This first post will look at the coming major changes within these four countries to evaluate the trajectory of Israel with respect to its main sponsors. A second post will look at the end-of-an-era sweeping changes that will play out among Israel's regional neighbors like Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.
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Drawing on Stephen Skowronek's theory of political regime cycles, we can identify the last trailblazing administrations as those that kicked off the neoliberal revolution circa 1980, shifting out of the social democracy era that went back to the 1930s. Despite the minor push-back by the opposition during the occasional electoral upsets, the dominant factions have maintained the same paradigm for decades.
However, they are clearly entering their "disjunctive" stage where the dominant faction is trying to make major changes to the status quo that they themselves created, to adapt to new needs and desires. But they are so ossified from decades of easy victories that they only manage a schizophrenic, stop-and-start process of change.
Failing to deliver major change when it is so badly demanded, they will get thrown out and replaced by the old opposition, who will go on to become the new dominant party, delivering on the promises of change that the disjunctive leader tried to implement but could not, and enjoying a reign of many decades as the new agenda-setters.
Of these four nations, Israel was the first to begin the most recent cycle, stemming from the 1977 elections that ended the Labor Party's multi-decade reign and ushered in the Likud era. Britain followed shortly after in 1979 with Thatcher, then America in 1980 with Reagan, and finally France in 1981 with Mitterrand.
We see roughly the same sequence of nations going through their disjunctive stages, where major changes to the party's own status quo are promised but not really delivered upon.
First was Israel's election of 2015, where the Likud barely formed a coalition government by partnering with the Kulanu party. This new populist splinter party from the Likud is focused on reducing inequality, working-class welfare, cost-of-living increases, anti-monopoly, state influence into the economy, and other issues that would normally be verboten under a neoliberal government.
Next was the Brexit referendum of 2016, May barely forming a coalition government, and the corporate globalist Conservatives still dragging their feet on giving the populist-nationalist Brits the Brexit that they voted for.
Then of course Trump's historic upset victory, thanks to the candidate's promises to end globalist free trade deals, de-scale our military footprint, and expand the social safety net regarding healthcare rather than impose austerity measures -- none of which are happening.
Finally, the 2017 French election whereby the compromise candidate Macron had to cater somewhat to both the populist Left and populist Right, given the pressure of the Melenchon and Le Pen campaigns.
When these disjunctive governments fail to radically alter the status quo of the past 40 years, they will be removed from office, and the entire old way of running society will go out the window.
That means we are about to embark upon a period of profound disruption across the world, as these changing of regimes will rock the major countries all more or less at the same time -- just as profound as the changes of circa 1980.
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As a client state, Israel must be worried about the seismic shake-ups under way in the major Western powers who are the guarantors of its prosperous and peaceful existence, such as it is. It must ignore the words and deeds from the late-stage leaders of the moribund neoliberal cycle in those countries -- Trump, May, Macron -- and focus on what the wave of the near-future bodes for Israel.
Here are some hints from the reactions to today's attacks on Palestinian protesters at the same time as the cosplay embassy was opening in Jerusalem, each of these figures representing the trailblazing new cycle that is going to sweep their nations in the next 5-10 years, and which will last for the next 50:
Over 50 killed in Gaza today and 2,000 wounded, on top of the 41 killed and more than 9,000 wounded over the past weeks. This is a staggering toll. Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 14, 2018
The killing of dozens of unarmed protesters and wounding of many more by Israeli forces in Gaza, on the day President Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, is an outrage that demands not just international condemnation, but action.https://t.co/qUDmcDe2xv— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 14, 2018
La France doit condamner les massacres à #Gaza. L'ambassadeur d'Israël à Paris doit être convoqué à l'Élysée pour s'expliquer. La paix agonise sous les coups de #Netanyahou.— Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) May 14, 2018
Translation: "France must condemn the massacres at #Gaza. The Israeli ambassador to Paris must be summoned to the Elysee to explain himself. Peace dies under the blows of #Netanyahu."
Bernie's response is important not only because his views will be shaping the next multi-decade cycle of a global nuclear superpower, but because he himself is Jewish. And yet he was the only one of the four major presidential candidates in 2016 to blow off the AIPAC conference, issuing instead a statement that blamed the Likud policies of expanding Israeli settlements into the Occupied Territories, while also blaming Hamas for violence. A totally different response from the genuflections before the Israel lobby delivered by Clinton, Trump, and Cruz.
Somehow I don't see the US, the UK, and France giving Israel such a free hand in the Middle East, propped up by billions of dollars in support every year, when the Reagan-Thatcher-Mitterrand era soon gives way to the Bernie-Corbyn-Melenchon era.
Bernie used to be an enthusiastic supporter of Israel -- back during its pre-Likud era, when he lived on a socialist kibbutz in the 1960s. Like Chomsky, he is most critical of Israel in its Likud-era incarnation, akin to America's Reaganite incarnation. For another multi-decade cycle before the Likud era, Israel -- like the rest of Europe and its off-shoots -- was governed by a paradigm of social democracy. Like the New Deal Democrats who ruled over that period in the US, the Labor Party ruled over Israel, before both were dethroned during the current neoliberal era that we are at the very end of.
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The US and Israel were not allies during that New Deal / Labor Zionist period. During the First Arab-Israeli War of 1948, the US drove the Israelis out of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. During the Second Arab-Israeli War of 1956 (the Suez Crisis), the US sided with the Arab nationalist government of Egypt against Israel, whom the Americans drove out of its occupation of Egypt by financially threatening Israel's British enabler. During the Third Arab-Israeli War of 1967 (the Six-Day War), Israel blew up an American naval intel ship, the USS Liberty, just outside of Egyptian territorial waters. Finally, during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 (the Yom Kippur War), the US remained largely on the sidelines, and gave limited military supplies to Israel, not wanting continued destabilization.
If we were not allies of Israel during the New Deal era, why would we be when the Bernie revolution moves us back into that kind of climate? It doesn't follow at all, especially given that the major priorities for both nations are going to see large-scale changes very soon, and those may diverge once again.
Certainly the Bernie crowd (not just the man himself) are cold toward giving Israel free rein. And the supporters of Corbyn and Melenchon feel the same way.
Part of this is due to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, which has been Israel's focus since the beginning of the Likud era. Before then, the Labor-era leaders were focused on fighting against and defending themselves from the entire Arab world -- hence the broadly named "Arab-Israeli" conflict. After the relative stalemate in the 1973 war, Israel learned that it could not stay in that paradigm indefinitely -- they needed to radically alter their foreign policy of the past many decades, and make peace with their Arab neighbor states, and focus instead on their immediate vicinity. Palestine, southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights in Syria -- and that's it.
The Western powers don't care if Israel mistreats Palestinians because that's not going to affect the price of gas. Indeed, the Palestinians have no leverage to strike back at all against the West, whether economically or militarily. If Israel fights against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, who cares? Even if Hezbollah wins -- who cares? It doesn't affect the Western nations economically or militarily -- unless Hezbollah expands throughout the region. But at first, nobody cared. Same thing with the Golan Heights -- nothing changes in the West whether Israel or Syria controls that area.
The West's main goal was to prevent Israel from destabilizing the region, when it was antagonizing the entire Arab world militarily. Once Jimmy Carter bribed Egypt and Israel into making peace with each other, followed by Bill Clinton bribing Jordan to make peace with Israel, everything was OK. Israel became our ally by no longer antagonizing the major Arab countries, so we didn't care if it caused trouble in its immediate vicinity where there are no consequences for us.
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Of course, during the Reaganite / Likud era, the US and its allies intervened all over the Middle East -- but obviously they were fine with themselves destabilizing the region. It's only bad for the West if a non-Western country destabilizes a region, because that might turn out bad for us. If we are the destabilizers, won't we do so in a way that benefits us? That was the hope, at any rate.
But the reality is turning out the opposite -- our military interventions have created far more problems than the Reaganites and their allies ever imagined. Trump promised a major change on that front -- no more pointless wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Iraq War was a catastrophe that I was against, George W. Bush did not keep us safe on 9/11 anyway, and we've wasted over seven trillion dollars there with absolutely nothing to show for it.
And yet, his administration is doubling down on support for jihadist nations like Saudi Arabia, and doing their most to harm the anti-jihadist nations like Syria and Iran. Where he fails to deliver, the Bernie revolution will finally get us out of all these pointless and ruinous wars in the Middle East, and make peace with Syria and Iran.
During the Reaganite era, the Likud party has come to an alliance with the jihadists of Saudi Arabia, not to mention helping the jihadist opposition in Syria, which means the Likud will be on the wrong side of Western foreign policy when we undergo our next major regime shift with Bernie, Corbyn, and Melenchon.
If Israel continues to agitate for war against Iran, they will become even more opposed to the new priorities of the Bernie / Corbyn / Melenchon administrations.
That may be more likely than it seems right now. During the Likud era, Israel has not been much of a player in regional wars -- not like during the Labor era -- and has been harassing only its immediate neighbors. What if their shift out of the Likud era, and into an economically populist era, returns them to a more aggressive foreign policy? The new consensus might be that we Israelis need to make peace with the Palestinians by incorporating them into a one-state nation (albeit as second-class citizens), so that we can devote all of our energy to fighting against Iran.
If that's how their re-alignment turns out, they will really be on the wrong side of the US, UK, and France. The only thing that angers the Democrats more than Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians is their agitation for war against Iran. Since Obama's admin scored the Iran deal, even mainstream Democrats, not just the Bernie crowd, have come to see avoiding war with Iran as one of our most important goals. And when they become the new dominant party in the next few years, all bets are off for Israel continuing to be a top client state of ours -- and by extension, of the UK or France.
Those are the contours of the changes just on the side of Israel and its allies -- the next post will look at the other countries of the Middle East, and how their upcoming "new eras" will affect Israel's trajectory.