—democracy, open markets, human rights and the rule of law—had just prevailed over communism. America, the first and only global hyperpower, had the clout to impose this moral code against terrorists and tyrants. And tough love was justified, because history had shown that Western values were the uncontested formula for peace, prosperity and progress.
Another 15 years on, Western foreign policy is in a mess. To see why, consider Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Our summer double issue, featuring profiles and long reads, leads with a deeply reported portrait of mbs, as he is known. It illustrates the erosion of each of the three pillars of Western foreign policy—values, power and that historic destiny.”
The moral calculus turns out to be fraught. As our profile concludes, the crown prince has a tendency to be violent and erratic and to oppress his foes. He has been held responsible for the murder of a Washington Post columnist. Yet he is also a moderniser who has liberalised Saudi society, tamed the kingdom’s clerics and given women new freedoms. Even if you doubt mbs’s reforming zeal, Saudi Arabia produces oil that could help America and its allies withstand an even more dangerous man: Vladimir Putin. Is the ethical policy to shun mbs or sup with him?”
After describing the problem in some length The Economist searched for a solution. “The best way for Western leaders to avoid charges of hypocrisy is to refrain from staking out moral positions they cannot sustain. While campaigning, Mr Biden pledged to treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah”. But this month he went to Jeddah and fist-bumped mbs and was widely condemned for hypocrisy and moral cowardice. In fact, his mistake was a crowd-pleasing pledge that was always going to be a millstone in office.”
“Western leaders need to be honest about how much influence they really have. The assumption that the rest need the West more than the West needs the rest is less true these days. In 1991 the g7 produced 66% of global output; today, just 44%. In hindsight it was hubris to think that dictatorships could be cured of their pathologies by battalions of human-rights lawyers and market economists. Leaders ought to be clear about right and wrong, but when they weigh up whether to impose sanctions on wrongdoers they should assess the likely results rather than the appearances of virtue.”
I do totally love the thought: it is hubris to think that dictatorships can be cured of their pathologies by battalions of human rights lawyers and market economists.
Hubris is excessive pride or self confidence. An entire battery of synonyms: arrogance, conceit, conceitedness, haughtiness, self-importance, self-conceit, pomposity, superciliousness, feeling of superiority, uppityness, big-headedness. My two favorites have to be superciliousness and uppityness.
Here is another proposed solution. Another principle is that talking is usually good. Some say that turning up bestows legitimacy. In reality, it generates insights, creates a chance to exert influence and helps solve otherwise insoluble problems—by means of climate deals, say; or getting grain out of Ukraine; or asking al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, to help save Somalia from starvation. Mr Biden was right to talk to mbs. Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, is right to talk to Mr Putin. Everyone needs to talk to China’s president, Xi Jinping.”
A last principle is provided. “A last principle is to acknowledge that foreign policy, like all government, involves trade-offs. For most countries that is so obvious it hardly needs saying. But the West came to think that it could have it all. Such trade-offs need not be grubby. A clearer focus on outcomes after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 might have led to more effective action by nato countries than the weak, conscience-salving sanctions they actually imposed. Unfortunately, Mr Biden’s simplistic attempt to divide the world into democracies and autocracies makes wise trade-offs harder.”
The conclusion sums up the situation. “The West has discovered that simply trying to impose its values on despots like mbs is ultimately self-defeating. Instead, it should marry pressure with persuasion and plain-speaking with patience. That may not be as gratifying as outraged denunciations and calls for boycotts and symbolic sanctions. But it is more likely to do some good.”
The astute thinking contained in this article, and the individuals discussed closed two of my doors – my blog and personal obsessions with the US and the Middle East. The thrust was: we have to find a better way to resolve differences. But I am no longer a player as I no longer live in the USA, no longer live in the UAE. I am irrelevant. It is a good feeling to be beside the point with those entities.
Just in time began an early paragraph. Knowing it was a song went to YouTube and heard Frank Sinatra’s rendition. Texted someone I know.
Me: Google Just In Time by Sinatra. Song came to me. Going to blog about it but not say why. Hahaha.
He: (sent a good morning reel)
Me: I absolutely love it!!! My favorites: coffee, flowers and donuts. Thank you!!
But this was absolutely eerie. The next song on my ‘list’ compiled by them I guess was Wait on Me, performed by Elevation Worship. It was from an earlier time, an earlier friendship. Listen to it, so inspiring!! It is a stirring hymn, brilliantly performed. But it is ecumenical. It urges all to Wait on the Lord. That is the same message in the Islamic faith which teaches one to have patience and wait on Allah. It inspires members of both faiths, I am sure.
The photograph is my new air conditioner. I hate heat, my apartment has air conditioning but it is not cold enough. This was bought at London Drugs, on sale. It also works as a humidifier – so needed during winter. My memory of the cold days is returning.
Today the low and high in Edmonton is: 55L,71H
Today the low and high in Abu Dhabi is 94L, 111H
One inhabitant of Abu Dhabi is working arduously so that he can enjoy the weather of Scotland. One can not blame him. Well I do not anyway as I am of Scottish ancestry.