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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

August 24, 2008- Israel in a New World

When Yitzhak Rabin became Prime Minister in 1991, he was convinced that the time was ripe to change the map of the Middle East and reach regional peace agreements. He tried first with Syria and when that did not work, he reached the Oslo Accords with the PLO. Rabin was convinced that there was a moment in history with the fall of the Soviet Union that was right for reaching a peace accord with additional parts or the Arab world. American power was at a zenith, and his feeling was this was the time. Unfortunately, that window now seems to have closed.

The events in the last week made a fundemental change in the state of the world. In 1991, political scientists were talking about a unipolar world in which the US dominated. Today, after the Russian invasion of Georgia and the Olympics in China, it is clear that the world is not unipolar, but in fact multipolar, with multiple sources of competing powers. Unfortunately, Israel's adversaries (Syria and Iran) are now parts of the power equation between the US and Russia and to a lesser extent China. The ability to end the Iranian nuclear program through political means has gone from unlikely to nearly unthinkable. At the same time the political and military repercussions of a military strike have become even more problematic. It is now a very complicated world, with Israel having to balance between Sunni and Shiite, Russia and US. The only slightly positive factor in today's multi-polar world is that if until the 1990's Israel had limited or no relations with any of the non-western nations in the world, today, in this global world, Israel has strong economic ties to both China and Russia. Let's hope that Israel successfully negotiates this new multipolar world.

Initial reactions in Israel to the selection of Joe Biden, as Democratic VP have been mixed. His record in the Senate has been reliably pro-Israel, however, Israeli commentators noted that there were a number of times, during both the first and second Lebanon wars, that Biden joined a number of other Senators to put pressure on Israel.