It’s the question that seems to be on every political-aficionado/news-guru in town. If you ask most Jordanians, I think the response to that question would be a definite “yes” and the follow up to that would be “before Bush leaves office.” In the past few weeks I’ve heard a countless number of people draw the same conclusion. They are also confident in Iran’s retaliatory capabilities. As for me, I’m of the belief that it probably won’t happen, and if it does, it will most likely come in the form of Israel, targeting key sites. I am also pretty confident that, nuclear jargon aside, Israel’s air force, along with American presence next door, will make sure retaliatory celebrations are cut short. But how did I reach such a conclusion? Come to think of it, how did everyone reach the other conclusion?
The point of this post was actually to grapple with the way people, specifically in Jordan, internalize certain news. Politics is the centerpiece of every conversation when a group of males in Jordan get together, especially the older crowd. And when it comes to regional issues, Iran is at the top of the list. And given the home court advantage, I sometimes think that locals, i.e. people who live in this region, are always first to know of something that is about to happen. Like the way animals know before the rest of us do, of an approaching natural disaster. With this in mind, I often compare the average Jordanian with the sharpest political minds CNN can put on the air as “experts”. The western world tends to perceive all American politics as being local, even foreign policy is forced into a local context. The Arab world couldn’t give a damn. American foreign policy to us is a constant line, running as straight as an arrow, unaltered by local issues. American foreign policy is seen as America’s will, it’s manifest destiny, it’s ultimate goal and the vein of its existance: the desire to safeguard Israel and destroy all that is Arab and Muslim. That is the perceived endgame. The idea that (just as an example) President Bush would not risk neither his legacy (what’s left of it) nor handing the Democrats the White house in November, by attacking Iran this year, is just irrelevant. It doesn’t even come into the equation. CNN and MSNBC can line up all the experts they want, for the Arab world, Iran’s destiny is set in stone. That’s the perception.
And I suppose it’s a fair one. If all politics are local, then the Arab world, just as the western world, will think in local terms. It will internalize the signals and indicators it receives and draw conclusions. For surely, what is good for the goose, is also good for the gander.
For example, many, if not most Jordanians, seem to believe that Bush is not currently touring the Middle East for peaceful purposes, but rather to draw up support and/or make assurances to the various places he visits, of a potential strike on Iran.
If I were to think in strictly in local terms, then I would internalize this following bit of news, which came right after Bush visited Israel, that the latter party is warming up its jets on the runway. Perhaps for a Springtime coronation?
JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a powerful parliamentary panel on Monday that Israel rejects “no options” to block Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a meeting participant said. The statement was the Israeli leader’s clearest indication yet that he is willing to use military force against Iran.
“Israel clearly will not reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran,” the meeting participant quoted Olmert as telling the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “All options that prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities are legitimate within the context of how to grapple with this matter.” [source]
And so I wonder, with the world so intrinsically entwined, with globalization becoming such a fine art in the way this Earth turns, should we all start to think in more global terms rather than local? But until we get rid of all the lawyers and politicians, hold hands across the planet and sing kumbaya: all politics will remain local.