Radar has a fun, concise interview with P.J. O’Rourke about his new book. Here’s a bit:
Before the first Gulf War, before America got mired in the Middle East, you famously snuck into the Dome of the Rock Mosque in Jerusalem dressed as P.J. of Arabia. That’s probably not anything that any American journalist who valued his life would do today.
No, things were different back then. The first Intifada was kind of the fun Intifada, it was mostly rock throwing.
Didn’t Lawrence of Arabia in one of his filings say Arabs would be totally ineffectual as an organized fighting force, but they are better at blowing up railway tracks than anybody he’d ever met?
I don’t know that for sure, but it sounds right. The world is full of reasonable analyses of the situation in the Middle East, and none of these ever seem to tell us what the heck to do. I have a private theory that’s probably pretty unfashionable if not actually politically incorrect. I honestly swear some societies have different levels of maturity than other societies do. I mean, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Middle East. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Muslim societies and I find them to be adolescent. Lots of fun, lots of energy, full of passion, very poetic, very romantic, very short attention span, very quick to anger and take things far more seriously than they ought to. All the charms of adolescence and all the awfulness of adolescence also. The problem is, what do you do? And I haven’t got the slightest damn idea.