Friday, December 15, 2006

More Middle-East Politics

Four quick tidbits, on quite different issues:

(1) In August I commented on Noah Pollak's view that the most significant result of the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanon was showing the "rational actor" Arab states that the U.S. and Israel are happy to favor them when Iran hits the fan. This week's news includes two related incidents.

First, Saudia Arabia has declared support for Iraq. This is a remarkable cooperation of Sunni and Shiite, prompting some speculation that the U.S. is letting Saudia Arabia deal with Iran. (Previously, the U.S. and Israel played "good cop, bad cop" with Iraqi nuclear development. Since Israel's military is a bit over-extended right now, it makes sense that Saudia Arabia might be given a turn.)

Second, Nancy Pelosi has picked Rep. Silvestre Reyes to chair the House Intelligence Committee. But Reyes does not know whether Al Queda is Sunni or Shiite.

(2) Due to the publication of Carter's biased book, a PDF file is being circulated that points out his bias. The file is simply a summary of a few newspaper articles and other rebuttals to Carter's historical blindness and revisionism. (My own comments back in this post are relevant.)

(3) Regarding airports, Chabad of Seattle learned that making an ill-planned stink about Christmas decorations causes backlash, but manages to save face. Meanwhile, a moderate Muslim in Arizona speaks out against the "flying imams" and their recent episode.

(4) I wrote earlier about honor-shame cultures. Most of these, whether in American workplaces or Arab politics, promote and avoidance of responsibility since with repsonsibility comes an opportunity for failure and blame. (I am reminded of the woman in the 12-minute version of the documentary Obsession who says, at 3:44, "Nothing can be done wrong by Arabs, it always is the West.") Here is an intersting article describing how avoidance of responsibility is handicapping political progress in Iraq.