Year in Review: Washington Wrap| September 16, 2020
Even if Biden wins the election, the Arabs are unlikely to forgo the opportunities cooperation with Israel opens for them
On Every Front
America at the close of 5780 is a nation still ravaged by a pandemic, torn apart by violent clashes borne of racial tensions, and struggling to rehabilitate its economy. Many of the festering ills of American society have burst to the surface during this past year. This is supposed to be a festive issue of the magazine, but let’s admit it: This has been a year most of us would prefer to forget.
So many people have lost friends or relatives. Others are out of work or have had to close their businesses. The economy showed signs of recovery in recent weeks, encouraged by the optimistic view that the worst is behind us and a vaccine is not far behind. But millions are still unemployed and there’s no guarantee that they will rejoin the workforce anytime soon. While the stock market seems to be bouncing back, the economic ramifications of this crisis will surely remain with us for a long time to come.
Police shootings of a number of black civilians and the violent rioting that followed have exposed the fact that America is a divided nation. Entire segments of the country don’t talk to one another and perceive each other as enemies, not partners.
And yet another conflict, between the United States and China, has intensified as well as diversified this year. What began as a trade war, fought with limited success, morphed into something more deadly with the outbreak of the pandemic. Many Americans blame China for the coronavirus; senior government officials, following the president’s lead, call it the “Wuhan virus” and have even alleged that the virus was laboratory manufactured and unleashed on an unsuspecting world.
Powerless to attack the viral invader directly, the administration took its revenge on a different front, resolving to shut China out of the fifth-generation technology market. Using all their diplomatic might, officials conducted negotiations with virtually every friendly nation resulting in, among other things, the recent agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, which includes a commitment to remove technology from “untrusted vendors” from their mobile networks — confirmed by Serbian and Kosovan officials as being directed against Huawei.
With China forging ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran, the mutual suspicion between the US and China will continue to dominate the global agenda. It’s a cold war, but one that is being waged on every possible front: in trade; in agriculture; and most definitely online, with technology theft a growing “field” for crime entrepreneurs. The casualties of this war will not be soldiers or pilots; they will be farmers, cattle breeders, and manufacturers of semiconductors. Right now, at least, there seems to be no end in sight.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”
—President Donald Trump with yet another unforgettable barrage of sage advice. Like many of his quotes, this one prompted the same debate: Was he joking? Was he serious? Was he misunderstood? And, like many of his quotes, we will simply never know.
A New Virtual Reality
A substantial part of a journalist’s life consists of meetings. Several days a week are spent in Congress or at research institutes, and in between are meetings with sources for coffee or lunch. These are now all things of the past. Meetings in Washington have become a rarity; virtually everything has moved online.
Coronavirus has redesigned the workplace for almost all of us. The personal connection is gone, replaced by polite emails and phone calls. Let’s hope that during the coming year this enforced isolation will become a thing of the past.
Normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will have a long-term impact on the region. The treaty changes the rules of the game the Arabs set in the peace framework drawn up by the Arab League. Until now, normalization with Israel was officially conditioned on a deal with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians seem to be becoming more intransigent and the Arab world has more important matters to deal with — namely, Iran. Even if Biden wins the election, the Arabs are unlikely to forgo the opportunities cooperation with Israel opens for them.
Stat of the Year
That’s the current unemployment rate in the United States. On the one hand, this represents a catastrophic number of people who are out of a job. On the other hand, the rate was twice as high just a few months ago, which allows for cautious optimism that in the next few months, the recovery will continue.
Game Changer — NOT
Trump Survived Impeachment
Way back in the distant pre-coronavirus past, many were those who thought that President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate would be the event to dominate the 2020 election. After he survived the impeachment, and given the then-strong and stable economy, it was assumed that the failure of the Democrats to remove him from office would be perceived as petty partisanship that would galvanize his supporters to go out and vote en masse. Ten months and eons later, it is doubtful if anyone even remembers it.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 828)
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