Monday, May 1, 2017

Netanyahu's Bold Move Against Europe, Venezuela Descends Into Chaos, Further N Korea Nuclear Testing May Goad China Into Oil Embargo

Netanyahu’s bold move against Europe

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted a new strategy for managing Israel’s diplomatic relations with the West. Long in the making and increasingly urgent, Israel’s new strategy is very simple. Foreign governments can either treat Israel in accordance with international diplomatic norms of behavior, or they can continue to discriminate against Israel.

If they act in accordance to international diplomatic norms, Israel will respond in like fashion. If they choose instead to discriminate against Israel and treat it in a manner no other democratic state is treated, Israel will abandon diplomatic convention and treat foreign governments as domestic critics.

 Monday, after his repeated requests for Germany’s visiting Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to cancel his plans to meet with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, Netanyahu gave Gabriel an ultimatum. Gabriel could meet with Netanyahu, or he could meet with Breaking the Silence.

Gabriel refused to cancel his meeting with Breaking the Silence. So Netanyahu canceled their meeting.

To understand the strategic significance of Netanyahu’s decision and what further steps are now required to ensure the success of his strategy, it is necessary to understand what Breaking the Silence represents. It is then important to recognize how it is used by Berlin and other foreign governments.

But first, Netanyahu’s move has to be seen in a general context.

Today’s Western democracies are in a furor over the notion that foreign governments would dare to interfere in their domestic affairs. The uproar in the US over Russia and in Europe over Turkish efforts to drum up support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan among Turkish nationals in Europe make clear how roundly democracies decry attempts by foreign governments to influence their internal politics.

This then brings us to Israel, and the unique rules that the West applies in its dealing with the Jewish state.

In the final quarter of the 20th century, European and other Western states abandoned their earlier support for Israel. From 1974 on, Europeans could be depended on to either support condemnations of Israel at the UN and other international forums, or to abstain from votes.

Whereas from 1974 to 2000, European hostility was largely limited to the diplomatic arena, beginning in 2000, the Europeans began to expand their anti-Israel policies to the Israeli domestic political sphere.

After the PLO abandoned the peace process with Israel at the July 2000 Camp David summit and initiated its terrorist war against Israel two months later, the Europeans began massively funding radical leftist groups registered as NGOs in Israel. 

The collapse of the peace process and the initiation of the Palestinian terrorist war all but dried up domestic support for groups like Peace Now, B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights. But with millions of euros in their pockets and the unconditional diplomatic support of Europe, these groups were able to become players in Israel’s domestic politics and cause massive harm to Israel’s international standing.

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of Netanyahu’s diplomatic gambit this week is that opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog refused to support him. Instead, Herzog sided with Gabriel. He insisted that Netanyahu harmed Israel’s relations with Germany by demanding to be treated in a manner that comports with international norms.

For decades, the political Left has claimed that it can manage Israel’s diplomatic ties better than the Right, which it castigates as inept, incompetent and dangerous to Israel’s international standing. By failing to recognize why Netanyahu’s move was vital for Israel’s international standing, or to understand that international conditions have changed sufficiently to allow Israel to stand up for itself, Herzog and his colleagues showed that their boastful claims to diplomatic capabilities are empty.

Netanyahu took a necessary first step toward implementing a constructive strategy for handling Western diplomatic warfare. More steps are still required for this strategy to succeed. But at least, for the first time in years, Israel is finally taking a constructive position in its own defense.

It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. Venezuela was going to be a workers' paradise. President Hugo Chávez said so and declared early into his first term, in 1999, that Venezuela and Cuba would sail toward the same “sea of happiness.” Not surprisingly, Venezuela is now a workers' hell. Authoritarian and dysfunctional, the oil-rich yet impoverished South American nation of 31 million people suffers dire food shortages; soaring levels of violent crime (28,479 deaths reported last year); and epic levels of corruption and drug trafficking. Unemployment is soaring – not surprising given that large swaths of the economy have been nationalized. Venezuela's court-ordered seizure of a General Motors plant is the latest such calamity.

Now Venezuelans are venting their anger like never before, and this includes protesters who were once the bedrock of Chávez's political base – the poor. In recent weeks, tens of thousands of Venezuelans have staged massive anti-government protests that turned streets and highways into seas of humanity. Security forces and armed pro-government militias – Chavista enforcers riding motorcycles -- have met the protesters with force: rubber bullets, tear gas, and deadly gunfire. More than 30 people have died and hundreds injured and arrested. Protesters are demanding fresh elections and the restoration of an independent parliament. Human rights watchdogs and neighboring countries are voicing concern over the unfolding crisis.

The protests are aimed at President Nicolás Maduro, the bus driver-turned politician who succeeded the late Hugo Chávez. Maduro has double downed on Chávez's policies. Now he embodies all the traits of a dictator in an oil-producing country whose coffers hit rock bottom as oil prices tanked. Venezuela produces little for itself. It is dependent on oil. Petrodollars, however, can no longer pay for Venezuela's traditional style of governance: statism and bread-and-circuses populism. Maduro, for his part, blames the chaos on an "economic war" being waged against him by Washington and Venezuelan elites. 

Chinese diplomatic analysts believe further nuclear tests by North Korea could push Beijing over the edge, prompting an oil embargo that would deal a devastating blow to Pyongyang’s stability.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News that he had been informed that “China would be taking sanctions actions on their own,” should Pyongyang conduct another nuclear test.

Crude oil is very likely to be included as part of new U.N. sanctions if North Korea continues with its provocative nuclear tests, and China will almost certainly endorse such an effort,” Sun Xingjie, an expert on North Korea from Jilin University said on the matter.

“Instead of an oil embargo of just one or two months, which is unlikely to have a major impact on North Korea’s strategic oil reserves, we are talking about a halt in Chinese crude oil supplies for at least six months. That would be a real nightmare for Kim, said Sun.
The expert said Beijing would likely require a mandate from the U.N. to take new actions against Pyongyang absent further nuclear activity.


Caver said...

Hummmmm Sounds like Israel is very comfortable with our support and is finally able to take a solid stand for themselves. Bet the Pallies and EU Libs are having conniptions. Their world is being turned upside down as it was. Now Bibi is starting to shake it and there's not much they can do about it except bluster.

Don't mean to sound cruel of vengeful, but after so many years of watching Israel being abused, this has that certain feeling of satisfaction. Like multiple Bible verses coming to fruitation at the same time.

Bt374 said...

Amen! I agree Caver. I was in 2 Corinthians today, and was encouraged by Pauls' boldness for God! Not in vengeance. Not in fleshly pride. But instead, in love with God, who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He WILL do!