Cold War Analogies Do Not Apply to the Gaza Strip Conflict

In his New York Times Op-Ed, William Kristol writes that Israel’s military incursion into the Gaza Strip is actually doing the United States a favor in its efforts to deal with Iran. His justification is that the Israeli incursion will free the incoming Obama Administration up to deal with Iran because: “If Israel had yielded to Hamas and refrained from using force to stop terror attacks, it would have been a victory for Iran.” This argument dangerously misrepresents the region’s politics and American interests. First, every action undertaken by the Israeli Government is not driven by its adversarial relationship with Iran. Regional politics in the Middle East is not bipolar like in the days of the Cold War. Israel’s military campaign against Hamas has been driven much more by domestic politics and its desire for internal security than concerns over Iran winning a phantom morale victory. Furthermore, most Arab countries in the Middle East have both and shared and conflicting interests with Iran and Israel and, for most countries, neither state constitutes a natural enemy nor ally. Finally, having positive, constructive relationships with Arab states is in the United States’ strategic interests. Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip has incited broad outrage across the Middle East and this outrage has also been directed at the United States. Kristol neglects to note in his piece that having a broad coalition of Arab nations support its diplomatic efforts toward Iran would greatly benefit the United States’ efforts. Such support is likely crucial to any diplomatic resolution of the situation. Indeed, it’s no more in Saudi Arabia’s interests than it is in Israel’s for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. By allowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to continue to divide Israel, the United States, and Iran’s Arab neighbors, Israel is actually doing Iran a favor right now.


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