The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Israel at War—Iran, Part 2

There are always dangers in escalation. The enemy always has a say. The stakes are high. And the outcome can never be predicted with assurance. But one thing is certain—the Islamic Republic of Iran is the puppet master in the Middle East. It controls militias and terror groups in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. It supplies money and weapons, along with military support in all of those places. And it hates Israel and the Jews with a venom that is unmatched, even on America's college campuses.

Iran has soft allies in Russia and China, but its unlikely that they will protect iran, should aggressive actions be focused directly at it. In fact, they might actually learn a lesson about the resolve of those who Iran perpetually threatens.

Given all of this, the path forward with respect to Iran in the current War in the M.E. is uncertain and complex. Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh break down the strategic and military issues:

The Islamic Republic has always relied on terrorist organizations to do its bidding. Since the 1980s, Tehran’s most operationally savvy protégé, Hezbollah, has given the regime the ability to manipulate Lebanese politics and kill scores of its enemies, including U.S. troops. In the aftermath of 9/11, especially after the 2010 Arab Spring, the Iranians fine-tuned their grand strategy. The collapsing Arab state system allowed the mullahs to assemble nonstate paramilitary outfits that they could deploy to various battlegrounds. Iran-aided militias helped evict the U.S. from Iraq, ensured the survival of Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship in Syria, and mauled Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen.

The axis of resistance has transformed the Islamic Republic into the region’s most essential power broker. No government can form in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon without its consent. Iran’s auxiliary forces also deter its enemies. Should Israeli or American leaders consider striking Iran’s nuclear installations, they have to take into account Hezbollah’s formidable arsenal of missiles. And the war in Gaza, for which the Islamic Republic had long been prepping Hamas, has reminded Arab potentates that expanding the Abraham Accords carries enormous risks. 

All true, but what to do if Iran's other proxies (e.g., Hezballah) attack Israel in the coming days or weeks? Just how aggressive should Israel be? And exactly what response should the USA have? Toanswer these question, a little more background:

The trickiest question for Mr. Khamenei is how an escalated conflict would affect the regime’s standing inside Iran. Direct retaliation by Israel, and especially by the U.S., might trigger a chain reaction of discontent with little rallying-around-the-flag effect. The Islamist regime is wobbly. A struggling economy and a rebellious public scornful of Arab and imperialist Islamist causes—Iran’s “forever wars”—weigh on the supreme leader’s decisions. 

The best case result for the West is the destruction of the current ruling dictatorship within Iran. That's easy to say, but extremely difficult, even though, unlike the palestinians in Gaza who support Hamas in significant numbers, a substantial percentage of the Iranian people have shown signs for years that they hate the regime and want it gone. Barack Obama had a golden opportunity to help them during the Green revolution in 2009, but threw it away—one of many of his foreign policy disasters. 

But back to the original question. How aggressive should both Israel and the US be? Gerecht and Takeyh comment:

... The more direct the U.S. and Israeli threat is to the regime, the more likely that [Ayatollah] Khamenei will retreat. An explicit American threat to take the war to Iran would give Israel more breathing room to dismantle Hamas in Gaza, if that’s what Jerusalem decides to do. President Biden’s decision to bring two aircraft-carrier groups into the region helps. He should go further.

What the White House shouldn’t do is quietly warn Tehran not to meddle in Gaza or to unleash Hezbollah. The Islamic Republic is accustomed to back-channel admonishments. America’s armadas have patrolled the Gulf for years without sufficiently changing the mullahs’ calculus. To make a lasting impression on Mr. Khamenei, Mr. Biden needs to declare publicly a red line: Another Hezbollah missile attack on Israel will invite direct U.S. retaliation on Iran. In 2003, when Mr. Khamenei feared the possibility of the Bush administration unleashing its “shock and awe” warfare on Iran, the clerical regime suspended its uranium enrichment. When the perennially unpredictable Donald Trump killed the Islamic Republic’s famed commander Qasem Soleimani, Mr. Khamenei let loose a short missile barrage at U.S. forces in Iraq but went no further.

Iranian escalation this time around is a certainty. Jerusalem and Washington need to deny themselves wiggle room and threaten the clerical regime, not its proxies. This war is going to get worse. It’s past time for Israel and the U.S. to up the ante. 

Yeah, Teddy Roosevelt's maxim: "Talk softly but carry a big stick" is wise advice, but talking softly is viewed as weakness in the Muslim world. Maybe its time to "Talk directly and loudly" so that Iran understands that FAFO is real. And if they decide to test that, there should be serious and violent (kinetic) consequences.


The Biden Administration foreign policy Team of 1s is trying hard to address the many challenges breaking across the M.E.—Iran being near the top of the list. But the administration also has to address problems at home, including a frightening rise in anti-Semitic incidents driven by Muslims and Leftists who participate in pro-Hamas/palestinian "protests" on college campuses across the country. 

Biden's own FBI Director, Christopher Wrap testified yesterday that although Jews represent only 2.4 percent of the U.S. population, well over 50% of all hate crimes were directed at Jews in 2022. It's likely that number will increase in 2023. As an aside, the DoJ reported that less than 10% of hate crimes are directed at Muslims, who represent about 1% of the U.S. population.

Maybe that's why Biden's spokesmodel, KJP, stated: "President Biden ran for office to restore the soul of our nation. He is unequivocal: There is no place for hate in America against anyone. Period."

But wait, with mobs of palestinian activists confronting Jewish student on U.S. campuses, here's how Biden's crew responds:

 You just can't make this stuff up. As Teri Christoff writes: 

The White House's timing of this announcement was ill-conceived at best, an alarming dereliction of duty at worst. How could they look at Jewish kids cowering in their college library as a rage mob slobbers at the windows and think, "Yep, now is the time to take on Islamophobia"? 

Yeah, the accusation of "Islamophobia" will make people think twice about asking Imams across the country their take on the Hamas atrocities. Maybe right after their fiery anti-Israel sermons during Friday prayers. Besides, those atrocities are old news, right? Just ask the idiot pictured in the tweet above.