October 3, 2013

The regular guy (zillionaire division) ambassador

One more thought on Prince Bandar bin Sultan, now back in business as the Saudi spymaster trying to overthrow the Syrian government (and, according to Tehran-affiliated sites, the Tunisian one, too). Bandar had a spectacular 22-year run as Saudi ambassador to Washington that was remarkable not just for its length and brazenness, but for his adoption of a persona at odds with the traditional diplomatic style. 

Generally, ambassadors to Washington have been, ideally, either aristocrats (e.g., Lord Bryce or Lord Halifax) or suave imitations of aristocrats (e.g., Abba Eban). As I pointed out last year, Barack Obama was raised and educated to be some kind of diplomat, likely specializing in the non-Arab Islamic world.

The single most successful ambassador in American history, Benjamin Franklin (who talked the king of France's government into putting themselves on the path to the guillotine to make America independent), played up the opposite persona in Rousseau's Noble Savage-crazed Paris, dressing as some sort of sage from a backwoods region where haircuts hadn't yet been invented.

Part of Prince Bandar's effectiveness in Washington, however, is that he didn't act like an aristocrat, he acted like an NFL team owner. For example, it was international news in 2009 when Bandar didn't fly in on his America's Team-painted Airbus for the first game at the Dallas Cowboys' new super stadium. 

From McClatchy:
One of the big-money suite holders is a prince who finds himself mired in controversy over his private jet, which is painted in the colors of his beloved Cowboys. 
Team owner Jerry Jones will preside over Sunday's game from his suite on the 50-yard line. A suite nearby has been bought by one of the Cowboys’ most ardent fans, Jones'’ close friend, Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world. 
Bandar, a national security advisor to the Saudi king, son of the crown prince, and the Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005, has a fanatical love of the Cowboys that dates to his days as a fighter pilot instructor in Texas in the 1970s. 
The Saudi Embassy tells the Star-Telegram that Bandar, who is observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, now lives in Saudi Arabia and will not be at the game against the New York Giants. 
During his time as ambassador, Bandar attended games in Jones' box at Texas Stadium and in Washington, visited the Cowboys' Valley Ranch training facility, gave Jones a silver-and-platinum life-size Cowboys helmet after Super Bowl XXVII, accompanied Jones during at least one critical game down to the sidelines with a large entourage, and hung out post-game in the locker room so many times that many Cowboys players know him simply as "the prince." 
Bandar flies around the world in a jet painted in the Cowboys' silver-and-blue colors.


ricpic said...

Never underestimate the shallowness that makes it possible for a truly horrible taqqiyah practicing Saudi prince to be embraced as a regular guy on the basis of his professed football fandom.

d..... said...

Be honest Steve - do you know who Britain's ambassador to the US is? (without googling)

I didn't, but I guessed correctly that he went to a public school and then Oxford, as has half of David Cameron's cabinet - and Cameron himself.

Maxwell Power said...

I remember him for genially declaring "This is bull" on Hardball once in 2002, can't remember what he was responding to though. The producers subsequently replayed the clip (bleeped) at least 10 more times

Steve Sailer said...

Here are the 9 UK ambassadors to America since Jimmy Callaghan's Labour government:

1977–1979: Peter Jay[33]
1979–1982: Sir Nicholas Henderson[34]
1982–1986: Sir Oliver Wright
1986–1991: Sir Antony Acland[35]
1991–1995: Sir Robin Renwick
1995–1997: Sir John Kerr
1997–2003: Sir Christopher Meyer
2003–2007: Sir David Manning
2007–2012: Sir Nigel Sheinwald[36]
2012– : Sir Peter Westmacott

Anonymous said...

Obander. Sheeeeet, Saudi did the Obama thing before the US.

Ichabod Crane said...

Bandar is the most charismatic person I have ever heard -- no exaggeration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33iMXVEueMI

I wish he were in movies.

Anonymous said...

The real half-blood prince.

Anonymous said...

"I didn't, but I guessed correctly that he went to a public school and then Oxford, as has half of David Cameron's cabinet - and Cameron himself. "

House of commons indeed.

Luke Lea said...

a fighter pilot instructor in Texas in the 1970s?

Must of been when he got the dirt on W.

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering that. Both usn and usaf have fighter pilot school in Texas but I don't see why a saudi would go through the Navy program

Anonymous said...

The fact that he is a Cowboys fan makes me think better of him.

d..... said...

On my deathbed, I may ask for these 5 minutes back. Educational background of British ambassadors:

Jay: The Dragon School, Oxford
Henderson: Stowe School, Oxford
Wright: Solihull School, Cambridge
Acland: Eton, Oxford
Renwick: St. Paul's School, Cambridge
Kerr: Glasgow Academy, Oxford
Meyer: Lancing, Cambridge
Manning: Ardingly College, Oxford
Sheinwald: Harrow County School (not the "public" school), Oxford
Westmacott: Taunton School, Oxford

(Only surprise to me is lack of old Etonians/Harrovians.)

Obvious pattern here. Cambridge is discriminated against.

Seriously, it would be fun to see Mr. Westmacott attend a Giants game.