From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I was somewhat surprised to see an article “Bad Fences” by John R. Bradley, the former managing editor of the Arab News, in the latest issue of The New Republic. At Arab News Bradley struck me as a hack apologist for the Saudi state, but perhaps he’s changed his tune somewhat. His forthcoming book Saudi Arabia Exposed: Princes, Paupers and Puritans in the Wahhabi Kingdom doesn’t sound like something that’s going to win him friends with his old employers in the Saudi Kingdom. But the fact that he worked for a Saudi propaganda outlet, along with my recollection of some of his more pithy anti-Israel remonstrations—especially garbage like this—leaves me leery of his writing (not to mention that he was billed as the author for The Lonely Planet Guide to Saudi Arabia, a book that didn’t even exist). Note how in that piece Bradley smears TNR as “an ultra-right campaigning American political journal that has long been defined by its crude Zionist agenda.” His characterizations of TNR’s pro-Israel proclivities are tasteless and predictable, but labeling a magazine that endorsed Al Gore for the presidency not once but twice as being “ultra-right campaigning” is just downright dumb. But who’d have thought that less than two years later Bradley would be penning a piece about Saudi Arabia for the very same magazine for which he purported to have such disdain? Anyway, it’s an interesting enough article, and the hypocrisy of the Saudis building an anti-terrorist barrier (to keep out terrorism and weapons smuggling from Yemen) while at the same time bewailing Israel’s efforts to build an anti-terrorist barrier speaks for itself. But I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before somebody marches into the Hague to take issue with the Saudi structure, not to mention all these other walls and fences. I’m not holding my breath, though.

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