Does this picture look like your usual conception of the Middle East? It was taken at a fashion show in Beirut a couple of years ago. The show was for the collections of Lebanese designers. Those are Lebanese women.
People in the US and in many other places shy away from the idea of cultural generalizations but I do not, with caveats, sometimes.
I have worked on the general subject of the Middle East and the Arab countries for 40 years. After I left government I worked for a Lebanese owned construction materials company for 10 years. The company's executives were almost entirely Lebanese citizens of all confessions. I spent a lot of time in Beirut and Lebanon in general. I know the country and I know them.
Lebanese society circles in the larger cities, especially Beirut, are centers of intense social and political intrigue at all levels. Both Christian and Muslim communities are devoted and obsessed with conspiracy as a way of life. "Plotting" is to the Lebanese as Sunday TV football is to most "gringo" Americans. There are circles within circles within circles. For the city Lebanese power and influence are to be acquired through association with the politically, militarily and financially powerful. To that end they scheme endlessly and the seductiveness of their culture and frankly, their women, are powerful tools. Whether or not that seduction is carried to fulfilment is a sometimes thing
This culture driven behavior has been exported to the world with the Lebanese diaspora. In the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, there is a large, prosperous, well educated and politically active Lebanese "colony" distributed along the Gulf littoral. It is no surprise to me that there is an attractive, socially prominant and pretentious Lebanese American woman at the heart of this melodrama. Her silly claim to be a diplomat because she is the honorary consul of South Korea is typical of the kind of behavior one sees in Beirut. "The big show" is all in that city.
She and her husband have been major figures in the "outreach" to the civilian community program associated with MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. MacDill is the host base for the headquarters of; US Special Operations Command and US Central Command (the command responsible for the Middle East).
Such outreach programs exist at most bases and are an understandable product of military desire to have friendly relations with surrounding civilian communities. These are communities with which the military on the base would usually have little contact because so many military personnel and their familes live on the base, shop on the base and send their children to school on the base. Civilian elites react well to such programs because they have the chance to develop contacts and friendships with senior officers that are prestigious in places like Tampa. The chance that such contacts might lead to business opportunities on the base or "the inside track" in a variety of matters adds to the attraction. For the senior officers involved, such programs build relationships that are likely to be useful if they choose to retire from the military in that area.
These two generals are a case study in juvenile irresponsibility. Their emotional vulnerability to the two women who are "showing" thus far in this drama is ridiculous, and they are ridiculous. Their absurdity calls into question the process by which they were repeatedly selected for promotion and assignment to the highest ranks and commands the country possesses. The sense of entitlement that they have displayed to the public through their foolishness is breathtaking. There may well be a lot more to be learned of the circle of intimacy that surrounded this queen bee in Tampa.
There are a couple of "loose threads" waiting to be pulled:
- Who really is Paula Krantz Broadwell? What beyond her athleticism and her USMA diploma do we know of her background and contacts? Is she connected to Israel somehow?
- How many other senior executives of the IC have relationships in their lives that are similar to the marital infidelity that brought down Petraeus? I detest hypocrisy and there is hypocrisy in this.
- Is there some element of foreign government participation in this drama? I do not know but the investigation should be thorough. pl