October 24, 2023

Israel: Is a Wider War on the Horizon?

As Joe Biden urges Israel against entering Gaza and eradicating Hamas, another Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, bides its time.

Nearly two weeks ago, the networks and the news sites were feverishly telling us that an Israeli invasion of Gaza was imminent.

And then our irresolute American president got involved. And in the space of a few hours, his mumbled position has gone from pursuing a ceasefire, to not pursuing a ceasefire, to securing the release of the hostages and then discussing a ceasefire.

“The US government,” reports CNN, “has pressed Israel to delay its imminent ground operation Gaza to allow for the release of more Hamas hostages and aid into Gaza, according to two sources briefed on the discussions. The Friday release of two Americans held by Hamas signaled the possibility of freeing more of the around 200 people believed to be kidnapped by the militant group after its deadly attacks two week ago. ‘The (administration) pressed Israeli leadership to delay because of progress on the hostage front,’ and the need to get trucks of aid into Gaza, one person familiar with the discussions said.”

In fairness to Joe Biden, he’s in a tough spot. More than anything else, he wants to bring every American hostage home. That’s as it should be. But if Hamas can extract a series of delays and other concessions from this administration by releasing one or two hostages at a time, it will have played the world’s most powerful nation like a fiddle.

Indeed, after its release of an American mother and daughter, Hamas said it was willing to release two more hostages. “But,” as the New York Post reports, “Netanyahu slammed the claim as ‘false Hamas propaganda,’ suggesting the terrorists were merely seeking to delay the Jewish nation’s all-out assault.”

As it turns out, this wasn’t merely Hamas propaganda. They released an 85-year-old Israeli grandmother and her kibbutz neighbor earlier today.

Yes, Joe Biden is in a tough spot. But if you think his position is precarious, imagine being Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.

Imagine having told Biden via phone just one day after the barbaric Hamas attack: “We have to go in [to Gaza]. We can’t negotiate now.”

Imagine having visited your troops near the Gaza border a full 10 days ago, posting a video captioned, “With our fighters in the Gaza Strip, on the front line. We are all ready,” and telling them, “The next stage is coming.”

Imagine having rallied your people nearly two weeks ago in the wake of the slaughter of more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 30 Americans and the taking of more than 200 hostages. Imagine having told them:

We saw the wild animals. We saw the barbarians we are facing. We saw a cruel enemy. An enemy worse than ISIS. We saw boys and girls, bound, shot in the head. Men and women burned alive. Young women raped and slaughtered. Fighters decapitated. … In one place, they set fire to tires around them, and burned them alive. … How staggering the atrocity. How great the pain. … We are fighting with full force. On every front, we have gone onto the attack.

“Every member of Hamas is a dead man,” said Netanyahu way back on October 11. And Israel still hasn’t gone into Gaza.

So while the Israeli Defense Forces await their orders for an incursion into Gaza, the risk of a multi-front war grows greater by the day. To Israel’s north, on its border with Lebanon, another Iranian-backed terrorist group, Hezbollah, is launching rockets of its own, threatening to join the fight. This isn’t the Hezbollah of 2006, though, when Israel last went to war with the Iranian proxy. Today’s Hezbollah has more than 150,000 missiles in southern Lebanon, and as many as 75,000 of them are precision-guided and thus far more lethal.

“Time is OVER!” tweeted Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in an ominous warning on Wednesday morning. “After the terrible crime of the Zionist regime [sic] in the bombing [sic] and massacre [sic] of more than 1,000 [sic] innocent women and children in the hospital [sic], the time has come for the global unity of humanity against this fake regime more hated than ISIS and its killing machine.”

The Iranian embassy in Syria also tweeted “time is up” in both Hebrew and Arabic.

Weakness is provocative, and no world leader since Neville Chamberlain has demonstrated this maxim more clearly than Joe Biden. Will Hezbollah get involved? Will Iran? Or will the U.S. be a sufficient deterrent to its enemies from starting a wider war?

If our president’s history of appeasement toward Iran is any indication, perhaps not. General Jack Keane had this to say to Fox News’s Bret Baier about the aggression of Iran and its proxies toward the U.S. during the Biden years: “They have attacked the U.S. facilities in Iraq and Syria close to 90 times in the last three years, and we’ve only reacted a half-dozen times.”

We need to “send a message loud and clear to them, that we’re not going to put up with this,” Keane continued. “To sit back there and just defend, and not reattack, makes no sense to me. … Iran is taking this action because they perceive appeasement and weakness on the part of the United States. They think they can get away with it. … When they see weakness, they get more aggressive.”

As for what the U.S. will do if its forces in the region are targeted by Iranian proxies, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “This is not what we want, not what we’re looking for. We don’t want escalation. We don’t want to see our forces or our personnel come under fire. But if that happens, we’re ready for it.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed Blinken: “What we’re seeing is a prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region.”

This, though, is a mess largely of Joe Biden’s making. As Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw writes: “We didn’t see this level of unrest and fighting in the Middle East during the Trump administration because we were cracking down on Iran, enforcing the sanctions on their oil exports, and taking out leading terrorist figures with missiles when they misbehaved. That all changed as soon as Joe Biden took office and began begging Iran to restart Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal. Iran has grown fat with cash under Biden’s watch, shipping massive volumes of oil to China and other destinations, all of which should have been blocked under the existing sanctions.”

We’ll know soon enough whether Iran takes the current U.S. administration seriously. In the meantime, we can only say to those suffering in Israel and Ukraine and Afghanistan: Please don’t blame us. We voted for peace. We voted for deterrence. We voted for Trump.

Updated with a more thought-provoking closing comment.

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