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The Gaza Pier Scheme Is an Unlimited Liability

State of the Union: It’s almost as if Lloyd Austin and his cronies are trying to get us into a war.
Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing On Military Operations To Counter ISIL

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a bad showing in his testimony before Congress last week. In a heated exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the general said that the American troops deployed on our $320 million aid-delivery pier off the Gaza Strip—by the way, as of last reporting, we still didn’t know how we were going to get aid materials off it to the shore—will be allowed to return fire on the off chance that someone shoots in their direction from the active war zone they’re going to be next to. 

Austin insisted this is different from putting boots on the ground. While this seems to be shaving the baloney rather thin, we’ll concede the technical point, which doesn’t touch the real upshot: This is possibly the stupidest way to get into a war ever concocted. It defies description. It does nothing to allay the sense that Austin is fecklessly setting his own defense policy independent of the civilian government. An ongoing American vulnerability—a point of uncertainty and, possibly, embarrassment and expense in blood and treasure—is our exposure to wars in the Middle East that we are not actually involved in at the moment. Increasing that exposure doesn’t help! 


Let’s say a stray Palestinian rocket hits our pier, and we retaliate; Hamas escalates in turn. What then? What if another Israel–Iran kabuki exchange goes wrong and a drone or a cruise missile from the Islamic Republic hits our pier? What then? What if Israeli munitions strike the pier? What then? The least serious outcome for any of these perfectly plausible scenarios is embarrassment; the most serious is a regional war. 

This is no way to run a railroad. Back in October, I referred to the “winch on a Jeep” mentality of American military maneuvering in the Levant—we don’t know what we’re going to do with all that stuff over there, but it shows that we’re Ready with a capital R. Here is an addendum to that: Having a Jeep with a winch on it, while silly, has (to my knowledge) never killed anyone. I’m not confident that the same will be said of the half-cocked Gaza pier scheme.