Let's review the wildly diverse points of view we get from Kristol, Kaplan, and liberal lion Remnick. It's a diverse and spectacular spectrum of opinion.
An Israeli success in Gaza would be a victory in the war on terror — and in the broader struggle for the future of the Middle East. Hamas is only one manifestation of the rise, over the past few decades, of a terror-friendly and almost death-cult-like form of Islamic extremism. The combination of such terror movements with a terror-sponsoring and nuclear-weapons-seeking Iranian state (aided by its sidekick Syria) has produced a new kind of threat to Israel . . . .NYT.
But Israel — assuming it succeeds — is doing the United States a favor by taking on Hamas now.
The huge challenge for the Obama administration is going to be Iran. If Israel had yielded to Hamas and refrained from using force to stop terror attacks, it would have been a victory for Iran. If Israel were now to withdraw under pressure without accomplishing the objectives of severely weakening Hamas and preventing the reconstitution of a terror-exporting state in Gaza, it would be a triumph for Iran. In either case, the Iranian regime would be emboldened, and less susceptible to the pressure from the Obama administration to stop its nuclear program.
But a defeat of Hamas in Gaza — following on the heels of our success in Iraq — would be a real setback for Iran. It would make it easier to assemble regional and international coalitions to pressure Iran. It might positively affect the Iranian elections in June. It might make the Iranian regime more amenable to dealing.
With respect to Iran, Obama may well face — as the Israeli government did with Hamas — a moment when the use of force seems to be the only responsible option. But Israel’s willingness to fight makes it more possible that the United States may not have to.
Got it? Israel must destroy Gaza to soften up Iran for the U.S. to then bomb Iran!
Hey, what about this Robert Kaplan guy?
Israel has just embarked on a land invasion of the Gaza Strip after a week of aerial bombing. Gaza is bordered by Egypt, and was under Egyptian military control from 1949 through 1967. And yet in a startling rebuke to geography and recent history—and in testimony to the sheer power of audacity and of ideas—the mullahs in Teheran hold more sway in Gaza today than does the tired, Brezhnevite regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Gaza constitutes the western edge of Iran’s veritable new empire, cartographically akin to the ancient Persian one, that now stretches all the way to western Afghanistan, where Kabul holds no sway and which is under Iranian economic domination.The Atlantic.
Israel’s attack on Gaza is, in effect, an attack on Iran’s empire, the first since its offensive on Iranian-backed Hezbollah in 2006. That attack failed for a number of reasons, not least of which was Israel’s poor intelligence on Hezbollah: historically, its intelligence on the Palestinians has been much better. Moreover, this attack seems more deliberately planned, with narrower, publicly stated aims – all in all, a more professional job. But there is a fundamental problem with what Israel is doing that goes to the heart of the postmodern beast that the Iranian empire represents.
Hey, do you sense a theme yet? A consistent message, maybe? Hmm, a smart, liberal guy like David Remnick, who brings us wry cartoons and smarty-pants essays from Malcolm Gladwell wouldn't jump on board this bandwagon, right? Oops:
As President, Obama will have to address another dream of homeland––the unrealized dream of the Palestinians. In the West Bank, he will be dealing with a leadership that, while imperfect, supports the overdue justice of a two-state resolution. The same is true in Israel, at least with those politicians to the left of Benjamin Netanyahu. But in Gaza Obama will be dealing, directly or not, with political actors who, with Iranian support, seek ceaseless battle with Israel, and may even hope to destabilize Egypt.The New Yorker.
But you may say, "Hold on there, you terrorist pinko. Remnick is trying to be so reasonable in his Talk of the Town piece. Give him a break."
Yeah, no. Remnick has shown his readiness to slide into a seemingly-reluctant neocon warrior mode and parrot the neocon party line before. It's important to stay on message if you want to get a real war on! I'd like to retrieve from the memory hole Remnick's oh-so-eloquent and thoughtful endorsement of the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq:
As it happens, the most comprehensive and convincing case for the use of force in Iraq has been made by a government intellectual, Kenneth M. Pollack. From 1995 to 1996 and from 1999 to 2001, Pollack served in the Clinton Administration as director for Gulf affairs at the National Security Council; before that, he was a military analyst of the Persian Gulf region for the C.I.A. More effectively than Dick Cheney or Paul Wolfowitz or any other of the hawkish big thinkers in the Administration, Pollack, in his book "The Threatening Storm," presents in almost rueful terms the myriad reasons that an aggressive policy toward Iraq now is the least bad of our alternatives. As Bush did at the U.N., Pollack carefully describes the Stalinist character of Saddam's state: the pervasive use of torture to terrorize and subdue the citizenry and insure the loyalty of the Army and the security apparatus; the acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing; the use of chemical weapons on neighbors and his own citizens; the sponsorship of terrorist groups; the refusal to relinquish weapons of mass destruction despite the humanitarian and economic cost the Iraqis pay through international embargo. We are reminded, too, of Saddam's vision of himself as the modern Saladin, the modern Nebuchadnezzar II, who (after massacring the Kurds, invading Kuwait, and attacking the marsh Arabs of the south) vows to "liberate" Jerusalem, vanquish the United States, and rule over a united Arab world. Saddam is not a man of empty promises. His territorial aggression is a matter of record, his nuclear ambitions are clear.The New Yorker.
Unlike the President, Pollack dignifies all possible objections and what-ifs with answers. For example, he concedes that North Korea and Iran are, in some ways, even greater and more obvious threats than Iraq, but he carefully shows why the regional politics of northern Asia require a different tack and why Iran, with its more dynamic, grass-roots politics, is far likelier to undergo a homegrown revolution or reform than Iraq, where politics of any kind are not permitted.
The United States has been wrong, politically and morally, about Iraq more than once in the past; Washington has supported Saddam against Iran and overlooked some of his bloodiest adventures. The price of being wrong yet again could be incalculable. History will not easily excuse us if, by deciding not to decide, we defer a reckoning with an aggressive totalitarian leader who intends not only to develop weapons of mass destruction but also to use them.
Saddam's abdication, or a military coup, would be a godsend; his sudden conversion to the wisdom of disarmament almost as good. It is a fine thing to dream. But, assuming such dreams are not realized, a return to a hollow pursuit of containment will be the most dangerous option of all.
Boy, that Remnick is so smart. Anyhow, have you now accepted the proper view for intelligent people? Gaza being bombed means Iran is the problem. Iran is bad and a threat to everything good. Yeah, so I still hate David Remnick. That's all I wanted to say.