A Massive Military Exercise Shows the Strength of the U.S.-Israel Alliance, and Sends a Message to Tehran

On Monday, the American and Israeli militaries began a weeklong, large-scale joint exercise in Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, involving 6,400 personnel from the U.S. armed forces and 1,180 from the IDF—not to mention all kinds of aircraft, ships, and other materiel. Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst provide an overview of the exercise, known as Juniper Oak, and explain the signals it is meant to convey in the region:

The message to Jerusalem is that the American commitment to Israel’s security remains rock-solid. One can certainly compliment or criticize various Biden administration national-security and foreign policies, particularly toward Iran, but the exercise this week represents a major and positive milestone in U.S.-Israel security cooperation—and the White House, the Pentagon, and U.S. Central Command deserve credit for making it happen.

In addition to the positive message this sends to Jerusalem about American commitment, Washington hopes America’s partners in the region—including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and others—take note. The administration’s intended message to them is that the United States military has not completely departed from the region, does not intend to depart from the region, and retains an unmatched ability to [direct] additional combat forces into the region quickly when necessary to conduct military operations.

Perhaps the most important message from the exercise is intended for Tehran and its terror proxies. . . . The Biden administration wants Tehran to understand that the United States has both the military means and the political will to stand with Israel, secure American interests in the region, and conduct successful large-scale strikes if necessary.

The military muscle on display this week certainly demonstrates some of this capability. The ability to deter aggression from Tehran and its terror proxies, however, will depend on their perceptions of the willingness of Washington and Israel actually to use force if necessary.

Read more at FDD

More about: IDF, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Security, U.S.-Israel relationship


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy