2017 – a year of uncertainty

There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.

An unholy alliance of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Benjamin Netanyahu threatens to undermine world security. In December 2016, US secretary of state John Kerry ended years of US prevarication by voicing what everyone already knew: the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Predictably, he was immediately attacked by those who defend Israel’s flagrant contempt for international law and for the UN Security Council.

Others hinted at a sinister coalition emerging among those willing to suspend disbelief in the face of a world that is losing its moral bearings. For example, in “Theresa May’s attack on John Kerry over Israel is extraordinary” (The Guardian, 30 December 2016), Azriel Bermant asked:

“Why would May attack Kerry for suggesting that settlements were the main obstacle to peace? Did she read his speech? In it, he stated that ‘settlements are not the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict’ and strongly condemned terrorism and incitement against Israel. More extraordinary still, why would the British prime minister criticise Kerry when her own government played a leading role in the passing of UN security council resolution 2334 which condemned Israel over its settlement expansion? Kerry ordered the United States to abstain while May’s government voted in favour.”

Elsewhere, Vladimir Putin is putting on a poker face. On the one hand, Russia supports the Palestinian cause and has backed Palestinian interests at the United Nations. It has also retained ties to regimes implacably opposed to Israel, supporting Iran’s nuclear programme (which Israel regards as an existential threat) and selling arms to both Tehran and to Assad’s embattled regime in Syria. On the other hand, Putin is not blind to the fact that Russia and Israel are nuclear powers in close proximity to one another, that high priority must be given to containing real or imagined threats from Iran, and that Europe is convulsed by internal problems of its own as well as the spectre of dismemberment.

As ever, Benjamin Netanyahu is intent on being as disruptive as possible to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Every opening is blocked; every renewed attempt at genuine negotiation thwarted. He is also counting on the Trump presidency to reverse recent setbacks and to guarantee a Memorandum of Understanding that will go into effect in 2018 and provide Israel with some $3.9 billion a year in military aid for 10 years.

Trump, of course, is a loose cannon. No one can predict which way he will jump (or be pushed) on any particular issue. This makes him all the more dangerous, especially with the nomination of a cabinet of billionaires, described by Peter Henning, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University, as “unique in the volume of people with minimal, if any, government experience”. We all saw what happened when oil industry figures backed George W. Bush.

Global security is threatened by the probability of IS going underground and retaliating for recent losses; by increased tension between South and North Korea; by China’s imperialistic ambitions being contested by Japan and Taiwan; by the chaos of refugees, migrants and displaced peoples; and by catastrophic climate change and environmental degradation. Added to this is the likelihood of widespread turmoil and recession within Europe, once a voice of reason, whose self-belief and political integrity are steadily being eroded.

On to this stage steps a triumvirate for whom power and self-aggrandizement are pursued at the expense of people’s lives. And to make matters worse, the likes of the UK’s Teresa May, Turkey’s Recep Erdoğan, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and India’s Narendra Modi are clinging to their coattails. In this world of deep uncertainty, Trump, Putin, and Netanyahu will be playing both ends against the middle to the detriment of anyone who gets in the way. Palestine may be only the first casualty.

uncertainty

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3 comments on “2017 – a year of uncertainty

  1. I arrived at this post via a roundabout way beginning with Mr. Lee’s comment at Rev. Jim Wall’s “Wallwritings” site this morning that he would use the Benjamin Franklin quote used by Jim (paraphrase: “You have a republic, if you can keep it.”) I saw the tagline “Palestine” for this post and decided to read it. I’m glad I did from my conviction that any — any — sympathetic allusion to the torment of Palestine and its people might contribute to the delay of the genocide being vise-like imposed on them by the primary likes of the Zionist entity so-called Israel and the United States of Israel, er, America.

    One quibble I’d make is that I would not combine an “evil three” of Trump, Putin, and Netanyahu as used here. Trump and Netanyahu are belligerents, braggarts, sordid caricatures of the human species…and Netanyahu is a criminal and a psychotic to boot; he’s the quintessential (to use this site’s primary word) crazy in charge of the asylum, with the hapless Palestinians always conveniently on scene on whom to vent his (and of course his fellow Zionists’) demented impulses. Putin I set apart: he is a proud nationalist, surely with his own problems in his vast and diverse country, striving his best to ward off the jackals like the U.S. and most of Europe et al that are determined, it seems, to plot and push and prod and provoke and prevaricate until a nuclear conflagration descends upon the planet’s denizens. I don’t observe belligerence and braggadocio issuing from Moscow these days. Aside from Trump and Putin, levels of governance a bit lower are as instructive: I ask readers to compare the elegant and distinguished Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, to any — any — “diplomat” the U.S. places in the role of SECSTATE.

    Thank you for this site!

    • Philip Lee says:

      Thank you for your comments. You are probably right. I guess at the back of my mind were the behind-the-scenes machinations rather than the suggestion that these three – Trump, Putin, Netanyahu – were in any sense working in consort. However, I think what we are seeing is an unwitting collaboration in that different policies with different objectives combine to make an already bad situation worse. I agree that there are other people less well known who are working to other ends and we can only hope that they will prevail. It’s interesting how in 2017 “nationalisms” are being played out around the world, specifically in Europe, of course, but we also now see it in the good ol’ USA.

      • I especially like your last sentence about “nationalisms.” It is a never-ending frustration to me that the world has refused for so many decades to honor the Palestinians’ aspirations to be a nation among nations. A major milestone in my life came in 1964-5 when, as a young enlisted Army man, I was sent to Monterey, CA (the Defense Language Institute), to learn the Arabic language and culture for an “immersion” year. Even then — a mere 16 years or so after the Nakba — our Arab-native instructor group, from a Moroccan, Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian/refugeed Palestinian, to our department chair Iraqi… — all respected and called out the Palestinians as “the intellectuals of the Middle East.” I was too young and callow at that time to look deeply into their torment, but the experience changed me forever. Now, I’m 73 and will not witness or celebrate any sort of justice, dignity, liberation and peace for the steadfast Palestinians….

        Aloha from Hawaii, Bob Stiver

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