Friday, December 25, 2009

"Simple Guards", Indecent Gestures, and the Dark Side of Diplomatic Immunity

The original Jerusalem Post article isn't online at the moment, it seems.

Excerpts from another source, referring to the J.P. article:
" An American diplomatic vehicle allegedly tried to run over an Israeli security guard at a border checkpoint in Israel last month, setting off a diplomatic scuffle that is straining relations between the two nations, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"In an episode that was reportedly caught on tape, a five-car U.S. convoy was stopped at the Gilboa border crossing in the northern West Bank on Nov. 13 but refused to identify themselves or open any windows or doors for inspection by Israeli security...."

"...Drivers in the American convoy blocked the crossing, the report says, tried running over a Defense Ministry security guard and made indecent gestures at female guards, the Jerusalem Post reported...."

"...The U.S. response, the Post norted[!], further angered Israeli officials: the chief regional security officer reportedly told his Israeli counterparts that "simple guards" had no authority to inspect senior diplomats...."
("Israel: U.S. Consulate Car Tried to Run Over Checkpoint Guard" FOXNews (December 25, 2009))
If you've been following this blog, you probably know that I'm an American citizen. And, that I don't think America is perfect. (July 3, 2008) I also don't assume that everything an American official does is right. I don't assume that America is the cause of all the world's problems either, but that's another matter.

"Simple Guards"?!

Okay: maybe there was a reasonable excuse for what whoever was running that 'diplomatic' convoy did. Maybe.

But, after the fact - calling the Israeli security people "simple guards"?!

Sure, those "simple guards" probably don't make as much money as most big-shot diplomats. They probably don't even know what cocktails are 'in' this year, or who to shun at Aspen. Those "simple guards" are just the sort of lower-class persons that the 'right sort' go to great lengths to avoid.

Can't say that I blame them. If I thought my value as a person was directly connected to how many polo ponies I owned, or whatever the status symbols are this year, I'd avoid people like me, too. (More, at "Lemming Tracks: Lower Middle Class and Loving It", Apathetic Lemming of the North ((December 14, 2009))

"Indecent Gestures" - Figures

As for making "indecent gestures at female guards" - well, considering the sort of trailer trash (their term, not mine) that some of the 'proper sort' think infest the American military, and given some dearly-held assumptions about the linkage between social position and respect: that sort of makes sense. That sort of person deserves no respect at all, right? (More: "All Those 'Poor, Uneducated, Minorities Being Drafted in America!' " (January 4, 2009))

Maybe There's a Good Explanation

I think it's (barely) possible that there's a reasonable, decent, explanation for the abysmal behavior (allegedly) exhibited by the American - ah, diplomats. Even less likely, in my opinion, it's some sort of plot by Israel to alienate America and/or embarrass the American "diplomatic" corps. Or maybe the shape-shifting space-alien lizard people are behind it.

But, I don't think any of that is likely.

It's the "indecent gesture" thing that sent me over the top with this.

We're between news cycles right now, in terms of "diplomatic immunity." They don't come often - but I expect, in a few years, or maybe a decade or so, to start reading about shenanigans in New York City, or another major city, of diplomats who realize that they
  • Don't have to have their chauffeurs obey the traffic and parking regulations that commoners do
  • Can hit people if they want to:
    • Reporters
    • Waiters
    • Ugly, common, unimportant people
You get the picture.

Not all diplomats are like that, of course. Most, I trust, understand what "diplomatic immunity" is for: and don't use it as a sort of "get out of jail free" card.

But diplomats are human beings. And, some human beings are jerks.

And a jerk with diplomatic immunity - or any sense of entitlement - gets to be a big jerk mighty fast.

Applying Occam's Razor, I think the simplest explanation for what happened at that crossing is that there were some grade-A, 24-carat jerks in those diplomatic vehicles.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.