Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I've enjoyed Michael Totten's writing for some time. I don't always agree with him, to be sure, but even when don't, he explains himself well enough to make me re-examine my own positions.
In his latest Commentary editorial (reprinted in part at his own site), Mr. Totten points out something that should be obvious and unmistakable -- fighting a war against Israel with rockets doesn't work. Israel's military responses to those rockets, on the other hand, do work.
After all, Hizbullah rained rockets down on northern Israel in the summer of 2006... and provoked a heavy military response. That response, widely seen at the time to be both brutal and incompetent (although it was neither), turns out to have worked; Hizbullah hasn't fired rockets at Israel since. It took Hamas some years of firing rockets at southern Israel to get a military response of their own -- but that too seems to have worked; rockets fired at Israel from Gaza have slowed to a trickle. (Hamas, of course, is taking credit for having ordered the rockets to stop, while simultaneously admitting that they were "responding to public pressure" in doing so. I'm not at all surprised; Hamas was pressuring Gazans to fire the rockets, but could not protect Gazans from the consequences. It is not surprising that Gazans didn't like this.)
The obvious conclusions, as Mr. Totten points out, are these: when Israel withdraws from a territory (as she did from Southern Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005), she gets rockets in response. When Israel responds to those rockets with a forceful military incursion, the rockets stop. (So much for there being "no military solution to terror".)
By all means, read the whole thing.
As a corollary: how did all this affect public opinion? When Israel withdrew from Lebanon and from Gaza, the Western press, which had castigated Israel brutally for years, did not waste any time with praise; the response was more like a collective yawn. When Israel sought to deal with terrorism on its borders, worldwide condemnation was immediate.
So: when Israel withdraws from territory, as people have been demanding that she do for years, terrorism results and nobody cares. When Israel responds to the terror with the sort of force that terrorists understand, the terrorism stops, and the worldwide condemnation escalates.
To Israel, the conclusion should be clear -- deal with terror as needed, and don't care about what the world says.
If I were an Iranian, I'd want to think very carefully about that.
UPDATE: On the subject of not caring what the world says, Powerline points out that President Obama has been pushing Israel hard on settlement expansion -- a silly issue, at best -- and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has not backed down.
We'll see how this plays out; we might yet see a higher-level showdown between Israel and the United States. But this might also affect the direction of American foreign policy, which of late has been to warmly welcome enemies and stand firm against friends. (Or, as someone put it the other day: "If you're an enemy of America, we're sorry. If you're a friend of America, you're sorry.") Israel is a friend that is refusing to be dictated to; the results will be interesting.
(NOTE: As of two months later, the results are indeed interesting. Netanyahu's Israel has not backed down; Obama's America has.)
UPDATE 2: Gene Schwimmer points out that, for all intents and purposes, peace has broken out in the Middle East:
But for now, all is quiet on the northern front. And the eastern front. And the southern front.Read the whole thing. He has some interesting thoughts on how this came about... and what the chances are for it continuing.
What does this sudden quietude along every inch of Israel's border with every one of her neighbors mean?
It means that now, today, amid all the "international community's" caterwauling about a supposed need for Israel to make substantial unilateral, self-endangering concessions "in the interest of Middle East peace, the chances of Israel being attacked by any of her neighbors right now is virtually nil. Which, in most people's definition, but especially in that of those who dwell in the Middle East and are familiar with the region's long and bloody history, means, there is peace.
Unnoticed, unheralded, not even reported, under their very upturned noses, the international community's professed goal of a peaceful Middle East, at least relative to Israel, has been achieved.