Comments on the Decline of a Nation-State
August 9, 2000
The Four Options after Camp David
by Robert J. Loewenberg, IASPS President
The end of the Camp David talks has brought to light the four options confronting the Jews and Israel.
These Options range inversely from those most likely to be chosen as effecting the worst outcomes, to the least likely to be chosen bringing about better results.
These options entail as their necessary condition that some Israeli leader step forward to place them in discussion. This short presentation is offered in the hope that such a person will in fact appear. However, we appreciate that in Israel's present condition this may not occur.
Here are the options:
Option # 1. Israel can continue the peace process
Option # 2. Israel can discontinue the peace process
Option # 3. Israel can be dismantled
Option # 4. Israel can adopt a new strategy different from peace
These are Israel's only options. From the standpoint of likely or predictable results respecting these options, in fact there are only three options. Thus Options 1 and 2, seeming opposites, are practically the same for the reason that both will result in war. The view of the American administration expressed by National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger August 6 that "either there will be an agreement…or there will be conflict….there is no third possibility," seems to us not a prediction. It is doubtful eventhough it is the prevailing view and policy. There is no persuasive research supporting it.
Our assessment, based on an array of research over the last decade in our economic and strategic divisions (references appear at the end of this commentary) is briefly this: The peace process is only the most recent and failed example of Israel's consistent inability to end its wars with victories, or to establish clearly defined borders. It has not done either. Israel has attempted repeatedly to trade Arab battle defeats for US support, mainly aid, loan guarantees and now peace-transfers. These vast sums, unprecedented in amount and duration in history, supposedly for Israel's defense, serve in fact to prop up Israel's massive and, in truth, corrupt socialist state. The Israeli socialist system could not survive without this money, it is true. However, it is also true that the Israeli nation cannot survive because of it. Israel's aid-based political economy is what drives its aid-based peace process, in two senses.
First, the Israeli political system is driven to get outside money to sustain its moribund economy. Outside money represents as much of 10% of GDP. This exceeds what Israelis earn. But second, this shortfall arises from the aid itself in the fact that the money sustains the socialist system whose trademark is relentless state control of the economy. This in turn causes almost no per capita growth territorial and demographic shriveling, political and national disintegration and a constant shredding of civil society attributable to radical egalitarian domestic policies within which underserves the loss of critical mass as a nation state without. Except for the Arabs (and I am bound to say this Institute) no one has paid attention to this --including the Israeli and American rightwing.
Some Israeli leaders, including Mr. Netanyahu right before his famous July address to Congress in 1996, have told IASPS they might discontinue the peace process if they could find a way to continue the aid. In other words, despite what our research predicted and now events themselves prove, Israeli leaders of all views of the peace process are bent upon retaining a prior policy supporting socialism in all of its major aspects even though this insures the continuation of the peace process.
The Arabs particularly have watched Israel unsurprised as the present peace process has turned into a rout. First the Arabs and Mr. Clinton routed Mr. Barak at Camp David (with the help evidently of Mr. Ben Ami and some others) and now the Arabs themselves expect to rout Israel in due course. It is quite plain to them today that there is no practical difference between Option 1 --Israel can continue the peace process, and Option 2 --Israel can discontinue the peace process. This is why the Syrians (and their Russian masters) are in no hurry to get the Golan and why the Palestinians demand Jerusalem. They expect to get these things by war if they cannot get them, and US money, by peace. The Arabs do not fear war: they have not lost a war so far, only battles. The Jews fear war: they have not won a war yet and they had their chances. Authorities such as Jane's, acknowledging Israel's arms (purchased in earlier "peace processes") discount them increasingly. Israel is not a winner today.
Thus Israel's wars have been triggered by previous "peace processes" in a downward cycle of economic stagnation (alongside a "growth industry" in unceasing State propaganda about Israel's booming economy and an Israeli "second Silicon Valley"), it is mostly the Arabs who alone have understood the Israeli strategy would lead to economic failure and eventual retreat, including calls for a peace agreement. No Israeli predicted this and even today the reality is not discussed; only peace. But the Arabs, thought to be fanatics, have predicted these things.
They now expect ultimate victory. Reaching this point over 52 years of unending and it seemed to others blind, hopeless terror and warfare, the Arabs have demonstrated less of intransigence and racism than a keen but still normal grasp of what it takes to have a nation-state and keep it. The best proof of this keenness after years of unyielding struggle is found among Arab writers like Rami Khouri.
The following commentary, which has no like among Israeli political writers whether in the media or universities, is by Jordanian Rami Khouri. Had he written his assessment in July it would strike us as a remarkable if rare detailing of what has taken place. In fact Khouri wrote 4 months before Oslo in 1993. His predictions, all correct, make clear our point about Options 1 and 2. Seeing the Jews' strategy, the Arabs predicted and now embrace the peace process. It is their moment.
And so Khouri predicted what America's national security advisor did not see in 1993 or understand today about war and Israel's fate in the Middle East.
"Israel," Khouri wrote in the Jordan Times, "has made an economic/political retreat from eastern Palestine; it camouflages this retreat in the vocabulary of 'security,' for it cannot speak the words of the truth of its failure. Following its partial [now complete] retreat from Southern Lebanon…this is an important development….It will be followed soon by a steady demographic retreat…and then a military retreat in the context of a negotiated peace accord that should come to fruition in the next ten years."
What is to be Israel's response today to war whether it takes Option 1 to continue the peace process or Option 2 not to continue it? There are two options only --first is the option of fighting the war in the hopes of returning to the strategy of peace, socialism, aid and so forth. I have not listed this as a additional option for the fact that it is not one. The reason is not that this option has been demonstrated not to work. Rather the reason this option is now closed is because it requires the US to remain in the Persian Gulf. As we will see in Option #4, the other option to the predicted failure of Options 1 and 2, the US is leaving the Gulf.
Option # 3. Israel can be dismantled
The third option is to discontinue the peace process as an attempt to avoid war while retaining national existence. This option, an extreme one on its face is nonetheless logical. It is a fact and Israelis know it as it were "in their bones," that the peace process was devised to accommodate Israeli weakness and has, exacerbating it, made the Arabs ripe for warring. Mr. Oz, the great leader of the peace movement, has said it was only this August that he realized the Arabs might be planning to take all of Israel. He promised to draw the line and "defend my country." But surely this is not logical or can it be wholly in good faith.
Unless we are to join the cynics who see such tardy visions as political scurrying for position, we should take this to mean that what the peace camp, now the larger camp of Israel --and reasonably so in context-- all along has wanted is what the Arabs called a "secular, democratic state [of Israel]." At a minimum this means not war and above all "pluralism" on the model, thinking of America, of the Jewish-dominated ACLU or New York Times. Discovery that the Arabs are not democrats in this sense, the option of Mr. Oz should not be to "defend my country" but to enlist the ACLU and so many other US and world groups of Jews who have pressed the peace process as the identification of Jewish democracy and Jewish values to save the Jews from slaughter.
The practical propositions of the peace process, for example on the part of leaders such as Amos Oz, include a widespread view that there is "no such thing as a Jewish state anymore than a Jewish bus." If the aim of the process is to forfeit land, requiring billions of foreign dollars (the figures now range over $300 billion or 3 times the Israeli GDP) so as to make what even the New York Times has called "a very tiny state," is it not reasonable to choose a peace that is certain in favor of peace that is certain war, and quite likely worse? Mr. Oz does not need to turn to war but to continue the peace quest. The world will be surprised how quickly the American Jewish leadership will come to support this option. And as for US money, it was Mr. Barak, quoted as the Quotation of Day in the New York Times at the start of his peace quest who said the costliest peace is cheaper than the least expensive war.
But whatever Mr. Oz and the New York Times choose, and it is most likely to be Option 1, the only option for peace any longer humane and logical to the peace camp is Option # 3. But there is a fourth option. Those who insist, even today, on Option # 1, will dismiss it. The supporters of Option # 2 will likely dismiss it, too, since they also require US money and US involvement in the Gulf.
Option # 4. Israel can adopt a new strategy different from peace
Option # 4 is the final one. It is even less likely than even Option # 3 of adoption, indeed of serious consideration. Still, it is Israel's best hope. It is also the West's best use of Israel in Western interests.
Option # 4 is a Turkish led military and strategic alliance with Israel. Turks would want such an alliance although, supporting the peace process today both because it is in the wind and because they feel themselves, justly enough, much abused by Israel and the peace process --the Jews have trifled with Turkish interests respecting water and with Syria, at the same time suffering public insults by the most extreme egalitarian ideologists of Mr. Barak's cabinet such as Professor Ben Ami. Peace of the kind Israel now pursues produces authoritarian states, this being why Hobbes, the founder of such states, rested them on peace. But peace and State omnipotence, adding in outside billions to the mix, encourage undiplomatic bridge burning at home and abroad. Israel needs the Turks more than US billions.
The Turks are the region's main Western hope against the on-coming Former Soviet Union which now threatens an oil monopoly in the region, a Russian-led OPEC, as the US begins its final pullout from the Persian Gulf to a new oil province off the coast of west Africa focusing on Nigeria. The Institute's Paul Michael Wihbey has been making this case for the last four years. As for the importance of Turkey, the Institute's director of strategic studies Angelo Codevilla has instructed us all to learn the most important three words of US foreign policy in the region: "Turkey, Turkey, Turkey."
Any potential for this option's consideration resides in its strategic truth which is that meeting, perhaps as perfectly as can be done at this time, the interests of the US and of the Turks, it also meets the largest global aims and prospects Western societies. As for Israel, if it should find its way to seek national existence in the common sense, it offers every hope.
IASPS has for some years made clear why this is the strategic best case for the West. The argument cannot be made here (but see the references for research on the site). Briefly the case for this option turns upon the factors of oil glut, upon the FSU's Caspian policy to hoist its interest upon this glut in which it participates by using Israel's incapacity to ally effectively with the Turks as these factors are taken together with America's looming intention to withdraw from the Persian Gulf.
As for Turkish interest in this option, it turns first on its now 85% dependency on Russia for hydrocarbons. If Israel goes down or out of the picture in a peace-war with the Arabs, the Muslim regional superpower will be isolated (and the underbelly of Europe, more important than Israel or the Persian Gulf to the West, will be exposed). Turkey's chances of independence have dimmed as US policy in the region alongside the aggressive undertakings of Russia and its proxies Iran, Iraq, Syria, the PLO and, increasingly, the Gulf states themselves, have unfolded.
References for further research on the site on issues related to this op-ed:
-The Great Israeli Tax Grab of 2000, by Dr. Alvin Rabushka
-Economic Freedom in Israel, by Dr. Alvin Rabushka
-The Peace Process: An Introductory Essay, Part I, by Dr. Robert J. Loewenberg
-Why Israel's "Second Silicon Valley" Emigrates To The Real Silicon Valley, by Dr. Alvin Rabushka
-The Bear is Back, by Paul Michael Wihbey
-No Bread, No Circuses, by Robert J. Loewenberg
-Turkey and the Peace Process, by Paul Michael Wihbey
-The Story behind the Peace Process, by IASPS Staff
-The Caspian Project (archive of articles)
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