Well, life was so much easier then! The 'Rooskies' were bad, the Yanks (and little us) were good and everyone else had to choose sides. But that was then, and today is, well, to quote a favourite expression of this blog, "a bugger's muddle" and no-one is quite sure of anyone or anything. For example, take the Middle East in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular. Now, if ever a society seemed set in orthodox, religious and conservative concrete it was Saudi but, as we are just learning, that was then and now is, well, I'm not sure what it is! However, I am deeply grateful to Mr. John R. Bradley, a tremendous Saudi Arabian swot - poor chap! - who has written a fascinating article in this week's Spectator.
Apparently the iconoclast responsible for shifting the Arabian earth on its axis is Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the 32-year old crown prince. Amongst his, er, accomplishments is allowing women to drive and permitting men and women to mix socially after sacking the entire religious police who were responsible for enforcing those restrictions. In addition, and more dangerously, he swooped on the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh which, hitherto, had been the luxurious base for all the mega-zillionaires of Saudi Arabia in which they conducted their nefarious transactions. Apparently, MbS, had his security forces surround the place, turf out any foreign visitors but lock and seal all the entrance/exits so that now the Ritz-Carlton is the most luxurious prison in the world!
Perhaps most critical of all his actions has been his decision to ally himself, discreetly but effectively with Israel to form an anti-Iranian pact. Apparently he has been helped and/or encouraged in this by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law. Say what you like about 'The Donald' but he seems to have a clearer idea of Middle East possibilities than 'Obamarama'!