Running Out of Options

Victor Davis Hanson has written a lot of important columns, but none more so than this one. He begins by reciting the conventional wisdom that the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, can’t possibly want more armed conflict in the Middle East. True as far as it goes. But Hanson next raises the possibility that the West may run out of both patience and options:

Finally, the world is accepting that the Middle East problem was never about so-called occupied land — but only about the existence of Israel itself. Hezbollah and Hamas, and those in their midst who tolerate them (or vote for them), didn’t so much want Israel out of Lebanon and Gaza as pushed into the Mediterranean altogether. And since there will be no second Holocaust, the Israelis may well soon transform a perennial terrorist war that they can’t easily win into a conventional aerial one against a terrorist-sponsoring Syria that they can.

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Yet for all their threats, what the Islamists — from Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to the Iranian government in Tehran to the jihadists in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle — don’t understand is that they are slowly pushing tired Westerners into a corner. If diplomacy, or aid, or support for democracy, or multiculturalism, or withdrawal from contested lands, does not satisfy radical Islamists, what would?

Perhaps nothing.

What then would be the new Western approach to terrorism? Hard and quick retaliation — but without our past concern for nation-building, or offering a democratic alternative to theocracy and autocracy, or even worrying about whether other Muslims are unfairly lumped in with Islamists who operate freely in their midst.

The consequences could be dire:

If they are not careful, a Syria or Iran really will earn a conventional war — not more futile diplomacy or limited responses to terrorism. And history shows that massive attacks from the air are something that the West does well.

So in the meantime, let us hope that democracy prevails in Iraq, that our massive aid is actually appreciated by the Middle East, that diplomacy ultimately works with Iran, that Syria quits supporting terrorists, and that Hamas and Hezbollah cease their rocket attacks against Israel — more for all their sakes than ours.

The Islamic states have long used their own weakness as a weapon against the West. But weakness is a weapon only as long as we allow it to be.

Via Power Line News.

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