From the ever perceptive Steve Sailor on the Israeli presidential elections. It's a good article along several dimensions but this particular bit caught my eye.
"My Guess would be that Israel gets more of its top men to go into politics than most other countries. And its universal draft and frequent combat gives other people the opportunity to assess potential political leaders in action."
"It’s kind of like how most of the Presidents of U.S. elected after the Civil War were men who had proved themselves to their contemporaries during the war. Democrats write most of the history books, so we’re supposed to assume the Republican Presidents from Grant through McKinley were non-entities. Maybe they were, but how’d the country do during this period?"
My impression is that smallish countries with universal conscription tend to generate elites who call upon their military contacts over those with impressive resumes for collaboration. The Swiss are like this. Swiss alpha males get to know each other during their time of service. It's only natural that they cooperate afterwards. Seeing people in action is a whole lot better criterion than letting HR make decisions on your behalf. And this is in a peaceful country with no combat veterans to speak of.
In Israel's case It's my impression that this alpha male centered system has a down side. Israel's numerous parties, typically led by charismatic leaders, operate more for the good of those leaders than for any common interest. As Steve points out, It's all about split the pie among many parties. Everyone within the coalition gets some patronage and some policy promises.
The old American system of politics forced our politicians to at least make plausible assertions of governance for the benefit of all. I don't think that is the case in Israel. Frankly, all that I've seen of Israeli politics suggests that many parties exist more for the advancement of the party leaders and a few henchmen than in any wider context. It seems to me that among Israeli's, talk of the common good for it's own sake is considered naive to the point of inadmissibility. Of course the preservation of Israel as a Jewish state is always in view. That said, how do you make that the pole star of policy with so many different factional mouths to feed?
Can Israel survive in the long run with such inward looking, mercenary politics? Who knows. I do think this system plays a large part in some of the wrong-headed policies that confuse and embitter the rest of the world.