In the 1990's, Samuel Huntington wrote about the "clash of civilizations", and specifically predicted that the next global conflict of that nature would be between Western (Judeo/Christian; Greco/Roman) civilization and radical Islam. This is what I have called in these columns World War IV (the so-called "Cold War" was World War III). A short few years after his book was published the planes crashed into the twin towers and the Pentagon, and the war was on.
It is now raging, stronger than ever, from Asia to the Middle East to North, Central and East Africa to Europe, where hordes of young Muslim men are staging what can only be accurately termed an invasion. The reaction of the West can best be described as tepid so far. From Brussels to Washington the realization that a new world war is on (and that the West is losing It), has not yet fully penetrated into the consciousness of the West and inspiring leadership is totally lacking.
Only the internal divisions within Islam and the awakening of the Russian bear under Vladimir Putin have thus far prevented even greater gains for the forces of Islamic barbarism. And what of tiny Israel in this monumental struggle? In a curious fashion much of the chaos redounds to Israel's benefit, at least in the short term. Recent examples of this are the decision on the part of Putin to stop buying agricultural produce from Turkey and acquiring it instead from Israel among other sources, as well as the opening of an official Israeli diplomatic office in the UAE. Try as they might, neither the Emirati nor the Israeli disclaimers can obscure the significance of this diplomatic breakthrough.
But the advances of radical Islam in the current global conflict are due more than any other single factor to the decay at the core of Western civilization, in both Europe and North America. And that, in turn, leads to increasing anti-Israel rhetoric and reality. Israel is practically a pariah among Western nations, and the triumph of a Macri in Argentina can only partially compensate for the loss of a Harper in Canada. Strong and steady friends of Israel in the West are few and far between and the Jewish diaspora itself is increasingly divided between supporters and opponents of Israeli policies and actions.
None of this is lost on Jerusalem, which is actively developing economic relations with the countries of Asia and ever-greater collaboration with the arc of moderate Sunni powers, running through Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf states. The economy is strong and the IDF is stronger. But the diplomatic and public relations aspects of Israeli policy and strategy are woefully weak. This paladin of Western values in the eastern Mediterranean is apparently incapable of making its case. Respect for Israel is stronger in parts of the Middle East and Asia than in Europe and North America.
If that problem is not addressed, and immediately, the growing alienation of Israel from its natural allies will continue to widen. Eventually, economic and military strength will be eroded and isolation will increase. The light among the nations will become ever more dim, and then the prognosis for this most recent clash of civilizations will be dire indeed.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and teaches at the Center for National Security Studies and Geostrategy, University of Haifa.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 3, 2015
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