One may fairly conclude that Barack Obama’s over-hyped alleged efforts to “reach out” to the Arab and Muslim worlds ended yesterday when he responded, with a breathtaking lack of grace, to Qatar’s defeat of the United States (as well as Australia, Japan and South Korea) in the competition to stage the 2022 World Cup by branding the decision by the FIFA executive committee a “bad decision”.
It is not as though the vote was close. In the first round of voting, Qatar received 11 of the 22 votes (one short of the required absolute majority) … and the United States received three votes (one presumably cast by the American member).
There was also shock in England that Russia not only defeated England (as well as Belgium/Netherlands and Portugal/Spain) in the competition to stage the 2018 World Cup but that England, where it was widely assumed that England would win, was eliminated in the first round of voting, garnering only two of the 22 votes (one presumably cast by the English member).
While one should not try to draw conclusive geopolitical conclusions from the preferences of the 22 voting members of the FIFA executive committee, it is reasonable to assume that these results are a source of widespread satisfaction and pleasure throughout the world. After all, why SHOULD anyone wish to do any favors for the US or the UK, which, in recent years, have, to put it mildly, been doing no favors for the rest of mankind? (It may be recalled in this context that Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting for staging the 2016 Olympics, won by Rio de Janeiro.)
Secret ballots are wonderfully democratic and should be encouraged in other equally (or even more) important contexts. If voting in the UN Security Council were by secret ballot, the United Nations might again be able play a constructive role in the world. If voting in the US Congress were by secret ballot, the United States might be able to liberate itself from Israeli domination, which is, of course, the principal source of the behavior which has earned the United States so many enemies.
John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.