30 June 2015

Anthony Bourdain in Beirut: Parts still unknown

Middle East Eye

While employed as US Secretary of Defence under George W Bush, Donald Rumsfeld gave the oratorically challenged president a run for his money with the following statement:
“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
It’s perhaps fitting, then, that Rumsfeld recently finagled a mention from Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and host of the CNN show “Parts Unknown.” In a dispatch on the CNN website regarding his latest, overly enthusiastic episode about Beirut, Bourdain writes about the Lebanese capital:
“It's a place I've described as the Rumsfeldian dream of what, best-case scenario, the neocon masterminds who thought up Iraq, imagined for the post-Saddam Middle East: a place Americans could wander safely, order KFC, shop at the Gap. Where dollars are accepted everywhere and nearly everybody speaks English.”
In the next paragraph, Bourdain acknowledges that what he has just said is “an egregious oversimplification” - an assessment we can pretty safely file under the category of known knowns.
But there’s still a surplus of unknowns, such as why in god’s name anyone would cast Rumsfeldian dreams in a favourable light or cite the prospect of dollar-based KFC transactions as part of the reason “EVERYONE should visit” Beirut. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.