As if the whole coronavirus crisis were not enough, having ended with a resounding crash an economic boom in the US not seen for decades, now the brutal death of a black man at the hands (or rather knee) of a white policeman in Minneapolis has resulted in days of peaceful demonstrations quickly morphing into violent riots in dozens of cities throughout the country, complete with confrontations with police, burning of cars, trucks and buildings and widespread looting, to the undisguised glee of the Russians, Chinese, Iranians and Turks. There are indications of organized groups behind the rioters, doing reconnaissance and stationing supplies, such as bricks, at strategic points, as well as Russian, Iranian and perhaps Chinese hacking of law enforcement facilities to add to the chaos. Fake news and open incitement are all over the social networks.
Any incipient signs of recovery from the virus lockdown will be reversed as a result of the violence, and the likelihood of a second viral wave will be enhanced by the lack of social distancing and wearing of masks during the demonstrations and riots. Until February of this year President Trump was seen by the handful of objective observers as having had a mixed presidency, with the economic recovery the principal positive point (except for Israelis and Israel's US supporters, for whom policy towards Israel was the major accomplishment).
Now, a mere four months later, it is all down the tubes. Due to his personality Trump is probably the worst possible president to calm the situation and hasten a now far-off return to something approaching normality.
In short, the situation is dire. Not that there have not been other examples of widespread social disruption in recent American history, including the radical uprisings during the 60's and the rioting following the beating up of Rodney King by the police in Los Angeles during the presidency of George H. W. Bush. Certainly the fiscal irresponsibility of three presidencies in a row bodes ill for the future of the country, along with all the other negative factors.
At this point, and barring further unforeseen events, the election of former vice-president Joe Biden is a near-certainty. That, plus the fact that the attention of Americans in the foreseeable future is going to be concentrated domestically, is bad news for Israel. Coupled with the serious internal problems Israel will be facing over the next couple of years, the country could be faced with severe external threats, with less support from the US than usual. Certainly now is not the time to go ahead with a questionable "annexation" of parts of the West Bank. Problematic in any case for various reasons, such a move will have no US cover whatsoever after January 20, 2021--quite the contrary.
Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute, and adjunct professor at the Institute of Worlld Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 7, 2020
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