In our early school sports experience the best  players picked our teammates. They would go down the line from the strongest to the weakest. No one ever wanted to be that last player picked — the proverbial throw in. 

We do the same in geopolitics. America, in this case, is the one doing the picking and other countries stand in line or maneuver to hopefully get picked to join America’s team. Joining America’s team affords lots of advantages: winning culture, best financed, best training regimen, best bats and balls (also called planes, tanks and nukes) and  huge home field fan support even though virtually every contest is played in the visitors’ ballpark.

In the Mideast, Israel has always been that first player picked. Two of Israel’s immediate neighbors, Jordan and Egypt now play on the same side also, although they can be a little selfish when America flashes the bunt signal: Sometimes they refuse to make sacrifices.

Syria and Lebanon and their upper level minor league teams, Hezbollah, Fatah and Hamas,  have been traditonal Mideast Enemy division opponents. In recent years, however, Fatah has, to the great (and growing) disappointment of  their former teammates, made moves to shift their terror based franchise to an infrastructure building one. They want to be that last player picked by the American/Israel/Egypt/Jordan team and building up instead of blowing up remains a key condition.

Unfortunately, the American team, particularly Israel, is afraid that the Arab League and Turkish umpiring will change if Fatah joins America’s team.   That’s at least a bit understandable: Israel has had some bad  umpiring recently by  Goldstone, someone thought previously to be on the Israeli team. He  used unusual instant replay, reached decisions without the “upon further review” qualities expected and sent Israel into a confidence slump. The fact Israel  may have led to some of the poor umpiring results by refusing  to participate in most of the umpiring decisions doesn’t decrease Israel’s concern that   the Arab League and Turkey may fail to act impartially in future contests if Fatah completes its franchise shift.

There is also concern that if Fatah officially joins the team in a year or less, older players, particularly Iran, but possibly some up and coming minor leaguers we haven’t heard about yet, could officially join the opposition instead of just funding it. They  might even add in better bats and balls. This would, of course, largely negate the benefits of Fatah’s participation.

So where does that leave the decision on franchise movement? The call here is that the franchise shift will lead to a much stronger and happier American/Israel/Egypt/Jordan team. Its fans and players will figure out how to best incorporate Fatah’s fans and players so that a winning tradition continues. The opposition can and will try to follow the “you’re not trying if you’re not cheating” logic and they are likely to occasionally substitute violence for negotiation. But as the opposition’s fans see how much easier and enjoyable it is to be on the winning side they will lend less and less support until the opposition will eventually have no other reasonable option than to make the best deal to join the better team.

None of the teams can really thrive with any more rain delays.


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