When his Royal Highness needs to get some work done, he can take the elevator up to his boardroom and play with the touch screen TV’s or the holographic projection system.
And finally in the lineup of ludicrous additions – get this – the well being room has a floor made from a giant screen, showing what the plane is flying over.
Total price? About $488 Million Dollars.
I suppose each Royal has his preferred plaything: a pimped out airplane, a French politician, a Mediterranean country of four million — you know, basically whatever tickles one’s fancy.
Anyway, I thought about doing a post about how impressed I was with Saad Hariri’s performance. I felt that I really underestimated his leadership of the Sunni community and Future’s ability to effect discipline on the herds of cats that roam Lebanon’s plains.
Such an analysis will have to wait, though, until we can tally the cost of Lebanon’s election for Hariri and the Saudis (over $700 million in this account). Of course, we will have to add whatever the Americans threw into the effort and then subtract whatever the increase from the Iranians. And still we need to know more about Aoun’s pockets (do they still accept French Francs in Lebanon???). Actually, call me crazy, but I would not be surprised if a lot of Arab money (including some Saudi) ended up in Opposition hands.
If after making these adjustments, it turns out that this election was several times more expensive for the Saudis than the previous one, then M14 is more shaky than ever.
I don’t intend this post as a diss of Hariri (I find the idea of Saudi remote control as dumb as Syrian remote control or Iranian remote control — think transactionally, people!). And, frankly it requires great political skill to bilk one’s patron — foreign or not, in Lebanon or not. One must not only open the purse, but also earn the trust to spend the coin (politics everywhere is about money, but it also about access and trust — these last two are what one might call the human dimension). Rafik had that trust, but it took him a lifetime of strenuous and scrupulous effort to build it up.
It is still unclear if Saad has fully gained this inheritance, but he has certainly passed the first hurdle and given that many did not think he would even do that is a credit to his political skills and will undoubtedly earn him greater entree and greater trust in the Saudi realm. In the coming months, we will see if he has made wise purchases on the Lebanese scene (the federalists can, in some ways, be an especially unruly bunch).
And if any of my Lebanese friends are feeling a bit low about any of this, take pride in knowing that your electoral whims are becoming more expensive by the day! That’s gotta be ‘worth’ something, right?
Actually, maybe that’s what independence really is: the moment your vote becomes too expensive for export.
In our globalized economy, however, I wonder if post-colonial ‘states’ can ever erect enough protectionist boundaries to effect such a ‘national’ result. Still, history is a strange midwife so I won’t rule anything out just yet (see, I just might be a M14er after all!!!)
Obviously, the formation of the government will reveal some of this wheeling-and-dealing, but maybe we should also post someone in the south of France next week to see which Lebanese seem especially happy with Sunday’s result.
It may not be whom you would expect.