Archive for February 2009

the jinn in the machine

February 4th, 2009 — 12:33pm

Several months ago Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud warned that an uprising will soon begin within Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has warned the country’s royal family to step down and flee before a military coup or a popular uprising overthrows the kingdom.

In a letter published by Wagze news agency on Tuesday, the Cairo-based prince warned Saudi Arabia’s ruling family of a fate similar to that of Iraq’s executed dictator Saddam Hussein and the ousted Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, calling on them to escape before people “cut off our heads in streets.”

He finally warned against a military coup against the ruling family, saying “no one will attack us from outside but our armed forces will attack us.”

As Saudi Arabia’s own Day of Rage approaches it’s looking like he was right.  And there’s only one place to look to figure out where the impetus for an uprising came from, the same place the most popular and lucrative form of gambling the world over was born…

It’s not what you have.  It’s not what he has.  It’s not what he thinks you have.  It’s what he thinks you think he has that matters.

Whenever they’re discussing the Iranian threat, military strategists and geopolitical commentators alike are fond of bringing up the fact that it was the Persians who invented chess.

This is meant as something of an analytical catch-all, with all the world a chessboard we are being reminded that Iranians invented the original and timeless game of bold maneuvers, clever feints, and strategic traps.  And yet, when you really examine the metaphor, chess really doesn’t fit global interactions all that well.

Everything is in plain view during a chess match: anyone stumbling into a trap was simply too stupid or inexperienced to see what was right in front of them all along.  All you have to do to know the strength of your opponent is count the pieces left in play and notice where they lay on the board.  Which brings up the fact that unlike conflicts on the world stage, a chess match can only occur between two opponents at a time.

And things take awhile to develop during a chess match, at most you can only loose one piece a turn – there aren’t incredibly risky gambles that can be made which decisively swing the balance of power among numerous opponents in one turn.

That’s not how international affairs really play out.  The fact that Iranians invented chess some thousands of years ago really shouldn’t worry us all that much.

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