The shape of things to come (with apologies to H. G. Wells)

On Friday my son’s wife took two of my grandkids and her mother on a mini-vacation – to Germany. In the four days that they’ve been there, there have been three terror attacks. I’m more than looking forward to their return.

I have a friend who visits Europe often. I try to get him to take a side trip to see me in Israel, but his wife is worried about terrorism. Hmm.

There is a bit of schadenfreude in Israel toward Europe. It gets stronger when the French take time off from picking up the body parts from the latest terrorist outrage to organize lynchings of Israel in the UN.

But we shouldn’t celebrate their misfortune too much. If Western Europe submits to the jihad or dissolves into violent conflict it will be very bad, both for them and for us.

And the United States – now there is a bomb with a short fuse. President Obama is already slipping out the back of the Middle East as Iran comes in the front door with guns blazing, but the real American retreat into irrelevance is yet to come when the rapidly growing internal conflicts start ripping the country apart. Yes, I expect that. I don’t have the words to describe what I think about the coming election and the candidates.

In both Europe and the US, the political options seem to be between those who pretend that the worldwide jihad isn’t a problem and those who think the solution is to kick out the foreigners and build higher border fences. This is only a delaying tactic: think of building a sand castle and surrounding it with multiple walls. Ultimately the tide comes in and the waves get them, one by one.

The solution is for the democratic, enlightened Western nations to get together, make a plan to crush the jihad and carry it out. The military might of the West could make mincemeat of Da’esh, destroy Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and put an end to some of the smaller terrorist groups in a matter of weeks. With the heads cut off, the jihad in general would wither. Islam would have to wait another few hundred years before taking another shot at world domination.

In an ideal world, this is the kind of thing a real “United Nations” would do. Stop laughing, it isn’t funny.

I can’t imagine this happening today, and the likelihood of it happening in the near future seems even smaller. On the other hand, while the jihadists have very different ideologies and goals, they are capable of cooperating when it helps them to defeat common enemies.

Things are getting worse and they will probably get much worse before getting better. It isn’t going to be easy for Israel to survive in the coming chaotic world. So here are some of my suggestions:

  1. PM Netanyahu’s efforts to improve relationships with India, Russia, China, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and several smaller African nations (did I leave anything out?) are a good thing. Chad won’t replace Germany, but in a wild melee, every friend counts.
  2. We need to keep maximum strategic depth. It would be very stupid to open up an eastern door to Iran or Da’esh in return for Western guarantees. The West can’t guarantee its own borders, never mind ours. Just say no to two-state stupidity.
  3. We need to maintain our military strength, even in scenarios in which we can’t depend on the US. The F-35 that the US is selling Israel is very expensive, has numerous problems, is not a match for the latest Russian fighters, and doesn’t meet our needs for a long-range attack aircraft capable of hitting Iran. The US would not agree to provide a new F-15 stealth variant instead of additional F-35s. It may be too late to develop our own, but there are other countries that manufacture capable aircraft, including Russia and China.
  4. We should take steps to reduce the ability of other countries, especially the US, to intervene in our politics and our military operations. Get rid of the European-paid NGOs and the American radar installations. Stock up on ammunition and equipment that is hard to replace.
  5. We should encourage European Jews to make aliyah. This might be a short-term burden for Israel, but it could save their lives. In the long term it will benefit our economy and society.
  6. Do the Bank of Israel and the government have plans for how to respond to a sudden fall in the dollar? They should.

Israel is doing better than it ever has, economically, politically and socially. But the relative stability of the post-WWII period – or even of the longer Western ascendance that began with the Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 – may be coming to an end. The geopolitical environment we live in is already changing rapidly.

As usual, I specialize in doom and gloom. But I think we can survive. Perhaps rather than a world-wide dark age, there will be a realignment of powers, with the US and Western Europe playing a less important role, especially in the Middle East. Everything will turn upside down, but there will be advantages as well as problems for us. Our leaders need to think creatively about how to act in a different world. But unlike the past two millennia, the Jewish people don’t have to hunker down and hope for the best. We have the ability to act and steer the direction of history.

It could mean the destruction of Israel and a new dispersion of the Jewish people. But on the other hand, if we make the right alliances and use our power judiciously, it may be that the Jewish state will find its place as a regional powerhouse.

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3 Responses to The shape of things to come (with apologies to H. G. Wells)

  1. Keefe Goldfisher says:

    As I’ve mentioned, my wife weeps for her native Holland and its never arrived dispensation at the hands of the EU or its own leaders–when Geert Wilders actually becomes PM, it may be too late. The influx of refugees that made it hijab-bizarre in 2005, when she was there to take care of her ailing Mother, has crested since and the necessary criticism a healthy society would have for a mass in-migration of military age males, an event its citizenry did not want, has essentially been criminalized. Germany has turned this into farce with its exceptional restraint about timely reporting on the sources of attacks, as if the rest of us had any doubts about the likely facts. Since the French have been the most accommodating about Islamic intrusion and assertion of sovereignty on French soil, they have suffered the most recently, but not making a guest behave in the host’s house is a temptation for a temperate person to take liberties, and an invite-with-assist for mayhem in a culture based on a conquest ideology, like Islam. It is a corollary to this Islamic target practice in the West that there is no home in Europe for Jews anymore because of the constancy of these predations.

    I am trusting the wisdom of the American people to elect Donald Trump, because the alternative is so much worse. This I say, without any idea or certainty of what Trump will do. We have enormous problems that are the residue of an Obama octennial that are not even mentioned in the press as we fall into election-vision: Chinese incursions into the South China Sea–we’re hearing that the Chinese favor a Trump Presidency because they too believe he is an isolationist; Russian takeover of the levers of Mideast power–the Russians are supposedly having the same outlook as the Chinese, and for the same reason; disintegration of Latin American countries like Venezuela. It’s not clear that Trump would simply walk away if he understands, or is made to understand the stakes and the idea that someone is trying to eat our lunch. I get the impression that that is the number one no-go zone for Trump. Unlike the White House’s current occupant, and the current Democratic aspirant for same, it seems like Trump learns. He’s not a Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo or Trey Gowdy, but it has to be someone other than a Clinton or Obama surrogate. At least Trump will know we’re in a fight when things go really wrong soon, and that favors Israel.

    This ferment generally favors Israel, but only because it has kept its bridges open, cultivating its own garden, and it has been contending with Islamic radicalism since its inception, enough to harden it to the silliness of the Western approach of a France, Germany or US.

    Anything that diminishes Israeli sovereignty… a bad F-35 deal, discussions with the EU about anything having to do with Israel’s borders, coordination with Russia on what happens in Lebanon or Syria, mouthing pieties about a two-state solution, yes, the X-radar installation, conceding water rights and electricity to Palestinians without concern for contamination of the one and reimbursement for cost of the other… all of these and more need to be resisted and have constant strategic analysis applied to them so that Israel rejects them all, eventually, from a position of strength.

    Frankly, I keep hoping that Israel perfects fusion and that whoever is responsible is Zionist down to his/her socks.

    In the meantime, I add my recommendations to yours.

  2. Reliance says:

    The proper platform for bombing Iran is probably a stealth drone. With stealth drones, Saudi Arabia gets deniability for the fly-over, and Israel doesn’t have to worry about captured pilots.

    The problem with bombing Iran, is that half a job is worse than no attack at all. To be successful, an attack on Iran would probably have to turn it into a failed state. Or at least install a government that is more cooperative. I don’t think we can rely on the collapse of their nuclear effort like Iraq after bombing Osirak.

    • Shalom Freedman says:

      It is possible to conjure up an unending number of threatening scenarios in regard to Israel’s future.
      It is also possible to point out that Israel’s position has in many ways never been stronger. Prime Minister Netanyahu has suggested as much in regard to the diplomatic front with the major threat being the Iranian- Hizbollah axis.
      It is extremely important for the other side including Hizbollah – Iran- Hamas and a future Fatah which has ceased military cooperation with Israel that Israel will respond to any provocation with devastating destructiveness.
      Israel should of course cultivate relationships with India- China- Russia while working very hard to ensure that there is a two- party support for Israel in the United States.The left- wing danger within the Democratic Party is there, but it is to be hoped that Clinton will really have the commitment to Israel’s security she claims to have..
      No one knows where it is all going. Unfortunately we hoped for something much better than Obama and expected to get it. But the Republicans and a good share of the American people have chosen a leader who seems more focused on responding to personal insults from three year olds than really trying to understand the global situation in all its complexity and presenting a realistic and sensible program for what is to be done.
      Israel has to rely on itself as much as possible but not substitute a phony ideal of total self- reliance for complex positive relationships with allies.

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