This is not Israel “shooting itself in the foot.” This is Israel winning. Be for that or against it, but at least recognize it.
This reminds me of Cato’s line from the series Rome, “So, this is not a humiliating defeat at all, but rather a rare species of victory!” Count me as part of the “counterproductivity corps” if you like, but if this is what Israeli victory looks like they will not be able politically to endure many more such victories. Up to a point, Israel can keep acting with impunity regardless of what the rest of the world says as long as the U.S. continues to back it. However, at some point Israel will alienate enough other U.S. allies in sufficiently provocative ways that the U.S. will have to start choosing between keeping on good terms with those other allies or continuing to back Israel uncritically and automatically.
The forged passports connected to the Dubai assassination badly damaged Israel’s relations with a number of European and other Western governments, and this has wrecked relations with Turkey. Israel is fast running out of friends to betray. Turkish FM Davutoglu has said that his government expects America to show solidarity with Turkey. He is going to be disappointed, and Turkey’s alliance with the U.S. is going to become so unpopular that we have to start wondering how long it will last. In case anyone has missed it, U.S.-Turkish relations were already fairly poor before this, and the administration’s sorry response to this attack has only worsened matters after it had earlier slapped down the Tehran nuclear deal. The chasm widening between Washington and Ankara is temporarily useful to Israel, but ultimately it is going to start showing people in Washington that the price for automatically backing Israel is not worth it.
I appreciate Jim’s point that there are not many specific measures that Turkey or any other state can take that will directly harm Israel, but how has it reached a point that Turkish unwillingness to go to war with Israel has become proof of Israeli success? Four years ago, the Turkish public was angry with Israel over Lebanon and Erdogan’s government expressed some displeasure. A year and a half ago, the Turkish public was furious with Israel over Gaza, and the Turkish government was angry, which later prompted Erdogan’s Davos tirade. Various diplomatic slights and pointed insults have been exchanged since then. Now the Turkish public is incandescently outraged, and the Turkish government is furious. Self-defeating hyperbole aside, when the foreign minister of one of Israel’s better allies likens one of its actions to 9/11 and the Turkish PM threatens serious consequences in retaliation, this is not evidence that Israel has won anything. It is proof that in four short years Turkey and Israel have gone from being on reasonably good terms to being practically at daggers drawn. That is the result of repeated Israeli strategic failures that have had a cumulative effect over the last several years.
Oddly, it is continued uncritical, automatic U.S. backing that enables the worst instincts in Israel’s government, and it is this that allows it to persist in its self-destructive course long after it should have stopped and corrected its course. It is that very backing that will let Israel continue down this path until it will become impossible for the U.S. to balance its relationships with its other allies and its one-sided relationship with Israel.
Update: Jim Henley clarifies what he meant in a follow-up post, and I appreciate the explanation. As far as control of the West Bank is concerned, he is correct. Clearly, I took his original post to mean something very different.