One of the main “architects” of the peace process from the Israeli/U.S. side was a buffoon by the name of Richard Haas. If you google “richard haas + middle east peace”, you will get over 30,000 hits, which is a testimony to the extent of his involvement in the process. Either as a U.S. “official” or a think tank “intellectual”, he was involved in – nay, he planned – every wrong turn in the past 30 years that led to the current dead end. For his services he was made president of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.
Now, if after 30 years of constant planning, plotting, intellectualizing, scheming, conspiring, etc., you run the “Middle East peace” into a wall – and the U.S. credibility in the region into a gutter – what do you do next?
Why, you move into something about which, if that’s at all possible, you know even less.
So it was Richard Haas again, in yesterday’s Financial Times, who turned his attention from foreign to domestic affairs and offered economic and policy advice to the U.S. government. The commentary was jointly written with Roger Altman who has ambitions of his own (to replace Geithner). Naturally, it was about the urgency of cutting the social spending and what would happen if cuts did not materialize soon. Here is a gem from the piece:
The American economy is strengthening, and that will improve federal revenue. The annual deficit will narrow to 4-5 per cent of GDP – still very large – by mid-decade. But it will then widen again as the growing elderly population drives up medical costs. New tax cuts, along with the extension of old ones approved in the recent lame-duck congressional session, will only make matters worse.The American economy is strengthening but then people will stop dying early and that, together with the tax cuts that we pushed for, will make matters worse so we have to cut social security NOW. Got it?
But sound reasoning is not the point of these pieces. A mercenary like Haas does not care about the principles of syllogism in the same way that a thug who pulls a knife does not care about the aesthetics of swordsmanship. The point is softening the populace for the upcoming assault through intimidation.
As for the “macro picture”, you can be sure that with Haas's involvement, a dead end is not too far off.