There is no better example of political dynamics than the election of the political outsider with an unrestrained set of tongue and hands, Donald Trump.

What's next? is the great question bothering and/or tantalizing Americans and all who depend on them to greater or lesser measure.
Uncertainty is a close cousin of dynamism.
Israel is prominent among the dependents on the US, But how much this small country is dependent on that big country is one of the questions that brings us back to political dynamics.
Israel's Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, says several times a day that the US is Israel's greatest friend and defender, But nobody can be sure what Bibi means whenever he speaks. 
Israel's Prime Minister is either another good example of political dynamism, or a counter example of static politics with dynamic sounding speech, depending on the perspective of the commentator.
However one views Trump and Netanyahu, the coming period is at least one of waiting and testing, perhaps some dynamic movement, or perhaps some standing in place with dynamic pretensions. .
The dynamics of politics is nothing if it is not complex, difficult to predict and to interpret when it may be happening. There is likely to be speech by the doers, some action, and lots of commentary, with neither all the doers nor commentators operating from the same script.
The vast bulk of government is  bureaucracy, whose personnel change only with age, operating according to decades or centuries of accumulated law and precedent, likely to change piecemeal if at all.
Trump's nominees, or prospective nominees for high office provide some indication of his policy intentions, but also some quarrels among those speaking about what they see.
On the one hand, it is possible to see traditional Republicanism in 
  • the nominee of a man to deal with the environment who is on record as opposing the idea of global warming as a result of human intervention 
  • the nomination of a Wall Street executives as Secretary of the Treasury and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • the nomination of a woman leery of spending public money on education as Secretary of Education
  • the nomination of Exxon's CEO as Secretary of State
All this may be the effort of the big businessman, who is also a political novice, to firm up his party credentials and hold off any murmurings of a possible rebellion, impeachment and replacement of him with a Vice President who is a party insider.

Or it may be the clearest sign we've had of who is the real Trump, concerned to return the US to its free enterprise roots and to reward his family and friends with what he sees as an ideal business climate.

Some Republicans aren't happy. They sense that Trump is wandering from a traditional Republican suspicion of Russia, including a Secretary of State who is close with Vladimir Putin.

Exxon's CEO has also dampened somewhat the enthusiasm of Israeli rightists for the new administration. It's hard to find any Exxon products or investments in Israel, and lots of them elsewhere in the region. Likewise for the activities of other big energy companies with whom the Exxon CEO is likely to have discussed things during his career. When Israel entered the realm of energy exploitation with its off shore gas field, it had to use the expertise of the relative small Noble Energy ($17 b of market capitalization compared to Exxon's $369 b).

Guesses are that Israelis hopeful of the US Embassy moving to Jerusalem and the US recognizing Jerusalem as an Israeli city and Israel's capital will not find satisfaction with Exxon's CEO as the US Secretary of State.

The appointment may also reflect Trump's efforts to ratchet down from his campaign nastiness toward Muslims. He may always have realized, or perhaps he has awakened to the realization that there are a billion Muslims, and Muslim governments that control countries of considerable size, economic and political weight.

An energy-oriented Secretary of State may also serve as Trump's way to finesse a difficult relationship with Iran, despite shrill campaign criticism of Barack Obama's flexibility toward that country.

On the other hand, his apparent nominees for heading the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security, as well as his National Security Adviser have staked postures at odds with Obama's posture of temporizing toward Islam and terror.

It wouldn't be the first time that major units of government were headed by individuals with different inclinations. No less a President than Franklin Roosevelt was known for appointing people of different inclinations, and letting them squabble until he saw the direction that he wanted to take.

Bibi has weighed in with comments, expressed on American television, that he'll help Trump find the way to scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran.

Those wondering about political dynamics may ponder if this is just another case of Bibiblather, or if Bibi and the former head of Exxon will be President Trump's adoption of FDR's style for deciding what to do about Iran.

Also marking these days was the delivery of two F-35 aircraft. Israel's President and Prime Minister were on hand, along with the US Secretary of Defense. Israelis who bought the planes, at $80-$90m a piece (perhaps discounted from a publicized price of $100m) praised the US for supplying Israel the planes (50 on order and more pondered) before any other country outside the US. They also said that the planes would be game changers and assure Israel's security for years to come.

Against this, however, were comments from the US that the plane was an expensive dog, still a long way from being combat ready. Even Bibi's friend, the President-elect, was muttering that it was a bad case of mismanaged research and development.

It required some explanation that the high-tech plane was delayed due to fog at its last take off point oon its way to Israel. Ha'aretz's cartoonist was not forgiving.

He shows an Iranian officer telling an Ayatollah that he needn't worry, that the new plane cannot fly when it's cloudy.

Pundits are wondering if the planes will be combat ready when enough time passes for continued R&D while Israel is waiting for the scheduled arrival of a full complement. Or if Israel took on itself the task of test pilots, hi-tech tweaking among the plane's problems, or guinea pigs for a troubled project.

The coming years may be more dynamic than usual, or perhaps only with a different kind of dynamism than the recent past. (It'll be hard for Trump's dynamism, however it is measured, to equal that of civil wars currently roiling the Middle East.) Trump's presidency may be more exciting than satisfying. Which is another way of saying that it may be like politics as usual.

If nothing else, he is sure to keep the chattering class busy for years if not decades.

Feel free to join with your comments.

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem 
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