Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 22-Jun-05
Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas meet as Mideast cease-fire unravels

Web Log - June, 2005

Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas meet as Mideast cease-fire unravels

Like Britain vs France, Israel vs Palestinian Authority meetings are becoming increasingly confrontational.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at Sharon's Jerusalem residence on Tuesday in a highly confrontational meeting that was intended to coordinate Israel's pullout from the Gaza strip, scheduled for July.

However, the long-scheduled meeting took place in an environment where the cease-fire and high expectations of January, when Abbas was elected, are almost completely destroyed.

On Monday night, just hours before the meeting, Israeli security forces arrested 50 Islamic Jihad militants. The Islamic Jihad militia group has never formally agreed to the cease-fire, but has been observing a voluntary ceasefire until recently.

Now the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has decided to resume targeted killings of senior leaders of the group. "Islamic Jihad has taken itself absolutely out of the [cease-fire] agreement with its attacks, and so from our view, we are operating fully against them, as we did before," said Lt. Col. Erez Winner, a senior Israeli commander to Haaretz. "Anyone we know who is affiliated with this organization is a legitimate target."

And, the Hamas militia group is also threatening to end its ceasefire.

This brings us back to the meeting between Abbas and Sharon.

Abbas was looking for certain concessions from Israel: reopening Gaza's airport, further releases of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and evacuation of some Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Instead, Sharon said, "we're still taking casualties," in reference to Palestinian terrorist attacks. He offered some partial concessions, but only on the condition that Abbas use force to deprive Palestinian militias of weapons. That's obviously not going to happen.

Here's the crux of the matter: According to the BBC, Abbas wants to use persuasion and negotiation to get the Palestinian militia groups to disarm, because he believes that if he uses force the it will lead to civil war.

Now, I agree with Abbas that using force will cause a civil war, but persuasion won't work either. Look at other crisis wars: Would persuasion have stopped Hitler? Stopped the American Civil War or Revolutionary War? Would it have stopped the Hutus from slaughtering a million Tutsis in three months in the 1994 Rwanda war?

Crisis wars are like forces of nature; persuasion will no more stop a crisis war than it will stop a tsunami.

So the meeting was a failure. Sharon refused to back down until Abbas ends the violence, and Abbas refused to use force to try to end the violence, for fear it would start a civil war. Neither side was willing to compromise.

The same kind of thing happened last week at the European Union summit in Brussels, in the confrontation between Blair and Chirac.

The confrontation over the $5 billion rebate to England versus the $9 billion agricultural subsidies to France.

Ten years ago, this kind of issue would have been resolved in a compromise. That's because it was a "generational unraveling" period, and Europe was being led by people in the generation that grew up during WW II, and considered the European Union essential to prevent a new European war.

Today, Europe is in a "generational crisis" period, led by people in the generation born after WW II.

It's that simple, as we showed as we pointed out in our analysis of the French rejection of the EU Constitution. The exit polls indicated that the people who were alive during World War II favor the Constitution because they believe that it's the best way to prevent a new European war, while those born after WW II are opposed to the Constitution because they believe it will cost them jobs.

That's why there's little willingness to compromise today. The same is true in the Mideast, which is also entering a generational crisis period.

Recent news stories indicate that when British Prime Minister Tony Blair takes over as EU President on July 1, he and Chirac may reach a compromise. Some sort of temporary compromise is possible, just as it's possible to have a heat wave near the beginning of winter, but it doesn't stop the inevitable freeze. Imagine these two geezers, Blair and Chirac, going around Europe trying to convince kids that they want a European Union even if it means losing their jobs, and you can predict what's going to happen.

So we have Blair and Chirac in Europe, Abbas and Sharon in the Mideast. These are two pairs of people who distrust and dislike each other, unwilling to compromise very much, trying to convince their constituents that values that were important in the 1940s are still important today.

You know, Dear Reader, that I sometimes joke around in this web log, and I'm occasionally irreverent, but I have to tell you that I was genuinely upset by what happened last week in Brussels. Yes it's true that it's exactly the kind of thing that I've been predicting, but it's still very upsetting to see England and France go step by step toward a new war, with almost mathematical certainty. I've often said that Generational Dynamics is the saddest project that I've ever worked on in my life, and it seems that every day's news only seems to make it sadder. (22-Jun-05) Permanent Link
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