What we are really seeing as we watch the news is the clash between the subtle nuances of multinational Diplomatic Relations, and a simplistic view of the world.
Part of this arises from our exposure to Middle Eastern culture having been limited to the movies, Casablanca and Algiers. I will focus on the latter.
In Algiers (the capital of Algeria, a country in northern Africa), a French jewel thief (played by Charles Boyer) is hiding out in the “old quarter” in a place known to the world as The Casbah. However, the only thing we truly know about the Casbah, aside from it’s being a labyrinthine piece of ancient architecture, is what we learned watching cartoons as children.
In the Warner Brothers cartoon, a character (an amorous skunk) known as Pepe le Pew, would hotly pursue a black cat (who having ended up with a stripe of white paint down her back took on a skunk-like appearance). As he would embrace the feline of his affections, he would utter such romantic nothings as, “Come wiz me to zee Casbah”.
Back to Algiers.
In Algiers, in The Casbah, Pepe le Moko is visited each day by an Algerian Police Detective—Inspector Slimane. The good inspector knows, however, that it is impossible to arrest Pepe in The Casbah. This is the reason he is allowed to “find” him. In addition, he knows that if he arrests Pepe, he will not be able to bring him out of The Casbah. This, he has difficulty explaining to the visiting French Prefect.
(Now, you may call me a flawed human being, but I liked the inspector in the fez. My apologies to Turkey and to the Turkish people who’ve outlawed the wearing of the fez.)
Inspector Slimane’s admonition: “When one can’t use guns, one must work with brains.”
Now that we have a background in our limited understanding of the Middle East (Which we’ve learned from a movie set in North Africa) we shall move on to Pakistan.
Pakistan is an ally whose President is in an untenable position.
Pakistan and India enjoy a misalliance. India is Hindu, Pakistan is Muslim. Each enjoys a diplomatic affiliation with China. India is an ally and trading partner of the United States.
Pakistan is caught between having diplomatic and military ties to the United States and the West on the one hand and a people ardently opposed to the United States in particular and the West in general on the other.
The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has to maintain a level of stability with a political acumen that goes beyond anything we can imagine.
The most difficult domestic problems we deal with in the political arena are the carping of those in the opposing party or an embarrassment cause by an extreme faction demonstrating for or against a position on an issue.
Some of the comments arising from the death of Osama Bin Laden and made by experts in global diplomatic and military affairs are:
Osama Bin Laden was in a gilded cage. He couldn’t leave his compound. (Remember Pepe le Moko.) He was actually a prisoner of Pakistan.
The Pakistani government had to have known that Osama Bin Laden was there and gave him safe shelter.
Well, if we were watching the compound for eight months, the Pakistani government also had to have known we were there.
With the operations we were engaged in (the bombing of terrorist encampments), could the Pakistani government really believe Bin Laden would be safe if they harboured him in the Mansion on the Hill?
President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks were for the benefit of the Pakistani people.
President Asif Ali Zardari is charged with the responsibility of representing the interests of the people of Pakistan. And so on.
There may be an element of truth to some or all of the above. This does not deny the Media the First Amendment right to express opinions; or to insinuate opinions by asking questions with an urgent tone and a forward leaning posture intended to suggest gravitas.
Diplomacy. In the refined and cultured and nuanced world of diplomacy, what is important is quite often what is unsaid, but understood.
As my Aunt Jean once said of men’s jewellery, “I believe a man’s jewellery should be looked for but never seen.”
In Diplomatic discussions, what we mean should be understood, not said.
A more clear explanation: From the Quotations of Slim Fairview
Diplomacy: If it has to be explained, it isn't diplomacy.
We should understand that President Asif Ali Zardari has a job to do on behalf of the People of Pakistan.
We should understand that we have also have a job to do.
The Media has a job to do.
However, most important, we should understand that in the area of International Relations, we should not use our playbook alone when we have people on our team from different countries.
This is why I posted the monograph, “The Impending Failure of Western Diplomacy in the Middle East.”
It is also the reason I posted the monograph, “What do we want? When do we want it? How do we get it?
When I was a youngster sitting in school, grammar school, we were taught,
“We may not agree with what they have to say, but they have the right to say it.”
Now, we are taught,
“They may not agree with what we have to say, but we have the right to say it.”
We have abandoned our pursuit of fulfilling our responsibilities in favour of pursuing our rights.
Defending our rights is a good thing.
Defending our rights is slightly different from pursuing them.
Now, we see Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari being vilified about the location of Osama Bin Laden’s “Casbah”.
The assailing of Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari is neither fair, nor accurate, nor productive. It arises from our need to eschew the news in favour of entertainment.
Too many people, today, choose a lust for symbolic gestures over substantive gains.
Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview