Escalations Cannot Be Stopped – The White House Is Rattled; Escalations Might All Fuse Into ‘One’

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by Alastair Crooke, Strategic Culture:

The reality of the necessity of war is permeating widely the consciousness of the Arabic and Islamic world.

Tom Friedman uttered his dire warning in the New York Times on Thursday last:

“I believe that if Israel rushes headlong into Gaza now [unilaterally] to destroy Hamas — it will be making a grave mistake that will be devastating for Israeli interests and American interests”.

“It could trigger a global conflagration and explode the entire pro-American alliance structure that the U.S. has built…I am talking about the Camp David peace treaty, the Oslo peace accords, the Abraham Accords and the possible normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The whole thing could go up in flames.

“Unfortunately, the senior U.S. official told [Friedman], Israeli military leaders are actually more hawkish than the prime minister now. They are red with rage and determined to deliver a blow to Hamas that the whole neighbourhood will never forget”.

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Friedman here is talking, of course, about an American alliance system, pivoted around the idea of Israel’s military prowess being invincible – the ‘Little NATO’ paradigm that acts as the essential substrata for the spread of the American-led Rules Order through West Asia.

It is analogous to the substrata of the NATO alliance, whose claimed ‘unchallengeability’ has underpinned U.S. interests in Europe (at least until the Ukraine war).

One Israeli Cabinet member put it to the veteran Israeli defence correspondent Ben Caspit that Israel just cannot permit its long-term deterrence being undermined:

“This is the most important point — ‘our deterrence’”, the senior war Cabinet source said. “The region must quickly understand that whoever harms Israel the way Hamas did, pays a disproportionate price. There is no other way to survive in our neighbourhood than to exact this price now, because many eyes are fixed on us and most of them do not have our best interests at heart”.

In other words, the Israeli ‘paradigm’ hinges on manifesting overwhelming, crushing force directed to any emerging challenge. This has had its origin in the U.S. insistence that Israel have both the political leading-edge (all strategic decisions lay with Israel uniquely under Oslo), and equally, that it has the military cutting leading-edge over all its neighbours too.

Despite being presented as such, this is not a formula by which to reach any sustainable, peaceful accord by which the 1947 UNGA Resolution 181 (the division of Mandate-era Palestine) into two states can be reached. Rather, Israel under the Netanyahu government has been moving closer and closer to an eschatological founding of Israel on the (Biblical) ‘Land of Israel’ – a move that expunges Palestine totally.

It is no coincidence that Netanyahu flourished a map of Israel during his General Assembly address last month in which Israel dominated from the River to the Sea – and Palestine (indeed any Palestinian territory) was non-existent.

Tom Friedman in his NYT reflections may fear that just as NATO’s impaired performance in Ukraine has ruptured ‘the NATO myth’, so too the 7 October Israeli military and intelligence collapse and what happens in its wake in Gaza ‘might explode the entire pro-American alliance structure’ in the Middle East.

The confluence of two such humiliations might break the spine of western primacy. This seems to be the gist to Friedman’s analysis. (He likely is correct).

Hamas has succeeded in smashing the Israel deterrence paradigm: They were not afraid, the IDF proved far from invincible, and the Arab street mobilised as never before (confounding western cynics who laugh at the very notion of there being an ‘Arab Street’).

Well, that is where we are – and the White House is rattled. The Axios CEO VandeHei and Mark Allen have taken to print to warn:

“Never have we talked to so many top government officials who, in private, are so worried … [that] a confluence of crises poses epic concern and historic danger. We don’t like to sound dire. But to sound a siren of clinical, clear-eyed realism: U.S. officials tell us that, inside the White House, this was the heaviest, most chilling week since Joe Biden took office just over 1,000 days ago … Former Defence Secretary Bob Gates tells us America is facing the most crises since World War II ended 78 years ago…

“Not one of the crises can be solved and checked off: All five could spiral into something much bigger … What scares officials is how all five threats could fuse into one”. (Spreading war as Israel enters into Gaza; the Putin-Xi “anti-American alliance”; a “malicious” Iran; “unhinged” Kim Jon Un and fake videos and news).

However, missing from Friedman’s NYT piece is the other side to the coin – for the Israeli paradigm has two sides: the internal sphere, which is separate to the external need to exact a disproportionate price from Israel’s adversaries.

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