Dr. Jack Wheeler reveals how the recent Israeli raid on Syria has provoked near-panic in Syria and Iran, by the simple fact that the Israeli aircraft breezed right through Syria’s supposed state-of-the-art air-defense net without raising the least alarm to their presence.
In game theory, demonstrating you can do something like penetrate another’s defenses can have as much effect as actually doing so in open conflict. The Israelis pulled a similar trick when they chased the PLO out of Lebanon. Then too, the Syrians had created a state-of-the-art Soviet air-defense net in southern Lebanon and Israel wrecked it within a few hours. That event not only stunned the Arab despots but the Soviets as well. They well understood that if the Israelis could waltz through their air defenses then the Americans could as well. At that point, all ideas of provoking any kind of conventional conflict with the West got swept off the table.
The Israeli invasion of Lebanon helped marginalize those within the Soviet Union who sought a violent solution to their increasing problems, and helped pave the way for Gorbachev. I suppose it is too much to ask that one little raid should provoke such major changes in the Arab world, but history has turned on stranger things.