A Nation at Peril
Several Republican friends have told me that Trump is better for Israel than Biden. I find this trope hard to believe, since Democratic presidents and Republican presidents have supported Israel since its creation, in 1947, and dating back to Franklin Roosevelt who, in 1933, during a period of rampant American Anti-Semitism, expressed a desire for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Harry Truman was the first to recognize the newly born state within a day of its creation, despite objections from the brazenly Anti-Semitic State Department which had done its level best to suppress Jewish immigration to the United States before and during World War II. The specious logic they presented was that it would inflame the Arab world.
Stalin himself did not veto the partition, under the presumption that Israel would be a socialist-Marxist state. It is, of course, not.
The premise that disagreeing with the Netanyahu government a priori means that support for Israel has evaporated under the leadership of Democrats is a red herring non-pariel. Israel is and has been our durable ally. It shares intelligence, coordinates American interests with their own, facts recognized by all Americans on the left and on the right. Of course, policy differences exist here in and in Israel, but those differences are at worst marginal. These differences are over settlements and security and will eventually be solved by an Israel that must worry about its own demographic threats as a Jewish state.
When I was a child, we hid under wooden desks in school because we were facing vaporization by Soviet missiles. It took a while, but the Soviet Union collapsed when none of us ever thought it would. It was to be an eternal enemy. Now Putin struggles to maintain his power in what has become a third world economy. His goal is to destabilize NATO, the EU and the United States. He will fail.
The Middle East now entertains a new geopolitical power alignment: Sunnis and Israelis against Hezbollah and Shiite Iran. This dispute over who is the rightful heir to Mohammad has endured for 1,400 years, countless wars and crusades, bloodletting beyond the scale of human indignity and the baser instincts of tribal effrontery. Now Israeli technology has enticed the scrutiny of the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. El Al flights now soar over Saudi Arabia with MBS permission to land in Abu Dhabi. The Arab world now seeks to share Israeli science, technology, and agricultural innovation; MBS has placed Palestinians a priority lower than beheadings. Palestinians had their chance and blew it, they think in Riyadh, which is also contemplating their end of finite oil supplies and the exponential transformation to renewables. And Putin? He has the same problem a failing Russian economy and an increasing number of potential opponents who must be fed polonium or novochuk.
It does not really matter in the realpolitik sense to Middle Eastern leaders who chop up dissident Journalists as long as their governments can derive economic benefit from the hook up with Israel. It belies the aphorism of the scorpion requesting that the frog transmit him over the Jordan River, and the frog responding, "if I do, you will sting me and I will die." The scorpion replies "do not worry, I do not want to drown." Half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog, who says "why did you break your word, now we both will drown." The scorpion replies, "this is the middle east." Rather, the enemy of my enemy is my friend is the theme of the day. Credit to Trump for recognizing this reality. But no credit to him for the evolving geopolitical situation that now favors Israeli business with the Sunni Arab world.
The United States under its current leadership, torn by a looming election defeat, a pandemic and possible criminal indictment is moving in a parallel universe with Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who currently is under criminal indictment, and Trump, both of whom rail against the tide of history.
American Jews and Evangelists who magically think that Trump is a sincere supporter of Israel are grievously mistaken. Trump wishes only his own aggrandizement; the fate of his country is to suffer the indignities of global ridicule and the loss of its preeminence as a world leader. Pax Americana is on the path of Pax Britannia, though for different reasons. Britain lost its empire because of emerging decolonisation. India, Burma. Austrailia, Hong Kong, Canada left the empire for their own reasons, supported by the United States. Throughout the war, Roosevelt opposed Churchill's imperialism, to the chagrin of the great British leader and defender of the Empire.
America, on the other hand, is losing its influence in the West and in the world because of decay from within, as did the Roman Empire. A complacent public, a melding of social media and propaganda, a technological revolution, a failing system of public education and transport and the loss of a national unity and will, as it had propelled us during World War II. A national effort, war bonds, self-sacrifice, Rosie the riveter, food rationing, no new cars and a host of other sacrificial measures. No one complained. Now the national will is fractured by social media, mediated by Fox News and an unparalleled mercantilism that has shrunk the middle class and dashed the dreams of the young as it did in the gilded age, but eventually reined in by Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican trustbuster. "The malefactors of great wealth," he intoned.
This election will determine as Churchill said in his 1940 speech to parliament, "Whether we will move into the broad sunlit uplands" or descend into the darkness." (of climate change, ecological and geopolitical disaster or an awakening once again of an American sleeping giant that defeated Fascism, Japanese militarism, and rebuilt Europe. )
Firstly, we have to face an election that the President has already questioned as illegitimate in advance and that he says will be rigged if he loses. This is the first time in American History that an incumbent President has predicted such a foundational threat.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, "we give you a republic, if you can keep it."