A man walks over the footbridge across an artificial lake in an artificial town.
On the other side, he unrolls a mat, kneels, and bows in prayer, facing the Holy City of Mecca.
This morning at 6:00am, it is already almost unbearably hot and humid.
Later in the day, the heat will intensify, reflecting off the glass and concrete towers all around. It will be about 105 degrees before noon.
Dubai is an improbable place for a modern city. And an improbable place for your editor…
Between the desert on one side and the Persian Gulf on the other, Dubai looks as though it might be swept away by one or the other at any moment.
It was a poor backwater until the 1960s. Then, it discovered oil, discarded slavery, and decided to become a kind of Las Vegas, without the entertainment.
Here, the women are covered up, the liquor is locked away, and the summer heat makes it almost impossible to go outdoors.
But here we are, Dear Reader, eyes wide open…
The purpose of our trip is business. We join our colleagues and partners from around the world — Dubai off season being a convenient and relatively inexpensive hub.
This network of publishers and writers now stretches from the US to India, China, Australia, and Japan, which is why Dubai is a practical meeting-up place. And it reaches more readers every day than The New York Times and The Washington Post put together.
It is an ‘alternative’ press…full of ideas and opinions that are sometimes too attractive to be true…and sometimes, too true to be attractive. Here at the Diary, we aim for the second category…having no illusion that we always hit the mark.
Yesterday, for example, we took up the issue of war. As renowned American journalist HL Mencken pointed out, ‘It is the dizziest, gaudiest, grandest, damnedest sort of bust that the human mind can imagine.’
It is also a rip-off.
For better or for worse, millions of years of natural selection made us what we are. Those who couldn’t defend themselves didn’t survive. Their genes were not passed on. Instead, the DNA we carry comes from fighters.
The best defence is a good offense. Among the apparently routine practices of ancient peoples was that of attacking and killing their neighbours, preferably exterminating the tribe completely…and mutilating their bodies to give out a warning to any who got away: Don’t mess with us!
We are the descendants, obviously, of those who committed the genocide, not of the victims. And we got the message, now embedded as instinct. We salute our officers. We laud our war heroes. We thank our ‘warriors’ for their service.
But in the modern world, the attractive truth is that war is no longer a paying proposition…and the unattractive truth is that our warriors are little more than gladiators.
They fight in a gaudy and dangerous sport for the amusement of the folks in the cheap seats…and the profits of those in the sky-boxes.
The US faces no enemy capable of invading it; it can easily defend itself against any plausible attack. And even the trivial threat of terrorism would probably go away if the US withdrew its troops from overseas and minded its own business.
Like every other government programme, military spending is maybe one part real defence and three parts humbug and bamboozle…extracting money from the public so that it can be passed along to shifty enterprises along the Dulles Corridor…and favoured Deep State groups across the country.
Major General Smedley Butler was right. In 1935, the two-time Medal of Honour winner let fly on his career:
‘War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
‘A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.’
The only fight worth having is a fight against other people trying to tell you what to do. Alas, even with the most expensive military the world has ever seen…that is a fight Americans are losing.
More to come…connecting the dots between war, win-win, tariffs…and the latest tweet from the President of the United States of America.