(My thanks to Mr. C.D.H. of the U.K. for drawing our attention to this!)
Yesterday I blogged about the Iranian nuclear deal and the Ukraine's sudden pivot away from the European union and back towards Moscow as a part of a growing list of indicators that US diplomatic power is on the irrevocable wane, and that it has left the Tel Aviv-Riyadh relationship somewhat isolated. But even that isolation is being carefully sidelined, at least, by Tel Aviv and Beijing, and there are indications that New Delhi is jumping on the bandwagon. What I'm talking about is this:
There are three paragraphs here I think are worth highlighting, for there is, once again, an unstated hidden text uniting them, and the first two are self-explanatory:
"Clearly, since 1992, the Sino-Israeli relationship has become increasingly robust and mature. Over the years, bilateral trade has expanded in vital areas. In 2009, China was Israel’s 11th-largest foreign market; by 2012, it was second only to the United States. The last two decades have seen high-level exchanges, helping to strengthen political trust. China is currently Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and the third-largest worldwide. Projections have Israel’s annual trade with China rising from a two-way volume of $8 billion in 2012 to $10 billion over the next half-decade. This could include stronger cooperation in high-tech sectors, joint construction of industrial parks and technology transfer centers, and a boost in agricultural cooperation. This is in addition to strengthening China’s soft power potential by facilitating cultural exchanges such as the celebration of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Israel and “Experience China in Israel.” Confucius Institutes have been set up within Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, offering Israelis a platform to learn about Chinese culture.
"The path of India-Israel relations has not been dissimilar. Initially, India-Israel ties were rocky, not helped by the Cold War. India was perhaps the first postcolonial country to have opposed the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1948. New Delhi refused to establish diplomatic relations until 1992, when the political situation in West Asia transformed following the shift in stance of the Palestine Liberation Organization that eventually led to the Oslo Accord. The change of global political climate after the breakup of the Soviet Union, which forced New Delhi to “Look West,” helped strengthen ties with Tel Aviv. The liberalization drive in India reinforced relations in vital areas. India’s emerging ties with the U.S. helped."
In other words, while the USA has been busy building the biggest and most technologically sophisticated military, and protecting Israeli interests, it has little else to offer by way of actual trade. China does, and in areas where the two nations' interests complement each other. The same, remarkably, for New Delhi and Tel Aviv. But then there's this:
"Meanwhile, India-China relations have developed rapidly over the last two decades, notwithstanding border tensions. From a modest $2.92 billion in 2000, two-way trade had ballooned to $66 billion by 2012. China became India’s top trading partner during the 2008-9 fiscal year, dislodging the U.S." (Emphasis added)
The common thread here is that America's volume of trade is falling, along with its diplomatic coin, and Israel and India are responding accordingly. Project this trend forward into a future that, at present, would seem remarkably unlikely: imagine that the ties between Tel Aviv, New Delhi, and Beijing increase to the point that - as all commercial relationships develop - it becomes a political and military relationship. At that point, the West loses its last major projection of power and influence into the region of the Middle East, besides Turkey. To be sure, the volume of trade and aid pales beside that of the USA.
Unlikely? At the moment, to be sure. But the trend itself is what is the significant factor here. And here, as elsewhere, the trend is clear: the USA's influence is declining, and Syria (and the Iranian nuclear deal) are the clear indicators of that. Is the scenario unlikely? Again, to be sure. But turn the clock back forty years. Forty years ago, would anyone have even thought it possible that the volume of Israeli-Chinese, or Israeli-Indian trade would be this great, much less that the India or China would recognize Israel? The Chinese proverb says "May you live in interesting times." And the sooner the Western oligarchs wake up and realize they're living in interesting times, and have to "think the unthinkable," the better.
See you on the flip side.