The English word "quixotic", meaning strange behavior distanced from reality, comes from the famous Spanish novel DON QUIXOTE, by Miguel Cervantes, which many centuries later remains the prime masterpiece of Spanish literature. Don Quixote is an aged, befuddled knight, influenced by romantic tales of chivalry and derring-do, who gets on his equally aged horse and accompanied by his rotund squire, Sancho Panza, rides off into the countryside to battle the forces of evil and to rescue damsels in distress.
The iconic scene from the novel is when Don Quixote attacks a windmill, mistaking it for a four-armed monster. The windmill captures his spear and deposits him unceremoniously on the ground. It is a perfect description of the continuous attempts over many years and multiple administrations in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Washington to square the Palestinian-Israeli circle.
President Trump, urged by Ron Lauder, has turned aside from much more significant matters, such as putting together a coalition to confront Iran and the terrorist organizations, to plunge into yet another quixotic quest to broker an agreement between two parties, neither of which wants it. While this tilting at windmills goes on for who knows how long and how many exhausting and fruitless meetings, President Trump's trip to Israel threatens to overshadow attention to other matters of much greater significance.
A massive cyberattack involving more than 100 countries and using methods devised by the US National Security Agency (NSA) dramatically demonstrates two facts: the trade secrets of the NSA and its foreign counterparts in the West have been systematically revealed by a series of traitors, and this will continue until the spy agencies stop using private contractors and take seriously their own security clearance systems, and when the governments and private organizations vulnerable to cyber-attack finally begin to take the threat seriously.
Trump's naming of a commission to devise means of protecting the energy grid in the US is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done in this regard, as well as in devising plans to counter the possibility of electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attacks by rogue states.
In this regard, Israel is in a relatively good position, having taken the threats seriously and creating a cyber-center in Beersheva to elaborate defensive measures as well as offensive capabilities. Israel is also involved in the impending inauguration of a hi-tech center in Jordan, sponsored by both governments, and another significant demonstration of the centrality of science and technology in today's international relations. With so much to be done in so many vital areas, it is truly tragic that both the US and Israel will waste so much time and so many resources tilting at the Palestinian windmill.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The views he expresses are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of "Globes".
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 14, 2017
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017