Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thoughts on "The Raid"

At first glance the raid by Israel's special forces could be viewed as the ultimate stupid move on the part of a nation state. While it is no doubt a huge public relations disaster for Israel, the strategy involved may not be stupid at all. Indeed it is probably better viewed as a legitimate response to provocation from a group that is avowedly at war (Hamas) with Israel. While it is a tragic event and probably could have been handled in a better way, the fact remains that the captains of the vessels were directed to an Israeli port where presumably the cargo would be inspected and non contraband items shipped to the Gaza strip. Naval interdiction is a lawful endeavor by any nation state to combat smuggling. During my service in the Coast Guard we did it all the time. That is stop a vessel, inspect the crew and cargo, and release the innocent and apprehend the drug and weapon smugglers. If there was any doubt then the vessel was either directed or taken to port for further inspection. We did indeed have to fire a shot or two over a bow on a couple of occasions to enforce compliance with our lawful order to heave to. This is nothing out of the ordinary and all capable nations with ocean access have a coastal type naval force on watch for smuggling. Is the action on the part of Israel any different? Granted it became a, as they say, clusterfuck, but interdiction at sea is a legitimate means to combat smuggling and of course is perfectly legal during war. But Israel is not at war you may say. Hamas has declared the destruction of Israel as their goal and regularly conducts operations directed against the nation state, so in this matter at least, Israel is taking Hamas at their word and retaliating in kind to warlike provocation. Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza which is itself an act of war. The blockade is well published and known and therefore vessels entering the area with announced intent to make way for Gaza are of course liable to be subject to interdiction.

With all that being said, it is difficult at times to sympathize with Israel. Many Americans have not forgotten the USS Liberty and the men who died due to an air and naval attack by Israel. While Israel has apologized and paid some reparations, the case they make that it was a friendly fire and mistaken identity episode remains pretty hollow. It is noteworthy that none of the neighboring Mohammedan States have directly attacked America so forthrightly. Of course we have been attacked by Mohammedan proxy forces in the region(Marine Barracks), but not by one of the legitimate Muslim nation states in the immediate area. So, while Israel is an ally, they are not fully trustworthy.

Now Israel, our somewhat untrustworthy ally, must be supported by the U.S. and others. There are very legitimate cultural and, more importantly, strategic reasons for this. The Holy Sites of Christendom are in Israel and a victory by radical Muslims over the Jewish state would put those sites in jeapordy. In the realm of global strategy Israel must be supported and her sometime "violent overkill" tendancies at times overlooked due to her proximity to the major trade route (Suez Canal), which if blocked or damaged has the potential to cause economic damage to those nations that rely on it. A radical regime in Egypt will most assuredly again use closure of the Canal as a source of blackmail and a strategy of war. A friendly Israel is a military bulwark in the event of radical regime change in Egypt.

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