Military Victory and Military Ethics: Israeli and American Perspectives

In an in-depth conversation, the former IDF chief of staff and Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon and the American political philosopher Michael Walzer discuss the moral challenges posed by 21st-century warfare. Among other topics, Yaalon emphasizes the importance of Jewish values in maintaining the IDF’s moral integrity, arguing that the “starting point to winning legitimacy . . . is the basic belief in the sanctity of human life. Every soldier must at his core recognize that every human being is created equal, even the enemy.” But this principle must be coupled with an understanding that, in the Talmud’s phrase, “by being merciful to the cruel we might in the end be cruel to the merciful.” (Moderated by Fred Schwab. Audio, 101 minutes. Transcript available at the link below.)

Read more at Carnegie Council

More about: Afghanistan, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Michael Walzer, Military ethics, Moshe Yaalon, U.S. military

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy