Israel’s Freedom of Action

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obama.netanyahu.jpg
(Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In the aftermath of the Flotilla crisis, many U.S. commentators have suggested that the United States needs to make clear to Israel that there are limits to the kinds of behavior that Washington can accept.
For instance, Center for Strategic and International Studies Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy Anthony H. Cordesman wrote earlier this week that:

It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it test the limits of U.S. patience and exploits the support of American Jews. This does not mean taking a single action that undercuts Israeli security, but it does mean realizing that Israel should show enough discretion to reflect the fact that it is a tertiary U.S. strategic interest in a complex and demanding world.

TWN Publisher Steve Clemons has made similar arguments.
Most states’ actions are limited not by their allies, but by their adversaries. Implicit in Cordesman’s argument is an assumption that Israel’s adversaries have little capacity to restrict Israel’s freedom of action.
Stratfor‘s George Friedman published an interesting piece today in which he explains the internal divisions among Israel’s foes that prevent them from effectively restricting Israeli behavior in the region.
From his piece:

Nations base their actions on risks and rewards. The configuration of the Palestinians and Arabs rewards Israeli assertiveness and provides few rewards for caution. The Israelis do not see global hostility toward Israel translating into a meaningful threat because the Arab reality cancels it out. Therefore, relieving pressure on Hamas makes no sense to the Israelis. Doing so would be as likely to alienate Fatah and Egypt as it would to satisfy the Swedes, for example. As Israel has less interest in the Swedes than in Egypt and Fatah, it proceeds as it has.
A single point sums up the story of Israel and the Gaza blockade-runners: Not one Egyptian aircraft threatened the Israeli naval vessels, nor did any Syrian warship approach the intercept point. The Israelis could be certain of complete command of the sea and air without challenge. And this underscores how the Arab countries no longer have a military force that can challenge the Israelis, nor the will nor interest to acquire one. Where Egyptian and Syrian forces posed a profound threat to Israeli forces in 1973, no such threat exists now. Israel has a completely free hand in the region militarily; it does not have to take into account military counteraction. The threat posed by intifada, suicide bombers, rockets from Lebanon and Gaza, and Hezbollah fighters is real, but it does not threaten the survival of Israel the way the threat from Egypt and Syria once did (and the Israelis see actions like the Gaza blockade as actually reducing the threat of intifada, suicide bombers and rockets). Non-state actors simply lack the force needed to reach this threshold. When we search for the reasons behind Israeli actions, it is this singular military fact that explains Israeli decision-making.

Friedman’s entire article can be read here.
– Ben Katcher

Comments

34 comments on “Israel’s Freedom of Action

  1. samuelburke says:

    “US officials reacted angrily today at the inclusion of Israel

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    I find it hysterical that so many leftists think Obama is brilliant, just because he is a glib conman who can sell the promise of his own brilliance. Of course, he was telling them what they wanted to believe!
    Now we have seen Obama try to govern for a while, it is becoming clear that Obama is as deep as puddle; just look how he talked for a solid year about Obamacare with the same six or eight inaccurate sob stories. He never mastered details (Bill Clinton could run rings around him any day of the week), and often seemed to go out of his way to impugn health care professionals, which hardly helped sell his arguments. For example, he accused doctors of doing unnecessary amputations to get “$20,000 or $30,000″ dollars in fees. Injured doctors pointed out that not only would that be highly unethical, but Medicare pays $800 for an amputation. Yet Obama repeated this libel many times.
    Now the oil spill in the Gulf is demonstrating conclusively that Obama has not the slightest idea how to lead in a crisis. Politicians who run around asserting they are in charge and looking for “ass to kick” are not in charge and not doing anything useful. Meanwhile 13 separate Federal agencies run around at cross purposes, while they do little to actually clean up the spill.
    Bush was inarticulate. But he would have done something. (If Bush had behaved like Obama, the liberal media would have screamed for his impeachment from Day 3 of the crisis). Unlike Bush, who had a paralyzed and useless LA governor to deal with, Obama has Bobby Jindal, a take-charge governor, who asked Federal permission to build berms to protect the wetlands on May 11. He got permission for ONE berm SIX WEEKS later. Obama hasn’t gotten one Federal bureaucrat to cut one piece of red tape. Obama just talks and talks.
    Obama thinks that talk is action. I really think he believes it.

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    As I see it, commenters like Nadine and WigWag, one an
    aggressive partisan, the other a genuine intellectual, both
    belong to the large, well known group of self-hating
    intellectuals with a notorious affinity toward “The Other” – in
    this case: The Anti-Intellectual Political Leader.
    This tendency among intellectuals who get absorbed in political
    matters is not a new phenomenon, neither is it a typical
    American phenomenon. During the 20th century, it was more
    common in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, than in the
    US – but especially in Europe, to the discredit of the intellectuals
    on both sides of the political spectrum, from Sartre to
    Heidegger..
    It is commonly known as “sacrificium intellectus”, and goes back
    to St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. Everyone
    who studies the relationship between European intellectuals and
    their political affiliations during the 20th century, will soon
    discover that this particular form of masochism, this perversion,
    was the norm, not the exception: The self-hating intellectuals
    admired Hitler or Stalin, Mussolini or Mao, Pinochet or Castro,
    depending on their right- or leftwing tendencies, but they rarely
    listened to moderate, rational voices – politicians who openly
    admitted that the world was more complex than what was
    reflected in demagogic speeches .
    That’s the only explanation why these folks get nostalgic
    whenever they compare the current administration with the Bush
    years. George W. Bush was – if not anti-American, so definitely
    anti-intellectual. He listened to God, his gut, and Dick Cheney.
    He didn’t do nuance. Regardless of his monumental mistakes,
    this was what made him credible as a politician among the self-
    hating intellectuals. According to this way of thinking, a political
    leader is supposed to see the world in black & white; anti-
    intellectualism is required to “get the job done”.
    On most of the big foreign policy issues, Obama represents a
    continuation of the policies of the Bush years. This does’t come
    as a surprise, given that America is a superpower. But Obama’s
    rhetorics and arguments are very different, revealing that he
    personally doesn’t see the world in black and white. He
    represents a continuation of the Bush years, but in his heart he
    is an intellectual, acknowledging that the world is complex.
    Even before anyone knew exactly what the new POTUS intended
    to do, the self-hating intellectuals went into panic mode: Where
    is the “moral clarity”; the unambiguous distinction between
    black and white, friend and foe?
    To the self-hating intellectuals, Obama sounded more or less
    like themselves, with the same doubts, the same
    acknowledgements of the complexities, the grey areas inherent
    in every issue.
    The policies didn’t change much: Obama = W. + brain. But the
    rhetorics and the way of thinking changed. It revealed the
    mindset of an intellectual. This always creates a horror vacui
    among the self-hating intellectuals, with their longing for a
    decisive F

    Reply

  4. sweetness says:

    Nadine writes: “The Gaza blockade has been going on for years.
    Again I ask, why send this officially-embraced flotilla now? What’s
    changed? Ans: Obama.”
    Just because X has been going on “for years” doesn’t mean the
    situation or the actors surrounding the situation haven’t changed.
    A woman stays in a bad marriage “for years.” One day, she gets up
    and leaves. What’s changed? Well, she finally had it up to here.
    Point is, lots of things change even when things appear to stay the
    same. Pointing to Obama as the “causative factor” is as illegitimate,
    IMO, as pointing to AIPAC as “the cause” of the Iraq invasion.
    You have to come up with…the proof.

    Reply

  5. Sweetness says:

    David writes: “It’s not about blaming the US first or about being
    anti-Israel. It’s about challenging whoever does something wrong,
    whenever and wherever they do it, and it’s about trying to
    understand the consequences, especially the long-term
    consequences, of those actions.”
    I can get with this. Makes good moral and practical sense.

    Reply

  6. David says:

    God (the god appalled by all the various ethnocentric misinterpretations of her/him/it/they) love McClatchy, and actual news service.

    Reply

  7. Cee says:

    Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn’t about security
    By Sheera Frenkel | McClatchy Newspapers
    JERUSALEM

    Reply

  8. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    It’s a conspiracy…every time I have typos, captcha works on the first try.

    Reply

  9. Kathlee Grasso Andersen says:

    Drew…I mean pay for thier policy of igoring the 1967 borders and illegal encrochment of Gaza, the Wet Bak and East Jerusalem. Duhhh, I know the Israeli’s ca afford a little piracy here and there.

    Reply

  10. David says:

    And between us Don, sadly, we only scratch the surface. That we did the right thing and defeated the Axis and freed those emaciated Jews who managed to survive the concentration camps has made it difficult for the average American to recognize far, far too many ignoble, deadly foreign policy actions by the United States. Thus we are trapped in supporting the troops, no matter what mission they are sent on. And make no mistake, I think we have some of the most decent people ever to serve in uniform. But that is what they do: serve. They do not get to decide, or if they do they pay a terrible price, as apparently did even the very noble American service folk who stopped the My Lai massacre.
    It’s why I find people like Jeanne Kirkpatrick and her supporters so wrongheaded and so counterproductive to the United States actually becoming a consistent force for good in the world.
    It’s not about blaming the US first or about being anti-Israel. It’s about challenging whoever does something wrong, whenever and wherever they do it, and it’s about trying to understand the consequences, especially the long-term consequences, of those actions.
    As I said in another comment, inhumane is inhumane and unjust is unjust, to use Ayn Rand’s a is a, but here I think it is appropriate.

    Reply

  11. nadine says:

    jd, the two cases are not comparable for the simple case that we were asking a big favor in the first — launching a major war from their territory. Many non-Islamist politicians would have had problems with the unpopularity of that.
    In the second, Turkey went out of its way to spit in our face. I don’t know exactly what the Bush admin did to Turkey but the cooling was obvious & I think there is much more going on behind the scenes than you know. If debka is right (a big IF) even the Obama administration through Gen. Jones warned Turkey off sending warships with the flotilla — so instead that staffed the ship with paramilitary agents provacateurs. The Gaza blockade has been going on for years. Again I ask, why send this officially-embraced flotilla now? What’s changed? Ans: Obama.

    Reply

  12. Don Bacon says:

    “they asked the US to ensure the Kurds did not become independent and the US obliged”
    Kurdistan Regional Government
    The democratically elected Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) exercises executive power according to the Kurdistan Region

    Reply

  13. jdledell says:

    “Fear of repurcussions, that’s what. America has many ways it could make its displeasure felt. NATO could censure Turkey. Trading ties could be cut. A carrier fleet could idle nearby. “Accidents” could be threatened”
    Nadine – You seem to throw up commentary without really thinking it through. I ask again, what threats did Bush or NATO make again Turkey for their decision to block US Army passage to Iraq? In fact, in spite of Turkey’s decsion on passage they asked the US to ensure the Kurds did not become independent and the US obliged.

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    Hej frenchconnection,
    gi fan i Marcus, han er en tulling og provokat

    Reply

  15. frenchconnection says:

    the amount of crapola presented by Marcus and Drew is astounding
    1) Gaza isn’t “Israels own ground”. Israel has rejected all claims on Gaza. Gaza is a foreign entity.
    2) “suitcase nukes” don’t exist
    3) “nukes in Gaza” : where would they come from ? BTW if any of those fictional nukes existed, it would be far easier to make them enter through Lebanon or even easier to detonate a false flagged cargo in Haifa.
    4) The Iranian Navy has 3 Kilo-class subs that in theory could reach the Mediterranean if they were allowed through the Suea Canal, which isn’t likely. The rest is a flotilla of minisubs that cannot leave the Persian Gulf. The Kilo-class sub (old sovietic type) is a sitting duck for any modern sonar anyway.
    The rest of the Navy is made of 3 frigates,3 corvettes and 1 “destroyer”. Those ships are old and pose no threat. They can be sunk with a single modern bomb. Anyway for logistical reasons they cannot reach the Mediterranean. Even if they could they would be of course stopped before doing it. The only modern ship is the “destroyer” (the Jamaran). The Iranians have indeed small missile boats but they cannot reach Israel.
    In other words the Iranians lack the capacity of projecting Navy units outside the Gulf and the Gulf of Aden.
    if a nation like Iran wants to hit Israel it can only do it with ballistic missiles, which would be suicidal. Gaza is irrelevant as a strategic asset for Iran even if smaller missiles were smuggled in (the Hezbollah has much more efficient ones), any attempts to build up a real threat are futile.
    Gaza only a convenient “motive” to justify the clamping down on Palestinians and justify the “existential threat” to Israel.

    Reply

  16. ... says:

    missing in my post although it was shown as being included.. i think those sideways arrows mess up posts…
    right after the first question her is my response drew…
    why do they support a murderous country called israel?? i said they ‘could’ stop the gaza blockade…. the usa could also do a lot of other less dumb ass things, but they don’t…

    Reply

  17. ... says:

    drew questions
    >>Dear Ellipsis,
    *Why* should the USA (that’s in caps) stop the Gaza blockade?>Should the USA (that’s in caps) enable the open delivery of rockets
    to Gaza? Why should the USA (that’s in caps) sustain the delivery
    of rockets, destined for Israeli civilians, who inhabit a democracy,
    determine that that is a good thing?<<
    is it a good thing that the usa sends so much of it’s military armaments to israel and they turn around and drop them on the lebannese or palestines? do you think that is somehow better?
    i don’t think you are not playing with a full deck my man if you believe their is any integrity to the usa’s or israels actions in any of this…

    Reply

  18. Don Bacon says:

    David, regarding Iran and Iraq I agree with you, and you didn’t even mention the killer sanctions on Iraq. Some talk of victory in Iraq w/o considering the human consequences.
    While all this pat-on-the-shoulder camaraderie between the US and Israel means death to Arabs in Palestine, the US actions in Iraq have been orders of magnitude more deadly. And in other places too: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen for some examples. Nicaragua and El Salvador — the list goes on.
    So while we beat nadine about the head and shoulders over Israel’s transgressions we should never forget that America’s are much worse.
    I believe that “we absolutely do not have any room to talk” because our dialogue has been too often limited to the simple sophomoric narratives exemplified by this George Friedman piece. I want to see more Noam Chomsky, myself. But we’re making progress.

    Reply

  19. David says:

    The analysis makes sense to me. Not in a position to say definitively that it is correct, but it makes sense. And the US has no choice, because of domestic political dynamics, but to support Israel regardless. Apparently the same is true of the major media, which generally reflect the received wisdom in Washington.
    And since the US helped keep the war going between Iran and Iraq because of “strategic interests,” nothing much in the way of behind-the-scenes machinations actually surprises me anymore. Appals me, but doesn’t really surprise me. The idea that we would want to keep a war going that resulted in a terrible human toll is quite distressing, but then we also invaded Iraq, with terrible human suffering being one of the major accomplishments. How many Iraqis have either been killed or are maimed who would not have been if we hadn’t invaded? And we’re on the flotilla’s case for creating circumstances that resulted in death? We simply do not have any room to talk about much of anything, not about inflicting suffering and death and not about the ecological destruction of the planet. I certainly wish we would lead the way in ameliorating these egregious offenses, but we absolutely do not have any room to talk. We owe an apology, and we need to lead in a very different direction than we have been.
    And get a clue, Jeanne Kirkpatrick and friends.

    Reply

  20. Don Bacon says:

    marcus, we agree. This piece is not worth spit.

    Reply

  21. Don Bacon says:

    Can you see these guys talking about Israel’s obligations to the United States, as Cordesman has suggested?
    Obama, June 2008: “You know I first became familiar with the story of Israel when I was 11 years old. I had a camp counselor who was an American Jew but had lived in Israel for a time and he told me stories of this extraordinary land and I learned of the long journey and steady determination of the Jewish people to preserve–preserve their identity through faith, family, and culture.”
    Biden, March 2010: “. . . they know where my love for this country comes. It started at my dinner table with my father, who you would refer to as a righteous Christian. . . .And my father — my father

    Reply

  22. nadine says:

    dianaw, how exactly has Israel been “pushing the envelope”? By withdrawing from Gaza? The world said, “Oh, Israel, take big risks for peace, so we can see you are serious. We’ll stand behind you if you do. You have no business being in Gaza. Get out of Gaza” Tom Friedman must have said that a hundred times.
    So when Israel withdrew from Gaza, did they stand behind Israel? Not a bit. When Hamas began shooting rockets, did they say, this is an outrage the Palestinians are showing they don’t want peace. Not at all. Instead the world picked up the Arab message and broadcast it to Israel, “So you gave up something? That means you admit you don’t have a right to anything! Give up more, and more, right now.” Only America stood by Israel, until Obama became President and abrogated Bush’s promises. Then Obama had the chutzpah to demand Israel trust his promises.
    But as you say correctly, nations have interests, not friends, and Israel will not trust the promises of Obama and his fellow leftists, the soi-disant “realists”, who have an animus against Israel and wish to dump the alliance altogether. Nor will Israel be scolded into acting against its own interest because the realists think they owe it to America. They don’t owe that, not when it’s their neck on the line. No country does. It wouldn’t be asked of any other country.
    “Most would agree on Israel’s right to existence, and at least a healthy majority would support the Zionism paradigm. ”
    Really? So does Israel have the right to blockade Gaza to keep its enemy Hamas from getting 40,000 rockets, or not? Yes or no will do.
    A right of self defense that exists only in theory is not a right of self defense.

    Reply

  23. Drew says:

    Dear Ellipsis,
    *Why* should the USA (that’s in caps) stop the Gaza blockade?
    Should the USA (that’s in caps) enable the open delivery of rockets
    to Gaza? Why should the USA (that’s in caps) sustain the delivery
    of rockets, destined for Israeli civilians, who inhabit a democracy,
    determine that that is a good thing?
    Just trying to learn something,
    –drew

    Reply

  24. ... says:

    the usa could stop the gaza blockade but they do not.. the usa is as guilty as israel in maintaining this stance.. the world is losing patience with both the usa and israel two countries that are becoming the de jour rogue nations of the 21st century….

    Reply

  25. Drew says:

    Tell me again why a sovereign entity cannot blockade its own
    ground – for any reason whatsoever?

    Reply

  26. nadine says:

    jd, as you say, Erdogan has been setting himself in opposition to certain American interests since 2003. But he has been progressing slowly up til now, not openly declaring enmity.
    And yet, the Gaza blockade has been in place since 2007, and been quite a cause celebre among leftists, Islamists, and assorted others since then — so why didn’t Erdogan sent this flotilla of agents provacateurs to Gaza until now? After all this is not the first flotilla of nitwits, excuse me, brave peacenik humanitarians, to try to run the blockade. So what held Erdogan back before now?
    Fear of repurcussions, that’s what. America has many ways it could make its displeasure felt. NATO could censure Turkey. Trading ties could be cut. A carrier fleet could idle nearby. “Accidents” could be threatened.
    But Erdogan has figured out that an American President who runs around apologizing for America and trying to appease every Muslim thug he sees will make not the slightest difficulty. I bet Erdogan is the one demanding apologies, just like his ambassador did!

    Reply

  27. dianaw says:

    I’m glad to see this discussion. I’ve been quite
    disturbed by the notion being floated by the pro-
    Israeli contingent, (Rosen, among others), that
    Israel is our “friend” and we should be loyal to
    our friends. Nations aren’t friends. They are
    sovereign entities. They form alliances when they
    need to, and when there is mutual benefit, usually
    economic, strategic, or both. To suggest
    otherwise is nonsense. Israel has been pushing
    the envelope for at least the last 2 decades on
    how “committed” the U.S. is to the concept of
    Israel as a state and Zionism as a paradigm. Most
    would agree on Israel’s right to existence, and at
    least a healthy majority would support the Zionism
    paradigm. But that does not imply a blanket
    endorsement of anything and everything Israel
    does. If Israel embraces the very principles and
    practices that they were victims of in the past,
    then they pose the strongest threat to their own
    existence. “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”
    Diana W.

    Reply

  28. jdledell says:

    “This would never, ever have happened under GW Bush”
    Nadine – You are nuts! Bush could not even get Turkey to let the US Army pass through their country to fight in Iraq. The Iraq war was Bush’s most important issue of his entire administration and he could not get Turkey to budge. It’s foolish to think Bush could have gotten Turkey to stop the flotilla to help Israel when they would not even help the US. Nothing but foolishness.

    Reply

  29. drew says:

    Kathleen, the IDF launched a few Blackhawks and rappelled a
    few commandos with paint guns and side arms onto the decks
    of a few ships that wouldn’t stand-off on command.
    That’s not an expensive operation.
    So if you think it only happened because of USA subsidies, and
    that Israel could not afford to pay for such operations, I think
    you are grossly in error.
    Israel cannot afford to allow suitcase bombs, nukes, and low-
    level nuclear birds to become established next door, and I
    believe those are the threats the USA assists in suppressing. I
    believe that we do so because it is in our self-interest.
    Shooting a few dipshits on a phony humanitarian blockade-
    running exercise is so beside the point. For goodness sakes,
    they wanted to be shot. That’s why they were pounding the
    skulls of the Israelis with lead pipes, on camera. Gee, I wonder
    what an Israeli special forces type will do when his comrade is
    having his skull caved in by dipshits? Do you think he’ll start
    shooting? Quel surpris?
    The only calculation the USA should make is whether or not it
    serves American interests to suppress nuclear conflict in the
    Middle East, and which government is best committed to
    preventing nuclear conflict there. Also, the USA should decide if
    it thinks democracies are inherently safer and more beneficial to
    the world’s stability than theocratic totalitarian states, or simply
    faux-theocratic totalitarian states, or perhaps faux-democratic
    theocratic-totalitarian states — and put the chips down on the
    table accordingly.
    Last, the USA should decide, in the utopian case that Hamas
    decides to actually take the peace deal that’s been on the table
    for years, if it needs a big embassy in Gaza. Given that no one
    will ever visit, so rarely lose a passport, probably not. If the
    Gaza-Hamas culture were so great, it wouldn’t so closely
    resemble that of East Berlin, 1985. Not exactly a popular
    destination, was it.

    Reply

  30. drew says:

    I’m still trying to understand a) why a sovereign nation can’t
    blockade its own territory (no one has said); and b) given that an
    opponent government run by Muslim theocrats rented some
    martyrs to create an incident, why gratifying that incident-
    impulse is a big deal. Have a nice day! if you choose to run a
    blockade thrown up by Hugo Chavez.
    The only answer I can come up with is that the majority of the
    world doesn’t think that there should be a democracy in the
    middle east in which Jews outnumber Arabs.
    That’s fine, but I don’t see any reason why Israelis should
    comply with this death wish, popularly imposed on them. And
    neither do I see sending a few $billion to the oldest (Iraq being
    the youngest) democracy in the middle east, which American
    Christians consider their spiritual homeland, as a big deal.
    One reason to continue providing Israel’s guarantee: there *will*
    be nuclear war in the middle east if we do not.

    Reply

  31. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    I’d like to see Israel’s freedom of action on it’s own dime. Maybe when they have to pay for this mishegas out of their own pockets, they’ll find a more reasonable approach to the problem…

    Reply

  32. Don Bacon says:

    Silly me, here I thought it was the unlimited political and military support from the US, and the US buying off Arab countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the US vice president slobbering all over his Israeli hosts while on a visit, and the US never once complaining about Israel killing Americans — all these things and more — that promoted and sustained Israel’s unchecked military behavior. And now I learn that the real reason is internal divisions among Israel’s foes.
    Friedman set me straight. It’s not that the US/Israel killer political/military offensives are so strong it’s because their enemies are so weak and divided, and this is what gives Israel freedom of action.
    It’s obviously wrong to be weak and divided when there’s an aggressive dynamic duo working the neighborhood.
    This was from the blurb, so quick as a bunny I clicked over to the main article, anxious to see what Friedman’s solution would be. More political/military aid for Israel’s enemies? Less for Israel? Or what?
    Scrolling to the bottom I see that Friedman recommends that Israeli action should be “defusing the current crisis” because “the current configuration of the Arab world is not fixed.” Really, that’s what he wrote.
    Well, not quite. Israel might not have to defuse. “What they must calculate is whether they will retain the upper hand if they continue on their course.”
    I’m sure Israel will be calculating, as well as depending upon unlimited US political/military support for its nefarious action. This will be another change we can’t depend on.

    Reply

  33. nadine says:

    Friedman is pointing out that the Arabs can’t check Israel’s military, short-term. Unlike Cordesman or Clemons, he does not suggest that Israel owes it to anybody to take hits to their national interests for the convenience of friends who may or may not repay the favor.
    Moreover, Friedman does not say that Israel has a commanding lead over all adversaries, as Cordesman implies; Friedman is talking primarily about the Arabs.
    Friedman is not weighing Iran or Turkey into the balance; they may be distant, but if Iran’s response was negligible factor I think we would already have seen Israel hit the Iranian nuclear facilities. Friedman basically punts at the end of the piece about what Israel should do now:
    “The Israelis have the upper hand in the short term. What they must calculate is whether they will retain the upper hand if they continue on their course. Division in the Arab world, including among the Palestinians, cannot disappear overnight, nor can it quickly generate a strategic military threat. But the current configuration of the Arab world is not fixed. Therefore, defusing the current crisis would seem to be a long-term strategic necessity for Israel.
    Israel

    Reply

  34. b says:

    Add Turkey to the mix of perceived Israel “enemies”, things might differ a lot.
    Fighter planes, a capable navy …
    Netanyahoo totally screwed this up for Israeli interests.

    Reply

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