By Michael J. Totten
While the United States is psychologically preparing itself to lose the war in Iraq, the Middle East may be plunging headlong toward a catastrophe.
Israel is preparing for an imminent war with Iran, Syria and/or their non-state clients.
Israeli military intelligence has projected that a major attack could come from any of five adversaries in the Middle East. Officials said such a strike could spark a war as early as July 2007.
On Sunday, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Cabinet that the Jewish state faces five adversaries in what could result in an imminent confrontation. Yadlin cited Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and Al Qaida.
“Each of these adversaries is capable of sparking a war in the summer,” Yadlin was quoted as saying.
Yadlin said Hamas could be planning a major attack to divert attention away from efforts by the Palestinian Authority to isolate the Gaza Strip. He said Syria might be promoting such an attack.
Officials said Iran has direct influence over Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. He said Al Qaida has increasingly come under Iranian influence and was being used by Iran and Syria in such countries as Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
Joshua Muravchick is rightly concerned that the U.S. may be drawn in as well.
Democracies, it is now well established, do not go to war with each other. But they often get into wars with non-democracies. Overwhelmingly the non-democracy starts the war; nonetheless, in the vast majority of cases, it is the democratic side that wins. In other words, dictators consistently underestimate the strength of democracies, and democracies provoke war through their love of peace, which the dictators mistake for weakness.
Today, this same dynamic is creating a moment of great danger. The radicals are becoming reckless, asserting themselves for little reason beyond the conviction that they can. They are very likely to overreach. It is not hard to imagine scenarios in which a single match–say a terrible terror attack from Gaza–could ignite a chain reaction. Israel could handle Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria, albeit with painful losses all around, but if Iran intervened rather than see its regional assets eliminated, could the U.S. stay out?
UPDATE: A reader emails: My daughter just came from spending five months at Ben Gurion University in Beer-Sheva. She had a wonderful time studying, hiking, camping, student demonstrations, working in soup kitchens, skiing up north, petra…etc. She came home two weeks ago and just matter of factly stated that “everyone knows there is a war coming.”
That is pretty much how the “Israeli street” feels right now according to just about everything I’ve heard and read lately.