The year 2013 is opening on an international geo-political panorama that is changing in startling and fundamental ways with increasing rapidity.
The decline of the hegemonic power continues and gathers speed. American society is split down the middle and American politics is increasingly venomous. The absurd spectacle of the so-called "fiscal cliff" is a perfect reflection of these phenomena. In the meantime, the deficit and accumulated debt expand exponentially, and the number of people dependent in whole or in part is approaching half the population.
The agreements just concluded between India and ASEAN completes the southern and eastern portions of the "cordon sanitaire" being constructed around an increasingly aggressive and threatening China.
After a process which began with the unification of Germany in 1870 through the Prussian defeat of Austria and France and which continued with the military debacles of WWI and WWII, Germany without firing a shot has achieved its goal of dominating Europe. Only England and France come even close to being able to stand up to it.
Russia, both a European and an Asian power, is nervously watching both frontiers and trying to decide whether to cooperate with or to contain China and Germany.
The Middle East is becoming primarily an annoyance, albeit a dangerous one, whether because of threatening disintegration, as in the cases of Pakistan, Syria and Libya or because of a push to dominate the region through the development of nuclear weaponry in the case of Iran.
Countries such as Israel need, first, to understand, follow and analyze the current trends; second, to have the flexibility necessary to navigate the dangerous rapids and shoals appearing everywhere, and third, to learn to be as self-reliant as possible. As has been said "In international relations there are no permanent friends--only permanent interests".
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and a lecturer at The Israeli National Defense College (MABAL), 2011-2012 session.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 2, 2013
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