Jeffrey and Abdullah II in Wonderland

...Jordan has no natural resources and its economy relies on foreign aid from the west and the Gulf states - and taxes. Still, the unelected ruler of this poor state and his family manage to live like royalty. Abdullah is praised in the west for being “modern” (mostly due to the fact that he was educated in the west). His neighbor to the north, Bashar al-Assad, also lived and studied in the west until he too was called to the throne. Both of these western-educated men now head undemocratic totalitarian regimes that greatly limit the freedoms of their peoples.

Goldberg goes on to tell of his day hovering up above it all with the hero king. Together, they land in Karak to have lunch with the leaders of one of Jordan's larger Bedouin tribes. For those who are not familiar, he explains that the Jordanian monarch’s power base comes from the elite Bedouin community, which makes up a minority of the kingdom. Although up to 60% or 70% of the population are only 2nd and 3rd generation Jordanians of Palestinian descent, they are stripped of rights and pay higher taxes to support the monarchy (for more on that, Google Jordanian writer Mudar Zahran).

So the king and his reporter companion enjoy customary Bedouin hospitality, after which they sit with the Bedouin leaders to discuss the progress of the country. Goldberg tells how Abdullah looked “wide-eyed” at him when one of the Bedouin leaders suggested implementing a new type of government paid job:

“Leader after leader—many of whom were extremely old, many of whom merely had the appearance of being old—made small-bore requests and complaints. One of the men proposed an idea for the king’s consideration: ‘In the old days, we had night watchmen in the towns. They would be given sticks. The government should bring this back. It would be for security, and it would create more jobs for the young men.’...

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