In 1990, after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush was considering the American response. He was torn: On the one hand, he saw the necessity of pushing Saddam out of the oil-rich state, maintaining the impression of American strength in the region. On the other hand, he wanted to avoid conflict altogether.
Three weeks after the invasion, Bush had still not made a decision. That’s when he famously accepted a phone call from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “Remember, George,” she said, “this is no time to go wobbly.”
Bush didn’t go wobbly. The United States expelled Saddam from Kuwait. That was the last outright military victory in American history.
Today, the United States faces down threats on all sides, the wages of appeasement of America’s most vicious enemies. From cutting awful deals with Iran to appeasing Russian aggression in Crimea, from bowing before Chinese expansionism to sending overt American aid to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban, America’s foreign policy -- particularly under former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden -- has bred aggressiveness among our enemies.
That aggressiveness cultivated last week in the worst single terror attack on the West since 9/11, in the form of a murderous rampage through southern Israel that left 1,300 people dead and 200 kidnapped.
America’s enemies are betting on her going wobbly. They are betting on a morally blind media to press Israel to stop her offensive into the Gaza Strip in order to depose the evil terrorist group Hamas. They are betting on an activated Left to intervene to press Biden to pressure Israel to stop.
If that bet pays off, the West will be far less safe.
Let’s assume Israel leaves Hamas in place in the Gaza Strip -- which would be the end result of a ceasefire at this point. Hamas will quickly consolidate its support among Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, creating another massive terror threat for Israel from its East. That terror threat is already materializing: Palestinian terrorists have already attempted to infiltrate multiple areas of Judea and Samaria. On Friday night, mosques around Israel played a muezzin call expressing solidarity with Hamas and calling for Palestinians to join the violence. That will only grow worse if Hamas survives.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah in the North will know that Israel is surrounded on all sides and may choose to launch a massive offensive against Israel that will end with tens of thousands of Jews dead and Israel itself endangered. Again, that possibility is quite real: Israel is apparently holding off on its ground offensive in order to retain enough troops in the North to prevent a massive Hezbollah move.
If Hezbollah jumps in, Israel will respond with everything in its arsenal, as it would have to; Iran, with Russian and Chinese backing, would then enter the conflict. At that point, nuclear conflict would certainly not be off the table. Israel will not allow a second Holocaust to take place without using everything in its arsenal. In fact, an Iranian attack on Israel could turn into a next-stage Sunni-Shiite war, thanks to Iran’s increased regional power; at some point in this chain of events, America would be dragged directly into such a war. Meanwhile, the world’s oil supply would be radically decreased, crashing the global economy.
Or America can stand tall.
Here is America’s role. It is a simple one and does not require American use of force.
First, America must provide Israel the material and moral support to destroy Hamas. Israel will shed extraordinary levels of blood of its own citizens in order to protect civilians in Gaza and to kill terrorists, but Israel will require rearmament. America should do so. An Israel wounded by Hamas is an invitation to broader conflict.
Second, America ought to use our diplomatic might to push to alleviate the situation -- on the Arab side. We ought to push Egypt to open its border to refugees to minimize civilian casualties, and push Turkey to accept refugees. America ought to leverage Qatar into turning over Hamas’ leadership to an international body, and push Qatar to get Hamas to release American and other hostages held by Hamas.
Third, America must deter other actors from escalating this conflict. That’s presumably why Biden himself is visiting Israel, and why America currently has aircraft carriers stationed in the Mediterranean. An ounce of prevention will be worth kilotons of cure.
All of this is doable without expending significant amounts of American treasure or any American blood. But it can only happen if the Biden administration doesn’t go wobbly -- if it doesn’t start parroting the dangerous moral equivalence of the media or the absurd perversities of international pseudo-humanitarian organizations that make no demands of Hamas and many demands on Israel.
America can flex her muscles without using them. In fact, we should. A world without America is a dark and chaotic place -- and a more dangerous place for America. All that can be avoided -- so long as America doesn’t go wobbly.