With Iran deal, & Russia in Syria, is Israel being Boxed In?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

With the success of the Iran deal virtually assured and with Russia moving into Syria, Israel’s hawks are facing an unprecedented setback. These developments could be demoting Israel from regional hegemon to marginal player, and severely limiting Tel Aviv’s freedom of movement. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s startling assertion that he wants to make Israel a world power comes at a time when its position as regional hegemon is being eroded. In other words, what world is he living in?

Israel has been a regional hegemon for decades, ever since the Camp David accords neutralized Egypt as a significant player in the Levant. Since 1979, Israel has had complete freedom of military movement in this region. It took advantage of its new hegemony to invade Lebanon in 1982 and to occupy 10% of that country for 18 years.

In these three and a half decades, not only did Israel manufacture hundreds of nuclear warheads, which it has occasionally hinted it would use if the danger seemed great enough, it attracted from the United States a vast arsenal and an array of key technological advantages. Israel’s hegemony was strengthened by the US invasion and destruction of Iraq from 2003. Israel’s all-out assault on little Lebanon in 2006 and its two further attacks on defenseless Gaza were the signs of this hegemony.

Although Turkey, another militarily advanced state, opposed the attacks on Gaza, it was not able to prevent or even impede them, because of US and European backing for Israel. And although Iran is bitterly opposed to Israeli policies, it is very far away and militarily weak, and can only work in the Levant through proxies.

The only brake on Israeli freedom of movement is local guerrilla groups such as Hizbullah, which twice foiled Israeli attempts to dominate southern Lebanon. Hizbullah is a small group with perhaps 25,000 fighters and its social base is Lebanese Shiites, who are only probably about 1.5 million strong. Take away the women, children and out of shape men, and that really isn’t the basis for a significant military group. (Israel’s population is 8 million, of which 6 million are Jews). What Hizbullah has going for it is Iranian backing. Neutralize Iran, and Hizbullah could be cut off from weapons resupply and finally defeated, and Israel could make a play for the water and other resources of south Lebanon again.

In 2006, in the wake of Israel’s failed attempt to destroy Hizbullah, it looked as though complete Israeli hegemony in the Levant were nevertheless still attainable. The Neoconservatives around Dick Cheney in the White House wanted to attack Iran and do to it what they did to Iraq. That could have pulled the plug on Hizbullah. Iraq was broken. Syria was weak and had lost its Soviet patron in the 1990s. The Palestinians were both weak and divided.

Now, Iran is beyond the reach of the Neoconservatives and even if another Republican won in 2016 (unlikely), it would be very difficult for that president to buck the international consensus around the Iran deal. Sanctions on Tehran will be lifted and Iran could get rich off its gas and oil, in the last couple of decades during which fossil fuels matter.

The prospect for the disruption of the land bridge (Syria) over which Iran ships rockets and other materiel to south Lebanon has receded. Russia appears to have decided to stop al-Qaeda and its Salafi allies in the Army of Conquest from moving west from their base in Idlib on the largely Alawite port of Latakia. Russia also wants to rebuild Syria’s army.

Because Russia came into Syria, Israel had to come to an agreement with Moscow about Israeli F-16s attacking convoys and other targets of Hizbullah in Syria. The danger is great that it will inadvertently kill Russian advisers or troops.

The coordination worked out between Israel and Russia effectively “clips Israel’s wings, denying it the prerogative of entering Syrian airspace at will and striking unilaterally. Since Russia is allied with Iran in Syria, in essence Israel may be asking Iranian permission.

The flip side is that Putin has deplored Syrian Arab Army shelling of Israel and in some ways a bigger Russian presence in Syria may increase Israeli security. Putin has hinted that he thinks the al-Assad regime should concentrate on its extremist enemies within. I.e. a big diversionary attack on Israel by Syria or Hizbullah to gain street cred with ordinary Syrians is likely no longer a possibility, since Moscow would forbid it.

A year ago Prime Minister Netanyahu may have still thought he could derail the Iran nuclear deal, and he had full freedom of movement in a collapsing Syria, even allegedly secretly giving some aid to the al-Qaeda affiliate, the Support Front, against Hizbullah in the Golan Heights and its hinterland. His planes have struck suspected Hizbullah sites at will, and even inadvertently killed an Iranian general.

Now, a year later, he is boxed in, helpless against Iran’s reintegration into the world system and blocked in Syria by a superpower presence.

Israel is a small country of 8 million and despite its nuclear arsenal, well-equipped military, and high tech capabilities, it ultimately is more like Austria or the United Arab Emirates than it is like a great power. Netanyahu has been trying to punch way above his weight. It was likely that at some point he would be brought down to earth.

Perhaps he just has been.


Related video:

BBC News from earlier this week: “Russia: Islamic State, not Assad, the danger in Syria”

44 Responses

  1. A boxed-in Israel does appear to be where we may be heading. And in that context Netanyahu’s remarks may make a bit of sense as he speaks to reassure.

    In your link, he is only noting that Israel has always been maintained from a position of strength. The money quotation being, “In the face of this changing world, Israel must be a power. Not just a regional power, but in some spheres, a world power,” the key part being…”in some spheres.”

    It’s possible a single person is crazy, but Israel as a whole is not. And its strength must be to leverage what power it does have. In terms of return on investment, this means having developed the intelligence assets to shape the foreign policy of nameless countries which are indeed more powerful. Its most powerful agents will in many cases be nominally unwitting and totally legal, by virtue of the good work done by others to shape the laws allowing a freedom of action not enjoyed by other services.

    More blatantly, this means developing a big arsenal of sophisticated thermonuclear weapons; not just the nukes that could be used defensively to destroy an airbase or column of armor, but those needed to vaporize major cities.

    In addition, develop ICBMs to deliver these weapons around the world; not just the intermediate range missiles to reach Tehran or Karachi, but world capitols like Washington and London. link to en.wikipedia.org

    Speak softly and carry a big stick, or as the need arises be a little less diplomatic about your capabities behind closed doors. You know, just to let your “friends” know how you’re feeling.

    • Not only ICBMs, but also German-manufactured Dolphin submarines, that cost Israel, with some financial help from the German government, billions of dollars.

      Israel reportedly keeps a portion of its submarine fleet in the international waters of the Persian Gulf armed with sea-launched nuclear missiles as a deterrent to Iran.

      • The Dolphin nuclear missiles only have a range of about 500 miles. There are four to eight on each submarine.

        Again, while Israel could use their nukes, the day after would be extremely terrible for every Israeli and many Jewish people around the globe.

        Note also that down-wind of Iran are THREE NUCLEAR NATIONS which ALL now have the capability of nuking Israel in retaliation. Chin, India and Pakistan will be very, very unhappy when their citizens and their food sources are contaminated by radioactive debris.

        Yes, in addition to the ICBM capability of India and China, Pakistan has recently put in operation their ICBM that allows them to nuke all of Israel. Which, of course, begs the question why Israel is so concerned about a Iranian “Muslim” nuke when Pakistan already has the capability of nuking Israel.

        BTW – Saudi Arabia also has DF21C MRBM and has supposedly contracted for nuclear warheads for them – At this point in time, no one is publicly talking about WHERE those war heads are.

        All Israel’s nukes are good for is committing suicide like at Masada.

    • The Israeli nukes mounted on the Jericho 3 ICBMs are worthless.

      The Russians, Chinese, Europeans and Americans will simply point out to any Israeli leader stupid enough to threaten to use them that ALL of Israel would simply disappear within minutes. Then the nations of the earth would put crippling economic blockades on Israel and starve the Israelis into submission.

      Israel has no ability to be a world leader on its own and any nation that might partner with Israel can (and will over time) simply throw it overboard after the major partner has determined that Israel is no longer useful.

      In the REAL world, Israel has no valuable assets.

      – no physical wealth (mineral, harbors, cheap labor, etc.).

      – no unique Intellectual Property that can not easily be duplicated (and improved). IP is more easily “strip mined” than physical resources.

      The bottom line is Israel can huff and puff all it wants, but in the end, it will always be a second or third tier nation.

  2. A world power must make some cultural, moral, political or economic impact. Israel has nothing of the kind to offer. Sodom Aviv is not enough for the foundation of a hegemony, and spectacles of the culling Palestinians, however carefully staged, are a seriously acquired taste. I was 8 years old when WWII ended. Children then were ‘seen but not heard’, and many hours were spent sitting quietly listening to adult talk, mostly at cocktail parties, the equivalent of social media in those days. The phrase ‘Jewish problem’ was much bandied about, always uttered in the same tones of resigned irritation and often with a sigh. The photo you published the other day of Netanyahu and Putin in gilded chairs, Putin displaying the resigned boredom of someone about to look at his watch, echoes that perfectly. In the end it was importunity that got them their foothold in Palestine and, aside from a few idealistic, intellectual socialists, most everyone hoped that would be the last they need hear from them. No nation really wants to attack Israel, and they wouldn’t be allowed to anyway, all anyone wants is for them to get back behind their apportioned boundaries and leave all else alone.

  3. Israel may gradually speak less of traditional proxies vis-a-vis Russia’s ME counterbalance.

    • Professor Cole seems to have forgotten Hizbullah’s origin. They were a direct response to the Israeli invasion in 1982 and existed before any Iranian involvement and will exist as long as Israel is viewed as a threat to Lebanese independence.

      • yes but if they had remained an indigenous sef-defense guerrilla group they wouldn’t have geopolitical importance

  4. Israel has exploited America’s ignorance and narrow interest politics to get away with Great Power swagger without Great Power responsibility. Now it’s gotten in the way of a serious Great Power protecting its own interests. Same for Saudi Arabia.

    Remember the movie “The Long Good Friday” where Bob Hoskins, a bullheaded, small-time London gangster, finds his gang under attack by a force too powerful to be just a criminal gang, and he discovers the hard way that he’s blundered into a blood feud with the Irish Republican Army? Netanyahu = Hoskins.

    • “did you happen to notice if his arms were nailed to the floor”

  5. I will never forget a conversation I had with Jim Webb before he became a senator. We had both seen the IDF in action, and Webb called them a fourth-rate army fighting seventh-rate armies. Hizbullah is the only regional army to have ever the IDF. The IDF can’t really operate above the brigade level, which was the same problem with Saddam’s army. Israel makes sure neighboring countries are unable to have their own jet fighters, thanks to US bullying. Netanyahu is clearly living in a dream world regarding the IDF and Israel being a world power.

    • In the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah was outnumbered many times over by the Israel Defense Forces and, further, had no tanks, warships, helicopters or jet bombers.

      That war was one of the few conflicts where Israeli soldiers had fought extensively in face-to-face combat situations – and they did not fare very well. In an olive grove skirmish near Bint Jubayl that the IDF studied extensively as to what went wrong, the Israeli commander was killed in action almost instantly and most IDF soldiers who fought there were either killed or wounded. One IDF soldier was later quoted as saying the Bint Jubayl battle was “hell on earth”.

      Only about 100-150 Hezbollah militiamen manned the garrison at Bint Jubayl, but they repulsed 5,000 elite Givati and Golani Brigade infantrymen of the IDF after 30 days of fighting. One IDF unit commander was later court-martialed and jailed after ordering his men to retreat in violation of direct orders of his superior.

      The IDF’s vaunted Merkava tanks were targets of the Russian-manufactured anti-tank missiles – damaging or destroying 21 tanks in the war. Those missiles often left the entire tank crew killed in action if the tank was so struck during battle.

      The Winograd Commission in Israel issued a report chronicling the deficiencies in the performance of the IDF in that conflict.

      The IDF performance against Hezbollah in 2006 shattered any myth of overwhelming military superiority by Israel in south Lebanon. Despite indications that Israel might return to Lebanon after 2006, there has been no re-occupation by the IDF of that region.

  6. That Bibi had to go to Moscow is a clear indication of a weakening positioning. His wings, as well those of others, were nicely clipped by Putin. As for the “inadvertent” nature of the assassination of the Iranian general, it’s not that certain. It happened at a crucial moment during the nuclear negotiations and could have been a provocation to derail the negotiations, very much in line with the false-flag operations in Baluchistan and the asinine “plot” to kill al-Jubeir in the US.

  7. Austria and the U.A.E. don’t have 100’s of nukes. I wish it weren’t the case but Israel’s nukes are its guarantor of being taken seriously out of proportion to its size. It will remain the regional hegemon. It will continue getting away with slow-motion gradual mass murder.

    The entire U.S.-British-Western deconstruction of the previously colonized Middle East has broken down the area into nearly powerless political cantons and military districts at odds with each other or in weak temporary alliances and all dependent on mostly Western arms. Israel and the West have won again, preserving hegemony for another 40-50 years to come (perhaps). Russia’s increased entry into Syria is a boon for the West’s hegemony as well, as it helps contain the West’s deconstructing wild-card titular ally ISIS and also allows Russia to become part of the functional hegemony in the process.

    And Israel, as you mention, benefits from the Russian presence too, as Assad continues to be marginalized but the burgeoning eventual Salafi existential threat to Israel begins to be more contained. As long as Assad is greatly weakened, Israel and the West are happy enough.

    Now Iraq’s gone. Iran is kept at bay by the agreement for years to come, until it either more or less politically capitulates or until the West upgrades its technological and logistical military advantages in the region such that it can successfully withstand an Iranian counterattack if the nuclear deal breaks apart. So the West wins again, and Israel, a Western colony that won a modified independence through military aggression and its nuclear weapon stockpile, wins as well.

    I strongly believe though that Israel’s best chance to survive has always been through plowshares not war. Sooner or later someone’s going to find a way to nuke Tel Aviv if Israel is not a crucial economic boon and partner with the entire region. Israel and Palestine need to become one state for all, with one-person-one-vote, and integrate its economy and its agricultural and hydro technologies with the region. The greater safety is still in numbes and in being indispensable – not a horrific declared enemy.

  8. Once again, the futility of pursuing a purely military option has been laid bare. It was by reaching out to the Egyptians that Israel was able to increase its regional power in the ’70s. Since it starting opting for wars with its neighbors and on its Palestinian population, it has gone into decline.

  9. In addition to Israel’s external threats discussed above, the internal threat of the settler movement may prove to be a Frankenstein monster that will bring down Netanyahu and fellow right-wing actors and, perhaps, eventually Israel.

  10. It is not likely that the Camp David Accords had anything to do with freeing Israel to invade Lebanon in 1982. It is unlikely Egypt would have attacked Israel for its invasion of, first southern Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border, and later moving up to Beirut. Egypt did not even want to engage Israel in 1967. Israel was the military powerhouse of the region, and Egypt well understood it.

    • You’re not taking into account the shock of 1973– they would have been more cautious if Egypt hadn’t made a separate peace

      • Yes. The Egyptian army surprised Israel on Yom Kippor in 1973 and initially push the Israeli army back and moved its troops well into the Sinai. However, within 48 hours the Israeli army had recovered and was on the verge of destroying the Egyptian army when the US intervened to prevent the its decimation.

        But then, Egypt launched the attack in what it believed was its own national interest. Egypt had no national interest in Lebanon.

        I might add that it was during this war that the US and the Soviet Union both went on nuclear alerts. Thus, whatever the benefits to Israel or to Egypt derived from the signing of the Camp David Accords, it was very much in the US interest. Acting in the US interests is, after all, the first responsibility of the American president.

  11. Excerpt from “The Iron Wall”, Avi Shlaim, p 497

    An American satellite [during the Gulf Was] reportedly detected that, following the first Scud barrage, Israel missile launchers armed with nuclear warheads were moved into the open and deployed facing Iraq, ready to launch on command. American intelligence picked up other signs indicating that Israel had gone on full nuclear alert that would remain in effect for weeks.

    • I find that thoroughly consistent with Israel’s subtle use of what is basically nuclear blackmail. It’s the leitmotif of Israel’s influence over the US, with all due respect to AIPAC.

    • I would not be surprise to be learn that any country been attack by long range Iraqi scud missiles (suspected armed with either nuclear or chemical war head), after Saddam’s declaration he will “burn down Israel” will have the right to protect itself. One way to protect is by preemptive streak – a strategy developed by the USA.

      So the term “blackmailing” is not the correct one, simply putting – defensing your country.

  12. Netanyahu is like an American neocon. He is delusional and places much too much reliance on military power. Having studied foreign policy and history for the last 50 years I have come to take the big picture on these kind of issues and think that sometimes analysts and pundits too often get caught up in the details of what’s happening now while ignoring more important long term trends. The Syrian civil war and Russian involvement are blips on a historical radar screen. Israel needs to realize that hings like the Iran deal are much more important to its security than how many bombs or fighter planes it has. The most important problem Israel faces is the demographic time bomb existing within its borders and its failure to address this issue. Is Israel going to be a Jewish state or a democratic one? In about 30 to 40 years, if trends continue, it cannot be both.

    • I agree with you completely. Events prior to 1950 created 750,000 Palestinian refugees. Here it is 65+ years later and that number has risen to about 5 million. Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories… the settler movement… the continued segregation of Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon (stateless, cannot vote, living generation after generation in camps, hotbeds of radicalization)…. When and how will it all end? What will the geopolitical reality be 65+ years from now? 33 million descendants of the original Palestinian refugees living in UN camps? Israel still occupying Palestinian territories? Settlers still staking claims? It’s unsustainable.

  13. The commentary here is pretty uniform. The consensus seems to be that Israel will get away indefinitely with flagrant misbehavior—that the western powers are frozen in fear due to her Lobby’s brutal methods, the Holocaust and the nuclear weapons, to say nothing of America’s unique and historic failure of leadership so far as Israel is concerned.

    Yet we have a President who has stood up to this opportunist troublemaker more effectively than any since Eisenhower. Why should he stop simply because he’s a lame duck? These problems are all soluble. Take the creation of a State of Palestine for example. The Europeans and more particularly the French have paved the way. It’s the hang-fire UNSC Resolution recognizing the nation of Palestine and setting forth a realistic formula for determining borders.

    I’ve been traveling since August 10th, but as of then he U.S had asked that the vote be postponed, not cancelled. If it passes it will constitute international law and will be a legitimate basis for economic sanctions at the national and international basis. The Europeans are fed-up. I doubt that we’d even have to join in them. Presumptively the pressure would be as intense as is necessary to get the job done.

    Our Administration is said to be pondering whether to change its policy of automatic veto of UN initiatives disliked by Israel. The Iran nuclear negotiations are now successfully concluded. That’s a great success. There is no reason why the same technique can not be used to deal with her nuclear weapons.

    In the U.S. lobbying for a foreign country without registration is a felony. We just haven’t had the guts to prosecute it.

    In the new era when these Israeli transgressions are just a memory we will wonder why it took so long to set them straight.

  14. In all of this we must bear in mind that China and Russia are now best buddies. The recent mess in the M.E is a direct result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In short the balance of power that ensures some restraint was absent. Thank God Russia is emerging as a brake of the madness inflicted in this region.

  15. “—–
    Netanyahu has been trying to punch way above his weight. It was likely that at some point he would be brought down to earth.

    Perhaps he just has been.

    If Netanyahu has been brought down to earth, he should be arrested and tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Hague for all he has spear headed against the Palestinians — blowing up power plants, water storage and treatment plants and maiming and killing thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians and children. Yes, bombing of Israel kills less people since Israel made it law in 1951 that all buildings” must have bomb shelters. But Palestinians can’t build bomb shelters since the materials required would be confiscated at the check points in the military Iron Walls surrounding Palestinian territories. But most of all, they don’t have the money nor an operating government.

    Try going without clean water, warm water or common medical supplies for just a week or two. The Palestinians are living in Hell created by the Israeli government/military which lacks negotiating skill and humility which the true Chosen People have.

    • Netanyahu is simply an arrogant Zionist politician. He needs to be pastured and to write his memoirs so that we may go through them from the point of view of the American interest and alleged responsibilities.

      As a politician he was created by the Israeli people. They bear responsibility. Israel does after all have some quasi -democratic characteristics. It is the Israeli electorate which must be brought down to earth. It will be simple enough to do and to do legitimately. American and European interests call for it and the power to get it rolling lies in the hands of every American President. Our Congressional leaders fear the prospect of doing the right thing.

      Sanctions on Israel, probably European, prosecution of the malefactors who lobby our Congress feloniously, more sanctions regarding her nukes, refusal of privileged access at all government levels and the opening of a frank national conversation on the necessity for doing such things is also required. No more taboos.

      So, why not?

      • A couple comments: one in agreement to the much under-recognized reality that Bibi must indeed be speaking for the Israeli people. Even if their support is tacit, they are still effectively supporting him. That the Likuk is ruling as part of a coalition doesn’t diminish this, as shown in the polling to which Bibi responds very adroitly.

        I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the various foreign agent control laws (lame though they are) are finely written so as exclude Israel.

        • Hello, Mr. Bickel. Attached is a nearly contemporary letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch from Grant F. Smith, Director of Research at IRmep.

          As you can see there has long been a defense raised that Israel’s Zionist-American political agents are exempt from the Foreign Agents’ Registration Act. It’s illogical and it’s also clear that it wasn’t the intent found in the original version which was passed in 1938, before Israeli independence. That’s declared in the government’s FAQ on the statute. *Every* agent for a foreign principle is governed by the law unless specifically exempt, and violation is a felony.

          For what it’s worth I’ve never found a word in the statute which provides special exemption for Israel’s American agents. If it is there it must be so finely written that it will need the Federal Judiciary to sort it out. The quicker the better. The prospects for the Lobby don’t look good to me. So I ask, “Why should we we shrink from enforcing federal law?” Let the chips fall. It’s a matter for the courts.


          Calvert Station
          P.O. Box 32041 Washington, DC 20007

          http://www.irmep.org info@irmep.org

          Phone: 202-342-7325

          Loretta Lynch Attorney General US Department of Justice
          950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001

          Dear Loretta Lynch,

          In 2009 IRmep, a not for profit public policy research organization, filed the enclosed complaint. It substantiates why the American Israel Public Affairs Committee should be registering as the foreign agent of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

          I urge you to take action to enforce the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act where your predecessors and subordinates have failed! Please also kindly confirm receipt of this public interest complaint.

          Grant F. Smith, Director of Research
           Research  Awareness  Accountability
          PS: I understand that there is no express exception to prosecution for Defendants for Defendants are American.

          Hunter Watson

  16. I think one larger geopolitical issue seems to have been ignored. Obama saw the futility of the Bush/neocon approach to foreign policy and decided that the long term interest of the US was to de-emphasize the Middle East and confront the future power challenge by pivoting to Asia. As long as China and Russia were not allied, Russia would only act in its own interest. After Ukraine, the pivot to Asia affects Russia just as much since now Russia is oriented eastwards.

    So the Russian troops in Syria are saying to the US, you can’t just pivot to Asia and leave the Middle East alone.

    Smart chess move from Grandmaster Putin!

    • For what it’s worth my view is that the pivot to the Pacific was motivated partially to give the Israelis an alert to the arrival of a new era in their relations with the U.S., one in which our actual interests and responsibilities as a very great power come first and that Israeli access will decline in direct proportion to her behavior vis a vis the United States and actual American allies in Europe.

  17. Israel’s future is extremely cloudy and heavily restrained due to the vast shifts in global power taking place and the technological forces that are reshaping the world.

    – Weapons are based on technology and these days due to the vast global communication network and global trade, EVERY NATION has the same access to weapons and no nation has any better weapons than any other nation. In fact, due to Israel’s bias towards USA high-tech weapons (vastly over-priced), Israel actually has LESS war toys capability than its more frugal neighbors.

    – Due to global markets, personal weapons (AK-47 and equivalent) have evolved to the point that every soldier is equally capable of killing vast quantities of humans. Human protection has evolved to the point the trunk and the head (somewhat) can be protected, BUT the extremities are easily removed, causing lots of battle field “friction.”

    – Due to the same market forces, the military “rock throwing capability (AKA artillery and missiles) has also evened out across the globe.

    – Today, extremely expensive military aircraft are easily destroyed by very in expensive, but very accurate missiles. In the real world “stealth” aircraft are actually very visible and vulnerable.

    – Nuclear weapons are useless, especially for a small powerless country like Israel. If Israel ever uses it nukes, it will be completely destroyed. The bigger problem is the humans that are left on earth will hunt down and punish all Jewish people in retaliation for the actions of Israel. That is, take the Islamophobia of today and multiply it by thousands.

    The reality is Israel no longer has any military “superiority” and can NEVER have it in the future.

    Israel has reached the limits of its military power and no matter how much it spends, it can NEVER improve the situation. All it can do is bankrupt its citizens.

    Note also that Israel has a social problem in that the “best and brightest” have lots of options to escape the crushing Israel taxes and over-priced goods. As it becomes more obvious to the “B&B” that Israel has a very dim future, more and more will simply leave. It is very probable that Israel’s demographics will become more negative over time with fewer productive citizens paying increasing taxes toe support the military and religious fundamentalists.

    Israel has no military future and if ti wants to survive, it will need to swallow a huge amount of pride and negotiate with its neighbors.

  18. Wondering whether President Obama will pivot after the Iran Deal is sealed and publicly push/encourage Israel, India, Pakistan to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty. The Chemical Weapons agreement.

    • Obama will have to lead by example. USA needs to act on part 2 of the bargain for nuclear haves to give up their Arsenal..all indications are that we, the us are going in the opposite direction. Talk of spending $1T to upgrade or nuclear weapons. Same with chemical weapons treaty..have we signed and ratified it?

  19. As I read the piece and then all of the comments so terribly sad that through all of this strategic rearranging in the middle east the millions killed, injured, made refugees are barely (well actually not at all) a concern.

    • Massive displacement and civil wars are a well known byproduct of de-colonization.

      The middle east and Africa are the last places on earth where the native populations have to go through the power restructuring process and eventually life will be much better for everyone in those areas, but the process is indeed terrible and is actually made WORSE by the outside meddling of people that “just want to help.”

      The bottom line is the situation was mostly caused by the global powers (UK, France, USA, etc.) and the solution can NOT be imposed by the global powers, but MUST be sorted out by the locals.

      In the REAL WORLD, there is NOTHING the USA and EU can do except provide humanitarian help to the refugees and NOT help any side in the fight.

  20. I see little evidence that Israel is now or ever was a regional hegemonic military or political power. It has only fought neighboring Arab countries and only during the Cold War, but never had any military role in other parts of the Middle East. The US did not ask for or expect Israeli military support in Libya, Yugoslavia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or Bahrain. The US never turned to Israel to keep Mubarak in office. It never turned to Israel to attack Iran, unless a computer virus counts as a military attack. We should not confuse a tally of weapons, which makes Israel appear to be a hegemon, with its actual political role. This is because the only use of those weapons, especially in the past decade, is to attack Palestinians, mostly in Gaza, or a ship like the Mavi Marmara. In reality, this is the practical limit of Israel’s vaunted hegemonic military power.

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