Physics and Politics
I don’t understand physics. Sure, I get the basics of how a series of pulleys reduces the energy needed to move heavy objects, and how teeter-totters work. But if you ask me to explain why energy equals mc2, you will get a blank stare in return. I also don’t understand the complex relationships between electro-magnetism, gravity, quarks, hadrons, black holes, the Higgs Boson, the bending of space and time, how the Big Bang nucleosynthesis is related to cosmic microwaves, and a whole host of other physics-type things.
Most of the time I think in a linear, cause and effect fashion that makes logical sense to me. It is easier for me to see how one thing is related to another, or not, than it is to try to conceptualize how multiple things simultaneously all relate to one another and exert influence upon one another.
Here’s where politics comes into play. (If you understand this better than I do, please write a comment and pass this post on to others.)
During his trip to the Middle East last month, President Donald Trump reportedly praised the country of Qatar, “Qatar is really an important partner and actually combating terrorism and money laundering and the war.” *
Then on June 5, four Arab nations (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) broke diplomatic ties and shut down air and sea links with Qatar, citing Qatar’s support of terrorism. President Trump took credit for this, tweeting on June 6, “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!” and “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
I think that I understand this apparent contradiction. It’s the teeter-totter principle at work.
Then this week Mr. Trump approved the sale of $12 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Qatar. Qatar? The state sponsor of terrorism? The nation that he took credit for isolating? I’m sorry, but now my simple, linear brain is just not working. I’ve lost his line of reasoning.
Although, I suppose that we most not forget that Qatar is an important ally of the United States. Their Al Udeid Air Base hosts the largest US military presence in the Middle East and is the home of our Central Command, which is responsible for US operations from Egypt to Pakistan and north through Afghanistan. Nor should we forget that Qatar’s state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, occupies leased office space in Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
Hmm…things are beginning to get a little complicated. Lack of a clear foreign policy? A lack of understanding that the world doesn’t work like my linear brain? Competing national and personal interests? Who gets what from whom? For sure, one big winner is Boeing, the company that builds the F-15. Their stock hit a record high after the announcement of this deal. They will hire hundreds of new employees. “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.” I’d be willing to bet that the person who takes credit for that will be the same person who took credit for isolating Qatar.
Well, I get lost trying to understand all of this. The logic of the events of the past month regarding terrorism, Qatar, and the selling of fighter jets to Qatar escapes me. But then, perhaps President Trump understands the complex nature of physics and its application to foreign policy better than I do.
Tom DiChristopher and Hadley Gamble, Sunday, June 11, 2017, CNBC.com. (Bear in mind that this report is based on statements made by Qatari Finance Minister Ali Shareef al Emadi).