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Will Israel’s War Expand?

And will Netanyahu bring the U.S. along for the ride?


In the history of U.S. foreign and defense strategy, no presidential administration ever cultivated the rise of new, powerful groupings of nation states that oppose the United States in every sphere of meaningful human endeavor on the scale of the Biden administration. In a world of competing blocs, much of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and several European states are now united by events in Ukraine and the Middle East to overturn America’s global dominance. 

Seventy-four years ago, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed the hope that access to more accurate information would prevent future generations of Americans from stumbling into war “at the whim of the man who happens to be president.” Eisenhower was referring to the provocative policies of President Franklin Roosevelt that pushed a recalcitrant American public into a two-front war in Asia and Europe when the U.S. Armed Forces were not capable of decisive operations in just one theater of war. 


Thanks to America’s insular position between two great oceans and the enormous sacrifices of British and Soviet forces, the U.S. Armed Forces were given the time to build up to fight in the Second World War. Unfortunately, no such strategic advantages accrue to contemporary Washington. It’s 2024, not 1941.

Still, President Biden appears to be following the FDR pattern. The influence of FDR’s high-stakes strategic gamble in the dangerous runup to the Second World War has been repeated and is now on display in Ukraine and the Middle East and in Washington’s determination to back Israel’s ruthless war to kill or expel the Arab population from Gaza.  

Washington’s strategic failure in Ukraine has already tilted Europe’s strategic equilibrium sharply in Russia’s favor. The persistent tendency in the White House and Congress to grossly underestimate Russian technology (particularly hypersonic missiles), manufacturing power, and operational art was fatal error. Washington’s refusal to negotiate with Moscow is consigning the Ukrainian Nation to extinction. This mentality means more Ukrainian soldiers will die pointlessly when a powerful Russian summer offensive will finally end the war on Moscow’s terms.

Tragically, Washington’s European military dependencies followed Washington down its path to ruin. It is not only Great Britain that failed to maintain capable fighting forces. Neither the Europeans nor the United States possess the ground force to fight Russian military power. The combination of Washington’s hallucinations about NATO ground forces with foolish demands for Moscow’s capitulation to Washington’s demands, its overreliance on weak, incapable NATO Forces and Europe’s suicidal economic policies reduced Washington’s NATO Allies to the role of bystanders at their own diplomatic, economic, and political funerals. 

Washington knows that Israel’s war in Gaza is not about Israeli national security or even the elimination of Hamas. It is what Muslims think it is: a war for Jewish regional supremacy with the expansion of Israeli power from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s public warmongering is simply the verbal expression of that vision.


Despite Israel’s ongoing attempt to widen the war to Iran by striking Iran’s consulate in Syria, the ruling elites in the Arab world still want a ceasefire and normalization because they are invested in the regional status quo. Nevertheless, Islam’s non-state resistance mounted by Houthis, Hezbollah, and other regional militias are demonstrating that the U.S. and Israel are not nearly so strong as many ruling elites previously thought. This development dramatically increases the pressure on Arab political elites in Cairo, Amman, and other Arab capitals to undertake substantive military action against Israel. 

In sum, there is likely little doubt in Netanyahu’s mind that if American air, missile, and naval power intervene to support Israel’s current war, the Israelis will prevail. With each passing day, the U.S. Presidential election moves closer and Netanyahu knows there is a closing window of time within which he must widen the war to entangle American Military Power or risk the redirection of American attention to pressing internal matters. 

In contrast to Eisenhower, Biden, like FDR, is inviting war, only without the strategic advantages that made FDR’s gamble possible. Moreover, Biden’s rationale for provocative action against Russia in Ukraine and is characterized by a “we must not fail” urgency that is utterly unnecessary. 

Like the Arab elites, Moscow together with its strategic partner in Beijing want the Strait of Hormuz to remain open and the oil and gas to flow. The urgency is unnecessary because Russia does not want a war with the United States and NATO. Russia also will not abandon Iran to American air, missile, and naval assault, but unless Washington foolishly strikes Iran, Russia will not engage. 

How did Washington’s ruling political class convince itself that America’s national power could be employed anywhere at will to induce compliance with Washington’s interests? In the decades after the Second World War, Washington embraced Raymond Aron’s doctrine that “Great powers do what they want, and weak powers do what they must.” The fact that Americans have never demanded a national debate to determine the potential cost in American lives, economic burdens, or the long-term effects on America’s international position by such operations enables this behavior. 

The end of Ramadan will put an end to the delusive pause in fighting that settled over the Middle East in late March. Iran’s response to Israel’s air strikes will be hugely important to whether the war expands or not. 

Just how Tehran will respond to Israel’s recent air strikes on the Iranian Consulate is unclear, but the method and destructiveness of the counterattack are important. To be taken seriously, Iranian action must unambiguously harm Israel on a strategic level. Iran’s counterattack must be a demonstration of Iranian power, but not severe enough to justify U.S. Military Intervention on Israel’s side. Threading this needle may be impossible.

Of course, Iran is not the only regional power. Turkey sits on the periphery of the war but is disinclined to intervene unless Israeli and American military power threatens Turkish security interests in Syria and Iraq. Yet, it would be a mistake to view Turkish inaction to this point as a permanent condition. 

Meanwhile, invasion from Mexico, rising criminal violence, drug, and human trafficking, are imposing enormous costs on American society. The resources and funds committed to law enforcement, public education, health care and housing are stretched to the breaking point. The chaos on America’s borders alone threatens to extinguish the freedoms and national identity that generations of Americans took for granted. 

George Washington warned that a system of political parties would encourage the “unjust dominion of unprincipled men” in the U.S. government. It has happened. Will Americans finally impose accountability this fall?