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In this case, trust the Arab leaders' comments

Reader comment on item: Pouring Cold Water on WikiLeaks

Submitted by Stuart Fagin (United States), Dec 14, 2010 at 22:34

Dr. Pipes is generally correct in attaching greater importance to the statements of Arab leaders addressed to the Arab public in their own language, than to private statements to diplomats. In most instances the duplicity of speaking differently to each audience has a specific purpose.

Arab leaders seek to avoid the opprobrium that is due from the west given their long-standing pursuit of the destruction of Israel; a policy that requires continual public voicing if it is to be realized. They accomplish this avoidance by deluding western diplomats into believing that the genuine policy, though only privately expressed, is one of eventual accommodation. Adding to its effectiveness of the technique is that it plays on the diplomat's conceit that his ears are privy to the true policy, while the Arab public at large are worthy of something less.

But, I believe in the case of the Arab diplomatic comments urging a strike against Iranian nuclear development sites, Pipes is wrong to apply this rule. It is reasonable to infer that when Arab leaders privately urge American diplomats to strike these sites, they actually mean it. After all, such statements can only have the effect of inducing the strikes. Therefore, if the strikes are unwanted, why make the statement?


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