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New Left Review I/186, March-April 1991

Christopher Hitchens

Realpolitik in the Gulf

On the morning before Yom Kippur late this past September, I found myself standing at the western end of the White House, watching as the colour guard paraded the flag of the United States (and the republic for which it stands) along with that of the Emirate of Kuwait. [*] This article was first published in Harper’s, vol. 282, no. 1688, January 1991. The young men of George Bush’s palace guard made a brave showing, but their immaculate uniforms and webbing could do little but summon the discomforting contrasting image—marching across our tv screens nightly—of their hot, thirsty, encumbered brothers and sisters in the Saudi Arabian desert. I looked away and had my attention fixed by a cortege of limousines turning in at the gate. There was a quick flash of dark beard and white teeth, between burnoose and kaffiyeh, as Sheikh jabir al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the exiled Kuwaiti emir, scuttled past a clutch of photographers and through the portals. End of photo op, but not of story.

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