Friday, August 27, 2010

Domestic Politics Anyone?

Interesting piece suggesting that the time is ripe for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement.  I am no expert on this part of the world, having studiously avoided it for nearly my entire career.  But here I go with one modest thought: domestic politics?  The writer asserts that "Yes, Mr. Netanyahu would face strident opposition from within his Likud party, but he could lean on the support of the Israeli center and left to ensure a Knesset majority."  Sure, that would be easy, wouldn't it?  Or not.  That is, a) Netanyahu has shown little desire or inclination to defy his party (indeed, he has helped set the tone, right?); and b) why would a politician decide to betray his party so completely?  Netanyahu would either want to destroy his career since his position depends on his party's support or jump parties.  Are either of these likely?

I could go on to talk about credible commitment problems, but I just want to point out here (as I have before) that we can wish for all kinds of things and they usually come under the category of political will.  Yet, until we can figure out how to design plans that provide incentives to politicians to take the deal (under the table side payments, promises of Nobel Peace Prizes for those with egos, over the table side payments to help buy off the opponents, whatever), we cannot expect politicians to do what might be right if it is politically costly.  Politicians simply do not like to defy their base all that often.  The problem in Afghanistan is that Karzai's base is the corrupt folks and warlords (as if warlords are not corrupt).  Dumping these guys is not something he is likely to do.  Netanyahu cannot simply ignore his party.  So once again, I do wonder where the editor of the op-ed page is for the NYT--or is it the op-wish page?

No comments: