Tuesday Headlines

Did Saudi Arabia Snub Obama Or Just Bad Timing?
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has decided not to come to Washington this week for the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) summit, which has left many in the nation’s capital wondering whether it was very deliberate signal of his lack of confidence in American policy in the Middle East or simply bad timing.

Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution believes the choice to pull out at the last minutes was a determined move by Saudi Arabia designed to be embarrassing and that the Saudis are particularly unhappy with the negotiated nuclear deal between the P5 and Iran will lift sanctions and end Iran’s isolation.

“They are not worried about centrifuges; they are worried about subversion and intimidation. A rapprochement between the P5 and Iran leaves them dangerously exposed in their view,” Riedel argues.

The White House denies it was a snub, with spokesman Josh Earnest saying that there has “been no concern raised by our Saudi partners, either before the change in travel plans or after, related to the agenda at Camp David” and that all of the “feedback that we’ve received so far from the Saudis has been positive.”

Concerns have also been voiced among the Persian Gulf states about Iran’s drive to become a hegemonic power, which they believe would be enhanced if sanctions are lifted and cash begins to flow into Iran.

Some have been blunt in airing their dismay with U.S. policy.

“The conspiracy theorists of old have been proven right. The U.S. creates threats for us and then offers us more weapons systems. That does not bode well for us,”Sami Alfaraj, a Kuwaiti security adviser to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council tells Lebanon’s Daily Star.

The Roots Of Capitalism
Jeffrey Adelman of Foreign Affairs magazine responds to a recent spate of books examining the birth and progress of capitalism with his own viewpoint on the origins of capitalism and whether its future is as glum as some analysts contend.

“Most historians side with a single narrative, captive to stories of capitalism as either liberating or satanic, springing from below or imposed from above. 
In order to plumb the past of global capitalism, however, they need a stock of global narratives that get beyond the dichotomies of force or free will, external or internal agents. To explain why some parts of the world struggled, one should not have to choose between externalist theories, which rely on global injustices, and internalist ones, which invoke local constraints,” he posits.

The Pointless Politics Of Nostalgia
Ana Palacio, a former Spanish foreign minister and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, argues that in a time of instability and uncertainty that too often politicians engage in “rose-colored retrospection” in which they frame the past as a time of prosperity. But, she maintains, nostalgic thinking does not lead to solutions and actually makes matters worse.

“Flimsy ideas thrive in the absence of a viable alternative. That is why a period of reflection on world order is so important. But, rather than allowing ourselves to be swept up in the regressive tide of nostalgia, we need to engage one another in a constructive conversation about the challenges that we actually face and propose new ideas for addressing them,” says Palacios.





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