Dan Senor, lead author of “Start-Up Nation,” is worried about Iran and Afghanistan. He was interviewed by telephone on Monday, from Boca Raton, Fla.
JS: What are you predicting for the next 25 years in the Middle East?
Senor: I’ll tell you about the next 25 months. The year 2010 will be traumatic. Iran will have a breakout in its nuclear program, and sanctions won’t work. The United States or Israel might go to war against Iran.
In Iraq, [if one sect gets the upper hand,] there might be a flood of refugees into Jordan, which would destabilize the region and have consequences for Israel. In Afghanistan, despite the [U.S.] president, the summer of 2010 will be worse than the summer of 2009. The impact of the increased troops won’t have made an effect.
JS: Getting back to your book, what has been the response to your talks around the country?
Senor: Very positive. The book has appealed to a wide range of audiences. American Jews find it exciting, but it appeals to people not just concerned about Israel. Businessmen and the military are intrigued by the Israeli model.
In this country, there’s a divide between the military and business, and it should be bridged. In Israel, an employer wants to know what unit a former soldier served in. In the United States, a corporate recruiter hears someone talk about his military experience, then asks, have you ever had a real job?
In the United States, business doesn’t value the importance of military training, of service in Iraq or Afghanistan. In Israel, a man of 25 has both military and college experience. He has better leadership ability and greater maturity.
JS: Israelis have sold many of their start-ups, often to American companies like Cisco. Was that a good idea?
Senor: That’s being debated in Israel now. They ask, why don’t we have a Nokia? Nokia has defined Finland.
The answer is, first, that Israel does have a Nokia – Teva, the pharmaceutical company. And, second, Finland may have Nokia, but it doesn’t have many start-ups. Maybe the Israeli situation – selling some start-ups, keeping others – is ideal.
JS: Why doesn’t Israel have a higher standard of living, considering its economic success?
Senor: Its standard of living is higher than it was before. The challenge for the government is to lift regulations against non-technological companies. Israel’s nontech sector is overregulated, and the regulations should be lifted.
JS: What will your next book be about?
Senor: My next book? I’m just recovering from this one! It’s taken one pound of flesh from not just me, but from my family.