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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres





The new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, is not a stranger to the danger Iran poses to his country
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud looks on as he attends 12th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on February 6, 2013, in Cairo. (Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/Getty Images).


"Since the start of the Arab Spring in 2010, Saudi Arabia has been hedging. Actually, deferring is the word. The Saudis have deferred to American leadership in places like Syria, Egypt, and Yemen, though they have repeatedly been shocked by that leadership. They may not be willing to defer much longer. King Abdullah, now departed, had a long history with the United States. He was remembered as 'a dear friend and partner' of the first President Bush, who praised him and their alliance against Saddam’s Iraq in a statement released on Thursday. Abdullah had been Crown Prince and commander of the National Guard when the Kingdom made its crucial, history-altering decision to ask America for assistance during the first Gulf War. Deserts Shield and Storm followed, and the US-Saudi security partnership was soldiered into the emerging post-Cold War order. It was also an anti-Iran order, by implication or design. And the basic element of that Brave New Middle East was that America leads. The Saudis can pay, fuel, feed, and in some cases fight, but America leads.
The new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, is not a stranger to the danger Iran poses to his country. He became Defense Minister at the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, during a particularly infelicitous half-decade to be involved in his country’s security issues. He’s also 79, with the reputation of a diplomat, so it may well be that his last lessons are less significant than his first ones, as governor of Riyadh. We should hope so. Because it’s not clear that he is willing to defer endlessly to American leadership; the last five years, surely, have made it very much not clear that deferring works. It hasn’t worked in Yemen, where the President just quit under the guns of a Shiite militia, and it certainly hasn’t worked in Egypt, Lebanon, or Syria. In fact, the only positive thing to say about the Syrian debacle is that no major Sunni state has thrown in with the radical Islamic opposition. Qatar flirted with them, in its coquettish, neutralist way, but nobody’s gone over whole hog. Which is fortunate, particularly since those states are locked into a mortal struggle with Iran and absolutely committed to Assad’s removal. One of the great strategic risks of Inherent Resolve, the campaign against ISIS, was that was Saudi Arabia and its partners would grow tired of the US prevaricating about Assad and Iran and take matters into their own hands." (Observer)





"One success of the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Programme became public in 1999, after agents trained by Mr Navarro noticed the curious non-verbal cues of a Russian diplomat. A probe led to the discovery of a bug at the State Department. Nearly all federal security agencies now study body language, says Mr Navarro. For example, since 2009 a Pentagon think-tank called the Office of Net Assessment has spent roughly $300,000 a year on interpreting the body language of foreign leaders, says Valerie Henderson, a spokeswoman. The Body Leads Project has subjected Osama bin Laden and a dozen leaders of potentially hostile nations to what it calls 'movement-pattern analysis'. It takes a good 20 hours to understand 30 minutes of video, says Martha Davis, a former consultant to an American defence contractor. It is not as simple as seeing that someone is fidgeting and concluding that he is lying. Rather, the trick is to spot statements that deserve extra scrutiny, such as a denial made while shaking one’s head a moment longer than usual, she says. Critics caution that movements can be rehearsed to mislead. But involuntary 'micro-expressions'—which may last no longer than 1/25th of a second—often reveal concealed emotions, says Paul Ekman of the Paul Ekman Group, a body-language consultancy in California. His clients include the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism division, intelligence agencies and special forces who may need, he says, to know whether the captured survivors of a firefight are telling the truth when interrogated. Each micro-expression’s meaning isn’t always clear, however. The face of a man about to detonate a suicide-belt resembles that of a man who fears he has left home with the stove on, Mr Ekman says." (Economist)





"Catching up; out on the other Coast, in LA last Thursday night our friends at Doyle New York hosted a launch party of their new Beverly Hills office at the Peninsula. Doyle’s Chairman and CEO Kathleen Doyle, and the firm’s new Director of California Operations Nan Summerfield, greeted more than 300 guests including Gwyneth Paltrow and celebrity interior designers Mary McDonald, Nathan Turner, David Netto and Hutton Wilkinson. Also joining in the festivities were Kimm and Alessandro Uzielli, Diane Deshong, Lionel Ephraim, Jeffrey Herr, Greg Rivera, Andy Milonakis and contemporary artists Gregory Siff, Bert Rodriguez and David Cook." (NYSD)

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