|Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's|
|HOME WEB LOG COUNTRY WIKI COMMENT FORUM DOWNLOADS ABOUT|
Muslims are being forced to choose sides between Israel and Hizbollah.
And that's the issue for many Muslims: It's not whether you're for or against Israel that matters; what matters is whether you're for or against Hizbollah -- and whether you're for or against Iran.
As usual, when doing a Generational Dynamics analysis, we're trying to find shifts in attitudes by large masses of people; shifts by politicians are important only when there's reason to believe that the political shift reflects a popular shift. These shifts in opinion provide "short-range forecasting" input that has to be matched up with the "long-range forecasting" input provided by Generational Dynamics itself, to come up with a probabilistic forecast with an extremely high level of accuracy. I've been doing this for several years now, and I defy anyone to find any other web site, anywhere in the world, with anything near the predictive accuracy of this web site. I've looked, and I know that no such web site exists.
Now, a couple of weeks into the Israeli-Lebanon war, we're able to assess where the various countries of the region and the world are headed, as Israel's forces mass on the Lebanese border.
As we do this assessment, we'll repeatedly come back to the following principles:
Regular readers of this web site know that I've been predicting for years that the disappearance of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon from the scene would be part of a generational change that would move the region into chaos, headed for a new war between Arabs and Jews.
Israel is now fully engaged in a generational crisis era war. The war has not yet become genocidal (as crisis wars always are), but the continued destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure, causing the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians, is a move in that direction. I'm not blaming Israel for this, but I'm reporting it as a fact, and it's a reaction to Hizbollah's wanton missile-bombing of civilian areas in northern Israel. Israel believes that it's fighting an "existential war" -- a war that will determine the very existence of Israel and the Israeli way of life.
Iran and Hizbollah have underestimated Israel in two different ways: (1) They assumed that with Hizbollah's missile onslaught, Israel would agree to compromise and exchange prisoners, as they did in 2004; and (2) They assume that Israel will back down from its Lebanon invasion and retreat, if there are Israeli casualities, as Israel did in their 2000 evacuation of southern Lebanon.
Both of these assumptions are based on recent history, but both assumptions are wrong because of the massive generational change that's now taking effect. Ariel Sharon, born in 1928, who fought in the genocidal Arab-Jewish wars of the late 1940s, always looked for ways to compromise and contain problems, rather than risk another genocidal war between Arabs and Jews. But Sharon is gone now, and his young successor, Ehud Olmert, born in 1945, has no memory of the horrors of that war.
This is important to understand -- that this same kind of generational change has occurred throughout Israel, with people who remember the 1940s war rapidly disappearing, being replaced by younger generations with no memory of that war, and no fear of a new war. The Israeli public is showing enormous support for the government in NOT compromising on prisoner exchange and NOT retreating if there are casualties, and this support is expected to continue.
An poll conducted last week supports this view. It shows overwhelming public support for the military actions in Lebanon.
This is in sharp contrast to what happened prior to 2000, when Israel was occupying southern Lebanon. At that time, well before the current generational crisis era, the public was sharply divided. But today, the military policy receives solid support.
During a generational crisis period, the population of a country becomes increasingly anxious and furious, with the result that the country sometimes does something very stupid. (Example: Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor.) One can see and feel that Israel as a whole is becoming increasingly anxious and furious, and the danger for Israel is that it will "lose its head" and do something stupid.
Lebanon is the opposite of Israel. They DO NOT want to fight a war, or anything like it.
Looking at the situation from a distance, Lebanon is fighting as much of an "existential war" as Israel is, but Lebanon is in a very different place on the generational timeline.
Lebanon's last crisis war was a civil war and war with Syria. It began in 1975, and reached an explosive climax in 1982 when Christian Arab forces, allied with Israel, massacred and butchered hundreds or perhaps thousands of Palestinian refugees in camps in Sabra and Shatila.
This experience is overshadowing all Lebanese attitudes today. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Lebanon is in a "generational awakening" period, since only one generation has passed since their last crisis war.
Thus, the Lebanese people are emphasizing Lebanese unity above all else - to emphasize that there will be no new civil war. And although many Lebanese are appalled and infuriated at Hizbollah for launching its missile war against Israeli civilians, thus bring Israeli warplanes to Lebanon, these same Lebanese still feel an obligation to support Hizbollah (more or less), in order to maintain national unity.
This ambivalence was very clear, for example, in the words of Lebanese President Émile Geamil Lahoud, in an interview with CNN:
In the same interview, Lahoud said that the Lebanese army would fight with Hizbollah against an invading Israeli army, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Lebanese army would fight only half-heartedly.
Hizbollah was created by Iran in 1982 to oppose Israel, and its only purpose today is to fight Iran's proxy war to "wipe Israel off the map."
I'm going a little bit out on a limb here by saying that this is not a serious war for Hizbollah. The Hizbollah terrorists are Lebanese people, survivors of the same crisis civil war of the 1980s, and are not interested in another war.
One Lebanese blogger, 24 year old Bassem Mazloum, interviewed on CNN, is very angry at Israel for the "massacre," is very angry at the U.S. for not stopping Israel, and is also furious at Hizbollah: He hasn't seen any Hizbollah members dying in the streets - he's only seen Lebanese citizens being killed by Israeli bombers.
And that's the point. Under the fanatical leadership of Sheik Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah terrorists are engaging in almost no close combat with Israeli forces, and show no intention of doing so. They've been preparing for this war since Israel left in 2000, and they've spent the time on real estate construction projects for bunkers and by stocking up on weapons. Today, their war consists of launching missiles from neighbors' homes at Israeli homes and Israeli forces.
Why are the Lebanese Hizbollah pursuing this fight at all? Because they're being funded and supported by Syria and Iran -- $100 million per year according to news reports on CNN. For these people, it's a job; just as your job might be to write software or build homes, their jobs are to launch missiles and build bunkers.
This is not to belittle the effect of Hizbollah's war on the Israelis themselves; after all, much of northern Israel has been turned into ghost towns because of Hizbollah's missiles. Nor does it mean that Hizbollah can't fight for a long time. It will take weeks for the Israeli forces to neutralize Hizbollah -- if it can even be done at all.
But it does mean that Hezbollah will proceed with guerrilla actions, and not full scale combat with the Israeli army.
Jews and Palestinians have lived together in peace for most of history, but troubles arose in the 1930s when Jews flooded into Palestine to escape European persecution. After World War II, the level of violence increased, and the United Nations decided to settle the problem by partitioning Palestine, creating the state of Israel in 1948.
The Palestinians still refer to this event as "The Nakba," meaning "catastrophe" or "cataclysm."
Far from settling the problem, it triggered the massive genocidal 1948 Arab-Israeli crisis war (although that war would have occurred anyway, with or without the partitioning of Palestine).
Now, 58 years later, Yasser Arafat has died, and the generation of people who lived through the 1948 war, and who remember its horrors, are mostly gone with him. Like the Israelis, the Palestinians are entering a full-on generational crisis era. As I wrote online and in my book in 2003, a new war between Arabs and Jews will begin shortly after Arafat's death, probably within a couple of years.
That's why today, in analyzing the current Israeli-Lebanese war, the single most important thing to be watching for is changes in attitudes and behaviors of the Palestinian people. The events of 1948 were a geopolitical earthquake that launched a tsunami that's been headed our way ever since, and it can't be stopped any more than a real tsunami can.
Nonetheless, we can at least try to measure how close the tsunami is, and one indicator of that is the attitude of Palestinians as they go deeper into a generational crisis era.
While the Lebanese war goes on, there is also continuing violence going on in the West Bank, and especially in Gaza. However, so far I've seen no news reports indicating any massive shift in the level of animosity between Israelis and Palestinians. Of course that shift has been going on gradually anyway, over a long period of time, but the point is that the current situation does not seem to have changed anything.
We're only a couple of days away from July 26. Do you remember what that day is? That's the day on which the Palestinians were going to hold a referendum on the existence of Israel, as announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas early in June.
What the Lebanese war has done is to push the Palestinian issues to the background. The Palestinians are not supporting the Hizbollah actions in large numbers, and at best have been giving ambiguous support.
If the Palestinians begin to join Hizbollah in fighting Israel, then the war will become explosive, but so far there are no signs that's happening.
Like Lebanon, Iran is in a generational awakening period, since only one generation has passed since the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Like the Lebanese, this means that the Iranian people are NOT seeking war, even with Israel.
This is perfect for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly said that he wants "to wipe Israel off the map."
Ahmadinejad is a young, next generation leader, setting a new vision for Iran, in the same role that Kennedy served for America's awakening era in the 1960s. The difference, of course, is that Ahmadinejad's vision is to wipe Israel off the map, and he may be handling that job brilliantly. He's been pushing all the right buttons -- denying the holocaust, developing nuclear fuel, etc. -- in order to provoke a war between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He believes that such a war, managed by proxy from Tehran, would accomplish his goal without requiring much troop involvement by Iran. If he's right, then Iran gains hegemony over the entire Mideast region, with Syria and Iran heading up a new Shi'a empire.
As a Muslim country in a generational awakening era, since only one generation has passed since the Syria-Lebanon war, the Syrian people will also resist going to war.
Thus, the strategy will be to take advantage of Lebanon's current distress to regain control of Lebanon and serve as a powerful ally of Iran once Israel is wiped off the map.
Syria is facing dual loyalties, however, since it's primarily a Sunni Muslim country. As long as Muslim Islamists can unite against a common enemy (Israel), Syria can continue cooperating with Iran and Hizbollah; but at some point Syria will have to make a choice, and it can't be predicted now what choice Syria will make.
(Note: This section and some of the text below has been modified to specify the correct characterization of Syria as a primarily Sunni nation. 28-July-2006)
If you're an Arab, here's the question: Do you hate Israel so much that you're willing to become a vassal of Iran?
Arab countries are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, as are the Palestinians, while Iran is overwhelmingly Shi'ite, as is Hizbollah.
From the point of view of Arabs, this is not a struggle between Hizbollah and Israel; it's a struggle between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam. The battle between Palestinians and Israel may be almost 60 years old, but the battle between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims is more than 13 centuries old.
So it's not at all surprising that some Arab leaders in the region are opposing Hizbollah's actions against Israel.
The Arab split became embarrassingly obvious at an emergency Arab League meeting on July 16 called for the specific purpose of addressing the Israeli-Lebanese war. The League failed to produce a joint statement, and the disagreements were so deep as to "render the league ineffective," according to an analyst.
The Arab nations most strongly siding against Hezbollah were led by Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. All three of these countries are themselves entering generational crisis eras, and anti-government tensions are high in all three countries.
And not just governments. In Saudia Arabia, a cleric of the strict Wahhbi sect issued a strong anti-Hizbollah fatwa. In Kuwait, a cleric condemned the imperial ambitions of Iran in Hizbollah's actions.
A number of pundits have expressed the view that Arab leaders are out of touch with their own people on this issue, and that the "Arab street" views Hizbollah as heroes. For example, there have been large pro-Hizbollah street protests in Egypt.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the attitudes and behaviors of large masses of people are important, as opposed to the attitudes of a few politicians.
But this is where we come to the point that I was making at the beginning of this article -- that there's a difference between talk and action. For example, there are street protests in Egypt against any policy of President Hosni Mubarak, just as there political protests in America against almost any of President Bush's policies.
At best, it's impossible to discern right now the depth of "Arab street" support for Hizbollah. But whether the support is deep or not, the schism between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims is very old and very deep.
As usual, Generational Dynamics tells you your final destination with 100% certainty, but doesn't tell you how you'll get there. Instead, we have to match up "short-term" and "long-term" forecasting information, as summarized at the beginning of this article, to produce short-term forecasts with a high probability of being valid.
The long-term forecasts are that there will be a crisis war between Palestinians and Jews, re-fighting the bloody, genocidal crisis war of the late 1940s, and there will be a crisis war between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, re-fighting wars that have been going on for thirteen centuries.
Today, most of the nations of the world are almost paralyzed, desperately trying to maintain a "Nash equilibrium," since any disturbance to the equilibrium will lead to a major war.
Thus, America, Europe, Israel, the United Nations, and the Arab nations, are striving to do all they can to restore the equilibrium.
However, Iran has a different objective: To disturb the equilibrium to trigger a war that will "wipe Israel off the map" and create an Iranian and Shi'ite hegemony over the entire Mideast Muslim world.
Those are the two major scenarios, and it's impossible to predict at this time which scenario will come to pass in the next few weeks.
The problem is that there's no "clean" equilibrium scenario that I've heard from any of the military pundits. The best scenario that I've heard is this: Israel pushes back Hizbollah from the Israeli border; the Lebanese people pressure Hizbollah to accept a truce, returning the two kidnapped soldiers to Israel; a multi-national peacekeeping force enters a "buffer zone" between Hizbollah and Israel.
The problem with this scenario is that Iran won't accept it. Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since 1982 building up the Hizbollah terrorist force, and it's not going to simply throw away that investment in order to reach a peace deal with Israel. (And it astounds me that anyone thinks that they would.)
Similarly, there are thousands of people in the Hizbollah terrorist organization for whom this kind of activity is their job -- just as your job might be to perform carpentry and eventually to build a house, their job is to kill Israelis and eventually wipe Israel off the map. And just as you wouldn't easily give up your job, they won't want to give up theirs. After you've spent many years as a terrorist, what career could you change to?
So, the "equilibrium" scenario cannot be anything but a temporary stopgap. No matter what restrictions are placed on Hizbollah, no matter how the "buffer zone" is set up, Iran will use its oil wealth to find a way to restore Hizbollah as a full fighting force, fully resupplied.
On the other hand, world opinion will soon force Israel into a stopgap equilibrium scenario.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Palestinians and Israelis are headed for a new genocidal crisis war, and the situation has gotten worse almost every day since Yasser Arafat died, and in fact the approach to this war appears to have been accelerating.
Thus, the most likely scenario now is a stopgap equilibrium scenario that will continue to degrade until some "explosion" triggers a full scale war. Examples of possible triggers are: a full-scale rebellion by Palestinians against Israel; radical Islamist overthrow of a major regional leader, such as Egypt's Mubarak; a direct attack by Israel against Iran.
There will be a major crisis war with two components: a Palestinian-Israeli war that Israel may not survive; and a Sunni-Shi'ite war that will engulf the entire region.
What will NOT happen is what everyone's hoping for: A quick resolution to the Israeli-Lebanese war, followed by moves toward peace, restarting the so-called "peace process," leading to side-by-side Palestinian and Jewish nations living happily ever after.