2016 was a year of insanity. What’s next?

Reuven Brenner December 26, 2016 4:08 AM (UTC+8)
Asia Times is not responsible for the opinions, facts or any media content presented by contributors. In case of abuse, click here to report.

The year 2016 started with an insane US decision concerning the Middle East and the world: signing a deal on January 16 with Iran’s mullahs (a deal whose details have not been revealed to these days).

The year appears to be ending (there are a few more days left to bring more insane surprises) with the UN’s decision, not vetoed by the US, condemning Israel for … building homes and developing lands. The UN is doing so while the other countries in the area are savagely destroying anything in sight, killing hundreds of thousands of people with abandon and creating a refugee mess. As a bonus these countries have also been exporting terror around the world – out sight and minds at the UN and in Mr. Obama’s closed mind.

But all these appear to be fine with the UN that, with each day that passes, reminds one of the failed League of Nations. Where else can three rather failing countries – Venezuela, Senegal, Malaysia (and a minuscule fourth one, New Zealand, with more sheep than people, true, not failing) – ask for a vote condemning Israel, a country surrounded by neighbors constantly at war, who also constantly argue for Israel’s eradication. Nevertheless, Israel manages not just being the “start-up nation” that many countries want to emulate, but far more.

With all the accusations against Israel, guess which country has to put up fences so that immigrants from around the world, not only Jewish, but from Asia and Africa as well are trying desperately to get into? It is not Venezuela, Senegal or Malaysia – but Israel.

I realize that many global bureaucracies are building indices of “happiness” drawing on all kinds of bureaucratic and statistical mish-mashes. But if one wanted an objective measure of this elusive notion, there is no better one that one that would reflect how people vote with their feet. As far as this measure is concerned Israel beats most countries around the world in terms of people wanting to get it. Meanwhile, people in Venezuela, Senegal and Malaysia – never mind most of the rest of UN members – are desperate to leave the countries where they were born.

Between these January and December decisions, both involving the Middle East but with implications for the entire world, this was the year where terror, refugees, Brexit and the US elections dominated the news. Just in December, not even mentioning the daily terror in the Middle East, Islamists struck Berlin, Beijing, Melbourne, shoot-out in Italy, Turkey and France is still under emergency decree. Mrs. Merkel’s out-of-the blue decision to just open borders to anyone declaring themselves refugees brought some soul searching in now pretty soulless Europe, yet – in this year of insanity – it never led to raise the question: What is a “state” to start with? What are its elected politicians’ obligations to its citizens in this world whose population increased the last one hundred years from 1 to 7 billion? How many of these additional billions living in emerging or failing states can the few countries where political power has been dispersed absorb culturally and in what time frame?

The simple answer is that a state is defined by borders and to be a “state” the government must have monopoly on the military and the police. You cannot have a “state” harboring within its borders two or more armies: such a “state” is a failed one (see Syria, Lebanon, Libya). With two or more armies within a territory that may have been once a state or perhaps one that aspires to be – Palestinians in the West Bank, for example – there is no point of even talking about “state” and “borders” as neither exist or can be credibly recognized.

Palestinians in Jordan constituting 60% of the population do have a state and an army and borders – but only after the previous king got rid of the PLO army within what became Jordan’s borders after 1967. The borders of a place with multiple armies disagreeing and fighting over borders, and with no government able to establish its monopoly on force, it really requires detached bureaucrats at the UN or academics with zero practical or military experience to make the insane decisions they have been repeatedly making about the Middle East in particular – the idea of exporting “democracy” to these lands in particular.

Israel is not perfect: no countries and no persons are. But under daily threat, with endless propaganda against its mere survival Israel still beats many smug Western democracies, and not only in technology. In France, for example, its top politicians all managed to escape jail, though Mr. Chirac maintained his private castle with taxpayers’ and misappropriated Claude Pompidou foundation money (according to Canard Enchaine); Giscard D’Estaing kept the diamonds that Central Africa’s dictator, Bokassa, gave him; Mr. Juppe left France for two years of academic wilderness in Quebec when it was found that he put his party above the law that he himself voted for in Parliament; and few days ago the French courts let Mme Lagarde escape with a mere slap on the wrist (the court called it “negligence”) for a major 400 million Euro scandal while being France’s Minister of Finance.

In contrast. Israel’s prosecutors put its corrupt politicians behind bars, including a prime minister, a president, finance and interior ministers – among others. No excuse there for “negligence” or Hillary’s “extreme carelessness.” And, yes, in the midst of all these wars and upheavals in the Middle East, Israel also managed to have a woman Prime Minister (Golda Meir) decades before gender became a dominant political issue in the US, of all places. And, yes, Mrs. Meir’s long achievements notwithstanding, she was unceremoniously discarded together with much respected generals in her cabinet, following their misjudgment during events preceding the Yom Kippur war.

And while Europe and the US managed to blow up their foreign policy (Europe with a misguided intervention in the commercial agreements that Russia and Ukraine were about to sign; and then forgetting that Crimea became Ukrainian because Khrushchev decided so, maybe in a drunken stupor), and Mr. Obama pretty much alienated everyone, by failing to maintain commitments (with the exception of mullahs in Iran and the failing state of Cuba), Israel somehow managed to remain in good terms with many countries and even strengthen relations with India, China, Russia.

True, Israel does not do very well with the European and the US politically correct crowd, the latter having infested the smug, isolated-from-life university campuses in particular (that have long given up on selection of both students and faculty), and “multi-culturalists” who never saw a culture they would consider atavistic. Pity these PC groups cannot find some hidden Neanderthals somewhere to join faculties, boards, political institutions and the UN security council and UNESCO too in the name of diversity and get affirmative action protection too in the process. But who knows, in this insane times, the PC crowd may be able to still manage this feat too.

Still, in the spirit of the coming year, I shall finish on an optimistic note, with a variation on an old tale about how to manage domestic and political affairs in an insane world.

There was once a king who dreamed that the following year’s harvest contains a poison that would render all who taste it crazy. The king asked his adviser what should he do? The adviser said, let everyone eat it – except the king and himself. But the king understood relativity, and said: “If I do just that, the two of us will be considered to be the insane ones.” Instead, they decided to do the following: the two of them would put a mark on their front to remind themselves constantly that they are the only two sane ones in society, and so to behave like being insane – but knowingly so, and then able perhaps to manage the truly insane.

Perhaps this is what Israel, and maybe Mr. Trump have to do now as they have to deal with the insane world consisting both of tribes living with millennia old mentalities (but access to modern weaponry) and with new cults created accidentally by heavily subsidized universities and “think tanks.” These new cults’ minds have been polluted by both the rigid PC jargon and the LBQ-one-day-male-one-day-female one, with cult members deciding that these ideas are the top burning issues of the day, dominating all others.

Seriously, a better alternative than pretending insanity to deal with this insane world, is for the next US administration to do its best to bankrupt all these mind-polluting countries and institutions, starting with the easy step of stopping to subsidize them: withdrawing all funds from the farce that the UN and most universities have become would be a good first step.

Reuven Brenner
Dr. Reuven Brenner was appointed to the McGill Faculty of Management REPAP Chair in Economics in 1991. Brenner was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, was awarded the Canada Council's prestigious Killam Fellowship Award in 1991, and is member of the Royal Society. In February 2013, he was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to his peers, his community, and to Canada.
Comments