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Gaza Flotilla Raid: Israel Sends a Message

Are you listening, President Obama? The U.S. is still the only power that might stop the Middle East from descending into war. Obama has not been acting intelligently, because he has lost the trust of the Israeli side.

Strategically, Israel’s announcement that nuke-carrying subs are now to be stationed off the coast of Tehran is far more significant than the Gaza stunt. Iran has been surrounding Israel with ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as the low-tech harassment missiles they have never stopped firing at Israel. Lebanon now has Iranian ballistic missiles. Syria is bristling with them -- ready to fire on instant command, with 15 minutes of flight time to Tel Aviv. Iran now has large numbers of North Korean-style missiles and hardened tunnels and bunkers to protect its nuclear industry. Not a day goes by without Ahmadinejad threatening genocidal war. Not a day goes by without the Hamas, Hezbollah, and Fatah TV indoctrinating toddlers to become suicide bombers.

For the first time in history Tel Aviv is Ground Zero for hundreds of IRBMs with half-ton high explosive warheads, and quite possibly with dirty nuclear bombs and chemical weapons. General Paul E. Vallely warned about that very possibility two weeks ago.

Strategy dictates tactics. The PR stunt by Hamas and its backers is small change compared to the constant 15-minute massive missile threat and the likely Israeli response. The Hamas affair will cause three weeks of PR headlines in Europe and America, but it will not change the strategic balance of forces. Israel’s commando attack is a public signal to decision makers, the same reason why lions and tigers bare their fangs before engaging in a deadly fight. IDF commandos were told to shoot to kill if necessary, regardless of the PR costs. That means: Normally we care about PR. Today we don’t.

Over the next few weeks, as you see the predictable display of outrage from the media, keep in mind the strategic realities. We are perilously close to major war in the Middle East for the first time in decades. The possibility for escalation to a missile exchange is very dangerous. Every military in the Middle East is on 15-minute alert. That includes U.S. forces in the Gulf, in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean.

If a major regional war is to be avoided, the shadow play we are seeing must work to prevent war. When tigers and lions bare their teeth they are signaling a choice: back off or take the consequences. If today’s  shadow play fails to get Ahmadinejad to back off, we will see a swift and destructive breakdown of the armed peace. Secretly the Saudis and Arab nations want Israel to knock down the Iranian threat with or without the United States.

Israel has just signaled to the world that armed actions will take place at a time and place of its choosing. The peanut galleries will respond in predictable ways. Obama can act creatively and save the peace, or he can have a knee-jerk leftist reaction and watch the Middle East go to war.