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January 4, 2013
'Arabs. You can rent one, but you can't buy one.'
In the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, there was an interesting exchange between Percy Alleline (played by Toby Jones) and Peter Guillam (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Percy had risen to the top of British intelligence (i.e., the Circus), and he suspected that Peter was in cahoots with "Tricky" Ricky Tarr (played by Tom Hardy), a British agent who Percy thinks has defected to the Soviets. Percy calls a meeting of the Circus to confront Peter, and before the fireworks begin, he makes small talk. During the bantering back-and-forth, Percy said to Peter, "Arabs. You can rent one, but you can't buy one." Some people today probably regard that statement as racist, and generalizing too far is always dangerous, but people with significant dealings in the Arab world regard it as a truism. Arabs have a long and sordid history of cutting deals when they think it's in their best interest, only to renege later when they believe they have the upper hand. It should...(Read Full Post)