Yesterday, Pres. Biden announced he was sending a naval strike group, including America’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, to the eastern Mediterranean:
The USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, and its approximately 5,000 sailors and deck of warplanes will be accompanied by cruisers and destroyers in a show of force that is meant to be ready to respond to anything, from possibly interdicting additional weapons from reaching Hamas and conducting surveillance.
The large deployment reflects a U.S. desire to deter any regional expansion of the conflict.
Though he said he did this as a show of strength in support of Israel (which it was), it was more than that. It certainly wasn’t to threaten Hamas. You don’t need an strike force’s full complement of air and sea power against a tiny enclave with the weapons capacity of city police department.
Hamas’ leadership had called for an armed Arab uprising throughout the Middle East. That includes Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and other potential allies. Yesterday, two Islamic Jihad fighters infiltrated northern Israel and were killed by Israeli forces. Druze Lt. Col. Alim Saad was killed in this action. This the third senior officer killed in the past three days. In retaliation, Israel launched an artillery barrage into Lebanon which killed as many as give Hezbollah militants. Lebanese residents in the south have begun to leave in fear of a major escalation like Israel’s 2006 invasion.
This is how it begins. This is how a small match turns into a catastrophic forest fire. Israel lit the match, Hamas added fuel. But it’s still not a forest fire. What could happen to make it one? A two-front war? Three-fronts? A full fledged engagement with Hezbollah and tens of thousands of missiles raining down on towns in Israel’s north? An Israeli invasion reminiscent of its 2006 war?
Nor is Hezbollah alone. It’s most powerful ally is Iran, which has supplied much of its 100,000+ missile arsenal. If Lebanon comes under attack Iran would certainly not stand by. It would join the fight in some fashion. Would its response to sufficient to draw Israel into direct conflict? Iranian drones or missiles exploding over Tel Aviv?
Of course, Israel has a massive military might and can fight on a few fronts. But can it fight on three, four, all at once? Probably. But who knows. It has been humiliated and its deterrent power has been smashed. Iran may see an opportunity for payback and God knows, it has reason. What might it do? Undoubtedly, as I wrote above, it can do extensive damage to Israel should it choose to.
Netanyahu: Iran did it
Netanyahu has already laid out a narrative that helps him on two fronts. He claims that Iran was behind the Hamas attack. Because, of course the Palestinians could never have orchestrated such a complicated operation on its own. Supposedly credible analysts like Bruce Hoffman have bought into this:
Hamas possessing the ability to keep its preparations unknown from a country like Israel that has among the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world strongly suggests that it had external state support, advice, and guidance in the planning and execution of the attack on Israel. Iran, accordingly, will be strongly suspected of being behind this.
There must be a hidden hand–and the one that is most convenient is Iran. This is precisely the sort of faulty analysis and miscalculation that landed Israel in the mess its in. They always underestimate their enemy. And they always pay for it. They did it in 2006 with Hezbollah, which wiped the floor with the IDF. They did it this week with Hamas.
Note Hoffman says Iran is “strongly suspected” of being the hidden hand behind it all. What does that even mean? Where is the evidence? Even circumstantial evidence. Israel and the US have the most sophisticated satellite surveillance and signals intelligence capabilities in the world. Surely they would see or hear something. Where is it? Or are they blowing smoke up their ass?
Bibi’s second front is domestic. The army failed. The Shin Bet failed. The advanced surveillance failed. The $3-billion underground fence failed. Every defence failed. And the one who failed worst of all is Netanyahu himself. He’s the boss. He’s the leader. When the nation crumbles the top guy falls. But not in Israel. The top guy always manages to blame everyone but himself. So if he can divert blame from himself and lay it on Iran, that saves his ass.
Escalation scenario for regional conflict
If Iran attacks; if Hezbollah attacks; if Syria joins in. Then Israel faces a serious threat.
What would Biden do? So far he’s been a decent president. Not one I would ever vote for. But better than the hack job who preceded him. Biden seems to have decent political instincts.
But concerning Israel, not so much. That naval flotilla is there for one reason; and it isn’t to give some sailors holiday leave in Haifa. Biden brought out the big guns to warn Hamas’ regional allies to stay out of the fight. It’s a game of chicken. Who will blink first? Will the aircraft carrier with the F-35s and cruise missiles intimidate Iran and Hezbollah just enough to make them think twice about attacking Israel? Or will genocide in Gaza along with an Israeli invasion of Lebanon draw Iran in as well?
Of course, I’m gaming out a scenario. But the heart of the issue is the extraordinarily dangerous decision Biden made to send such a massive force right into the heart of the slaughter.
Even if none of the above happens, we’ve made our bed. We’re sleeping with murderers engaged in genocide. People don’t forget that. Victims don’t forget. They want revenge for their suffering. We will pay. We paid on 9/11. There will be a price for our decisions in this case as well.
One geo-strategic price is that the Israel-Saudi normalization deal so painstakingly negotiated by Biden officials, is dead in the water. Though the Saudis may be perfectly ready to sell the Palestinians down the river, abandoning them now would be suicide in the Arab-Muslim world. It will be months, if not longer before Biden can get things back on track.