Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: World History  (Read 11093 times)
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Bob
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« Reply #690 on: June 07, 2008, 01:44:17 AM »

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  The Tridentines have arrived in Lancaster. I'm sure you should be hearing from some soon in a locale near you 

I'm one of them---I atttend the Latin Mass weekly.

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if anybody knows when the automobile first arrived in Saudi Arabia, do tell? They've had absolutely no problem  doing the personal or chauffeur-driven car thing (though, it seems to me that they still prefer camel-races to track racing of customized sport cars). 

The time period is somewhere in the book, and its within the range of reasonability historically. Anyway, the humorous part is that though they had automobiles, they really had no roads to run them on and didn't build them for quite a while.

Another thing to ort of keep in mind is that the leadership chose to remain very insular in nature, very isolated from the outside world, for decades and only seemed to go outward in , maybe the late 50's and early 60's, and that's when they started to attend higher education over here and in Europe. 


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When you think of the amounts of stuff that we've had to read up on in the last nearly seven years, it is a little difficult to remember all your possible sources. And everybody had their favorites.

Speaking of which, I remember a very telling statement Sheik Yamani made during the first Oil crisis in the early 70's (1973?)...when asked by a reporter why the OPEC was raising oil prices, the learned sheik  saidsomething like this: 'I'm only doing what you people taught me to do, I'm a Harvard graduate'  WOW!!! I never forgot that. It was only in 1973 that the OPEC cartel seized the moment  and took control of pricing a barrel of oil instead of "negotiating" the price with the western powers. It's fascinating that the rise in prices in 1973 was $2 a barrel. The price went from $2 a barrel to $5 a barrel  and the west went bananas. They held their conference in the plush Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait. They were learning fast then.

Oil closed today at $139 a barrel and the American people have yet to learn the lessons from the 1970's. America is a land of SUV's and Hummers--we brought this on in part by our own excesses and by our refusal to expand refining facilities, but choose to blame the rest of the world for our plight. We also chose to ignore, for the most part, the rise of Fundamentalism at the end of the 70's (Remember the Hostage Crisis?). To a fundamentalist  like Osama bin Laden, the stationing of American troops on the soil of the Prophet  was a horrible, horrible act by an infidel. Of course, having stationed troop somewhere, we have the distinct habit of almost never removing them. Perhaps if we moved out of the area after a resonable time period, Osama's rage might have been diverted to other things.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #691 on: June 07, 2008, 05:26:20 PM »

Perhaps if we moved out of the area after a resonable time period, Osama's rage might have been diverted to other things.




The better move would have been to obey Washington's instructions to refrain from foreign entanglements.
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weezo
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« Reply #692 on: June 07, 2008, 05:27:50 PM »

Than,

You are certainly right with the Washington quote. But, I guess our current leader never read that much history.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #693 on: June 07, 2008, 10:03:06 PM »

Dunno about anyone else, but I am having a difficult time trying to come up with an issue or with issues to discuss about Coll.

Perhaps education may be one such subject:  while most Arabic youths were restricted to Koranic instruction, a few Bin Laden family members did manage to get western educations. In fact, a couple of sisters did so as well and this was highly unusual for Arabic families. King Faisal has something to do with this as he established western type schools in Saudi Arabia. One such institution was Al-Thaghr. {p 143} 

While this school taught western subjects, it was run by strict Islamic rules.  OBL attended this school and it was here that he came under the influence of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. This organization opposed Nasser's secularism in Egypt and advocated religiously inspired political activism. OBL was far from his childhood home and this isolation undoubtedly made him more amenable to its teachings.

pp 143-152
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harrie
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« Reply #694 on: June 08, 2008, 09:19:53 AM »

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Perhaps education may be one such subject:  while most Arabic youths were restricted to Koranic instruction, a few Bin Laden family members did manage to get western educations. In fact, a couple of sisters did so as well and this was highly unusual for Arabic families.


Yes, my thoughts exactly when reading about Salem's favored niece, Randa.  Although I must admit to alternating between harrumphing "Well, not all Muslims are so devout are they?" -- which Salem clearly was not, and that's fine -- and being grateful that at least a handful of women weren't completely oppressed in the name of religion.

It's interesting to me that Salem, when living in/visiting the Western countries, adapted to their ways but snapped relatively into line when in Muslim countries. However, it's not suprising to me because his chameleon-like tendencies were responsible for his successes. Had he segregated and not educated his female relatives, kept them in traditional garb, etc. I think some Americans might have hesitated to do business with him. Since he assimilated, he was easier to relate to, and succeeded accordingly.  It might be tempting to call him a hypocrite, but you can't (at least I can't) deny he was savvy.
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madupont
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« Reply #695 on: June 08, 2008, 01:23:06 PM »

Harrie, "some...might have hesitated to do business with him. Since he assimilated, he was easier to relate to, and succeeded accordingly."

Same could be said for Salem's nephew, the son of Osama bin Laden; but,you'll see what I mean at the end of the following to thanatopsy.
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madupont
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« Reply #696 on: June 08, 2008, 01:52:10 PM »

thanatopsy,re:#693

I had read this section originally in The New Yorker when told about it by an East German in the nytimes.com Western European forum. At that time those members of the forum who actually lived in Europe often had problems with family members being accosted by Muslims(from former colonies) and fears exacerbated because of shocking crimes that occurred in their countries and were notorious throughout the world).

However, the version that you pointed out in Text varies in one significance from Coll's original article on the education of ObL and I looked for it expectently because it made a strong impression on me at the time. I gather that Coll edited this episode from the  al Thaghr material and possibly may have included it somewhere else in the story of the family activities.

I shall include this page, here, for what it is worth.(Coll incidentally did years of articles for The New Yorker, after leaving The Washington Post; and this area of the world is his particular delight. It was in a small way for me as well until the Bush agenda radically destroyed the culture of the Tigris-Euphrates known as Mesopatamia and relabeled it " the War in Iraq". Consequently, for reasons unknown,many artifacts are no longer being kept in Chicago's Field Museum).

[next}
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madupont
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« Reply #697 on: June 08, 2008, 01:54:21 PM »

LETTER FROM JEDDA

Young Osama
by Steve Coll
(page 5)

Khaled Batarfi offered a new account of bin Laden’s travels during the nineteen-sixties and seventies. He said that, as far as he knew, bin Laden had ventured outside the Middle East as a young man only three times. The first time, when he was about ten, he went to London with his mother to receive medical treatment for an eye condition. Bin Laden stayed in England for at least a month and did some sightseeing, according to Batarfi. On a second trip, as a teen-ager, bin Laden joined some friends and relatives on a big-game safari in East Africa. And, finally, according to Batarfi, Osama bin Laden made one trip to the United States, in about 1978.

According to Batarfi, the trip to America came about because bin Laden’s first child, a son named Abdullah, who was born in about 1976, had a medical problem—apparently cosmetic. Bin Laden, his wife, and his toddler son travelled together to the United States for treatment, Batarfi said, although he is not certain where the procedure took place. By his account, only one aspect of the journey made a particularly strong impression on bin Laden: On the way home, Osama and his wife were sitting in an airport lounge, waiting for their connecting flight. In keeping with their strict religious observance, his wife was dressed in a black abaya, a draping gown, as well as the full head covering often referred to as hijab. Other passengers in the airport “were staring at them,” Batarfi said, “and taking pictures.” When bin Laden returned to Jedda, he told people that the experience was like “being in a show.” By Batarfi’s account, bin Laden was not particularly bitter about all the stares and the photographs; rather, “he was joking about it.”

If Batarfi is correct, bin Laden’s American visit took place before he travelled to Afghanistan to participate in violent jihad, and about ten years before he founded Al Qaeda; it might never have surfaced in intelligence and law-enforcement investigations of bin Laden, which began in the midnineteen-nineties. Spokesmen at several government agencies, including the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., said that their Al Qaeda specialists had no information about a visit by bin Laden to the United States. A State Department spokesman said that its consular section had no record of ever having issued a visa to bin Laden, but that the department no longer has complete records of visas that were issued that long ago.

Abdullah bin Laden, Osama’s son, today lives in Jedda and enjoys good health, according to several people who know him. (He did not respond to requests for an interview.) In a story published in a London-based Saudi-owned newspaper in 2001, Abdullah said that he left his father’s household in the mid-nineties, when Osama was preparing to leave Sudan, where he had been living in exile, for a new and uncertain exile in Afghanistan. Not wishing to endure such hardship any longer, Abdullah sought and received his father’s permission to return to Saudi Arabia, where he has since taken up a career in advertising and public relations.


Abdullah runs his own firm, called Fame Advertising, which has offices near a Starbucks in a two-story strip mall on Palestine Street, one of Jedda’s busiest commercial thoroughfares. “Fame . . . Is Your Fame” is the company’s slogan, according to its marketing brochures. Among the firm’s advertised specialties is “event management,” which refers to the staging of attention-grabbing corporate galas and launch parties for new products or stores. The firm makes this promise: “Fame Advertising events are novel, planned meticulously, and executed with efficiency.” On the back of this brochure is printed a single word: “Different.”

Many Saudis follow the search for Abdullah’s father with fascination, and this is particularly true of alumni of the Al Thagher Model School. Some of Osama’s former classmates are now doctors or lawyers; others have followed their fathers into business. They use the Internet to stay in touch. On January 31, 2001, Al Thagher’s Class of 1976 started a message group on Yahoo, where they exchange news about old friends and occasionally discuss questions about religion and politics, a participant told me. That Yahoo group requires a moderator’s permission to join, but a second Al Thagher group for all alumni has publicly posted messages that give the flavor of the group’s discussions, particularly in that autumn after the September 11th attacks. Posted message titles include “Taleban,” “Northern Alliance Atrocities,” “Salman Rushdie article,” and, suggestively, “9 Unpopular Ideas, important to read.”

Al Thagher’s Class of 1976 is approaching the thirtieth anniversary of its graduation; no reunion has been scheduled. The class held its most recent reunion at a beach resort on the Red Sea. The party took place on a wintry night; in all, about fifty Al Thagher alumni turned up to mingle and share a meal. There was no word from Osama. ?
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madupont
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« Reply #698 on: June 08, 2008, 06:53:43 PM »

http://www.sundancechannel.com/films/500320087

This is the series that I mentioned. Now, I don't know whether I saw an introduction, or the actual 1st episode as described?  I think it may surprise you.
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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #699 on: June 10, 2008, 12:19:56 AM »

Education is certainly one theme that could be traced, but to me it ties in with a larger one of globalization of that and other realms of enterprise/endeavor. The easy movement of the bin Laden family members between continents and societies reminds me how money indeed makes for "citizens of the world"--and also how very provincial Americans are, and feeling ashamed to acknowledge 'tis so. I feel this is even more the case since 9/11 and it makes me regret anew that the global goodwill after that event was so lightly regarded and so quickly thrown away. 

Education sidelights: I only recall having one student who had lived in that part of the world, in Riyadh where his dad had worked on some project or for some global corp.  He did a presentation for my World Geography class in which he emphasized the very minimal fear of/precautions against crime, impressed that one could go off and leave one's belongings just about anywhere in full confidence they would be there upon return. Of course, he also described with great relish and lurid detail the punishments for crimes.  Another visitor to that class was an exchange student from Israel, who was adamant that all countries surrounding it were in a state of war with his country.  (He also made much of a bulletin board display in a hapless teacher's classroom he visited; there were pix from WWII and, yes, there was a swastika in one. Though no one in their right mnd could think that teacher was even mildly anti-semitic, quite a flap ensued.  Sorta reminds me of the "spooks" flap in The Human Stain)

That ought to be enough digression to bring on a NYTemps beatdown.  Back to the book...           
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Bob
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« Reply #700 on: June 10, 2008, 01:17:25 PM »

Education in Saudi Arabia has always been religiously oriented. The State is virtually a theocracy. So Osama bin Laden would have gone to the equivalent of an American parochial school. He would have been given a Wahhabi view of the world. Right now I'm in my local library and don't have the book with me, but I'll post later on in the day after I re-read a section of the text having to do with their educational system. As I recall it vaguely, they used to send a lot of their best and brightest to foreign schools, but over the years the numbers have diminished--but I'll go into it later.
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Bob
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« Reply #701 on: June 10, 2008, 08:57:50 PM »

In 1975 the minister of Education was  was a direct descendant of Muhammad ibn Adbul Wahhab. Three of the six universities in Saudi Arabia were religious institutions or emphasized religious instructions. The influence of Wahhabi beliefs was pervasive.

In 1965 there were 3,625  university students in the Kingdom, by 1986 the number was 113,529. Saudis going abroad for education in the mid 1980's  numbered 12,500--but by 1990 it had fallen to 3,554. 30% of Saudi students in Saudi universities majored in Islamic studies, while the other 70% devoted an average of a third of their coursework to religious studies.

By 1992 it was estimated by one Saudi educator that 65% of Saudi's wanted the country run along more traditional Islamic lines.

(HATRED'S KINGDOM pages 78-79)

The Wahhabi influence dominated while Osama bin Laden grew up. Is it any wonder he has the belief system he has? One wonders what the average Saudi really believes about Americans andWesterners in general...
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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #702 on: June 10, 2008, 09:48:43 PM »

Thanks for that re the educ. system, Bob.  The school Osama went to, the Al-Thaghr Model School (hee, I first read that as Modeling School and had quite an entertaning mental image involving robes and headdresses) is described by Coll as "a private enclave for the sons of businessmen and the royal family" and was "a showcase for Faisal's modernization drive, and particularly for his interest in science and Western methods of education."  However, Osama was influenced by the leader of an after school study goup, a Syrian PE teacher, one of the Syrian and Egyptian teachers often found in Saudi high schools who were or had been involved in political dissidence in their home countries, some were members of the political dissident group Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization founded in Egypt, opposed to British colonial rule and later vs. Nasser. (see p. 144)  So Osama's first influence doesn't seem to be Wahhabist per se--that must be yet to come in my reading.  (Am still soujourning in Texas & Gulf Coast with Salem & crowd.)

What fascinates me is the interplay of political and religious dissidence.  I recall being struck when reading the book on Gertrude Bell at the loyalty to family and to religion of a people not far removed from nomadic life, with loyalty to a political entity/state being something of a foreign concept--recall the difficulties of forging Arab nationalism among the Bedouin and how easily it broke down.  Maybe where there is a governing royal family, loyalty to state can merge into it; where there is a governing theocracy, loyalty to state can merge into that.
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madupont
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« Reply #703 on: June 10, 2008, 10:09:30 PM »

That so closely resembles what we have  hopefully just escaped. Can't imagine where the Bush family stumbled upon that concept?
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« Reply #704 on: June 11, 2008, 10:15:38 AM »

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One wonders what the average Saudi really believes about Americans andWesterners in general...

I believe they consider us Infidels who should be destroyed.  The Palestinian issue and America's support for Israel is a huge issue for them.
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