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  • The Coming Mideast War?

    Posted by David Foster on May 13th, 2010 (All posts by )

    Daniel Jackson, a rabbi who lives in Israel, has been traveling around the country and talking with young men and women who are either in the service or recently out of the service:

    On any given night, I will run into four to six young people eager to play with telescopes, share some tea and food around a campfire, and talk about things to come.

    The coming war is on everyone’s mind.

    Daniel notes that:

    In 2006, Hizbullah lacked both accuracy and power. This will not be the case in this war. Their fire power is hot and heavy. But they are up against a professional army that has been drilling and preparing constantly for the last four years under a tough and charismatic infantry soldier. This will not be an IAF war. The IDF is prepared. After the missiles, expect the Israelis response to be strong.


    Materiel is being moved north and south regularly. Flatbeds are hauling Jeeps and tanks south; hundreds of Johnsons and Evinrudes in both directions. My young XO suggested that the Navy is not going to be idle–there are UAVs in all branches of the theater.


    It cannot be overstated enough that anyone who thinks this coming war is about Israel is either an idiot or a fool–and that is a command consequence that one wants to think about. This war is about Xerxes and the New Persians. They are back. Israel is just the example. The real target is to the South and East.

    Read the whole thing.

    There is considerable evidence that Syria has been supplying Hizbullah terrorists with Scud missiles, which have a range of more than 400 miles. Noah Pollak:

    The Scud-D has been around for decades; why is it being transferred to Hezbollah at this particular moment? There are two likely reasons: (1) the White House has become the most prominent Western critic of Israel, and Syria is confident that President Obama will not do much to either punish an Israeli enemy or speak clearly in Israel’s defense; (2) under the Obama Doctrine, many enemies of America are treated with kindness in order to prove that they should not fear us, under the theory that once the fear is gone, there will be very little to obstruct the progression of smooth relations. The engagement policy thus requires the overlooking of all kinds of bad behavior.

    Regardless of whether or not the Scud reports are correct, there can be no question that Obama’s overall posture: his hostility toward Israel combined with his submissiveness toward terrorists and aggressive, anti-U.S. dictators–has made war much more likely. Carolyn Glick, writing in the Jerusalem Post:

    (Obama’s) begging-to-shake-hands policy towards Iran and the one hand and his iron fist policy towards Israel on the other makes it absolutely clear that Obama will do nothing to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Rather than correct his abysmal failures, Obama seeks to hide them by minimizing the seriousness of the threat.

    In remarks to the media this week, a White House official downplayed the Iranian threat. He told the Financial Times that Iran’s “nuclear clock has slowed down. They are not making dramatic technical progress given the difficulties they are facing in their [uranium] enrichment program and the fact that their efforts to build secret facilities have been disclosed.”

    The fact that the US’s published intelligence estimates of Iran’s nuclear program contradict this claim didn’t seem to faze the official.


    These are dangerous times. Iran, which seeks to position itself as a regional superpower, has been emboldened by the Obama administration’s abdication of US global leadership.

    See also: Obama is setting Israel up for a terrible fall.


    20 Responses to “The Coming Mideast War?”

    1. anon Says:

      The post spends 50% of its time badmouthing Obama. If Am is not going to “do something about Iran,” what does the Rabbi then think we ought to do and what does Israel plan to do? Invade, bomb, etc…?

      ps: my son will be in the Israeli military this summer.

    2. tehag Says:

      “The post spends 50% of its time badmouthing Obama.”

      Such self-restraint is admirable. OTOH, 100% would have been another topic

    3. Tatyana Says:

      …counting “time spent” on issues you don’t like in somebody’s post is akin to counting money in somebody else’s pocket: not your business.

    4. Joseph Somsel Says:

      Persian Nationalism + Radical Islam = Trouble with a capital “T”

      The Obama Administration’s public explanation of the principles of their foreign policy increasely seem like disinformation to snow the rubes and to please their base. At first I thought their game was just incompetence but after so many lies, I’m sure it is a planned path that they KNOW will not find acceptance with the American voter.

      Their con job has just too many tells.

    5. Tom Holsinger Says:

      My take is that Israel will attack Iran next spring. The hoot about it will be the support the IAF gets from Saudi AWACS, with USAF personnel on board. The Saudis have the Obama administration’s number and know the latter will cave to a Saudi threat to permanently remove the USAF personnel from the Saudi AWACS, and replace them with American contractors, if the Obama administration squawks about the Saudis involving American personnel in the operation.

      The major question in my mind is how long the mullah regime can keep trying to interdict Gulf oil shipping,and I don’t mean “effectively” here. Just them trying will keep oil prices up. More than a few weeks and there will be serious world-wide economic effects.

      And the true wild card is whether Hezbollah uses chemical weapons.

    6. david foster Says:

      Anon 9:30…observe that Obama has *also* failed to show any meaningful support for dissidents who want to replace the Iranian regime.

      Does that get me to 60%?

    7. Trent Telenko Says:


      If you Lebanese, how can you tell the difference between a fueled, exploding, chemical warhead armed Scud-D and a fueld, exploding non-chemical warhead armed Scud-D if you are down wind?

      Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid is more deadly than most chemical munitions.


      “IRFNA contains mostly nitric acid, nitrogen oxides, a small percentage of water, and an inhibitor (an additive which prevents the acid from eating through its metal storage tank). This inhibitor is a halogen substance, such as hydrogen fluoride or iodine.”

    8. Tom Holsinger Says:

      No one cares about the people of Lebanon, including the people of Lebanon.

    9. Shannon Love Says:

      Anon May 13th, 2010 at 9:30 am

      The post spends 50% of its time badmouthing Obama.

      Because America is the controlling factor in whether there is a war and right now Obama controls American foreign policy.

      Obama is essentially recapitulating US policy in the 1930s. More interested in striking moral poises than maintaining real deterrence, he has created a dangerous power vacuum in the middle east just like we did in Europe in the 1930s. Had American been strongly engaged in Europe in the 1930s and made it clear we would intervene in any major war, Hitler and Stalin would have know they couldn’t have risk starting a widespread war without immediately facing the overwhelming power of the US. But we did just the opposite creating a situation where a charismatic madman could convince enough people that they could strike hard and fast and win victory.

      Obama has created the same situation in mideast. By singling very strongly that he may not back Israel in a pinch and by groveling before Iran and in general communicating irresolution in foreign affairs, he has created a situation in which middle-eastern autocrats could convince enough of their fellows that if they strike at Israel hard and fast they can secure a victory before American will decide to do anything about it.

      Obama may have even created the conditions in which autocrats could convince themselves that Obama is on their side.

      Every major conflict since WWI has resulted from autocrats making serious miscalculations about our intentions and about their own abilities to wage successful wars. These are people very, very prone to see themselves as more powerful and competent than they really are and to therefore take very dangerous risk that rapidly spiral out of their control.

      Hitler never intended to start a second world war. He thought he was going to fight a brief intense war with Poland after which France and England would acquiesce, Then a few years down the line, you would betray Stalin. Imperial Japan likewise believed that America would give up after they hit us hard and made the cost of liberating Asia to high.

      42 million people died because they miscalculated. 42 million people died because the Fascists and Communist had delusional world views that denigrated the will of liberal-democracies while elevating their own will to near superhuman levels. The exact same psychology now dominates the autocracies of the Middle-East.

      Their ideology and culture holds that only by the violent destruction of Israel can they find their “place in the sun” that has been denied them. Their ideology says that all the poverty and divisions in the Middle-East are the fault of Israel. They hold people who fight Israel has the most admirable individuals in their societies. They believe the destruction of Israel is a holy quest, a means of elevating their personal and collective status.

      Obama has created an environment they will interpret not as an honest attempt at conciliation but as craven cowardice and weakness. They may well convince themselves that Obama and America are to weak and decadent to stop them. They may well believe given his de facto embargo on military aid to Israel that he won’t support Israel in a real fight.

      Obama is feeding their delusions, reinforcing their grandiose vision of themselves. That is his great error. He is more interested in demonstrating his intellectual and moral superiority over his fellow Americans than he is in objectively evaluating the threat poised by deluded autocrats.

      This will not end well.

    10. Bill Waddell Says:


      I agree that devoting to 50% to Obama is unfair. You should have whacked the Obama slamming down to, say 40%, and included an equal dose Hillary slamming for a total of 80%

    11. Tatyana Says:

      Shannon, you made your comment 92.5% about Obama. First warning [on behalf of Anon]!

    12. Shannon Love Says:


      By my count, its 52% (308 out 586 words) specifically about Obama. Given that it is an answer to a question as to why the parent mentioned Obama, I think that’s pretty good.

    13. Tatyana Says:

      Parent? Luckily, I’ve encountered the same terminology in 3DsMax, or I would have thought you’re now claiming to be adopted by David!

      OK, 52% by word count, but let’s not be so pedantic: we’re looking in the spirit, not the letter.

      Sorry for this bit of tangential ridicule, David: the topic is making me very uneasy and nervous.

    14. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Rather than World War II, I actually think we face a situation more like 1914. The Kaiser was beset by an inferiority complex toward his English cousins. He envied their navy, not because Germany needed a navy, but because a navy was a symbol of power and of a mature nation. The world of 1914 was so commercially interdependent that men believed there would be no more wars. It was a golden age somewhat like Rome in 250 or so. No one could imagine barbarians defeating the cultured and educated modern world.

      Now, we have a relatively primitive country, Iran, seeking the nuclear weapon because it is a symbol of power. The leader of that country is jealous of the developed powers and boasts of his power. A new factor is the religious zealotry that makes irrational actions more possible. The Kaiser was irrational at times, as well. If Iran attacks Israel, the middle east will explode and middle eastern oil will be gone for a generation as the oil fields will be radioactive.

      Obama does not have enough imagination to see that all this world of social democracy that he loves could be swept away. It could all happen in a day or two. He does not believe that. The Harvard law school faculty lounge does not believe that. My daughter’s teachers believe that diversity and “whiteness studies” are more important than concerns about radical Islam.

      Trouble is coming and there is not more than 5% of the population that sees it coming. Least of all Obama.

    15. tehag Says:

      WWI is my favorite metaphor, too. Iran’s attack on Israel, and Israel’s annihilation of Mecca and Medina will not only cause a general war in Arabia, but will be a signal that the lid is off, and a trigger for wars of revenge around world: Taiwan, Korea, India will be attacked by, in turn, internal revolution fomented from the PRC, North Korea in a land invasion, and nuclear weapons.

      “They believe the destruction of Israel is a holy quest, a means of elevating their personal and collective status.”

      Islam will spark wars of religion more terrible than the Reformation and Thirty Year’s War combined. It takes a lot of force for a God to change his mind about the limits of His dominion, but it can be done. Until the “House of War” becomes the “House of Friends,” Islam will be the enemy of free peoples everywhere.

    16. david foster Says:

      The Kaiser was a self-centered, not-very-mature, and sometimes unpleasant man, but I’ve seen no evidence that he shared the sadistic pleasure in apocalyptic destruction that was characteristic of a leader like Hitler.

      Paul Reynaud, who became president of France shortly before the German attack of 1940, captured this difference when he said:

      “People think Hitler is like Kaiser Wilhelm. The old gentleman only wanted to take Alsace-Lorraine from us. But Hitler is Genghis Khan.”

      The mullahs who control Iran seem to me to have a very large component of the Hitler/Genghis Khan apocalyptic fury in their mix, not only the selfish power politics of a Kaiser Wilhelm.

    17. david foster Says:

      See also this interesting piece on changing attitudes toward Obama among American Jews.

      In discussing Obama’s motivations for his attitudes toward Israel, though, the author omits what I think this probably the single most important factor. Obama’s political and philosophical roots are in the “progressive” movement (to use the term that they apply to themselves), and for at least the last 20-30 years, this movement has been strongly hostile toward Israel.

    18. david foster Says:

      A much more positive view of the situation in the Middle East from Walter Russell Mead. He argues his case very well, but I’m far from convinced.

    19. cjm Says:

      so the arabs (some of them) will aid israel in taking down the mullahs in tehran. what will israel ask for in return, from the arabs? i.e. who in the arabs domain, will be offered up for sacrifice?

      personally, i predict that the palistinians will not be surviving this next encounter. the assad regime will also be going up in flames, once the action starts.

      i suspect every one of those scuds has been “marked” electronically, and will be destroyed on the ground. or maybe their targeting has been modified to cause an “own goal”.

    20. cjm Says:

      skimmed over that WRM article…just the same wishful thinking and panglossian take as always.