In the seventies of the last century, by chance I met the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, an architect of past American foreign policy and maybe also the present policy.
I saw him in the lobby of a luxury hotel in Morocco with his wife. I rushed towards him and asked him directly: “Why are you doing this to my country, Lebanon? Why do you let it drown in the furnace of a destructible civil war? You, sir, are happy with burning Lebanon and do your best to keep this fire on. Shame on you!”
With his well-known political calm and deep voice since he was a young man, he turned to me requesting me to calm myself, and said only one sentence that I still remember: “Shame on those who accept the shame for themselves.”
Kissinger’s phrase continues to ring in my ears. More so whenever I follow a political event inside or outside the US, where American hands are spread in white gloves or M16 rifles in almost every region of the world – Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Turkey, Europe, South Korea, the China Sea, and perhaps the Bahamas as well.
I recently followed the American presidential elections, and I am not in the process of judging its course or its results, but what struck me was the massive global interest in those elections. So much so that people forgot the Covid-19 pandemic and followed the elections 24/7. Now we comprehend everything about the American electoral system.
This global interest in the American elections demonstrates three fundamental issues.
The first represents the power of America. The reality says that America is still the biggest power in the world, and the second is the recognition by the world of this supreme force with its tyranny, arrogance, and its dependence on the principle of “shame on those who accept the shame for themselves”. The third issue is the fate of the world which depends on what the American voter decides, not only in issues of politics, economics, and wars, but on issues of the environment, health, innovation, education, and others.
Every time a comparison is made between US President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden and which one is better – or less bad – for us, I remember what Kissinger said to me. Although I confess America’s military, economic, financial, political, and cultural strength as the most powerful nation on the earth currently, I must say that we Arabs should create a wider margin of operation within which to manoeuvre and not be forced to accept shame for ourselves.
It is a mistake to believe the new president will be different from his predecessors. Barack Obama, the first African-American president, who we expected would be the hero of the weak nations around the world, came to us with the concept of “Creative Chaos”, and his adventures with his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in our region resulted in widespread devastation.
Before Obama there was George W Bush who destroyed Iraq and presented it on a silver platter to Iran. I believe that the new American administration must take lessons from Obama’s failed policies in our region.
We do not want the US to protect us. We are already able to defend ourselves, and our people are aware of their interests and love their country and their leadership. What we want is for them to stop interfering in our affairs, claiming that we are wrong because our political and social system is not compatible with the so-called Western democratic systems.
With the emergence of every new American president, the playing cards are shuffled and thrown on the table again. Our problem is our belief that now we learned our lesson and we will win the game. But what happens is that we do not know exactly what is going on under the table, and who represents the other players, how they conspire against us, and what are the new innovative playing methods to win.
I hope that someday we will find a way to run and win this game.