The world has, and has always had, a heady collection of insoluble problems.
We can start with the classic examples of poverty, sickness, and death.
Or skip to a modern cluster of what has kept Israel and Palestine from making peace, a flood of poor migrants from misery in Africa and Latin America, and warfare in the Middle East to the developed countries of Europe and the United States, and however you want to define the racial problems of the United States that most recently erupted in Ferguson.
Economic want, illness, and death are still with us, in their modern versions. Economic want and illness appear in the failure of developed societies to provide the wide middle class with all that it wants, and the latest diseases to threaten the first world from the third. Ebola is the current scare, with AIDS already well established in the better countries.
Death remains, with its modern postponement causing mass aging with its problems of cost and the troubles of old people having to care for even older and more infirm parents.
Coping is the ideal way of dealing with all of this. Admitting the lack of solutions, and managing the problems to minimize the pains associated with each of them.
Coping opens the door to endless arguments, about how to tweak the ways of minimizing the effects of each problem that won't go away.
It's the stuff of management, and does not appeal to politicians who speak to the crowds, often on the edge or over the edge of populism or demagoguery, claiming to have the solution of problems that have frustrated their predecessors.
In an ideal world, Israelis and Palestinians would agree to disagree about the high intensity issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements, seek to minimize verbiage and actions that excite the extremists, and facilitate commerce, employment, and transportation with appropriate concerns for keeping those inclined to violence out of one another's communities.
Americans would continue with efforts of affirmative action, perhaps not calling it that and keeping it informal in order to avoid and evade those who insist on clarity and going to court. Like Israelis, they would also recognize the sources of violence, urge individuals to avoid hostile neighborhoods, and keep working on schemes to attract young people away from the deadly syndrome of sex, drugs, gangs, and violence.
Little Israel has so far managed to deal with its problem of illegal immigrants with a fence and patrols along its border with Africa. Western Europe and the US have the more severe problems of longer and more porous borders, as well as internal disputes about fairness, their need for menial workers, with decisions affected by the millions of migrants already voting.
Posturing is the easiest of ways to deal with insoluble problems.
It involves claiming to have a solution, accusing one's opponents of failing to recognize one's wisdom. with each promoting solutions that are bound to failure.
Examples are not lacking. They include the Obama-Kerry claim of having the solution for Israel and Palestine; Benyamin Netanyahu's bombast of dealing with his nation's problems by declaring ever more formally that Israel is a Jewish State; Yair Lapid's claiming to have the solution for expensive middle class housing by intervening in the market and canceling value added tax on the apartment purchases of a lucky few.
Posturing is contagious. If one party begins, others do the same in order to stay in the headlines.
Israeli posturing has gone beyond boasts of having ideal policy solutions to some nasty personal stuff in Jewish Home, and SHAS, each of which may split into even smaller parties.
The posturing reached its peak in the run-up to what was billed as a critical meeting between Bibi and Yair. Each went to the media beforehand, accusing the other of the high political sin of working against government unity and national interests. The results of the meeting were predicted, and came true. A day later Bibi fired his Finance and Justice Ministers (Yair and Tsipi). Remaining ministers of Yair's party, There is a Future, resigned in protest. The Prime Minister was left with a host of ministries in his control, and Knesset Members moved toward a vote to disband and call an election for mid-March.
The campaign has begun, with hyperbolic accusations of failing to keep to political promises. Initial polls are suggesting more of the same. Likud is expected to remain as the largest party, but way short of a majority. There will be numerous of middle sized parties, each with a dominant figure promising to lead the country in his or her own direction: Livni pursuing peace; Lapid cheap apartments for the middle class, competing now with Kahlon on the issue of consumer prices; Bennett more settlements in the West Bank; Lieberman offering to trade Israeli Arabs with the Palestinians in exchange for for the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Likud seems likely to remain divided between a cluster of relative moderates around Netanyahu, and a strong right wing nipping at his control,
It'll be a nuisance but not necessarily a disaster. There may not be much that is new, but the professionals will do the work necessary in the ministries. Palestinians should be wary of taking advantage. The Jews of Israel's broad center, along with its sizable right would unite in a minute to act forcefully against terror.
One should pity ranking members of the Obama administration no less than Israelis wondering how to deal with intractable issues. Ferguson has brought out extremists insisting on the justice of their side, flooding the airwaves and Internet with charges against their adversaries while asking for more donations from the faithful,. Political tensions are likely to increase when the Republican Congress comes to town.
For the time being, the great White House hope is another dose of amnesty for a fortunate few million illegal migrants, a bit of money for police training and another gadget to hang on the already weighty belts and harnesses that cops must carry. The hope is that a camera will add to the good judgement of the officer fated to encounter ghetto violence. Dealing with the source of the violence is not something on the horizon.
The governmental structure of the US protects it from the possibility of frequent elections that may occur in parliamentary regimes
Israelis are betting that an election in March will produce enough contenders for a seat at the government table to tie up negotiations with months of posturing until another shaky coalition emerges.
Think of a winter bout of flu. Unpleasant, possibly fatal, but not likely to cause one's death. Government will continue. It'll be more of the same without great advance in any field, but no breakthrough would be likely if the pols kept to the mode of coping and avoided the temptations of posturing.