Sociable

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bombs Away


From the desk of Reuven Kaminer
December 12, 2012

Bombs Away
  
Arlo Guthrie tried to fake an unbalanced mind for the draft induction medics. He kept telling them, "I want to keel, I want to keel." It didn't work because he was simply not credible. No credibility, no deterrence. Israel has learned the lesson. If you do not kill from time to time, you lose your deterrence credibility.  Credible deterrence is just what Israel would like to have. Somehow, the lesson that military success often ends in political reversal is usually lost on Bibi & Co. The answer to this small difficulty is of course more force.    
Israel wants to bomb. The strategic differences of opinion between Obama and Bibi regarding the next step against Iran are well known. The Israelis would like to see Obama leading the charge but if the US insists on leading from behind, Israel wants US backing for it to start bombing Iran. Israel will bomb and Obama will hold the umbrella.
Israel has requested US backing and Jordanian fly- over rights in order to start bombing Syria. Israel was willing to bomb Syria before the chemical WMD issue hit the headlines. Now it really wants to bomb Syria.
Israel never bothered to deny credible reports that it had bombed a munitions factory last month in Kartoum, Sudan. It barely made the news, but the "intelligence sources" were on the alert and verified the item.
A few weeks back, Obama broke down and let Bibi bomb the Gaza strip (the most densely populated region in the world) night and day for more than a week. The Israelis are beginning to understand that Obama cannot say no, all the time to his trusted ally.
Israel is dying to bomb the Hezbollah rocket facilities in Lebanon. Just like the IDF did in Gaza last month. But there is a problem.  These rockets seem to be hidden in different locations in the country where the population is mixed Shi'ite, Druze, Christian and Sunni Muslim. Targeting in such circumstances is a bit complicated. You wouldn't care too much about collateral damage if the non-Hezbollah candidates for death and destruction were not pro-Israeli Christians or other buddies in the anti-Assad crowd. Israeli policy makers have surmounted this difficulty by clearly declaring that they will bomb the hell out of Beirut if hostilities break out. In Israel we talk all the time about deterrence. But the threat that Israel might bomb Beirut might appear to Hezbollah more encouragement than deterrence.   
Now if you want to do some bombing, you need bombs. No problem, as they say in these parts of the world.
The Pentagon has approved a deal to supply 6,900 precision bomb kits to replenish Israel’s weapons stockpiles,
diminished by the recent war against Hamas in Gaza. The contract is valued at $647 million.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop
and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the Pentagon said in a statement. The deal is expected to sail
This is a Sanctuary?
I hope, at a later date, to examine the problems for the Jewish people presented by having Israel and its Jewish allies in the forefront of international reaction. Here, I am concerned about the meaning of the present trends in Israeli policy in regards to the Zionist thesis that the Jews wherever they are need a homeland to serve basically as a sanctuary.  The concept in Hebrew is rather colorful. The homeland is going to be a shelter for trying times or, more literally, for stormy days. The thesis is simplicity itself. Outside of Israel, in the wide world, the Jews are prone to attack and discrimination. The wrong geography and you are in trouble.  The right geography and you are home safe. It has been suggested along the years that getting hold of the right geography might in itself be a rather dangerous proposition. The answer to that objection was that skirmishing with the Arabs was preferable to ending up in the Nazi death camps. But things change and not always for the better. Israel, cast in the role as the deputy-manager of US interests in the region is fulfilling its mission with a passion. It is not a stooge but an ambitious junior partner. While Washington shows some sort of aversion for too many flag draped boxes flying in from abroad, Israelis are, at least temporarily, willing to take enormous risks for their senior ally.

The US as long as it hopes to continue to dominate the region must have rapid response fighting units at its disposal in the Middle East to contain the enemies.  Things are much simpler when the preparedness units are already in the area. Volatility is the new normal in the area and Israel's value has indeed appreciated.  Israel seems to be very good at this sort of thing – for example, the Israeli forces appear to have bombed Sudan last month without too much exposure.    
But working for the Yankee dollar in the region is a hazardous affair.  The Israeli role expands from that of most valued employee to that of genuine junior partner, with Israel utilizing the increasing influence of the pro-Israeli camp in the US.  That camp hopes to force Obama to follow Netanyahu's recommendations. Israel has taken on itself a dangerous mission – to prevent any of the major forces in the region from spinning out of US control. And by virtue of the circumstances, there is more and more work involved in maintaining "stability" in the region. Israel believes it can fulfill this role easily because of its clear technological military superiority, including its regional nuclear monopoly.  This may be true for the minute, but this is no way to run a sanctuary.
Installing a Surrogate Mubarak Is Not So Easy
Just when we had started to reconcile ourselves to what appeared to be a new and a long period of absolute hegemony of political Islam, Egypt and Tunisia erupted once more.  It appears that even with a new, uncompromised political formation, such as the Brotherhood in power the masses are full of distrust. The US is willing to do almost anything to stabilize things for fear of anarchy or worse, a new regime that would  issue a new set of demands as the price for cooperation with the US. The clashes in Egypt, at the least, open possibilities for serious change. The US wanted to buy Egypt cheap. It is not working. The price has gone up. If political Islam tries to dominate all the picture, it may lose all or most of its political capital. The chances for a progressive- nationalist alternative have appeared.  Nasserism is not dead.