Thursday, August 17, 2006

An Alternative Reason for the Cease-fire

In One Cheer for Ceasefire, Noah Pollak, assistant editor at Azure, the journal of the Shalem Center, offers a different perspective on the reason for the cease-fire.

Pollak finds the cease-fire too inexplicable to be taken at face value:

It’s difficult to believe that Bolton would have thrown United States support behind a patently unwise agreement, or that Israel would have agreed to a resolution thoroughly harmful to its own interests. So herewith, in what may rightfully be construed as an exercise in wishful thinking, is an alternative explanation for U.S. and Israeli acquiescence to the U.N. cease-fire resolution.
As a result, Pollak's admitted 'wishful thinking' leads him to formulate the following strategy that went into the US backing of the cease-fire and Israel's agreement to it:

The heart of the strategic conundrum thus becomes this salient fact: If the U.S. is to strike Iran, Israel must be deterred from being provoked into the conflict and jeopardizing the abstention of other Arab states from interference in the clean execution of the mission and its aftermath. Because Iran, in conventional terms, is largely defenseless against an American bombing campaign, Iran’s first objective upon being attacked will be to draw Israel into the conflict. This is almost the exact same scenario as in the first Gulf War, and then it took intense diplomatic pressure to prevent Israel from retaliating against Iraq for its repeated missile attacks. It is almost unthinkable that Israel could be called upon again to summon such self-restraint.

The way Iran would drag Israel into the war and dramatically complicate the U.S. mission would be through Hezbollah, which until recently was firmly entrenched on Israel’s northern border, fully armed and spoiling for a fight. Thus, even given Israel’s curtailed and incomplete war against Hezbollah, the U.S.’s — and arguably, Israel’s — primary objective in the conflict has been accomplished: creating a state of affairs in which Iran cannot use Hezbollah to drag Israel into the U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, incite Arab opposition to the U.S., and threaten a global energy crisis. The partial war against Hezbollah has accomplished an important additional objective: what was previously a looming unknown — Hezbollah’s military capability on Israel’s northern border — has been engaged, partially destroyed, and is now a known quantity.
Pollak deals with other issues, such as why Israel was stopped at the point that it was--as opposed to allowing for a further destruction of Hezbollah. All in all, Pollak fleshes out an impressive theory.

Considering the simpler--and less edifying--explanations for the situation Israel now finds herself in, it is an encouraging theory.

But bottom line, you can't help thinking that Pollak is right.

It's wishful thinking.

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