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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Israel and the Middle East: Looking for a policy instead of a "solution"

28.12. 2006
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center

Almost all foreign policy analysis is based on "problem solving." There is a "problem" posed and an attempt is made, to offer a solution to this problem. Thus, there is an "Arab-Israeli" conflict problem, an Iran nuclear development problem, and an Iraq problem, and policies and attitudes are based on solutions to these problems.

This approach incorporates a naive misunderstanding of history and foreign relations and how they work. It generates a Messianic fallacy. It creates the delusion that once we get past the time of troubles caused by this "problem" there will be a new reality, in which the laws of history will be suspended, and everything will be perfect. It generates plans for tomorrow that fail to take into account the day after tomorrow. Foreign policy and national goals cannot be based on such Messianism, either in the religious or secular sense. History is a continuous process. It does not end. Ben-Gurion noted that the important thing about Meshiach (Messiah in Hebrew) is the anticipation of his arrival. The arrival would be an anti-climax. For forty-five years, America lived with the myth of solving the USSR problem. Once the USSR problem was solved, it was thought everything would be OK. Then the USSR problem solved itself, the cold war ended, and many people were surprised to find out that not everything was OK; history had gone on to pose a different set of problems and challenges. In real life, the prince and princess did not live happily ever after. They got married, they had children. They had big fights because the prince wouldn't let the princess practice her profession and the princess snored and put on weight. Eventually they died and their children ruled instead, or else there was a revolution perhaps.

There is no "solution," not because the situation is hopeless, but because every situation will continue to continue and will evolve, based on geopolitical realities, some of which we can create or influence, while others are beyond our control and still others are beyond human control. We cannot plan as if the Messiah is coming and the end of days is in the offing. Some religious sects do that, but they are sorely disappointed by events. The Messiah, if there is one, will come when and if he or she is good and ready and not before. It is not our department.

In every generation or so there is a fool who thinks that history or inventions or ideology or wars are coming to an end, but it isn't going to happen. Life and civilization and war and power struggles will continue in the Middle East and elsewhere as they have continued for over 5,000 of history -- recorded and otherwise -- that have passed since people started building cities and engaging in agriculture. Continued here

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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