Saul Singer at PostGlobal

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer, a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post, is co-author of the forthcoming book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, Moment, the New Leader, and bitterlemons.org (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine). Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. He is also on Twitter. Close.

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post. more »

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Islamofascism Is Next Big Threat

The Current Discussion: How can we reduce our vulnerability to risks posed by global interconnectedness - from swine flu to financial contagion to terrorist threats? What risks do you see on the horizon?

The advance of technology, development and globalization tends to solve the problems it creates, while also constantly creating new ones. For example, countries tend to pollute more as they develop, then get wealthy enough to clean up the mess they made along the way.

Shai Agassi, whose company Better Place is leading the transition to fully electric vehicles in a number of countries, points out that the advance of wealth and technology threatens to overwhelm the planet with millions of new cars each year. The solution, he says, is to transition to battery-powered vehicles. This transition is now feasible because of advances in battery technology, and it would help end the human addiction to oil. Transitioning will become easier as the energy density of batteries increases (much like how computer chips, memory, and fast internet all rapidly continue to become cheaper and more powerful.)

Since Israel is the first country to adopt the Better Place model, I hope to be able to drive my family around in a fully electric car already in 2011. I hope that within five years almost no one in Israel -- and soon after other countries like Denmark and Australia -- will want to buy another new car with a tailpipe.

The same goes for epidemics. Increased mobility may accelerate their spread, but advances in medical technology also should mean that vaccines can be developed and distributed more quickly. Economies are more interdependent, but governments are also more capable of coordinated responses, as we have seen since the financial crisis began. Also, the same interconnectedness that brought economies down together also brought them up together during the boom time and will likely help them recover together as the U.S. economy regains its strength.

The biggest question mark hanging over it all is when and whether the West will get around to defeating the latest totalitarian threat facing humanity, that of radical Islamism. Here, too, there has been a pattern of growing threats and growing ability to address those threats. But in contrast to the economic, medical and ecological spheres, there is much less recognition of the nature of the threat and consensus on the need for collective action.

Twice over the last century, free nations have been slow to defend themselves against totalitarian threats. In both of these cases -- fascism and communism -- the totalitarians were defeated but only after millions of lives were unnecessarily lost. The combination of Islamofascism and nuclear weapons, coupled with the current lackadaisical Western response to this prospect, raises the concern that history could repeat itself in a no less devastating manner. We see that the globalization of political/ideological threats came before the spread of technology and the interconnecting of people and economies and that it remains our biggest challenge.


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