Gaza Flotilla Raid: Israel Sends a Message

In normal times it would have been better to turn away the Hamas blockade-running flotilla using tear gas, high-decibel rock music, warning shots, and public ridicule. These are not ordinary times, and I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to  send a clear and unmistakable signal to Israel's most dangerous enemies, Iran and Syria. A few days ago we heard a public leak that Israel’s three diesel submarines, armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, are being stationed on permanent rotation in the Gulf, right off the coast of Iran. It was a serious check-mate move.

In the nature of the hysterically biased leftist media in Europe and America, we will not know the truth about the events that led Israeli commandos to open fire on the Gaza activists who were diverted to the port of Ashdod. Hamas apparently mixed gunmen with self-proclaimed peace activists, civilians, and babies to provoke a violent reaction. The Israelis made a deliberate decision to respond with force.

Hamas uses human shields as standard operating procedure. Israeli commandos were like armed cops with a gun-bearing bank robber: Once the enemy shoots, you take them down. Only then do you try to figure out what happened. Israel’s legal system will now try to figure out the truth. It will take months.

Question: Israel is about to take a PR drubbing in Europe and America, and certainly at the left-wing and Muslim-dominated United Nations. Israel’s cabinet knew that would happen. Why did they decide to stop the flotilla with commandos?  There are more imaginative ways to do that.

I think the decision was deliberate, and it was not aimed at the blockade-running convoy. It was a signal to Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria,  Iran, and most of all the United States -- because we are in the midst of the most dangerous war confrontation in decades. This was also a signal for the Obama administration, which just stabbed Israel in the back at another UN phony “peace” conference.

Everything being done by Israel and its enemies today has a double purpose: It is what it is, and it’s also a strategic signal. This time the cabinet and PM decided to show their very sharp claws. It meant: This time we are willing to preempt you with gunfire. Take heed, because we are not interested in PR.

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.