Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kissy Face

I don't really get out all that much. In fact, I sit at home all the live-long day reading assorted literature, a task for which I am compensated generously. This is why instead of blogging about real world events like the avian virus strain in Israel, elections in a week, Hamas' newly appointed cabinet, Milosevic's death and burial, Ecuador's state of emergency and the newly crowned "Miss Israel", I continue to dish up tidbits from a certain book written by a certain former U.S. Secretary of State.

Today's offer regards kissing. I laughed so hard at the playground reading this entry yesterday - I do get out occasionally but only in short increments and only with written permission from a physician - that the other parents cautiously guided their children away from my general direction.

Maddie writes about mastering the art of "diplomatic kissing" in greeting, a job requirement that gets complicated by the fact that in some countries they kiss on the left, others on the right, some on both and some - like Botswana - four times.

Ms. Albright:
As for Arafat, he could only be described as dogged and unpredictable. Sometimes he would do one cheek, sometimes two, and at times both cheeks, the forehead, and the hand. He also tried to kiss President Clinton, who towered above him, so Arafat ended up laying his head beneath the President's chin.

So about that mysterious blood disease...


Liza said...

Thanks for the Arafat kissy face imagery. There goes the appetite!

Stephanie said...

LOL!! You should read some of her other descriptions of him...slf

Anonymous said...

Who's Maddie had to kiss as a lobbyist for Dubai Ports World, I wonder? See here

for that reference. There's no way for that comment of mine not to sound snippy, I guess. It's just that I think she was an awful, _awful_ Secretary of State. Commentary Magazine had a review of her book when it came out. ..Worth a read.

Stephanie said...

I couldn't follow the link, unfortunately and also can't get onto Commentary because I don't have a membership...Can you re-post the link w/a bit of why you thought she was terrible? Curious...slf

Anonymous said...

The TNR article also appears here

Albright's only mentioned briefly in it, but a Google News search on Albright and Dubai turns up _a lot._

But fair's fair: I think the Dubai Ports deal was a security risk and I'm glad it's fallen though, and I don't think Albright should be a lobbyist for a company from a regime like Dubai, but her doing so isn't what makes her stand out as especially bad: lots of ex-gov't officials lobby for unsavory businesses and governments. So she's not a moral exemplar, but I realize that this alone doesn't make the case.

..Making it requires more time than I have right now (I hope that doesn't sound pompous; I'm just pressed) but I'll try to at least find that Commentary piece soon.

All I'll say is this: I don't think it's a cavalier judgment. I didn't esp. like the Clinton administration's foreign policy, and I grant that as with any administration, a good deal of the foreign policy is made by people other than the Secretary of State. There's the President, the National Security Advisor, etc. So I don't want to blame Albright for policies that weren't her own. But there were particular bad ideas that were her own initiatives, and particular things she agreed to when she ought to have objected, that I think justify the label "awful."

And I think she had an odd dynamic with Israel that had something to do with her identity. I can't prove this motivation, of course, but I suspect she bent over too backwards too far to show that her Jewish roots didn't lead her to partiality in Israel's favor. That would explain some actions, anyway.

I'm not a Netanyahu fan. I hope Likud loses big in the coming elections. But the scene from the negotiations where the Israeli delegation has its suitcases on the lawn is an odd scene for anyone associated with the Clinton administration to complain about, for at least two reasons: 1. we wouldn't have been a centimeter closer to peace even without that scene, and 2. given that we wouldn't have been a centimeter closer to peace even without that scene, the complaint about it is just a complaint on dignity/style grounds. But a complaint on dignity/style grounds from a _Clinton administration_ official??? Anyway, even if you don't think those folks are icky, the point is that that scene is no more than a footnote in diplomatic history, and Albright's not treating it as a footnote is, I think, representative of a more general problem she has with gauging what is and isn't important.

..It'll all have to remain at that level of generality for now, which is a little unfair to her (though she can take it; Dubai cash will cushion the blow.)

What I do regret is leaving _you_ hanging. ..But I'll be back to write more about it all when I can.