Netanyahu’s win did not come as a surprise but it does throw a spanner into the works and the US’s (and international) unrealistic expectation for a two state solution. As I have written earlier, the two-state option has long been “dead in the water” and there is only the prospect for a one-state one, an apartheid state with a minority Israeli government ruling over an increasingly majority Palestinian populace. This will be supported by the present US Republican dominated congress (and probably by a Republican administration from 2016) and could, with US support, lead to an attack on Iran shortly after the US presidential elections in 2016.
Although Netanyahu has backed off a bit he cannot not retreat too far from his promise to oppose a Palestinian state lest he alienate his coalition of ultra orthodox hard liners and collapse his fledgling government. He speaks with forked tongue – to the US and to his supporters but his position is what he stated: no Palestinian state. This will save a lot on US State Department travel expenses and its useless forays into the Middle East to cobble together a “peace agreement”.
It will now be interesting to see how this plays out in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Do these two states dislike Iran more than Israel? What does the abandonment of a Palestinian state mean in terms of their support of the Palestinians? They have hosted several meetings between Israel and the Palestinians to find common ground and push for a Palestinian state. Surely it must be clear to them that this has been and will be wasted effort.
As much as pundits and the West abhor the participation and influence of Iran in Iraq, it should neither come as a surprise nor bad news.
The conflicts in the Middle East amongst Arab nations have never been about a clash of nations states, but rather Sunni-Shia. So, the melding of the Shia majority government of Iraq with Iran makes a lot more sense than the fiction and unrealistic expectation of an all-inclusive Sunni, Shia, Kurdish state. As I, and others, have argued before best redraw the boundaries along sectarian lines and spin off the Shia provinces of Iraq and make them a semi-autonomous republic of Iran. As for the Sunni dominated provinces one could meld them with Saudi Arabia because they have no viable industrial base. Either that, or they will become part of an ISIL Caliphate.
The AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Invest Bank) is a wonderful, clever ploy by the Chinese and, most welcome. This should prompt the US to reform the IMF voting allocations, which punish China, and emerging nations. It, like the IMF, is an outmoded organisation controlled by post WWII colonial powers. As matters now stand the US has veto rights and the US congress, using the IMF as a foreign policy tool, is loath to change the rules. AIIB is a serious and welcome threat to US global financial hegemony.
All the dire predictions of the demise of Putin and Russia by the West are simply the product of wishful thinking. Three more years and gas will begin to flow from Russia to China and Russia will once again be a major player, sanctions or not. In the meantime, China has stated publicly that it will stand by to provide any help needed by Russia.
The US, Rightward Ho!
The radical swing to the right by the Republican congress is a reflection of the mood in the US. The expectation that Republican extremism will result in a Democrat victory in the 2016 presidential election is also wishful thinking. The unthinking American jingoistic electorate will swallow and follow the party line most adept at scare mongering and that, as we know, is the Republican one. The Republicans have a panoply of frightening threats they will air – Russia, ISIL, Iran, China and, if that is not enough, they will invent another.
The US is not unusual amongst Democratic governments in having an active opposition party, nor having a governing coalition of opposition parties. The UK conservatives with the Lib Dem, or German CDU with the SPD or CDS but those arrangements are for the most part presidential cooperative something that would not be possible in a deeply polarised nation like the US. However, the US is unique in having two presidents promoting diametrically opposing foreign policy – president-elect Barack Obama and John Boehner, speaker of the House, a self elected president. Boehner, after taking it upon himself to invite a foreign potentate, Netanyahu, to speak at a joint session of congress, followed up by inviting himself to confer with Netanyahu in Israel to underscore both the power of the US congress and its opposition to the policy of the US administration. This surely must be exceptional in any government.
How can any government with which the US negotiates, know with whom they should speak. Obama, in formulating foreign policy, has been neutered and the fabled checks and balance system, the core of the US political system has been effectively abrogated.
This must be one of the most outmoded and undemocratic institutions on the planet. Here we are, 70 years after WWII and the Security Council, the real power in the UN, is still comprised of five World War II powers having veto power and holding sway over all 193-member states. Neither Japan, the number three economy in the world nor Germany, number four, is represented on the council. No country from Latin America or India the second largest nation.
I have not exhausted the myriad of issues and challenges facing the world but this will do for today.