Wednesday, August 7, 2013

King Abdullah II of Jordan

A recent profile of King Abdullah II of Jordan reminds me of the great French writer the Marquis de Custine's famous judgment on Czar Nicholas I in his seminal Russia in 1839:
If the Emperor has no more of mercy in his heart than he reveals in his policies, then I pity Russia; if, on the other hand, his true sentiments are really superior to his acts, then I pity the Emperor.
Custine was willing to consider the possibility that the czar may have been an earnest and decent soul but trapped by the circumstances of his country.  Abdullah II may not be a ruthless dictator like the czar.  If it is indeed the case that his sentiments are superior to his accomplishments, then perhaps he deserves our pity as well.

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