TLR 172: Inaction by Design vs Inaction by Default
October 19, 2015
This issue has been written — and rewritten and updated — against a background of daily terror attacks In Jerusalem and elsewhere. The measure of their success, from a strategic point of view, is the degree of disruption they generate in people’s lives, through fear and sheer uncertainty — an attack can occur anywhere, involving anyone. That is why the primary response of the government and the security forces is aimed at maintaining and restoring normal activity as rapidly as possible. Although it is clear that the tactical instructions to the police and other security forces are to ensure that the attackers ends up dead, the strategic response is to seek to prevent the attacks occurring and, if they occur, to prevent them from destroying the pattern of social, commercial and even educational activity.
The Netanyahu government is sticking to this policy of minimal response despite widespread criticism from a fearful and panicky public and from politicians representing that public or leveraging those emotions to advance their own political agenda. But this is only the most recent example of a much wider policy approach, that I term “pro-active passivity”, which is being employed in response to the broad spectrum of challenges at home, in the West Bank and Gaza and, most strikingly, with regard to the deepening mess in Syria and the entire regional meltdown.
This issue is therefore focused on A] Regional Developments, including the more local ones which are themselves expressions of the regional upheaval underway and the surge in radical Islamism, among both Sunnis and Shi’a. Despite the drama and emotion generated by domestic unrest, the most important developments are occurring in Syria, with the Russian intervention there creating an entirely new situation. Opinions may differ as to the likely outcome of this intervention, but there can be no doubt that the degree of danger it has generated, in both regional and global affairs, has risen considerably. For Israel, especially, the viability of its policy of non-involvement in the Syrian civil war and in the wider Sunni-Shi’a clash will be tested by the determination of Iran to translate the nuclear agreement with the P5+1 and its direct co-operation with Russia in Syria (and perhaps Iraq) into expanded regional power.
But whereas Israeli regional policy is one of ‘inaction by design’, where deliberate inaction is tempered by carefully defined and limited action where deemed necessary, the same cannot be said for a slew of domestic policies — including monetary policy, much of fiscal policy and, most glaringly, energy policy. In all of these areas, inaction is the dominant characteristic but, as will be discussed in subsequent issues, this is inaction by default, which is a very different and far more negative phenomenon.
A: Regional Developments
a) The simmering Palestinian pot
b) Very serious in Syria
c) Pro-active passivity — but for how long?