Smoking banana peels

Yesterday it was announced that Prince Turki Al-Faisal will become the new Saudi Arabia ambassador to the United States. He is replacing veteran diplomat Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

In news reports it's frequently been noted that Prince Turki, who for a quarter century served as the Saudi chief of intelligence, is pro-western and comfortable with U.S. society.

But to understand the depths of Prince Turki's familiarity with American culture it's useful to read a passage from Steve Coll's phenomenal book Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001:

Prepped in the American East Coast manner, Turki matriculated at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1964, a member of the same class as an ambitious, talkative boy from Hope, Arkansas, named Bill Clinton. In a rare breakdown of Clinton's networking radar, he failed to seek out and befriend a rich crown prince's son destined for power. (The pair met for the first time at the White House soon after Clinton became president.) Years later Turki told a reunion at Georgetown, referring to Clinton's infamous claim that he had tried marijuana but never inhaled, "It wasn't just the class that didn't inhale. It was the class that tried to smoke banana peels. Do you remember that? I promise you, can anybody imagine smoking a banana peel? But those were the days."

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