Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Rules

I am not talking here about the rules mentioned in the famous book "the rules" on time-tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr. Right; I am actually referring to an article on time-detested Americo-centric remarks for capturing the hearts of Mr. Wrongs as far as the Arab World is concerned.

Thomas Friedman, the journalist with the dubious agenda has finally figured out “Mideast Rules to Live by”. In an op-ed piece in the New York Times Friedman, whose early professional training included an internship at the CIA, is finally uncovering to us, Arabs, these rules.

For anyone who has ever doubted the objectivity of Mr. Friedman, this piece should be enough to shed light on the deep seeded contempt that he holds for the Arabs. Constructive criticism is always welcome. However, when ridiculing a whole nation that is suffering on daily basis thanks to the meddling of outsiders (Friedman's fellow citizens, be it Americans or Israelis) in its own affairs with the objective of stripping it of its wealth is summarized into non-sensical rules, the issue becomes worthy of rebutting.

Some of the rules as mentioned (comments in Italic):

Rule 1: 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. Maybe Mr. Friedman should not have been addressed nor entertained in private to start with.

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. I love the doublespeak in the use of word “serve”. Well let’s make a long story short, whether it is serving or spying or stealing or hostile taking-over, or holding a whole nation hostage based on bogus pretexts, or a straight versus crooked line is irrelevant. The relevant issue here is that these “services” rendered by the Americans are no longer required nor welcomed.

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. I wonder what Mr. Friedman means by “you”. Sensing the narcissism and arrogance reeking from his piece, he is probably referring to himself. As for the reference to conspiracy, maybe Mr. Friedman should check with April Gillespie on why these simplistic people are thinking along a “conspiracy” line.

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 Yasir Arafat, I could paper my walls. A much appreciated Freudian slip. Now Mr. Friedman is talking like the true advocate of Israel that he is. I suggest he starts collecting a dollar for every innocent Palestinian killed, injured, tortured, or robbed of his basic rights by the Israelis. This would not only provide him with enough dollars to cover his wall, but would instead make him a very rich man.

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. An objective journalist seeking the truth would not worry about the cease-fire as much as the reasons behind why this fire erupted in the first place. The rest is elementary my dear Watson.

Rule 6: In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to just go away. Maybe Mr. Friedman should remember this next time he is wined and dined visiting the “Middle East”.

Rule 8: Civil wars in the Arab world are rarely about ideas — like liberalism vs. communism. They are about which tribe gets to rule. So, yes, Iraq is having a civil war as we once did. But there is no Abe Lincoln in this war. It’s the South vs. the South. Mr. Friedman, why not look at North Vs. South and consider the ideas fought there. It is probably about the "deep intellectual ideas" of oil versus no oil.

Rule 14: The Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi had it right: “Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.” This is an out of context quote coming from a conniving journalist. How about we add except if these small tribes happen to be sitting on fields of oil.

Thomas Friedman would do us, Arabs, all a favor if he would shove his rules where the sun doesn't shine. And those so-called "inner-circlites" spread all over the Arab world would do us all a favor by seeing Mr. Friedman for what he really is and by stopping to kiss ass of such bigots.

While I am at it, one last favor that Mr. Friedman could do us is to stop enriching us with his views on the Arab World. In this case, I can sincerely assure you that it would be good riddens of bad rubbish!

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