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Will the United States Be Able to Disuade an All-Out War in the Middle East?

Daniel Kim Views  

Reuters/Yonhap News

Western countries, including the United States, are urging Israel to exercise restraint to prevent a full-scale war. However, there are many voices in Israel and the U.S., including hardline conservatives, calling for a counterattack and pessimism that the embers of war in the Middle East will not be extinguished quickly.

On the 14th, CNBC reported that while Israel is expected to retaliate against Iran’s massive airstrikes, the timing and extent of the response remain uncertain.
 
David Roche, a global strategist at Independent Strategy, an investment advisory firm, predicts that Israel will take action within a week. He expects Israel to launch attacks targeting Iran’s oil facilities while being mindful of US concerns and aiming to minimize civilian casualties. He also added that there is a possibility of Israel retaliating with strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities more than a year from now.”

With the clock ticking, the West is desperate to prevent an all-out war. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Western authorities, including the U.S., expect Israel to retaliate against Iran as early as the 15th.

However, opinions within Israel are divided over the timing and level of retaliation, adding to the complexity of the situation in the Middle East. Israel’s wartime cabinet did not pull the trigger on an immediate retaliation, and local Israeli media analyzed that this decision was influenced by disagreements among cabinet members and the U.S. government’s call for restraint. Moderates in Israel, including Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, agree with the response but draw the line at immediate retaliation.

President Joe Biden’s negative stance on escalation also burdens Israel. After Iran’s airstrikes, President Biden reportedly called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and advised him to “think carefully and strategically,” making it clear that the U.S. would not participate in an attack on Iran.

In 1991, when Iraq fired dozens of Scud missiles at Israel, the U.S. pressured Israel to abandon retaliation. In Iran’s airstrikes from the night of the 13th to the morning of the 14th, Israel successfully defended nearly 100% with the support of the US, the UK, France, and Jordan. It won’t be easy for Israel to stubbornly push for a full-scale war with Iran, ignoring the opposition from the West. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also discouraged retaliation, emphasizing that “no one wants to see more bloodshed.”

The pressure from hardline right-wingers in Israel is a variable. Itamar Ben-Gvir, a representative of the far-right who serves as the Minister of National Security, pressured Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying, “Now we need a fatal attack (on Iran).”
 
Discord within the West could also fuel the sparks of war. John Kirby, National Security Communications Advisor for the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House, repeatedly stated that the US wants Israel to avoid a more significant conflict during his appearances on several U.S. broadcasts.

On the other hand, hardline conservatives within the Republican Party have raised their voices that the US should actively support Israel. Mike Turner, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (Republican), directly criticized Kirby’s remarks as “wrong” and urged the U.S. government to respond to the tension in the Middle East. House Speaker Mike Johnson (Republican) publicly pledged to process the Israeli support budget soon. Discussions on the budget bill have stalled as Democrats have insisted that support for Israel should also include aid to Taiwan and Ukraine.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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