A:     Here is something that is sure to irk you: Michelle Obama was criticised by some circles for not wearing a headscarf when she and Barack Obama went to Saudi Arabia to pay condolence on the death of King Abdullah.

S:     It irks me more that she went at all or more specifically that Obama made it a point to cut short his Indian visit to fly off to Saudi Arabia. The leader of the world’s most vocal proponent of democracy and liberalism, scurrying off to pay respect to the monarch of the world’s most strict and ultra conservative country. It's hypocrisy if you ask me.

A:     I think that the word you are looking for is diplomacy. Ideological differences don’t mean we break all diplomatic ties with others. Even states at war don’t break all ties. Look at Pakistan and India. Furthermore, ideological differences also don’t mean that we go hungry, if trade stopped because of that, states would be crippled. Anyway, it was the death of the leader, paying respect is common courtesy, not a blanket condoning of all his polices.

S:     But it should stop Ameen, trade should stop. How can one state present itself as the figurative antithesis of another, seek votes on that notion, and yet see nothing wrong when money becomes involved? It means all that grandstanding was a carefully orchestrated charade to fool the people. And please, this is not a funeral of just any other person where paying respect is common courtesy, at the stage of world leaders; such courtesies become a political statement.

A:     Tell me then, what would have Obama’s not going achieved? Nothing! Saudi Arabia would have been just as conservative, just as undemocratic, just as oppressive. His ‘political statement’ by not going would be just that, a political statement, made so that we can assuage our conscience while we do nothing to change the facts on the ground.

S:     it does change facts on the ground, at a glacial pace, but it does. It shows Saudi Arabia that actions such as flogging Raif Badawi have not gone unnoticed. It shows them, that to win favour, they must change.