Iran's war with Israel gathers steam....
While being easily predictable allows rational actors to secure obvious social benefits such as a smooth-running, surprise-free socio-economic order, it is the worst possible policy to pursue in situations involving competition and combat. It is absurd to argue that a poker player is being a rational actor by allowing his hand to be easily predicted from his facial expression or body language. It is even more absurd to argue that a player with a super poker-face is not behaving rationally under the given circumstances.
In all combative face-offs, the rational actor’s best bet is to behave as unpredictably as possible, so that he prevent his opponent from anticipating his next move. This is why from time immemorial, the element of surprise has always been regarded as a critical factor in waging war successfully. The military leader whose movements can be predicted by his opponent is in for serious trouble. Cunning, deception, secrecy, feints, ploys, artifice, and outright lies—these are the weapons that any rational actor must be willing to use if he hopes to beat his opponents. Under such conditions, even displays of seemingly irrational behavior may prove a successful means of blindsiding and confusing one’s adversaries. The wily Odysseus pretended to be stark-raving mad in order to deceive those Greeks who wanted his help to win the Trojan War. It didn’t work for Odysseus, but it is working mighty well for Iran.
Those who point to examples of irrational behavior on the part of Iran are not short of ammunition. But are these really proof that Iran is not a rational actor, or is it a sign that Iran knows precisely what it is doing? When a nation always behaves the way we expect it to, it is easy to develop a coherent and consistent policy toward it. But it is far harder, if not impossible, to devise such a policy when dealing with uncertainty and unpredictability.
Harris believes an Israeli strike upon Iran would be a disaster, and that all positive options for the West have come and gone.
Barry Rubin says that Obama's insincere AIPAC speech words gave Israel a green light to attack Iran--however unintentionally. President Obama warns Tehran that time is running out. A WashTimes piece assesses the challenges confronting an Israeli strike.
Another front in the war is the terrorist barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. One factor separating Israel from the Palestinians is the Mideast fear factor: Israeli schoolchildren are kept home to secure their safety, while Palestinian kids attend what passes for school in Gaza:
The preferred narrative, of course, is that Israel uses “indiscriminate and excessive force” against Palestinian civilians. But it turns out real live Palestinians know better: They know Israel actually makes great efforts to avoid hitting civilian targets, and therefore, it’s perfectly safe to send their children to school. In contrast, Israelis can’t safely send their children to school, because Palestinian terrorists really do use indiscriminate force, making a school full of children an invitation to a mass-casualty incident. Indeed, a rocket hit an (empty) school in Beersheba on Sunday, and rockets have also struck (empty) schools during previous rounds.
And here’s something else you probably won’t read in your local paper: Palestinian terrorists take cynical advantage of Israel’s efforts to avoid hitting civilians by launching their rockets from heavily populated civilian areas. For them, it’s a win-win situation: If Israel refrains from shooting back for fear of hitting civilians, they live to launch again another day, and if Israel does shoot back, it risks civilian casualties that provide the terrorists with wonderful propaganda. After all, they know neither the international media nor the “human-rights organizations” will bother asking why terrorists were launching rockets from civilian areas to begin with.
In reality, Gaza (& West Bank) "schools" are centers for indotrination in Palestinian nationalism, Islamic extremism, denial of Israel's historical significance & hatred of Jews.
Clff May notes that a similar asymmetry of fear governs how the Saudis view Israeli nukes versus the prospect of Iranian nukes: the Saudis know Israel would use nukes only in defense of national survival under attack, whereas Iran will use them to further Iran's designs to become the pre-eminent regional power in the Mideast. The Gray Lady reports that Iran is backing rebels in Yemen in an effort to expand its Mideast influence. Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad's purloined e-mails reveal that he got Iranian assistance in his efforts to suppress Syrian rebels. Barry Rubin notes a unanimous vote in Egypt's Parliament to designate Israel as their number one enemy, as presaging an Egypt at war with Israel, short of full-scale war but hostile in every way short of that, including low-level terror warfare.
Bottom Line. Iran races onward, while the West temporizes as Iran spreads its tentacles in the region. Barring a miracle--sanctions or a new uprising fostering rapid regime collapse--Israel alone must act if Iran is to be stopped.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, Nuclear Proliferation, WMD, Conservative Politics