I’ve been pretty jealous of two of my kids lately. My daughter is traveling in South America for three -and-a-half months and is currently enjoying herself at a small, charming fishing village on the coast of Columbia. One of my sons has been exploring various parts of the globe while on a five month sojourn from his job and is currently enjoying the sites, sounds, and tastes of Ho Chi Minh City.
Both kids are paying their own way so I have no complaints, but I do have a good dose of envy. Traveling at their age comes with a sense of adventure that is just not quite the same when you are in your early sixties.
I’ve always thought that my wife and I gave the two travelers and their older brother a pretty good shot at a pretty good life, and they are living it. However, I just recently learned about what one father in the region gave to his son.
I’m talking, of course, about the Emir of Qatar. Just when I was thinking what a generous, giving dad I’ve been, that Emir guy ups and gives his 33 year old son a whole country! You read that right. The 61 year-old Emir apparently just got up one morning and said something like: “I’m done. I don’t need this country anymore. Here, Emir, Jr., you take it. It’s your country now. Have fun!
Talk about a slam-dunk for Father of the Year. Talk about making me feel like a minor leaguer.
Yes, I thought I had given my kids a heck of a start: good education, good values, great vacations, solid support, new clothes, lots of used Subaru’s, skis (used again, sorry), you name it. But giving your kid a country? It just never occurred to me. If it had, .. .um, maybe, but I doubt it. I mean, where the heck do you buy a country to give your kid?
And this isn’t just any old country that dear old dad gave to his beloved son. It’s one with more fossil fuels than Shell and Chevron combined. And it comes with its very own, very big U.S. military base, just in case somebody tries to pick on it.
And its one where you don’t have to worry about anybody causing you any problems. It is an absolute dictatorship. No pesky little pests like legislatures or political parties. Just not allowed. In fact, even a hint of them is crushed.
As I wrote back in January, it has only 250,000 “citizens” and a whole lot more foreign workers who are basically indentured slaves. No rights, no unions, no way. The owners of the country also own Al Jazeera, and their purchase of Al Gore’s failing TV and radio network helped him earn my nomination for Hypocrite of the Century.
Emir, Sr. didn’t have to worry about where to get a country for his son. Why? He stole it from his dad, Grandpa Emir, in a coup in 1995. Apparently he just woke up one day and decided that it was time for his dear old dad to get booted out of the family’s country. So when he decided to give a country to his son, he just gave the kid his own. What a guy.
And where did Grandpa Emir get the country from? You guessed it. His dad. In fact, Qatar has been owned by the same family since the mid-19th century and just keeps getting handed down this way unless, of course, someone gets impatient and kicks his dad out.
Why did Emir, Sr. give Emir, Jr. his country that originally was Grandpa Emir’s. Was it love? What’s love got to do with it? It probably was the fear that Emir, Jr. might emulate his pop and do to Emir, Sr. what Emir, Sr. did to Grandpa Emir. My bet is on that. Maybe he felt that love wouldn’t bring them together, but giving the kid the country would.
There have been a myriad of reports about how unique this voluntary, smooth “transition” is in the Middle East. I have not seen one report or analysis that questions why or how, in the second decade of the 21st country, one family has such absolute control of another country that it can be handed down from father to son as if it is personal property and not a government that controls the fate of its citizens. It was just accepted as something that happens naturally.
The fact that no one used the occasion to ask why the citizens and non-citizen workers of Qatar have absolutely no voice in the decision regarding who governs them and how should provide a little food for thought for those Western commentators attempting to analyze the Middle East from the comfort of their democratic perspectives.