Today, Israel acknowledged (Hebrew) that a drone, likely launched from Lebanon by either Hezbollah or Iran, entered Israeli airspace from Gaza. It was eventually shot down by the Israeli Air Force. What’s interesting is that the drone flew south over the Mediterranean, then headed east over Gaza and entered southern Israel. The IDF, with full control of airspace over its own country, Lebanon and Gaza, didn’t bring the drone down until well after it had entered Israel.
Presumably, the IDF had quite a long time to decide what to do with this object. It surely would’ve wanted to bring it down intact in order to study Iran/Hezbollah’s technology and capabilitiest. Yet with all Israel’s advanced weapons communication skills it still had to destroy the drone with a missile.
There have been prior incidents of this sort in which Hezbollah launched such drones (and once a balloon) into Israel. Hezbollah has also crashed armed drones it was testing. In this blog, I reported an incident in which my Israeli source claimed a Hezbollah-Iranian drone crashed inside the perimeter of an Israeli airbase. In that story, Israel claimed that one of its own drones crashed.
At any rate, what this proves is that what goes around comes around. The Obama administration sits like the Cheshire Cat with an enigmatic grin on its face regarding its vaunted drone targeted-killing program. We see ourselves as king of the skies. This is our method, our only method of engaging with Islamists and almost our only method of dealing with the Muslim world. Israel too has used drones to invade sovereign Muslim nations like Sudan and Egypt and assassinate “undesirables.” Of course, it has done the same in Gaza.
The problem with all arms races is that the stronger party only maintains a monopoly for a period of time. After that, the insurgent nation invariably catches up and sometimes surpasses the stronger country. Truman thought he had a nuclear monopoly until Stalin detonated his hydrogen bomb in 1949. Our generals threatened Mao with oblivion until he got his own bomb in 1964.
Iran may be a country that is militarily inferior to Israel or the U.S., but it is a nation filled with initiative and ambition. Developing an advanced drone is not nearly as complicated as developing WMD. For decades, the west has had an advantage over Arab and Muslim nations in terms of the armaments at their disposal. But this can’t last forever. As long as we view the only cards worth playing as threats and force, Iran will respond by upping the ante just as the Soviets and Chinese did during the Cold War. Our edge can only last so long and take us so far.
Iran is telling us that while you think you may hold all the cards, two can play at this game: you have drones, we have them. You have WMD, why shouldn’t we? You kill us, why shouldn’t we kill you? It’s a dirty, nasty game. But we’re the ones playing with matches and liable to get burned.
Eventually the student surpasses the teacher. When that happens, when Iran proves that it has the capability to cause almost as much damage to us as we to them, we will then stand slack-jawed and wonder how this could be. And we will have only ourselves to blame.