October 3, 2013

Bandar is back (in manic phase of his bipolar cycle)

The Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983-2005 was Prince Bandar. Because he is the son of a part black slave girl, he's ineligible for the Saudi throne, but he has been an invaluable servant of the royal family at tirelessly spending its (not) hard-earned money to buy the maximum influence in the global imperial capital. For example, when George W. Bush thought about running for the White House, George H.W. Bush asked Bandar to educate his provincial son on America's foreign policy.

Who knows what fraction of Official Washington he's gladhanded or outright bribed? Do you, for example, really want to be at the sold-out Redskins-Cowboy game? It just so happens that Bandar is a close, close friend of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Bandar's memoirs would make interesting reading, although he no doubt he has his notes about everybody he's dealt with in his long career locked tightly away (but perhaps not so tightly locked up that he hasn't rigged some kind of deadman switch that would publish them in case of something unfortunate happening to him ... just speculating ...)

Every so often, however, Bandar tends to disappear, either due to alcoholism or depression or who knows what. He is said to have had his first depressive disappearance in the mid-1990s. He seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth from 2008 to 2010, but how now he appears to be back with a vengeance, running Saudi Arabia's adventure in Syria.

Much of history is made by men whose manic phases happen to coincide with eras of opportunity.

One question I've never seen investigated is whether bipolar disease might be semi-adaptive in a few lucky individuals. Do cycles just hit at random, or in some people do they coincide with auspicious and unauspicious periods? Perhaps we'll never know because if you fall in the latter category, they don't call you crazy, they call you "Mr. Speaker" (or whatever maximal title you attained during an up period).

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.timescolonist.com/business/ceos-look-to-obama-tea-party-republicans-are-not-heeding-gop-s-old-big-business-allies-1.645777

Mr. Anon said...

Cue Thin Lizzy.............Bandar's back in town.................

Dave Pinsen said...

Interesting speculation, but I think it's too soon to tell whether the Syrian adventure will prove auspicious for Saudi Arabia. Could be the next Bin Laden is cutting his teeth there and will go on to wreak havoc on Saudi Arabia, either directly, or by scuttling its relationship with the US (as Bin Laden apparently attempted to do but failed. Could be second time's a charm.).

-OSS said...

One question I've never seen investigated is whether bipolar disease might be semi-adaptive in a few lucky individuals. Do cycles just hit at random, or in some people do they coincide with auspicious and unauspicious periods?

Seasonal manic/depressive cycles are thought to be so we don't expend energy in the winter and are productive during the summer.

Maybe non seasonal factors such as food and hostility of the physical environment play a role for certain people who subconsciously adapt? Bipolar seems to be a negative in modern American life though.

Nicholas Wade talked about how sadness/depression might help us in making decisions. Other research said that depression prevents people from taking action, which is often the smartest course of action in a hostile environment.

Farang said...

Winston Churchill was a depressive type. He needed the exaltation of war to feel well. From the blockade of Germany during WWI which starved the German population to the use of poison gas on Iraqi Kurds in the 1920s to the mass bombing of German cities during WWII, he did a lot of harm. His refusal to negotiate with the Third Reich at the beginning of WWII led to the Holocaust.

Sending back Churchill's bronze bust to the British was one of the few things BHO did right.

SFG said...

Evolution doesn't reward money, power, or intelligence, just passing on your genes. If bipolar people mess around a lot in an up-phase and are able to stick other people with the kids, those genes will be passed on, regardless of how much misery they cause their carriers.

Anonymous said...

Bandar likes his Dom Perignon. My ex-wife and I watched him sip 2 bottles dry in the bar at Elbow Beach Resort in Bermuda back in 1987. The hilarious Canadian piano player in the lounge told us that when he got a certain sign from the bar manager, it meant Bandar was in the house and he had a certain list of songs that were verboten.

Anonymous said...

22 years in the same senior diplomatic position is almost unheard of. Five or six years is considered a long term for an ambassador.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln, maybe? Nah, probably not. He was depressed all the time, or at least pretended to be. But then where did all that energy and drive come from?

neil craig said...

I presume this is the Bandar Ibn Sultan who was wrongly said to have been killed by a Syrian hit squad in response to a high tech bomb that killed a number of very prominent Syrians.

Googling him is extremely interesting experience. He currently seems to be getting ready to knock over the government of Tunisia.

sunbeam said...

Someone was way ahead of you.

Clans of the Alphane Moon, Philip K. Dick.

"On Alpha III M2, psychiatric diagnostic groups have differentiated themselves into caste-like pseudo-ethnicities. The inhabitants have formed seven clans:

The Pares are people suffering from paranoia. They function as the statesman class. The Pare representative to the supreme council is Gabriel Baines, and their settlement is called Adolfville (named after Adolf Hitler). It is located within the northern sector of Alpha III M2, and is heavily fortified. This is where the supreme council building is, a stone, six-story-high building, the largest one in Adolfville.

The Manses are suffering from mania. They are the most active class, the warrior class. The Mans representative is Howard Straw. The Mans settlement is Da Vinci Heights. It is characterized as diverse but disordered, without aesthetic unity, "a hodgepodge of incomplete projects, started out but never finished." Also, this is where Alpha III M2's television transmitter is. There is supposed to be tension between them and the Pares, with the Manses constantly trying to stage a coup d'état.

The Skitzes are the ones suffering from schizophrenia. They correspond to the poet class, with some of them being religious visionaries. The Skitz delegate to the bi-annual get-together at Adolfville is Omar Diamond. The Skitz town is named Joan d’Arc, "poor materially, but rich in eternal values."

The Heebs consist of people suffering from hebephrenia (disorganized schizophrenia). Their settlement is Gandhitown. To the other clans, they are useful only for manual labour. Their representative is Jacob Simion. Gandhitown looks like "an inhabited garbage dump of cardboard dwellings." Like the Skitzes, some of the Heebs are religious visionaries as well; but they are inclined to produce ascetic saints, whereas the schizophrenics produce dogmatists. An example is "the famous Heeb saint, Ignatz Ledebur, who radiated spirituality as he wandered from town to town, spreading the warmth of his harmless Heeb personality." Another notable Heeb character is Sarah Apostoles; she together with Omar Diamond and Ignatz Ledebur form "the so-called Holy Triumvirate."

The Polys suffer from polymorphic schizophrenia. Annette Golding is the Poly delegate to the supreme council and their settlement is called Hamlet Hamlet. They are the creative members of society, producing new ideas. The children from every clan on Alpha III M2 were born Polys, went to their common, central school as Polys, did not become differentiated until perhaps their tenth or eleventh year. Some never became differentiated, though, hinting that, perhaps, some of them do not actually have mental disorders at all.

The Ob-Coms are the ones with obsessive-compulsive disorder, their delegate is Ingred Hibbler. The name of their location is not given. They are the clerks and office holders of the society, the ritualistic functionaries, with no original ideas. Their conservatism balances the radical quality of the Polys and gives the society stability.

The Deps are suffering from clinical depression. Their representative to the supreme council is Dino Watters and the name of their town is Cotton Mather Estates, where they live "in endless dark gloom.”

Belisarius said...

My Prince Bandar story: In the early 90s I had a close acquaintance with a very wealthy elderly Jewish couple. They had a house in Aspen, and the wife- who loved to tell embarrassing stories about her big shot husband- told me about a party they attended at Prince Bandar's house. When they arrived they were greeted by Bandar; her husband, mistaking him for a servant, handed Bandar his coat. The prince apparently was not offended at all and found it as funny as the wife. If this had happened with Oprah she would have made it into headline news. Rupert Murdoch was also at the party with his (pre-Chinese) wife.
Stories like these were real eye-openers to me; they brought the realization that there was this hidden world where Great Men sat around making decisions that could profoundly affect the lives of little ants like me with as little reflection as the decision to have a vodka or gin martini.

Anonymous said...

Bipolar disorder did not work out well for Jessie Jackson Jr.

Anonymous said...

Bipolar disorder was of no advantage for Jessie Jackson Jr.

agnostic said...

Bipolar sounds like it'd do OK in pastoralists. It'd only pay off in an environment where taking the occasional gung-ho risk might amount to something. Raiding or rustling livestock, for example.

No point in a settled agrarian society, though. Risk-taking doesn't pay off -- only consistent, nose-to-the-grindstone toil. Those people tend to be more uniformly doom-and-gloomy than bipolar (Nords, Slavs, Japs).

The quick estimates of prevalence that I looked up put Japan and Asian-Americans at the bottom, along with "India" -- probably representing the agrarian majority of the country, not the cowboy northwest.

Not too much fine-grained data out there, at least not that I could quickly find. But you could control for lots of confounds by comparing, say, the Irish to the Anglo-Saxons. Or the Punjabis to the Malayalis. Seems clear enough to me, though.

As far as I know, no one's ever remarked that hunter-gatherers seem bipolar. And they don't take huge infrequent risks. Their big "risks" are more matter of luck than of boldness and enthusiasm, like hunting a very large animal. That comes down more to patience than to a damn-the-torpedoes charge.

Tropical horticulturalists raid for wives, but not for amassing wealth. They seem to be somewhere in between pastoralists and farmers for bipolar. Amerindians, Polynesians, black Africans... their outbursts aren't a manic productive phase, but more like running amok after a period of brooding.

Raiding for wealth seems to require a more enthusiastic, glory-bound rush or high. Go for the gold. Raiding for wives -- you can't acquire and sire children by too many in a horticulturalist society (not like mass harems of settled elites), so you don't need to capture more than a handful at a time. So, just flare up in anger every now and then, kick the neighbor guy's ass and steal his girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

Where's the evidence that he's actually bipolar? The fact that he's only in the news once in a while doesn't mean he's bipolar.

Anonymous said...

OSS Said:

"Other research said that depression prevents people from taking action, which is often the smartest course of action in a hostile environment."

Goring: Mein Furer! The Russians are amassing millions of troops on our border!"

Hitler: Meh.

Anonymous said...

One person to look at in this regard might be Lin Biao, who was a successful general in the Chinese civil war. He spent most of the next dozen or so years in relative quiescence before roaring back to prominence in the 60s, giving China the Little Red Book and then helping lead the Cultural Revolution. He became Mao's heir, but of course they fell out and he was killed, supposedly while trying to escape to the USSR. He seems to have been severely depressed during the final crisis with Mao.

I've never heard of anyone having dozen-year cycles, though. Maybe he had up and down periods during the 60s.

keypusher said...

By the way, word verification is deeply irritating. I almost never get the first set right.

Farbar Beeston said...

I am somewhat bipolar; nothing too extreme, but I have notices that positive external circumstances can trigger a manic phase. The manic phase is EXTREMELY pleasant until it's not, but in the meantime MUCH can be accomplished and MANY people can be alienated.

Eric said...

Wow, you're making a lot of tenuous leaps here. It may just be that Bandar didn't do anything interesting enough to make the papers for a few years.

Anonymous said...

The role of bi-polar disorder (manic phase, specifically) of determining outcome of major events in human history is a subject that someone must study eventually.

And I'd say bi-polar disorder is semi-adaptive in many (even most) people who have it. Dare I say it perhaps even in our host blogger.

Melendwyr said...

Ah, the Miles Vorkosigan Hypothesis.

There isn't a clear standard to distinguish between 'normal' people and manic-depressives, except that people who are diagnosed tend to be driven dysfunctional: the cycles persist instead of slowly dampening down and severe, taking people to great extremes.

Mood cycling is normal; the psychiatric condition is invoked when it becomes pathological, or perceived as such.

Whiskey said...

Risk taking among Europeans ... constrained resources, any external enemies, etc. Is like highly adaptive when downside is low, automatic looms for example or the Newcomen engine and payoff in scarce, expensive labor is high. Exploiting asymmetry of risk, more upside, limits on downside.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Vince Foster's body was found literally a stone's throw away from Bandar's estate on the Potomac.

Manic on Demand said...

With all the weight of an anonymous Internet commenter, without citation, link or even vague reference to authority, I would emphatically say, "Yes, manic phases can be induced by external circumstances." It is known that if you confine the movements of mice and isolate them, you can not only simulate the symptoms of depression, but actually cause them to be depressed. It is also known that sleep deprivation can trigger manic episodes. Uppers and halucinogens can also trigger episodeS. If a predisposed person is put into a situation where vast opportunity is possible and begins to work towards it, it is not unlikely that the adrenaline, dopamine and seratonin will start flowing in a way that triggers mania. The potential toward mania is no doubt beneficial in some settings at least to a limited degree. The cognitive problems often associates with mania are obviously one serious downside to the otherwise useful capacity to enter into a high-energy, high confidence, high sociable, high creative phase when needed. The other downside is entering into the manic phase at inopportune times.

work feverishly toward some goal, it is not unlikely that the

David Davenport said...

The potential toward mania is no doubt beneficial in some settings at least to a limited degree. The cognitive problems often associates with mania are obviously one serious downside to the otherwise useful capacity to enter into a high-energy, high confidence, high sociable, high creative phase when needed. The other downside is entering into the manic phase at inopportune times.

work feverishly toward some goal, it is not unlikely that the (sic) ...


Manic on Deemand, were you experiencing mania as you wrote that?

Anonymous said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/10/how-americas-marriage-crisis-makes-income-inequality-so-much-worse/280056/

Anthony said...

Is Bandar part of Arabia's New Mulatto Elite? (Have you seen that picture in wikipedia of him as a young man?) Is he mentoring a New Mulatto Elite? Or progeniting one, as one can do that in Arabia?