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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rules to Understanding Gulf Countries by Tom Friedman

While Tom Friedman writes, or rather updates, these rules for Bush, I think they are useful to anyone even cursorily interested in events in West Asia. He gives 15, but I quote those that are not Israel-Palestine specific:

Rule1: What people tell you in private in the Middle East is irrelevant.All that matters is what they will defend in public in their own language. Anything said to you in English, in private, doesn’t count. In Washington, officials lie in public and tell the truth off the record. In the Mideast, officials say what they really believe in public and tell you what you want to hear in private.

Lying in public sounds familiar to most Indians about New Delhi.

Rule 2: Any reporter or U.S. Army officer wanting to serve in Iraq should have to take a test, consisting of one question: “Do you think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line?” If you answer yes, you can’t go to Iraq. You can serve in Japan, Korea or Germany – not Iraq.

Rule 3: If you can’t explain something to Middle Easterners with a conspiracy theory, then don’t try to explain it at all – they won’t believe it.

This rule applies to Indian TV and, increasingly, to print media too.

Rule 4: In the Middle East, never take a concession, except out of the mouth of the person doing the conceding. If I had a dollar for every time someone agreed to recognize Israel on behalf of Yasser Arafat, I could paper my walls.

Rule 5: Never lead your story out of Lebanon, Gaza or Iraq with a cease-fire; it will always be over before the next morning’s paper.

Rule 6: In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to just go away.

Rule 7: Most oft-used expression by moderate Arab pols is: “We were just about to stand up to the bad guys when you stupid Americans did that stupid thing. Have you stupid Americans not done that stupid thing, we would have stood up, but now it’s too late. It’s all your fault for being so stupid.”

I have heard this so many times mainly by Arab commentators and their apologists in India and in the west. Increasingly European media –BBC, Guardian and such like - and the likes of NYT, in US, are resorting to this tactic. The outcry of murderous Saddam’s hanging is a recent case.

Rule 8: Civil wars in the Arab world are rarely about ideas – like liberalism and communism. They are about which tribe gets to rule.

Because India communists and the, so-called, progressive liberals are in bed with each other – the fight for ideas in our country is between the dead wood called progressive liberals (including the newly minted global atheists) and conservatives (people who still believe in the idea of strong and rich India – religious and libertarians types.

Rule 9: In Middle East tribal politics there is rarely a happy medium. When one is weak, it will tell you, “I’m weak, how can I compromise?” And when it’s strong, it will tell you, “I’m strong, why should I compromise?”

Rule 10: Mideast civil wars end in one of three ways: A) like the U.S. civil war, with one side vanquishing the other; B) like the Cyprus civil war, with a hard partition and a wall dividing the parties; C) like the Lebanon civil war, with a soft partition under an iron fist (Syria) that keeps everyone in line. Saddam used to be the iron first in Iraq. Now it is us. If we don’t want to play that role, Iraq will end with A or B.

Rule 11: The most underestimated emotion in Arab politics is humiliation. The Israeli-Arab conflict, for instance, is not just about borders. Israel’s mere existence is a daily humiliation of Muslims, who can’t understand how, if they have the superior religion, Israel can be so powerful. Al-Jazeera’s editor, Ahmed Sheikh, said it best when he recently talk the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche: “It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.”
(Bold mine.)

Is there an Arab nation that has 350 million people? Another reason to take Mahmoud Ahmedinejad threat to wipe out Israel very seriously.

Rule 13: Our first priority is democracy, but the Arab’s first priority is “justice.” The oft-warring Arab tribes are all wounded souls, who really have been hurt by colonial powers, by Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, by Arab Kings and dictators, and most of all, by each other in endless tribal wars.

Rule 14: The Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi had it right: “Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.”

Sage advice.

Rule 15: Whether it is Arab-Israeli peace or democracy in Iraq, you can’t want it more than they do.

This Friedman's op-ed was published by NYT on December 20, 2006.


Anonymous said...

TO BOOK EDITOR: press release


We are writing to inform you about a book related to what is happening now in the Middle East released by Olive Grove Books entitled THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY. This book takes place in Beirut.

Because the region of Palestine and the repercussions it holds for peace in the Middle East between the PLO and Israel are critically important, the issues discussed via this spy-thriller makes it interesting and informative so that people all over the world can understand exactly how both sides think and how that thinking has led to continual violence in the Middle East.

If these issues had been understood and discussed 18 years ago, perhaps two wars in the Persian Gulf, the Sept. 11th catastrophe and this new Beirut War would not have happened.

That aside, it is never too late for peace.

With your consideration, we at Olive Grove Books hope you give THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY its rightful place in history and on your web site and store book shelves.

It is a book, which has come of age, and is so timely that it is a must read for everyone who wants to understand what is going on in the Middle East.

With appreciation and gratitude,

Sincerely, from the publisher,

Robert Spirko, author
ISBN: 0-9752508-0-9
Olive Grove Publishers


MENTOR, Ohio – THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, a genre spy-thriller by Robert Spirko, was fourth on the September best-seller list at Atlasbooks, Inc., a national book distributor.
“It is time for the Israelis and Palestinians to return to the Camp David Peace Talks, resume where they left off and "freeze in place" the already-agreed-upon negotiating points,” Spirko says.
“The Iraq Study Group should make this recommendation a top priority before trying to put-in-place a new strategy for Iraq – mainly because ramifications of a peace agreement between both sides will resonate deeply throughout the Muslim world in the way Jews and Muslims interact toward each other. It could have a profound ripple effect including how the United States is perceived by Islamists.” he emphasizes.
“I have communicated that first step to the James Baker III and Lee Hamilton study group. It is important that both sides in the Middle East region are willing to come to their senses,” Spirko reiterates.
He uses the following analogy for peace. “The Camp David accords have precedent and continuity through previous agreements. It's like a marriage where both spouses in an argument storm away mad. They don't divorce and then try to resume their relationship; rather, they come back together, settle their differences, and resume the marriage where they left off. It must be the same for the Middle East Peace talks."
Spirko’s book predicted terrorism against the United States & Israel in his book which takes place in Lebanon. It is eerily similar to the Beirut War which took place last summer between Hezbollah and Israel.
Spirko says if these issues had been understood and discussed 18 years ago, perhaps two wars in the Persian Gulf, the Sept. 11th catastrophe and the new Beirut War would not have happened.
“That aside,” he says, “It is never too late for peace.”

MEDINA, Ohio - When it comes to spy novels and Middle East intrigue, after 16 spell-binding years, the gripping story behind the Middle East quagmire - its issues of nuclear weapons and the quest for a Palestinian State - is finally being told in a ground-breaking new book entitled, THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY.

Author Robert Spirko created the work in such a way that every reader in the world will understand all the intricate issues in the Middle East and how close the region actually came to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

Mr. Spirko has a unique way of holding the reader in his grasp as the plot of THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY unfolds. He literally takes you from your armchair and immerses you into the lifestyle of the Bedouin, the Israeli, the PLO and the mindset of the Middle-Easterner.

THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY is not just another spy-novel; it is the quintessential spy-thriller because it forces the reader to understand how both sides "think" and why that thinking ultimately led to repeated wars in the Middle East.

Spirko, a financial and geo-political analyst, turned his attention to the Middle East in 1987, after discovering several common elements related to the Middle East question. In working for peace, and after several frustrating years, he put down his analysis in writing and when he was finished, he not only had a solution to the quagmire, he had a story to tell.

But, nobody was listening.

Today, all that has changed, thanks to Olive Grove Publishers who decided to give his book a chance.

When the Palestinian question came to a festering crisis in 1990, he had already predicted several of the actual events before they occurred. For instance, Spirko predicted the Intifada and Persian Gulf War, missing the actual invasion date of Kuwait by only one week. He did this through spectacular supposition, analysis and prediction based on what he was "seeing" in the region.

When Spirko typed his manuscript, he set the work to fiction, about what he thought might occur soon in the Middle East involving weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation, the Palestinian uprising before it occurred, and how the Palestinian question begged to be answered, little did he realize that every event he described in the book would eventually transpire.

His story of what was really happening behind the scenes in the Middle East is truly astounding and remarkable, and his contribution to the Camp David Peace Talks in 2000, formulated a solution to the Jerusalem question. When the BBC got wind of it, they termed it "as nothing short of brilliant" - Jerusalem becoming the simultaneous capitals of both Israel and Palestine in congruous or concentric zones.

Spirko originally copyrighted his book on October 20, 1987, in the U. S.
Library of Congress where intelligence agencies reviewed his work.

Today, finally, somebody is listening.

Spirko feels that both sides must return to the Camp David Peace Talks and resume where they left off and "freeze in place" the already-agreed-upon negotiating points.

"It's like a marriage where both spouses storm away mad in an argument.
They don't divorce and then try to resume their relationship, they come back together, settle their differences, and resume their marriage. It must be the same for the Middle East Peace talks," Spirko says.

The story begins in Beirut, Lebanon, once a great financial capital of the Middle East, which lay in ruin, having been systematically blasted to rubble during 20 years of inexhaustible civil war and siege by Israel, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and Lebanese factions. Soon, the quest for a Palestinian State would be framed by these events; namely, the invasion of Kuwait by a neighboring rogue state, Iraq, with Saddam Hussein's goal of seeking nuclear parity with Israel.

In Mr. Spirko's story, Rick Waite, a forgotten UPI correspondent, and Adrienne Waters, a Pulitzer Prize journalist from the London Times, meet-up in Beirut with a PLO operative named Ahmed, who discovers a secret intelligence memo about a secret plan to destroy Israel.

In the ensuing chase to find the answer to this secret communiqué and what it means, a deadly race against time begins as the unlikely trio tries to halt the launch of a secret weapon from a hidden PLO base camp in the Syrian Desert. U. S. and British intelligence operatives have their own agenda, and attempt to stop whatever is going on to save the entire region from a nuclear holocaust.

Spirko weaves a tale of chilling duplicity and thrilling action, as the characters evade and devise a method to announce the discovery of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles to the rest of the world - all while United Nations' delegates bicker endlessly.

An executive at BookMasters, Inc., says, "The book is absolutely stunning in the manner in which Mr. Spirko, tells his tale. He is truly a master as an analyst, and it's totally unlike anything else we've ever read in a spy-thriller. It keeps you turning pages and won't let you quit - until the very end. And, what an ending it is! If you crave twisting plots, thrilling spy-action and intriguing characters, then this is the book for you."

Spirko, whose own background includes a stint in the U. S. Air Force and has given his advice to the National Security Council in Washington, D. C., has a degree in journalism and knows first-hand about the newsroom and what it takes to be an intelligence field agent. His knowledge of the trade makes the story real, daunting, and strikingly similar to "The Year of Living Dangerously."

"THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY drips with reality," quips a book reviewer from Olive Grove Publishers. "If books were rated by Siskel & Roeper, it would be given a two-thumbs up."

Not since, Casablanca, do characters as earthy as Rick Waite, or as beautifully mysterious as London Times reporter, Adrienne Waters, or as desperate as PLO operative, Ahmed, bring fresh characters to a story that will be remembered by readers for a long time.

The novel is a mass market paperback produced by Olive Grove Publishers, and can be purchased at area bookstores through Ingram Book Group, New Leaf Distribution, and Baker and Taylor, priced at $14.99, ISBN 0-9752508-0-9. THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY can also be ordered on the web at www.atlasbooks.com, or email orders from: order@bookmasters.com, or from Barnes & Nobles, Border's, Dalton's, efollett.com & Follett bookstores at colleges and universities, WaldenBooks, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com and other popular retail bookstores. Or, readers and store managers can call 1-800-BOOKLOG, or 800-247-6553 direct, to order.

For readers who want to know what was really going on in the Middle East prior to the Persian Gulf War, Sept. 11th, and Iraq War, THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, is a must read.

WARREN, Ohio - When both sides walked away from the peace table at Camp David in 2000, Robert Spirko, author of THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY warned negotiators Ehud Barak of Israel and Chairman Yasser Arafat that they would descend into the abyss of hell.

"And, they did," Spirko says, "and, so have we." Spirko is a native of Warren and a former Tribune staff writer.

That warning came after both sides had already agreed upon Jerusalem as the simultaneous capital of both Israel and Palestine, according to Spirko.

"When both parties agreed on Jerusalem, an issue they both said they could never agree on, then left the peace table over reparations and the right of return, 8,000 lives were lost in the ensuing four years, including America's 9/11 catastrophe," Spirko reveals. "Chairman Arafat should have taken the deal. He had 90% of what he wanted. The Israelis offered to build upon that later if Arafat would stop the suicide bombers.
Chairman Arafat would take the same deal today if it was offered, but it may be too late."

He explains, "The failed talks were a catastrophe for both the Middle East, and the United States, and the only way out is to resurrect the peace talks at Camp David, freeze the already agreed upon points, and resume where both parties left off."

Spirko has given his advice to the National Security Council in Washington, D. C. over the years, and is a 1965 graduate of the Kent State University School of Journalism. He studied for his MBA at Kent State University and currently analyzes geo-political trends as an investment advisor.

He wrote the book as a spy-thriller detailing what and how the quest for a Palestinian State turned into an ongoing disaster predicting Iraq and Iran would seek to develop weapons of mass destruction. The yet-to-be-resolved "right of return" and reparations were ignored by both sides at the 2000 Camp David Peace Talks. Those issues could have been negotiated later. Ideas presented by Mr. Spirko at those peace talks included letting both sides have the right to name Jerusalem as each nation's capital, an idea that the BBC in Great Britain termed as "brilliant.".

"The idea was to create simultaneous capitals for both countries-Palestine and Israel-with Jerusalem as the capital of each using congruous zones and a neutral governing district involving representatives from both sides with God as the central sovereign because they both believe in the same God, whether He is called Allah or Jehovah," Spirko reiterates.

"As we speak, Israel’s Ariel Sharon lies in a coma and Yasser Arafat is dead. Israel agreed to a withdrawal from Israeli settlements in Gaza, and a partial withdrawal in the West Bank. That could have been achieved six years ago at Camp David. Now, Hezbollah and Hamas have thrown a monkey-wrench into the scenario which could lead the United States and the world into World War III.”

Spirko’s book takes place in Beirut, Lebanon. It details what he thought would occur in the Middle East before the actual events; namely, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Intifada, and other events leading up to Sept. 11. His analysis, written as a novel in 1987 and copyrighted in the U.S. Library of Congress that year, warned that the Middle East was heading toward nuclear Armageddon if a rogue Arab state, Iraq or Iran, obtained nuclear weapons. For 17 years publishers refused to publish the book because they told Mr. Spirko that the events he described in his book "couldn't possibly happen."

MEDINA, Ohio - "The Middle East is heading toward a new World War if Syria and Iran continue to aid and abet terrorism and try to develop nuclear weapons to threaten both Israel and the United States," says Robert Spirko, author of THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, a book which predicted both wars in the region.

He says both Iran and Syria are treading on dangerous ground in their quest to continue the war in Palestine and in attempting to enrich uranium for use in an atomic bomb.
Spirko, a financial and geo-political analyst, turned his attention to the Middle East in 1987, after discovering several common elements related to the Middle East question. He wrote down his analysis, and when he was finished, he not only had a solution to the quagmire, he had a story to tell.

THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY predicted many of the events that occurred three years later, even the firing of missiles which hit Israel.

"The United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, and China will never allow them to obtain enough nuclear technology to construct weapons of mass destruction," says Spirko.

Spirko, whose book foreshadowed the Persian Gulf War by three years, and the resultant Iraq War following the Sept. 11 attack, warned the consequences would be catastrophic for those Muslim nations who insist on continuing down that nuclear path.

"The chief threat in the region I see right now is the threat to Saudi Arabia by Al Quaida. If Al Quaida were to overthrow the present royal family in Saudi Arabia, cutting off the oil supply to the western nations including Japan and China, it would bring down entire world economies.
France and Germany would be begging us to go to war to retake those oil wells. It would be World War III," he emphasizes.

If such a scenario were to occur, France and the European economies could collapse in a matter of weeks.

"And, it's all related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which I said back in 1987 that is the crux of my book. It always has been, and always will be until it's settled. That linkage is exactly what Osama Bin Laden stated in a taped message aired the weekend before the election in November. Whether you believe him or not is beside the point. That's what's he told us, and we'd better take that into account."

"We are again on the threshold of peace in the Middle East. But, we're also on the threshold of World War III. We better get it right this time, " Spirko emphasizes.