The Republican candidate's comments on Israel's economic success is intellectually lazy and historically myopic
By Mark LeVine
"It's the kind of remark we might have expected from President George W Bush. Looking out over a sea of wealthy Israeli Jews and Jewish American donors in Jerusalem, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney declared that the reason Israeli society is so much more developed than its Palestinian counterpart comes down to "at least culture and a few other things".......
Yet if Romney would have read Landes' book more carefully, or better, have read Ibn Khaldun (whom Landes barely acknowledges), he'd realise that even the greatest empires and the most unique cultures rise and fall over the course of history; their success pushing rivals to adapt and innovate as they become arrogant, complacent and overstretched. The balance of power has already shifted in the United States' relationship with the rest of the world. Israel has so far avoided such a fate, because of the continued asymmetry in the balance of power with its neighbours and adversaries, and the unhesitant backing of the US that guarantees its military superiority and political unaccountability.
As the Arab world continues with its fitful transformation away from the old authoritarian order and towards more open societies and representative forms of government, a "new Middle East" will begin to emerge, one that is as different from the Israel-centred economic and cultural union envisioned by Shimon Peres and the architects of the now defunct Oslo order as the emerging global system is from the triumphalist predictions of unchallenged US power by neocons and neoliberals a generation ago.
Ultimately, if both countries don't take a much more honest look at their histories and the dynamics shaping the present, they will find themselves confronting strategic environments in which egoistic self-congratulation, historical amnesia and brute force hasten rather than check the slide into national and imperial decline."