Israel Strikes Back Against Iran

Israel is playing a different game than Joe Biden is used to. Israel is playing in the Middle East, where what you do matters a hell of a lot more than what you say.

An Israeli Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft flies over during an air show in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2023, as Israel marks Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaut), 75 years since the establishment of the Jewish state.
JACK GUEZ / AFP via Getty Images

Last night, Israel finally struck back against Iran. 

Last weekend, Iran struck Israel with some 350 drones and missiles. Israel was expecting that it was going to have to fire back against Iran in some form or fashion. 

There are a few different options that were tabled that had been considered. One was a full-scale attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, completely degrading their nuclear program. Another option would have been to do virtually nothing, which is what Joe Biden wanted to do. 

Israel last night decided on a third option that would be a targeted strike, limited in nature inside Iran, to warn the Iranians that if they decided that they were going to escalate this confrontation, Israel would get to them much more than they would get to Israel. 

That is what Israel pursued last night: a useful means of deterrence, probably the best available scenario for both America and for America’s allies in the region. If Israel had gone really heavy, there was always the possibility of serious escalation via Hezbollah in Israel’s north that could have turned into a larger, full-blown war.

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Now, would it have been more in Israel’s interest to completely destroy Iran’s nuclear facility? Sure. It also would have been a lot riskier. Right now, the United States and Israel have been in this very fraught negotiation over what the United States will allow Israel to do. And so the Israeli government took a middle road by issuing this targeted strike against Iran. 

The message was “Listen, you guys fired 350 drones, missiles. We knocked nearly all of that down. We basically can hit you anytime, anywhere we want, so you guys better stand down.” 

That was the goal of the Israelis. And it also offered, because it was so limited in nature, the Iranians an off-ramp, to deny that any of this ever happened or minimize it, which is exactly what Iran did. Iran had been mouthing off a lot about the idea that if Israel launched a serious strike into Iranian territory, then Iran would up the ante with a broader retaliatory strike and then you would have an escalating conflict. Israel issued a strike limited in nature so as to allow the Iranian government the possibility of basically denying that anything had ever happened. 

Israel is playing a different game than Joe Biden is used to. Israel is playing in the Middle East, where what you do matters a hell of a lot more than what you say. Joe Biden has spent his entire career in places where what you say matters a hell of a lot more than what you do. He is completely unfamiliar with the foreign policy realm where what you do matters an awful, awful lot. 

That’s why reality keeps clocking Joe Biden directly in the face. Forget about Israel and Iran for a second. Think about the Saudi Arabian government. When Joe Biden was a candidate for the presidency of the United States, he was extraordinarily critical of Mohammad bin Salman, the heir-apparent in Saudi Arabia and the de facto ruler of the country. Biden suggested that he was a mass human rights violator. 

This meant that the United States had to take a very harsh tactical look at our alliance with Saudi Arabia, up to and including giving the green light to the Houthis in Yemen, an Iranian proxy group, by de-listing them as a terror group. 

And then it turns out that reality intervened. And the Houthis, as it turned out, hate the United States more than they hate the Saudis. It turns out that the Saudis have control over oil supply. And Joe Biden had to go on bended knee to Mohammed bin Salman because what you say in the Middle East does not matter nearly as much as what you do. 

So Israel, without making a big statement, made it clear to Iran: we are going to knock you guys back to the Stone Age. Israel simply did the thing and they let Iran know that if, in fact, Iran decides to escalate, it will do significantly more damage to the Islamic Republic than it will do to Israel. 

All of this again was prefaced by the U.N. Security Council being a completely useless and garbage institution. Israel did what it had to do because the U.N. Security Council could not even bring itself to condemn Iran for a full-scale attack on another nation, an act of war. The U.N. Security Council not only did not condemn Iran for that attack last weekend, they allowed Iran to then lecture Israel, suggesting, “Israel must be compelled to stop any further military adventurism against our interests.” 

The absolute unmitigated sheer gall of that is astonishing. Consider that it is Iranian military adventurism that has led to the entire conflagration in the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon to the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria to Yemen. That is Iranian military adventurism that has led to all that and the U.N. Security Council — because the United Nations is the Mos Eisley of international politics, a wretched hive of scum and villainy — the U.N. Security Council was never even willing to take up the possibility of condemning Iran. 

They did, however, take up the possibility in the last 48 hours of a resolution to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood, which would be an incredibly audacious and stupid move, considering there is no actual government for a Palestinian state. The Gaza Strip is currently governed by Hamas, a terror group that is in an existential war with the state of Israel. The Palestinian Authority has so little control over the West Bank that there is open warfare between Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian Authority. 

You may as well simply declare a state of unicorn land in a random part of the earth that has no government as declare a Palestinian state — except unicorn land presumably would not necessarily turn into a terrorist state, whereas a Palestinian state already has turned into a terror state and remains as such. 

Israel decided that it was going to do what it had to do and restore the status quo ante before October 7. That is really what this is about. Remember, October 7 was launched specifically with the green light of Iran in order to scuttle a burgeoning Israeli/Saudi peace deal. Israel and Saudi Arabia were establishing a regional alliance in terms of defense to deter Iran and its proxies in the region. And that alliance de facto included Egypt, Jordan, and a bunch of the Saudi-sponsored states like UAE and Bahrain. A variety of these states had basically formed an alliance, and it was just a matter of toppling that last domino in Saudi Arabia for the alliance to go full-scale. 

And if Donald Trump had been elected, there is no doubt in my mind — or the mind of the Israelis or the Saudis — that that deal would have gotten done. 

Even Biden’s stupidity didn’t get in the way. Because Joe Biden had been so conciliatory toward the Iranians, the Saudis had basically gone to the Israelis and said we don’t trust that Joe Biden is going to come to our defense if Iran attacks us. So let’s form a regional alliance against Iran. That was really, really close to happening. 

Iran saw that and activated Hamas to go into Israel and kill 1,200 people and take 250 hostages back to the Gaza Strip in the hopes that this would start a conflagration that would burn down the possibility of a Sunni-Israeli deal. 

Now it appears that the status quo ante is now being reinforced. Why? Because Israel has actually preserved its own ability to deter and militarily destroy its enemies. The whole reason for a Saudi peace deal with the Israelis is not because Israel and Saudi Arabia see eye-to-eye on matters of religion. Obviously, they do not.

The reason for the restoration of the status quo ante is that Saudi Arabia looks at Israel and sees Israel is capable of deterring Iran; Israel is capable of destroying its enemies on the battlefront. Israel is an extraordinarily powerful and innovative military machine and they want to be allied with that. 

What Hamas did by striking at Israel was to try to dent that perception in the Saudis. But now Israel has reinforced the perception, the prior perception, by its successful military action in the Gaza Strip, which is why they are now going to go in and finish off Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. And the last two weeks have shown that Israel not only is capable with its allies of repelling a mass Iranian attack, but also that Israel can strike pretty much where it wants to in Iran. And so Iran had better not escalate because it’ll be worse for Iran than it will be for Israel. 

And Saudi Arabia wants to sign on to that.

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