A major theme of Donald Trump’s plenary speech at the RNC accepting the Republican nomination for President was that the lack of security in the USA and around the world is bad for prosperity. Certainly on the face of it this seems to be true, after all the recent attacks by IS operatives in Paris, Brussels, Nice, Baghdad, Istanbul, Dhaka and Munich, as well as in the US at San Bernadino and Orlando, are clearly a world-wide organized phenomenon that seeks to undermine the security and confidence of the Western world. Such a wave of terrorism seems destined to reduce the confidence and hence the prosperity of the Western capitalist world.
But, wait a minute, there is an alternative argument, and the example for that is – Israel! Israel has been under attack since its inception, it has not only been subjected to a series of devastating wars, one almost every decade of its existence (1948, War of Independence; 1956, Suez Campaign; 1967, Six-Day War; 1973, Yom Kippur War; 1982, First Lebanon War; 2000, Second Intifada; 2006, Second Lebanon War; 2008, First Gaza War; 2014, Second Gaza War), but also to a wave of terrorism by Palestinian organizations (Hamas and the Palestine Authority/PLO) that continues until today. Also, Israel has been subjected to an unprecedented attack on its legitimacy by the supposed liberal Western elites. Yet, all throughout this time Israel has prospered and become more affluent and more technologically developed.
To what can one attribute this amazing fact? Conditions of stress and attack sometimes brings out the best in people, they struggle to improve their situation, to make their lives better and more secure, they find means to overcome the threats. So for example, Israel’s IDF is probably one of the best armies in the world, the IAF is the best air force in the world, Israel’s development of drones, cyber-security and intelligence handling show what can be done while under constant attack. I am not recommending this as a situation to be desired, but it does prove the point that such attacks need not be a cause of loss of confidence and prosperity.
However, obviously a lot depends on the nature of the people and the country being attacked. Clearly Israel has a very strong national cohesiveness, contrary to early propaganda widely believed in the West. Jews of Ashkenazi (European) origin, Sefardi (Spanish) origin, and of Mizrachi (Middle Eastern) origin, as well as the more recent waves of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, have melded together into a strong and cohesive nationality. Perhaps what Trump is really saying is that the USA and the European countries do not have that kind of positive cohesiveness that can withstand these continued attacks.
In fact, in Europe the Brexit vote may be the beginning of the unravelling of the EU, given that there is both a north-south divide between rich and poor countries and an east-west divide between developed and undeveloped countries. For example, Germany is practically carrying Greece economically, and while France is technologically developed, Poland is largely agrarian. Also, differences in reaction to the Muslim migrant crisis show the schism between many central European states, such as Hungary, that will not allow any migrants to enter and for example Germany that has accepted 1.2 million.
Perhaps the migrants in time will help to improve the economic status as they have done over history in the USA, Canada and elsewhere. But, that is not the point, the Muslims bring with them a large unassimilable minority of violent radical extremists, who can quickly turn into terrorists. Trump is right that something active and radical must be done to save the West from this scourge and from the current passive acceptance, before it is too late.