How to start a Middle East War

 Victor Davis Hanson:


Yet between 2017 and 2021 there was relatively little violence in Israel and on the West Bank. Whatever our ideologies and politics, we all know the one reason why there is chaos now and not then. And that constant in itself is a primer on the Middle East.
Trump Provoked Peace

The Trump Administration assumed that whenever there is perceived distance between the United States and democratic Israel, then unsavory players exploit the void and try things they otherwise would not. Israel’s enemies and even neutrals in the area see such a reset as encouragement to move in, on the assumption (correctly held) that American tensions with Israel always reflect weakness and hesitancy to be exploited.

For such a supposedly provocative Trump Administration, peace, not war, followed from its initiatives. It cut off the cash flow to the radical Palestinians, funneled through an anti-American U.N. “refugee” commission.

In short, the Trump Administration, under the guidance of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had begun to craft an effective deterrent Mideast foreign policy of calibrated realism without nation-building interventionism. If Russian mercenaries in Syria moved on U.S. troops, then they were obliterated.

It was within such a four-year matrix that terrorists thought it was better not to attack Israel. But if we were looking to achieve the exact opposite, then calm can become war in five easy steps:

1) Revive Iran. Revive the visions of John Kerry, Barack Obama, and former Vice President Joe Biden. That is, integrate the Khomeinist revolutionary theocracy in Tehran into the family of nations so that it can achieve a “legitimate” regional preeminence in the Middle East. Just as the old Nixon-Kissinger agenda was to see the Shah as the useful Western balancer in the region, so the American Left sees Iran in the same role—but this time around as a revolutionary chaotic regime to check the “right-wing” Israelis and Arab “moderates”, a fact known to Iran.

Promise to lift sanctions that will revive Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Hamas. Assume that Persian Shiite Iran is an oppressed Other, unfairly ostracized largely by democratic Israel and rich Sunni Arab Gulf regimes.

2) Discourage Arab moderates. Ignore or deprecate moderate Arab states that recognize or support, even if stealthily, Israel’s legitimate existence. Undermine the Abraham Accords. “Wink and nod” that those regimes that recognize Israel are—or should be—somehow less authentically Islamic or Arabic in the eyes of the Middle East community. In the American leftist mind, they are “Uncle Anwars.”

3) Reboot corrupt Palestinian dictatorships. Resuscitate the corrupt Palestinian Authority and Hamas as the “keys” to peace, on the rationale that 5 million Palestinians should have veto power over the foreign policy views of 500 million of the greater Arab Middle East. Return to the idea of the Palestinians as perpetual victims. If not for Israeli oppression, they could foster a prosperous and viable West Bank and Gazan society. Convince the world that Arab Israelis are fourth-class citizens, trapped from their brothers by an earlier version of Trump’s border wall.

Assume that Palestinians alone can enjoy democratic government without the ossified concept of having to hold scheduled elections. Contextualize and thus excuse terrorism, rocket attacks, and assassinations as reactions to systemic racism, prejudice, and bigotry.

4) Adopt globalist moral equivalence. Seek solidarity with the United Nations, the European Union, and the “global community.” Condemn Israel for shooting down rockets and trying to destroy those who are launching them. Such asymmetrical responses are no different, and sometimes morally worse, than sending rockets in the first place. Cannot Israel let just a few rockets fall into downtown Tel-Aviv on the principle of “proportionality”? Why doesn’t the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system protect the Palestinians from their own malfunctioning and boomeranging missiles?

5) Do the exact opposite of the Trump Administration. In Pavlovian fashion, if Trump was evil and coarse, then erase all his evil and coarse policies without exception. Just as border walls, fracking, pipelines, low inflation, and low unemployment are now inherently bad, so too are all of Trump’s policies in the Middle East.

So if the Middle East was “calm,” then ensure it will be the opposite of calm on the principle that NeverTrump is always good. Assume Biden’s asleep-at-the-wheel indifference to tensions and violence are preferable to Trump’s “false” peaceful hiatus. If Trump was fond of the Netanyahu government, then work to ensure that it is out of power and stays so.

There is more.

Now we know that Democrat policies are much more likely to lead to war than Trump policies, yet Democrats do not seem to catch the connection between what they say and do and what hostile parties do.  The "proportionality" response is an absurd concept in warfare.  It can get your people killed and give the enemy an undeserved break.  Does anyone really think Patton and the rest of the US forces could have defeated Germany by using proportionality as a strategy?  Could we have gotten Japan's surrender without the nuclear bomb?  There is something really obscene about the reaction to Israel defending itself.


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