If you want to become a dictator one day, be sure to keep reading.
I’m coming to you from just outside Manapouri in New Zealand. The week’s big news is that the judicial reforms being pushed by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have been put on hold.
Dictatorship 101 states that the first step towards lifelong power is breaking the independence of the judicial branch. Once that is gone, nothing is preventing you from rising to power. Thankfully, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was able to prevent this from happening in Israel…at least for now.
Attacking the judiciary is no secret, and it can be highly effective when done correctly. Two failed attempts at this are Trump and Bolsonaro. Their attempts to challenge the electoral process were laughed off because they failed to disrupt the judicial branch effectively. For all intents and purposes, that’s probably for the best.
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Hey everyone. Peter Zeihan here coming to you from just outside of the southern New Zealand town of Manapouri. The big news that has happened in Israel today or earlier this week is that the judicial reforms that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, had been trying to push through for a few weeks now, have been, at least temporarily halted.
Now, let’s say that you’re the leader of a country in the free world, and you decide you want it to be in the not so free world so that you can rule pretty much forever regardless of what your motivation is. The first the most important thing that you need to do if you want to hang on to power is to break the independence of the judiciary. Now, you already control the executive branch, at least in part, and the legislative branch that can ebb and flow based on public opinion and elections. But the judicial branch is always the block that prevents authoritarians from rising to power. If you can break that, then you can rule forever.
So in the case of a number of situations throughout recent history, especially in Latin America, in the 1970s and 1980s, local would be dictators would be authoritarians. Breaking the judicial branch was always the first thing to do. And in more recent times, folks like Erdogan in Turkey, that was the first thing you after Viktor Orban in Hungary, that was the first thing he went after. The Kaczynski twins in Poland, that was the first thing that they went after. And in doing so, they’ve basically ensconced themselves as the only power that matters, because once you break the judiciary, it’s just a matter of having some sort of break in public opinion or an election and then the broken judiciary will interpret things your way.
In the case of Netanyahu, he was under a series of corruption investigations. You can say that they were politically charged. You can say that they were real. Doesn’t really matter. With the judiciary intact, those investigations will ultimately go forward. And the only way he can retain immunity is to continue as being prime minister. But as you might have noticed, Israel is a bit of a national security state and the judicial reforms that Netanyahu was trying to do were so damaging to the fabric of the political system that his own defense minister, defense in Israel is a big thing, stood up and said that this has to stop. Netanyahu fired the dude earlier this week, which meant that the coalition that allows Netanyahu to even be prime minister in the first place was suddenly in danger. And so he had to back down, at least for now.
Now, there are other countries that are kind of in play with the same sort of factors. The two that are the most important are Brazil and the United States. In those cases, you’ve got Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Donald Trump of the United States who have both attempted to subvert the electoral process in order to remain in power. But neither of them were capable or competent or whatever the word is you want to use to come up with the idea of breaking the judiciary first. So in every instance where some ally of Trump or Bolsonaro brought a legal case to court to attempt to challenge the electoral system, those cases were laughed out of court by none other than the judges, in many cases the judges appointed by these two men in the first place. So for those of you who are concerned about democracy in the United States and Brazil, I don’t mean to suggest it’s a non-issue. But as long as the courts hold firm and to this point, they seem fine. Even the courts whose judges were appointed by Donald Trump have stood firmly to a man against every single case that has been brought forward to challenge the last general election. We’re okay. And for those of you who are Trump supporters, think of it this way. We survived eight years of Obama and we’re fine. We can certainly survive four years of Donald Trump not being the president.
Alright. That’s it for me. See you guys later.