Barak's Hard Place

Politics and policy.
July 16 1999 3:00 AM

Barak's Hard Place

Why America should calm down about the new Israeli prime minister.

(Continued from Page 1)

4The instability of Syria and the Palestinian Authority. Syrian strongman Hafez Assad is old and ailing. His son and heir, Bashar, is inexperienced (he's an ophthalmologist by training). Assad's ruling Alawites are a tenuous minority, only 11 percent of the population. Syria's former patron, the Soviet Union, is dead. Syria's economy is totally broken. As long as Assad lives, he can manage these troubles and keep an agreement with Israel. But if he dies, it's not clear that Syria can control Lebanon or that the Golan border will remain peaceful.

Advertisement

The Palestinian situation is more perilous. Arafat is also ailing and has no clear successor. His authoritarian rule has prevented the emergence of future leaders and the development of strong civic and political institutions. Extremists (such as Hamas) and moderates are already jockeying for power. The Palestinian economy is a disaster, devastated by Israeli limits on Palestinians working in Israel. The return of hundreds of thousands of destitute Palestinian refugees from camps in Lebanon and Jordan will only compound the economic misery.

So if Barak gets his final deal with the Palestinians, Israel may find itself with a new kind of problem: an autonomous Palestinian state, a stone's throw (literally) from sacred Israeli territory, that is sinking into Third World poverty, anarchy, and civil war. This could be a peace, even a good peace, but it won't be cause for euphoria.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.