Monday, July 12, 2010

The U.S.- Kuwaiti Friendship

Friendship between individuals can be based on personal, as well as psycho-social needs. One may opt to befriend a wealthy, powerful, influential person for a number of reasons: Bragging rights, personal gains, purely coincidental mutual likes & dislikes, etc.. On the other hand, one may befriend a down-to-Earth simpleton, either due to simple old fate or a more complex need for self-actualization. Quite frankly, the reasons behind many personal relationships are as many as the people themselves, but I'm only referring to non-romantic relationships here, where the term "We're just friends" means exactly what it sounds!

Friendship between nations, ironically, is based on these very same reasons, but on an Uber-macro level. A big nation enjoys the 'friendship' of smaller, less capable nations, and both are based on mutual gains and benefit. The difference is, there isn't a single nation, run by a sane government, that believes that other nations befriend them because they're such nice people! The relationship between Kuwait and the other GCC states for example, while dependent on deep-rooted family bonds and tribal relationships, is primarily based on the collective need for mutual co-existence, which in turn is based on shared goals, aims and principles, as well as shared perceptions of threats, fears, weaknesses and dangers.
We in Kuwait enjoy the relationship we have with the USA, as well and as much as we do with other nations who had proved, time and again, worthy of our friendship, be they Arab or Foreign.
The US Ambassador, Mrs. Deborah Jones, a pleasant and fun-loving Diplomat, has attained a high level of acceptance and popularity amongst the Kuwaiti society, surpassing that of Mr. Edward Gnehm  back in the 1990's, and I'm sure that the more enlightened of us has discussed these issues with Mrs. Jones, and that Mrs. Jones has submitted it's frequent reports to the State department detailing these issues, just like every ambassador in the world. So I'm pretty sure that the US State Department has a clear idea of what goes on in the minds of all concerned when it involves US-Israeli policy. I only hope that, for the sake of US-Kuwaiti friendship, the US State Department knows just how much Kuwait needs a stable Gulf, and that Sabre-rattling can only make things worse.

Take Iran, for instance. Long regarded as a renegade state sponsorer of terrorism by many in the Western camp, but to itself, it's only reacting to what it perceives as a threat to it's existence with it's weapons programs (just like Israel, ironically!). It's surrounded by hostile Arab/Sunni neighbours, most of them backed by the US and/or it's allies, whom Iran regarded at one point as the Great Satan (still does i think).

So here's the Great Satan and all it's helpers grouping around and threatening Iran and it's Nuclear program, and at the same time, the U.S. is asking everyone else in the world to gang up on Iran and force it to comply with international law - the very same law that the U.S. broke and tore up when it invaded Iraq, as did many nations with usable military might, no one's perfect. Many could (and have) argued that the U.S. with Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Native Americans and the Internment camps of WWII as historical baggage (to name but a few), it is not the best defender of equality and Human Rights in the world, and personally, I tend to agree with this conclusion. Neither is Iran, in fact, and there are too many examples to mention here, the most recent was last year's crackdown, I needn't say more!

The difference between the two camps is in the aftermath, and that's what's not clear to many people, I think.

In a proper Democracy (not a perfect one, mind you, just a proper one!), any law is brought about by the people and for the people, and is almost always subject to change and/or challenge, with it's main proponents liable to punishment in the event that it's proven to be illegal. Case in point, Nixon, LBJ, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Jr.; All presidents of the foremost superpower of the world, all wenth through legal wranglings, with some of them impeached, others never re-elected and nearly all of them retiring into either relative obscurity or mediocre lifestyles. Even India's recent Bhopal Scandal is another one, albeit somewhat late, but it's there nevertheless, for all to see, read and study! If anything, it proves that in a system where opinions and free speech is protected by Law, no one's rights can be stolen indefinitely.

I hate to use it, but there it is: The case against Ehud Olmert of Israel is another example of accountability within a Democracy. Again, a powerful country, an influential regional power, but a Democracy nefertheless, whose government is, and will always be, accountable to it's people.

So when was the last time we heard of an Arab/Middle Eastern leader openly challenged or accused of misplacing a hankerchief??

Aside from Lebanon and Kuwait, very few states allow such criticism of their leaders/presidents to even reach the press. Everyone's under the close scrutiny of the Government, and when said Government is influenced by a Superpower, that entire state will become a target for that Superpower's enemy in the event of hostilities.

That leaves Kuwait smack in between Iran, the U.S.'s main enemy, and Saudi Arabia, the U.S's main ally, with the other GCC states flocking behind it, all ganging up on Iran. If cooler heads hadn't prevailed a couple of months ago, there would have been a war in the Gulf, and one that would have included Israel, lightening up the entire Middle East into a free-for-all battlefield. First to get fried would be Kuwait, since the closest Iranian Nuclear Power Plant is only 300 Km's away, and with it goes Kuwait and Iraq's entire stockpile of Oil (a combined 20% of the world's proven reserves), and further threatening Saudi adn it's Oil (a further 24% of the World's reserves). That means over 45% of the worl'd Oil reserves will be laid to waste if Iran is provoked into a Nuclear punch-up with the United Stated of America.

The irony is, Kuwait considers itself actively and openly as a friend to both sides, even though one has Kuwait's balls in one hand and the other has infiltrated every aspect of Kuwaiti life and government, they're still our friends.

As the saying goes, "With Friends like these, who needs enemies?"

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