Sunday, December 10, 2017

Extreme Decisions

One of the consequences of the emerging populism in ruling politics and the shallowing of the nations is taking extreme decisions. Of course this concerns both small and big countries. But such decisions are mostly interesting in bigger powers. In this case the consequences of the decisions are global.

The world has now three times followed live transmissions of major announcements by President Trump, the leaving of the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and now the disastrous decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel. On issues where he cannot alone make policy changes, the president has had a less smooth start. But now the tax reform seem to succeed in collaboration with the Republicans. The other three mentioned decisions also have wide Republican support. Thus Trump succeeds when he is in agreement with his party. And in such cases the decisions are ominous. 

These 4 decisions are examples of what I call extreme decisions. They go beyond what was typical before the present political decline. Moderation from politicians, diplomats and experts hampered irresponsible decisions from presidents, PMs and parliaments like Congress.  Decisions were generally not too far away from the average of politics and societal practises. Perhaps the policies of Thatcher and Reagan were the first sign of more extreme departures. But they could still be accommodated. Generally mature modernity was characterized by not too big deviations from the point of political equilibrium. Decisions were moderate. Of course radical new thinking was possible, but it was often based on considerable insight, and above all, it reduced problems and tensions.

The buffering effect is now reduced. Decisions become extreme. They do not solve problems, but instead disturb the equilibrium and harmony in side nations and if made by greater powers they disturb int'l equilibrium, co-existence and peace. Decisions are based on rigid ideological unmoderated attitudes, not on societal needs, or they are simply a wish to destroy the work of the predecessor from the other political side.

I will not comment all the 4 US decisions. Millions have done this already. I will limit myself to a few general points. The tax reform with its colossal budget deficit will necessitate major cuts. With the present majority and the current president, these cuts will no doubt hit the poor. The removed funding for Obama-care already shows the way. Such extreme decisions without recent precedence will lead to the opposite measures when majorities and presidents shift . And such counter-measures risks being equally extreme and unprecedented. A pendulum with extreme amplitude is set in motion.   Social and political tension and unrest will rise. Not least the socially challenged will react when pressed by extreme decisions from the right wing of politics. Policies seen in greater perspective will be inconsistent and will weaken the United States globally.

Concerning the decision on Jerusalem, this has already been commented in brilliant analyses. I will just once more point to the striking parallels between on the one hand the Middle East today with the hatred against the Western civilization in general and the United States in particular and on the other hand the hatred against Rome two thousand years ago in the same region. The same violence from states and terrorists against the overwhelming cultural and military dominance of another foreign civilization and its strongest power. Paradoxically it was the Jews who then were the "terrorists" fighting Roman soldiers and civilians in Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean. Tens of thousands of Roman civilians are said to have been killed. On the state level Mithridates of Pontos in 88 BC killed 80.000 Romans. Today we see comparable levels of hatred against the Americans in the Middle East. The US decision on Jerusalem will certainly not reduce this. Rather, if it is not accompanied by a massive and effective pressure on Israel to reduce the existing settlements in the West Bank and agree on a two states solution, it will as pointed out by many, lead to more terrorism. Al Qaeda and ISIS could be strengthened. New groups dedicated to revenge Al Quds may emerge.
Whole modernity is filled with internal and int'l conflicts and tensions. An important role for interior politics has always been to navigate carefully in this, calm tensions and solve conflicts. If not for other purposes, then in order to strengyhen the power of ones country.

Internationally seen today the world is too full of intertwined complicated conflicts, and modern warfare is so dangerous that stirring up tensions and war is stupid. One should only do such things if one has insight into the consequences and the power to control them completely. 

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