Madam Bookworm’s crystal ball predictions in 2009 about Saudi Arabia proved to be eerily accurate *UPDATED*

As I read the headlines lately, I have this peculiar sense of deja vu.  I already pointed out that, back in 2009, a conversation I had with a liberal doctor fairly accurately predicted how Obamacare would play out (although even I didn’t foresee the exchange collapse, perhaps because no one was talking about exchanges in mid-2009).

I had another deja vu moment today when I read Michael Totten’s article about the collapse in the American-Saudi relationship:

The American-Saudi alliance is in danger of collapsing.

The Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis is by far the largest threat to both Saudi and American interests in the Middle East now, yet the Obama administration is buddying up with Vladimir Putin on Syria and allowing itself to be suckered by the Iranian regime’s new president Hassan Rouhani.

Never mind the fact that Rouhani obviously isn’t a moderate and is powerless to negotiate sovereign issues in any case. The White House is so desperate to cut a deal with America’s enemies that the president will go along on even a farcical ride. As a result, the Saudi government is threatening to drastically “scale back” the relationship.

The Saudi-American relationship’s collapse means that the Saudis are trying to figure out how to handle the PR problems of their burgeoning supportive relationship with Israel:

Either way, if the Saudis want to get real, it’s time for them to suck it up and normalize relations with Israel for the same reason they forged an alliance with the United States. The Israelis and the Gulf Arabs have the exact same geopolitical interests right now. They have the exact same list of enemies. Who cares if Riyadh and Jerusalem can’t stand each other personally? Riyadh and Washington can’t stand each other personally either. That hasn’t stopped us from working together when our interests coincide.

Of course, an alliance with Israel would be a little more awkward (to say the least) while the Palestinians are still stateless, but so what? The Jordanian government worked it out and is in far better shape as a result.

[snip]

It’s logical, isn’t it? Israel poses no threat whatsoever to Gulf Arabs and never has. Israel poses no threat to any Arab country that doesn’t act with belligerence first. The Jordanians figured that out a long time ago. So did the Egyptian government even if Egypt’s population remains as clueless as ever. The Tunisians figured it out. The Moroccans get along with Israel just fine under the table.

The open secret right now is that the Gulf Arabs have also figured it out even as they’re loath to admit it in public. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is not-so secretly working with all the Arab states in the Gulf region right now based on shared (anti-Iranian) interests.

The above is Michael Totten writing yesterday, and I urge you to read the whole thing because it’s that good.

And here’s the Amazing Madam Bookworm writing on May 7, 2009:

Obama and team, of course, miss one fundamental thing about the nuclear weapons situation in the Middle East.  As surrounding nations understand, Israel will never use the weapons offensively.  She will only use them defensively. They are her sole deterrent.

The other nations also understand that, much as they loath Israel’s existence, which is a continuing canker in their hearts and minds, she does not offer any existential threat to them.  The reverse is not true.  We know that every nation in the region desires Israel’s destruction and there is every reason to believe that Iran, once it goes nuclear, will use the weapons offensively against Israel.  There is no parity, and forcing Israel to put her weapons on the table (so to speak), will not create any.

The other thing that Obama fails to understand is that, even if Israel is forced to show her hand and the pressure is on for disarmament, Iran will never disarm.  It will lie, lie, lie, and lie again to ensure that it continues to have a usable weapons stock pile.  While Israel’s goal is a simple one:  to stay alive, Iran has a much more sophisticated set of three-tiered goals.  Its first goal is Israel’s destruction; second, it seeks Middle East domination; and third, it desires world domination.  Israel and all of the other nations in the Middle East understand Iran’s first two goals.  Obama and team, despite their myriad degrees, don’t seem to understand any of Iran’s goals.

It will be interesting to see if Israel can withstand Obama’s pressure.  I’m reasonably optimistic that, with Netanyahu at the helm, Israel understands what Obama is doing and understands what will happen if he gets away with it, and will resist this threat.  I also think that, under the rubric of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” allegiances are going to start shifting in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc., may hate Israel, but they fear a nuclear Iran even more than they hate Israel.  My long-held suspicion since Obama’s election (which instantly meant Israel lost her only friend) is that Saudi Arabia, somehow or other, is going to give Israel cover for an attack against Iran.

Nor was that a random prediction.  I said the same thing on July 5, 2009:

I’ve predicted in this blog that, if America continues to coddle Iran, Saudi Arabia will give Israel access to its air space, although it may well lie about that fact later.  Iran’s bluster was fine with the Arab Muslim nations as long as they thought the U.S. would ultimately slap down any Iranian pretensions to regional hegemony.  With that clearly not the case any more, the game is changing and the players are taking new (and, if I do say so myself, predictable) positions on the board:

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Saudi Arab is not the only one to reconsider the world order now that America is a suddenly a weak sister.  Perhaps the rest of the world will drift away from Marxism and coddling Muslim extremism as America becomes a mere spectator and — worse — a spectator that tends to cheer on the bad guys.

Like the teenager who can act wild, knowing that Daddy will ultimately be there to protect her, Europeans (and others) could afford to be weak and silly, knowing that America would come along and clean up their messes.  With Daddy in a coma, Europeans have to stand on their own, and I think their choices are going to be quite different than they were before.

Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, it’s incumbent upon me to add that it didn’t take a genius to figure these things out.  A person with the meanest intelligence, armed with a few facts, could have made exactly the same predictions.  What is also true, though, is that it takes the peculiar idiocy of the Democrat elite to have made such stunningly stupid miscalculations — miscalculations so rife with errors that even dodos such as me could figure out, not only that Democrat policies would fail, but precisely how they would fail.

UPDATEJonathan Spyer makes the same point:

Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have fueled renewed speculation of behind-the-scenes links between Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Netanyahu, speaking at the UN, said that “the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy.”

He added: “This affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

There have been subsequent rumors of visits by senior Gulf officials to Israel, to discuss matters of common interest.

While it is difficult to acquire details of these contacts at the present time, it is a near certainty that they exist, on one level or another. Conversations with Israeli officials suggest that much is happening behind the scenes.

Israel and the key states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (most importantly, Saudi Arabia) share core views on the nature of key regional processes currently underway, and their desired outcome.  These commonalities have existed for some time, and it is likely that the contacts are themselves not all that new.

Read more here.

Hmmm. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh, wait! I did say it myself . . . more than four years ago.

Two posts that I thought you’d find interesting

These posts are completely unrelated.  They both came through my inbox, though, and both intrigued me.

The first is from David Swindle, explaining why he hates Game of Thrones.  I couldn’t agree more, both with the comment from “Recovering Lutheran” that David quotes at the top of his post and with David’s own take on the show.  It’s typical HBO fare, and HBO leans to the left of Left.  It’s Pravda TV, aimed at using “documentaries” and movies to undermine basic American beliefs and values.

The second is about the Arabs’ long game against Israel, with their anti-Zionist message, which hides a push for Jewish genocide, gradually triumphing in the world’s mind over Israel’s push for freedom and her existence as the sole democracy in a world of Muslim tyranny.

Making people aware of Obama’s peculiar fondness for the Muslim Brotherhood

The only problem I have with this video is the narrator’s voice.  It grates on me.  Otherwise, I think the video says things that need to be said, and I hope it gets lots of air play:

And while we’re on the subject, the Washington Examiner, in its sterling multipart series about the Obama we don’t know (because American reporters refused to do their job), has a whole chapter devoted to Obama’s strong Arab-American connection. Incidentally, there’s nothing wrong with a strong Arab-American connection, because there is no ipso facto wrong about any group of hyphenated Americans — unless, of course, as is the case with Obama’s friends, they have ties to terrorist groups and keep getting prosecuted for corruption.

Further thoughts on events in the Middle East and, especially, on the feckless Obama administration

First of all, it appears that the suspicions I voiced yesterday about the film that started it all are, if not true, at least headed in the right direction.  Poynter has a post detailing all the peculiarities about the film — the lies, the misdirection, and the purpose behind it (to incite violence).  It was a head-fake from the beginning.

Second of all, you all have probably heard the stories that Ambassador Stevens was sodomized and mutilated either before or after he was killed.  Right now, these are unconfirmed rumors, but there is every reason to believe that they are true.

When it comes to Muslim Arab culture, how self-delusional were all these people on the Left not to have figured out that there are some cultural stereotypes about Muslim Arabs that live on because they keep proving them to be true: They cook outstanding food, they abuse their women, they kill homosexuals, and they rape and mutilate any of their enemies unlucky enough to have fallen into their hands.

My parents came of age in 1930s and 1940s Palestine, so I’ve heard about Arab culture my entire life (and my parents had lots of Arab friends, Christians admittedly, whom they valued greatly.)  Muslim Arab culture is a brutal one predicated on power, both physical and, especially, sexual. They are adequate friends and horrible enemies. Does this hold true for every single Muslim Arab in the world? Of course not. But it’s true enough for a sufficient percentage of them that we ought to be very guarded in our dealings with them.

Speaking of being guarded in our dealings with them, that guard should include having actual security guards. Too bad Valerie Jarrett didn’t loan some of her guards to the Libyan embassy, which had no American security detail; or maybe she could have given some of the bullets that her guards carry to the Egyptian embassy, where the guards were denied live ammo.

As it was during the Carter years, this is amateur hour at the Ritz. The problem that, when America goes amateur, not only Americans die, but everyone starts taking hits. Without strong leadership from a nation dedicated to individual freedom, you pretty much end up with a pack of rabid wild dogs controlling the world’s zeitgeist.

Dealing with an “honor” culture

“Honor” cultures are incredibly hierarchical.  You’re either up or you’re down.  And you’re always down if you let your honor go unavenged.  Worse than that, if you’re down, you deserve all the abuse and violence that can be heaped upon you.  Honor cultures value people higher in the food chain, but have little to no sympathy for those lower on the food chain.

Grim, writing at Blackfive shows his understanding of this honor culture by saying that the only way America can retain (or regain?) any semblance of standing in the Arab Middle East is to act against the culprits — no hand wringing allowed.

Speaking of hand wringing, I can already hear the liberal apologists:  “If we start the cycle of vengeance, it will never end.”

Well, here’s a reality check for all those apologists — it’s never going to end anyway.  This is not an example of a foolish feud spiraling out of control, a la the Hatfields and the McCoys. It is instead, a case of two entirely antithetical world views, with one of them constantly, and violently, striving for dominance.  We can stand up for ourselves or we can surrender. In an existential war, he who surrenders dies.

There are two sides to every story, especially when the stories are about Israel

Israel Matzav found a post in which two Arab-American women explain how horribly Israel treated them, when it questioned them at Ben Gurion and then deported them from Israel.  Interestingly, although the young women complain mightily about their treatment at Israel’s hands, they never do state explicitly that they harbor no ill-will towards that nation.  Perhaps this omission was deliberate, as Carl discovered when he investigated them a bit more closely.

The Arab world: too habituated to fighting to give it up?

You realize this means war!

When I was growing up, we socialized with a lot of Arabs — from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc.  I don’t know why that was possible back then — if we were anomalies or if, back in the 1970s, the hatreds of the Middle East hadn’t yet made it to America.  It probably helped that most of these Arabs were Christians, although not all were.  I remember these people very fondly, and the lavish meals they prepared are forever enshrined in my memory.

It was at one of these meals that a young woman from Damascus told me something that is also forever enshrined in my memory.  Arabs, she said, are programmed to fight.  It’s in their nature.  Imagine yourself offering a group of Arabs a plate of cookies, she told me.  You say “Would you like a cookie?”  In the West, they would say “Yes, please” or “No, thank you.”  In the Arab world, one will say “Those aren’t cookies, they’re tea cakes.”  And another will jump up and say, “Tea cakes, you fool?  Those are biscuits.”  Then, a third will grab at the plate, spilling it on the floor, and say “You idolators!  Those are crackers.”  Then, she told me, before you know it, the food is being ground into dust on the floor as the Arabs in the room fight to death to force the others to yield to the label the wish to affix on those cookies (or tea cakes, or biscuits, or crackers).  Arabs, she said, won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.

Have you got that little anecdote fixed firmly in your head?  Good.  Now read this news story Sadie sent me:

Fifteen people were killed or injured in tribal fighting in Yemen after a male donkey chased an ass and raped it just near the house of its owner.

Newspapers in Yemen said the owner of the ass got mad after he saw the donkey attacking his animal, prompting him to chase the donkey and hit it.

The attack infuriated the donkey owner, who called his armed tribe men and asked them to take revenge.

“The problem snowballed into an armed fight between Makabis tribe, which owns the donkey, and Bani Abbas which owns the ass…15 people were either killed or injured in the battle,” the Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah said, quoting newspapers in Yemen.

Read the rest here.

Let me repeat what that lovely Syrian lady told me all those years ago:  Arabs won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.

Two very different shame/honor cultures

Years ago, I read in an Efraim Karsh book something to the effect that the Arab honor culture is actually a shame culture.  That is, in America, honor is a personal standard, one by which we measure ourselves.  Arab honor, however, is a public face one presents to the world.  If something goes wrong, shame kicks in, and it is that shame that leads to so-called “honor killings.”

Japan is also a shame/honor culture, one in which a loss of honor is manifested by public shame, rather than private embarrassment.

What’s interesting is the way in which the two different cultures react to what the Japanese so elegantly call a “loss of face.”  The Japanese person whose honor has been lost to a public shaming dispatches himself.  He quits his job or, if he’s a hidebound (or masochistic) traditionalist, he commits seppuku (aka hara kiri).  In any event, he expunges the shameful loss of honor by expunging himself.

In the Arab culture, however, the Arab person whose honor has been lost to a public shaming dispatches the one who destroyed his honor.  That is, he expunges the shameful loss of honor by expunging someone else, be it his wife, his daughter, his daughter’s boyfriend, a corporation, or a country.

I don’t have any conclusions to draw from this.  It’s just something I was thinking about when I was discussing the two cultures with a friend.

Understanding “world cultures”

My daughter is taking a required class at high school:  “world cultures.”  My first instinct was to scoff, since I prefer a more classical curriculum, but as I thought about it, I decided it is a very good idea.  That is, of course, assuming it’s taught correctly.  I’m inclined to doubt that it will be, and that’s because we, as a culture, have learned nothing in the last forty-four years.

Forty-four is a pretty specific number, isn’t it?  It takes us back to 1967.  Back then, a short, heated war raged in the Middle East.  Raphael Patai in his book, The Arab Mind, relies upon an anecdote King Hussein of Jordan told in his memoirs to explain how how the Arab “honor” culture dramatically affected the war’s outcome (in Israel’s favor, thank goodness).

As you know, the Israelis, within hours, decimated the Eyptian airforce. However, when King Hussein spoke to a general in charge of the Egyptian fighting, he was assured that the Egyptians had destroyed the Israelis. The young king, who had been educated in Britain and was therefore unfamiliar with his own culture, took this statement at face value and did not send reinforcements — virtually guaranteeing the War’s outcome in Israel’s favor. Had he understood his own people better, he might well have delved behind the honor rhetoric, discerned the truth, and made a history-turning different decision.

The story is in the forefront of my brain this morning because of the news out of Libya over the past two days.  Yesterday, the news reported, Tripoli was won, that Gaddafi was dead or on the run, and his son was a prisoner.  Today the headlines explain that it’s unclear whether any of that is true.  Tripoli may be taken, sort of; Gaddafi is still out there; and his son is rallying his supporters and scoffing and premature reports of his own incarceration.  It’s entirely possible that these original, erroneous stories arose from the fog of war.  However, knowing Arab culture, it’s equally possible that we’re listening to reports from a binary culture, one that is either wallowing in darkest despair or shouting its triumph from the rooftops, regardless of the accuracy of either statement.

It would be too crass to say that Arabs lie.  Lying as a dishonorable thing is a distinctly Western notion.  Instead, they say what they think their listener wants to hear, or what their own honor demands should be reported.  We may have laughed back in 2003 at Baghdad Bob, but we should have learned from him.  He was not unhinged nor was he was stupid.  He was, instead, a product of a culture that describes victory, real or imagined, in hyperbolic terms because those descriptions are a necessary factor in the culture’s own self-image.

One would think that, after decades of wars and dealings with the Arab cultures, we would have figured out that truth, as we understand it, is an infinitely malleable concept in the Arab mind.  Trust, but verify, is too naive an approach in the Arab/Muslim world.  The way in which our media and our politicians should deal with news reports from the Arab world is to say “We’re not believing it until you come back with concrete proof.”  (I was originally going to say “our media, our politicians and our military,” but I devoutly hope that, after ten years of hot war with Muslim and Arab honor cultures, the military is no long so easily misled.)

So, yes, learning about world cultures is extremely important.  I suspect, though, that my daughter’s class won’t teach the important lessons.  Instead, in true politically correct fashion, she’s going to learn that all cultures but our own are spiritually rich and emotionally meaningful.  (I’ll tell you if I’m wrong.)