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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 5-May-06
International game of "chicken" leading to disaster in Gaza

Web Log - May, 2006

International game of "chicken" leading to disaster in Gaza

Mideast envoy James Wolfensohn quits in disgust with all participants in the so-called "peace process."

Wolfensohn had been appointed by the "Quartet" of nations (the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia) that put forth the Mideast Roadmap to Peace in 2003. His job was to help the negotiation process between Jews and Palestinians, and specifically to make sure that last year's Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip went smoothly and brought prosperity to the Palestinians living there.

There's no question that Wolfensohn did his best. He negotiated several agreements between the parties. And, as former President of the World Bank, he used his formidable list of contacts to get investors to purchase dozens of greenhouses left behind by Israeli settlers, so that Palestinians could use them right away to get hard currency by growing food for exports.

Unfortunately, the commitments in the agreements weren't always honored. As for the greenhouses, several were looted by Palestinian militias, and the food grown at the other greenhouses couldn't be exported because the Israelis had closed the borders for security reasons.

Finally he'd had enough, according to Robert Rosenberg's Ariga column for Wednesday:

"But Wolfensohn is leaving in apparent disgust with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the international community, regarding the entire effort to isolate the Hamas government a punishment of the Palestinians, which will only lead to more despair and intransigence on the Palestinian side. Ever the diplomat, he is not stating outright how disgusted he is, but he has made clear that he is furious about broken Israeli promises to take steps to ease conditions for the Palestinians, particularly Gazans, where half the population is now living beneath the World Bank's own measure of poverty -- less than $2 a day. He's no less frustrated by the Palestinians, particularly their inability to rein in the lawlessness that took over in Gaza. Indeed, while some of the greenhouses he purchased were successfully handed over to Palestinians (who are going bankrupt because of Israeli security restrictions that make agricultural exports out of Gaza extremely slow and difficult) others were ruined by in fighting by rival gangs that nobody in Gaza can control. As for the international community, which 'hired' him as an expert in economic development, he is disgusted with its inability to intervene with anything other than isolation of the Hamas government."

What's happening is a truly incredible international game of chicken. Are you old enough to remember how this game became popular in the 1940s and 1950s? Two teenagers would drive their cars full speed straight towards each other from opposite ends of the field. The first driver to swerve to avoid an accident is the "chicken."

That's what's going on now. On one side you have the West -- Israel, the U.S., the E.U. and Russia -- who have cut off aid to the Palestinians, believing that it will force the new Hamas government to recognize Israel and bring the terrorism under control.

Careening down the field from the other direction is the Hamas leaderhip itself, who believe that the West won't let the Palestinians starve to death, and will have to give in and provide aid after all.

Of course, in the game of chicken it's possible that neither driver will swerve, and then everyone gets killed. I'm sure, dear reader, that I don't need to continue this analogy for you.

As I've explained many times on this web site, day to day political events are chaotic events that fall like snowflakes in random ways. But just as millions of snowflakes get "attracted" to large snow drifts, millions of individual political events get attracted to the impending Mideast war, since war is a "chaotic attractor" at this time, 57 years after the end of the 1940s genocidal war between Arabs and Jews.

I keep documenting these incidents because it's so remarkable to see this work. Applying Chaos Theory to political events was something I developed and wrote about a year or two ago (see the chapter on Chaos Theory in my new book, a draft of which can be reached from the home page). But that's really all it was when I developed it - a theory.

Now we can see this theoretical concept of "attractor" come true on a day to day basis. It's been happening every since Yasser Arafat died, and has evidently accelerated ever since Ariel Sharon became incapacitated.

Look at the day to day political events as they've occurred in the last year and a half. Pick almost any day and look at the headlines for that day, and you'll see that it most likely moves the Mideast in the direction of war. There are a few exceptions of course, like the period when Mahmoud Abbas was elected and took office, and hopes were raised at that time.

But those brief intervals are like a heat wave in New York City in November -- just because the weather gets warm for a few days doesn't mean that winter isn't coming. Once the heat wave is over, the weather starts getting much colder again. Similarly, there are brief periods when things seem to get better, but they pass quickly, and then political events move back towards war.

That what "attractor" means in Chaos Theory. It doesn't mean that every political event brings the Mideast closer to war; it means that political events float around in all directions, at random, but most of them, not necessarily all of them, are attracted to Mideast war.

It's an exciting theoretical development and an exciting application of the theory. At moments like this I only wish that there weren't so much at stake that's it's impossible to enjoy this kind of discovery. (5-May-06) Permanent Link
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