The anti-Morsi protests, June 30
Year In Review
2013: The World’s Biggest Losers

Yesterday we looked at the countries, movements and people who, in a purely Machiavellian sense, had a good year in 2013. Whether what they did was right or wrong, good or evil, smart for the long term or not, the winners emerged from the arena at the end of 2013 with their power and their prestige significantly enhanced. Today we look at the flip side and ask who were the unlucky and unskillful players who lost the most ground in 2013. Once again this is not about moral beauty or enlightened self interest. This isn’t about whether your intentions were good or bad, or whether your impact on the world was for the better or the worse. It is about whether, at the end of 2013, you were in a weaker position than you were at the start of it.

Published on: January 5, 2014
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  • Vadim Pashkov

    Israel : 2013 was a year when when Tamar field start producing natural gas and Levant basin recoverable NG estimate increased to 19 trillion cubic feet. This discoveries has the potential to revolutionize Israel economic fortunes. Reflecting this successes in 2013 shekel raised 9% against the $. With steady economic growth , raging civil wars in Arab world and prospect of energy independence Israel looks like a sure looser.

    • TommyTwo

      True, but this still leaves (i) the ticking Iranian nuclear bomb, and (ii) the “peace process.”

      At a time of American foreign policy failures worldwide as well as “extreme Middle East fatigue,” Kerry has been logging an incredible amount of frequent flyer miles to Israel trying to bully it into accepting a deal, any deal, with Fatah. The fact that this deal is most likely to result in yet another Arab failed state seems less important to this administration than the desperate need to achieve a single foreign policy achievement, no matter how short-lived.

      So what is Israel to do in the face of this singular American determination? Agree to a dangerous deal, or do what all the kids are starting to do: blow off this administration? Can it truly afford to do either?

    • Blaton Hardey

      Strategically, 2013 was a headache year for Israel. Assad is not quite what he used to be and Syria became a lawless training ground for all sorts of creeps, some of which receive US support. Meanwhile, the U.S. is busy making friendly-talk with the Islamic Republic of Iran, freaking out pretty much everyone in Riyad and causing Jerusalem to doubt the POTUS’s sanity. And then, Heinz-Kerry comes every other day to instruct Israel how to make peace and to be nicer in general.
      Yigal Allon, first commander of the Palmach, noted in 1970 the great importance of Israel’s political independence and advised to steer clear from any situation in which Israel is at the mercy of a big strong partner that might at some point have other interests than Israel’s security. Today, Israel not only has such an overlord “partner”, but also the premise of deep and eternal “friendship” makes it difficult to acknowledge diverging interests. The greatest problem with the American Friend as a strategic partner, however, is that every 4 to 8 years there’s someone else in power and even important deals and promises are forgotten after a week or two. Harvard intellectuals took the reigns in D.C. in 2008, and it’s a long time until 2016.

      • dragonladyalso

        “Harvard intellectuals” – is that we’re calling them now? Guess it sounds better than what I usually call them.

        • Blaton Hardey

          Well that’s what I’m calling them. Harvard intellectuals’ natural habitat is an ivory tower on campus, not a governing office or the State Department. They are virtuous backseat drivers, but they can barely get their hands around the steering wheel. They look good at highbrow cocktail parties, but taking care of business is a bit too low for them.

  • TommyTwo

    The administration is determined to avoid risky actions around the world but doesn’t want to be criticized by either liberal humanitarians or conservative nationalists as spineless. It makes tough-sounding statements as a substitute for action and, if the tough words don’t work, it backs down. It’s not clear yet that the White House understands how dangerous this approach is, or just how much it does to undermine the administration’s negotiating position abroad.

    To coin a phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Crucially, if you do not intend to use that stick, then for the love of God, shut up!

    • Blaton Hardey

      “Speak like a big bad meanie and carry a noodle”

  • BobSykes

    Both the AK and the MB are Islamist organizations with thoroughly anti-democratic agendas. Moreover, the MB is a terrorist organization. So their defeats are wins for secular democracy.

    ISIS’s capture of Fallujah in Iraq is a major setback for US policy in the region. It implies that the partition of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon into separate Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish states is well under way. The Shiite and Sunni states would be governed by Islamist extremists who most likely would export terrorism. A Kurdish state is unlikely to do that generally, but it might well do so in Turkey since it’s already home to the PPK.

    And then, there is the looming victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Thirteen years of war for nothing.,

    • Exactly. “Democratic Islamism” is an oxymoron.

  • Kavanna

    The year’s biggest major loser was, not just Obama, but the US itself. The implosion of American influence and seriousness across the globe (not just in the Middle East) is a wonder to behold. We’ll be paying for it for a long time. Item #1, the failure of “democratic political Islam,” is a terminal blow to Obama’s fatuous policy of trying to bringing such parties to the table as serious partners.

    The case of Israel is more of a mixed bag. The failure of “democratic Islamism” and the growing, under-the-table, alliances Israel is forming in the region with non-radical Sunnis, Kurds, and other secular forces are positives, alas, offset by Obama’s ongoing, disastrous selling out of allies across the region to chase the Iranian will-o-the-wisp.

    The rest of the list is on target.

  • DiaKrieg

    How is it possible for both Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey to be big losers when they are antagonists? Isn’t one’s loss the other’s gain?

    • bo ure

      Not necessarily, they loose for different reasons and in different areas, not just against each other.

  • peter j

    Among the 10 losers should have been the IPCC who have now been so thoroughly discredited that anyone still believing in them is in dire need of a lobotomy. It’s just another gravy train that has jumped the rails.

  • According to this, nearly all of Israel’s downside is a side effect (or is it?) of US actions, policies, statements or postures. I certainly agree.

  • sean_parnell

    I’d give an honorable mention at least to Jang Song Thaek, even if he isn’t currently travelling through the digestive system of a pack of dogs.

  • sukietawdry

    It’s always a bad year when democracy is in retreat (it, and America, were in retreat in the years leading up to WWII). And did anyone else experience at least slight trepidation at the words “Germany is planning Europe’s future”?

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