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


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 4-May-07
Israeli government in crisis after report on war with Hizbollah

Web Log - May, 2007

Israeli government in crisis after report on war with Hizbollah

Tens of thousands rallied in Tel Aviv to call for Olmert's resignation.

Thousands rally in Tel Aviv to demand Olmert's resignation <font size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Thousands rally in Tel Aviv to demand Olmert's resignation (Source: BBC)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to resign in defiance of tens of thousands of demonstrators in Tel Aviv on Thursday. According to one pundit I heard, a recent poll gives Olmert a 0% (zero percent) rating. President Bush doesn't know how well off he is.

The demonstrators were calling for his resignation, in the wake of the release of the "Winograd Committee Report" on Israel's conduct in last summer's war against Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Actually, the major conclusions have been known for some time, and we described then in detail in December. In summary, Israel panicked and launched the Lebanon war within four hours, with no plan and no objectives.

Here are some of the conclusions of the report:

The above is very interesting for the following reason: Israel is in a generational Crisis era, as I've explained many times, and during such times, the public reacts to a threat through sheer panic. The report never uses the word "panic," but the above two paragraphs show it. Israel could have continued its policy of "containment," and that would have been a deliberate response. It wasn't even considered. Instead, the immediate response was a military strike.

Once again, very interesting. As I've pointed out numerous times, politicians and journalists in Washington have no idea what's going on in the world. Politicians like Pelosi, Biden and others don't know that al-Qaeda is in Iraq, don't know the difference between Sunni and Shia, or that al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization, don't know that the Darfur genocide is a civil war that began decades ago. New Republic senior editor Lawrence Kaplan finds that 'Congressional leaders are illiterate,' that they're morons, they avoid learning anything, they make up any "facts" they want, and they couldn't care less what happens in Iraq, as long as they get votes. Journalists are the same.

The consequence of this is that our politicians are completely unprepared for emergencies. It's as if you're on an airplane, everyone else passes out, and you have to fly the plane. You've spent your life bashing pilots, and you've fastidiously avoided learning anything that pilots do. So how do you fly the plane? You push a few levers and hope something works. That's what Olmert's government did.

If you've spent your whole life bashing pilots, thinking their job was easy, you're going to be shocked when you discover that, now that you're in charge, you can't do their job. Olmert's government had no idea what to do. It simply stabbed out with any policy at hand, hoping something would work, and were undoubtedly shocked when nothing did.

Today's senior generation of politicians and journalists have a feeling that things should take care of themselves automatically, because they always have. What they just don't understand is that it's the World War II survivors who took care of everything, and they're gone now.

The survivors of World War II did great things -- they created the United Nations, World Bank, Green Revolution, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and so forth. They created these organizations and managed them for decades with one purpose in mind: That their children and grandchildren would never have to go through anything so horrible as World War II.

Now all those survivors are gone, and the people who are left behind don't know how to run those organizations.

Olmert simply assumed that all he had to do was order the IDF to smash Hizbollah, and it would be done. What he never understood is that he would have to be the one to tell the IDF how to do it, just as Ariel Sharon, his predecessor, would have done.

The report now turns to Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz:

Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz (right) looks through binoculars with the lens cap on. On the left is the army's new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. They're reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights. <font size=-2>(Source:</font>
Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz (right) looks through binoculars with the lens cap on. On the left is the army's new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. They're reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights. (Source:

I won't comment on this except to remind readers that in February I named Peretz as the idiot of the week.

Look at this picture, and remember that this guy is the MINISTER OF DEFENSE. This is the guy who was running the war, and he's soooooooooooooooo stupid, he's afraid to tell anyone that he doesn't know how to remove the lens cap. How can this guy still be in office three months later??? Still, politicians like Senator Biden and journalists like Thomas Friedman are just as stupid and incompetent as Amir Peretz, so why should we expect Israeli politicians to be any different?

Here are some additional conclusions from the report:

This is the most frightening conclusion of all, because it applies so intensely to the United States. Recall that in our last Crisis era, our armed forces were totally unprepared for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

We had plenty of aircraft to defend ourselves from the Japanese, but they remained on the ground, while their pilots were lounging in bed with their girlfriends. We had plenty of anti-aircraft weaponry on the ships, but the sailors who were supposed to be manning them were sleeping off last night's party. Incredibly, there was an experimental radar installation on Pearl that actually spotted the Japanese aircraft long before they arrived, but no one actually believed that it was possible, so the sightings were ignored.

The result was the greatest disaster in American military history -- the loss of our entire Pacific fleet in the space of just a few hours. Today, could we afford to lose half our military capability to a surprise attack by China?

Now we're headed for a massive war that China has been preparing for over ten years, with huge and increasing expenditures on missiles, submarines, aircraft, and other sophisticated military hardware specifically designed to defeat America. Just as Olmert was totally unprepared for Hizbollah's response, just as America was totally unprepared for the Pearl Harbor, I am not confident that our armed forces today are prepared for the inevitable attack by China.

When Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense, he was restructuring the armed forces for the coming war with China. Rumsfeld was born in 1932, and he's seen all this before with Japan and Germany. He's well aware of the very real danger the country faces from an attack by China. But since Rumsfeld was replaced by Robert Gates, I haven't heard anything more about the continuance of the restructuring. If our armed forces are not preparing the for the next war, then our nation is going to be as shocked as Israel was by last summer's war with Hizbollah.

In trying to understand what's going on today, it's worthwhile to see what was predicted by William Strauss and Neil Howe, the fathers of modern generational theory. In their 1996 book, The Fourth Turning, they described the decade of the "Oh-Ohs," and how it would be different from what was "today" to them, the early 1990s, America's last Unraveling era. And as you read this, remember that they knew nothing of 9/11 at the time, so their description of the "early Oh-Ohs" really applies to today:

"The mood of the early Oh-Ohs will be much like today's except a lot more jittery. These will be years of the reality check, of worries about a looming national payback as Americans of all ages begin focusing on how poorly they and their government have prepared for the future. People will no longer deny that the Unraveling's individual empowerment has led to antisocial behavior and a dangerous degree of institutional decay. The harms (especially to youth) will now be perceived to have accumulated to such a grievous extent that truly fundamental change will be required to get the nation back on course. Today's talk about America's inability to mobilize except for emergencies -- what some call the "Pearl Harbor syndrome" -- will have become a tired cliché. More people will start rooting for something big to happen, something bad enough the shock the society out of its civic ennui. The political party in power will stress the ample good news and insist that things have never been better -- but the party out of power (and any niche group that senses it is losing the Culture Wars) will warn against, and show signs of welcoming, a catastrophe on the horizon.

[Nothing fits this description more closely than the moronic worldwide focus on "global warming."]

The late Unraveling mood will feel much the opposite of the [late 1950s]. Back then, institutions were at their point of maximum strength. Whether curing poverty or landing men on the moon, the nation's grandest conceptions felt entirely achievable. Yet circa-1960 Americans, in the shadow of their Establishment, were starting to chafe at the staleness of their culture. By the middle Oh-Ohs, institutions will reach a point of maximum weakness, individualism of maximum strength, and even the simplest public task will feel beyond the ability of government. As niche walls rise ever higher, people will complain endlessly about how bad all the other niches are. Wide chasms will separate rich from poor, whites from blacks, immigrants from native borns, seculars from born-agains, technophiles from technophobes. America will feel more tribal. Indeed, many will be asking whether fifty states and so many dozens of ethnic cultures make sense any more as a nation -- and, if they do, whether that nation has a future.

In the early Oh-Ohs, institutions will seem hypercomplex and fastidiously interconnected at the periphery, but empty at the core. Individuals will feel exquisitely exempt from the day-to-day random vagaries of nature and civil authority, yet rawly vulnerable to the greatest disaster fate can mete out. With soft finger strokes from their home-based tech-centers, millions of people will be commanding pizza deliveries, masterminding financial transactions, and securing hard-disk secrets. But they will be acutely aware that the Unraveling era's "empowered invididual" survives on the flimsiest of foundations -- that, with just one tsunami, the whole archipelago of little human islands could sink into a sea of social chaos. The better the economy performs, the more people will feel they have to lose, and the worse will be the national case of nerves. ...

People young and old will puzzle over what it felt like for their parents and grandparents, in a distantly remembered era, to have lived in a society and felt like one national community. They will yearn to recreate this, to put America back together again. But no one will know how. ...

By the early Oh-Ohs, when the four generational archetypes fully occupy these life-cycle phases, they will be poised to assert new social roles. Their Unraveling-era behavior cannot and will not continue. The public mood will feel stale, used up, primed for something else. Americans will have had quite enough of glitz and roar, of celebrity circuses, of living as thugh there were no tomrrow. Forebodings will deepen, and spiritual currents will darken. Whether we realize it or not, we will be ready for a dramatic event to shock the nation out of its complacency and decay.

The Fourth Turning will be at hand." [pp. 251-53]

This is what Strauss and Howe wrote in the early 1990s, and we see it happening today. Whether the subject is the stock market, the war in Iraq, or our relations with China, Americans are in a state of almost total denial. And like Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Americans are going to be completely shocked and surprised what will happens. Unfortunately, the stakes are infinitely higher for us than they were for Israel last summer.

That's why I keep telling everyone who reads this web site: Nobody can stop what's coming, but you can prepare for it. Treasure the time you have left, and use it to prepare yourself, your family, your community and your nation. (4-May-07) Permanent Link
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