The US as Charlie Brown
Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
I have a soft spot for old comic strips/cartoons. One of my favorites is Peanuts and its star Charlie Brown.
Throughout the comic there is a running gag in which Lucy, the bossy, domineering "friend," tells our hapless hero that she will hold the football so he can kick it. Of course, at the last instant she, as she always does, yanks the football away and Charlie Brown winds up on his back looking foolish.
I was reminded of Lucy and Charlie Brown yesterday, when I read this statement from the State Department, saying it was optimistic that a deal for a political transition in Yemen was just around the corner.
Now, of course, the US has been down this road with Lucy, uhh, President Salih, several times before, including the three times he promised, absolutely promised that he would sign the GCC initiative.
Read this, from Charlie Brown's Wikipedia page, and see if anything strikes you as familiar in the US-Salih relationship:
"Initially, Charlie Brown claimed that he would not trust her because she has tricked him this way many times, but Lucy then gave some reasons why Charlie Brown should give her credence. For example, to give him a signed document stating that she would not pull the ball away from him (later to reveal that the document had never been notarized). His doubt undermined, Charlie Brown then sprints toward Lucy to execute the place kick. At the last possible second, Lucy snatched the ball out of Charlie Brown's path, causing him to be flung up into the air and land hard on his back."
I hope the US is right, and that this time, Salih won't snatch the football back just as it is running full speed toward a deal. But I worry that, once again, the US is about to go snookered.
When that happens the words the State Department will be looking for are: Aww, shucks.*
*(The last is a paraphrase of an Aaron Sorkin line on the West Wing.)
The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?
- History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
- Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club
- Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
- It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
- This ability may come from a common ancestor
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