Wider Middle East War Appears Inevitable

Israel and Iran's proxies are on a collision course.

AP (“With each strike, fears grow that Israel, the US and Iran’s allies are inching closer to all-out war“):

In the last week alone, Israel has killed a senior Hamas militant in an airstrike in Beirut, Hezbollah has fired barrages of rockets into Israel, the U.S. has killed a militia commander in Baghdad and Iran-backed rebels in Yemen have traded fire with the American Navy.

Each strike and counterstrike increases the risk of the already catastrophic war in Gaza spilling across the region. And in the decades-old standoff pitting the U.S. and Israel against Iran and allied militant groups, there are fears that any one party could trigger a wider war if only to avoid appearing weak.

The divisions within each camp add another layer of volatility: Hamas might have hoped its Oct. 7 attack would drag its allies into a wider war with Israel. Israelis increasingly talk about the need to change the equation in Lebanon, even as the U.S. aims to contain the conflict.

As the intertwined chess games grow ever more complicated, the potential for miscalculation rises.

Hamas says the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war in Gaza was an act of purely Palestinian resistance to Israel’s decades-long domination of the Palestinians. There is no evidence that Iran, Hezbollah or other allied groups played a direct role or even knew about it beforehand.

But when Israel responded by launching one of the 21st century’s most devastating military campaigns in Gaza, a besieged enclave home to 2.3 million Palestinians, the so-called Axis of Resistance — Iran and the militant groups it supports across the region — faced pressure to respond.

The Palestinian cause has deep resonance across the region, and leaving Hamas alone to face Israel’s fury would have risked unraveling a military alliance that Iran has been building up since the 1979 Islamic Revolution put it on a collision course with the West.

“They don’t want war, but at the same they don’t want to let the Israelis keep striking without retaliation,” said Qassim Qassir, a Lebanese expert on Hezbollah.

“Something big has to happen, without going to war, so that the Israelis and Americans are convinced that there is no way forward,” he said.

Of all Iran’s regional proxies, Hezbollah faces the biggest dilemma.

If it tolerates Israeli attacks, like the strike in Beirut that killed Hamas’ deputy political leader, it risks appearing to be a weak or unreliable ally. But if it triggers a full war, Israel has threatened to wreak massive destruction on Lebanon, which is already mired in a severe economic crisis. Even Hezbollah’s supporters may see that as too heavy a price to pay for a Palestinian ally.

Hezbollah has carried out strikes along the border nearly every day since the war in Gaza broke out, with the apparent aim of tying down some Israeli troops. Israel has returned fire, but each side appears to be carefully calibrating its actions to limit the intensity.


And in the end, experts say, it might not be a single strike that does it.

Israel is determined to see tens of thousands of its citizens return to communities near the border with Lebanon that were evacuated under Hezbollah fire nearly three months ago, and after Oct. 7 it may no longer be able to tolerate an armed Hezbollah presence just on the other side of the frontier.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly threatened to use military force if Hezbollah does not respect a 2006 U.N. cease-fire that ordered the militant group to withdraw from the border.

“Neither side wants a war, but the two sides believe it is inevitable,” said Yoel Guzansky, a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. “Everybody in Israel thinks it’s just a matter of time until we need to change the reality” so that people can return to their homes, he said.


The regional tensions are likely to remain high as long as Israel keeps up its offensive in Gaza, which it says is aimed at crushing Hamas. Many wonder if that’s even possible, given the group’s deep roots in Palestinian society, and Israel’s own leaders say it will take many more months.

The U.S., which has provided crucial military and diplomatic support for Israel’s offensive, is widely seen as the only power capable of ending it. Iran’s allies seem to believe Washington will step in if its own costs get too high — hence the attacks on U.S. bases and international shipping.

Reuters (“Blinken seeks to avert wider war, Israel says it is not fighting a single enemy“):

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Monday before heading on to Israel after warning that the Gaza war could spread across the region without concerted peace efforts.

Blinken started a five-day Middle East diplomatic effort in Jordan and Qatar on Sunday, seeking to avert a wider war in the region. He is also due to visit the West Bank and Egypt this week.

“This is a moment of profound tension for the region. This is a conflict that could easily metastasize, causing even more insecurity and suffering,” Blinken told a press conference in Doha before heading to Abu Dhabi.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the intensity of the offensive in Gaza signalled his country’s determination to destroy the militant group Hamas that rules the enclave and deter other potential Iran-backed adversaries, including Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“My basic view: We are fighting an axis, not a single enemy,” Gallant told the Wall Street Journal. “Iran is building up military power around Israel in order to use it.”

Israel and Hezbollah often trade fire across the Lebanese border and the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen seem determined to continue attacks on Red Sea shipping until Israel stops bombarding Palestinians in Gaza.


The fighting has displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million population, left many homes and civilian infrastructure in ruins, and caused acute shortages of food, water, and medicines.

Blinken said he would tell Israeli officials it is imperative they do more to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza and that Palestinian civilians must be allowed to return home and not be pressed to leave Gaza.

Jordan’s King Abdullah urged Blinken to use Washington’s influence over Israel to press it for an immediate ceasefire and warned of the “catastrophic repercussions” of Israel’s continued military campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue fighting.

“The war must not be stopped until we achieve all the goals: the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” he said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “I say this to both our enemies and our friends.”

Despite global concern over the death and destruction in Gaza and widespread calls for a ceasefire, Israeli public opinion remains firmly behind the operation, although support for Netanyahu has fallen sharply.


In a post on the social media platform X, Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri lamented that Arab and Islamic countries had yet to back South Africa’s call for genocide proceedings against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

“‎We hope that there will be a remedy, otherwise this official silence will constitute a mandate for the occupation to eradicate what remains of Gaza,” he said.

Israel denies targeting civilians and says Hamas militants deliberately embed themselves among civilian populations. Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, denies that.

As part of his trip, Blinken aims to press hesitant Muslim nations in the Middle East to prepare to play a role in the reconstruction, governance and security of Gaza if and when Israel manages to eliminate Hamas, a State Department official said earlier.

WSJ (“Israel’s Yoav Gallant: ‘We Are Fighting an Axis, Not a Single Enemy’“):

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, says the scale and severity of the Oct. 7 assault on Israel by Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas deeply shook Israelis’ sense of security and profoundly altered the way they view the world around them.

“October 7 was the bloodiest day for Jewish people since 1945,” Gallant, a general-turned-politician, told The Wall Street Journal. “The world needs to understand. This is different.”


In wide-ranging comments, Gallant staunchly defended Israel’s conduct of the war, which is entering its fourth month, and offered a stark assessment of the dangers he says his country is facing, signaling a potentially lengthy conflict in Gaza and an enduring shift in Israel’s defense posture.

“My basic view: We are fighting an axis, not a single enemy,” Gallant said. “Iran is building up military power around Israel in order to use it.”

Ahead of a visit to Israel by Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the U.S., which has urged Israel to do more to avoid civilian casualties, Gallant indicated Israeli forces would be shifting from what he called the “intense maneuvering phase of the war” toward “different types of special operations.”

But, he cautioned, the next chapter in the conflict “will last for a longer time” and he stressed that Israel wouldn’t abandon its goals of destroying Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and others, as a fighting force, ending its control of Gaza and freeing the remaining hostages.


After calls last week by far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition for a return of Jewish settlers to Gaza and Israeli occupation of the strip, Gallant’s office outlined a postwar vision of Palestinian self-governance coupled with freedom for the Israeli military to act against security threats.

As Gallant sees it, a multinational task force led by the U.S., with European and Middle Eastern partners, should oversee the “rehabilitation” of Gaza.


Gallant said his other immediate concern is Israel’s northern border, where large numbers of Israeli soldiers have been deployed in case of conflict with Hezbollah. Tens of thousands of Israeli civilians have evacuated from their homes in the north of the country.

The U.S. and others have been engaged in shuttle diplomacy aimed at striking a deal between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel wants all Hezbollah forces to be pulled back from border areas.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Friday there would be a military response to a suspected Israeli strike that killed Hamas leader Salah al-Arouri in Beirut last week.

“The priority isn’t to get into a war” with Hezbollah, Gallant said. But, he said, “Eighty-thousand people need to be able to go back to their homes safely.” If no agreement is negotiated to make that possible, he said, Israel wouldn’t shrink from military action.

“We are willing to sacrifice,” he said. “They see what is happening in Gaza. They know we can copy-paste to Beirut,” the Lebanese capital.

Gallant said Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault represented a major failure of deterrence. He said intelligence indicates that Hamas leaders didn’t expect Israel would mount a large-scale ground operation in response.

“Should Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran be allowed to decide how we live our lives here in Israel?” Gallant asked. “This is something we don’t accept.”

“They didn’t take it seriously, even when we first went in,” Gallant said. He said Israel’s ultimate aim is to persuade its enemies that any future attack would provoke ruinous consequences.

WaPo (“Israel’s talk of expanding war to Lebanon alarms U.S.“)

President Biden has dispatched his top aides to the Middle East with a critical objective: Prevent a full-blown war from erupting between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Israel has made clear it views as untenable the regular exchange of fire between its forces and Hezbollah along the border and may soon launch a major military operation in Lebanon.

“We prefer the path of an agreed-upon diplomatic settlement,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Friday, “but we are getting close to the point where the hourglass will turn over.”

U.S. officials are concerned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may see an expanded fight in Lebanon as key to his political survival amid domestic criticism of his government’s failure to prevent Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, which killed an estimated 1,200 people and resulted in some 240 hostages being taken to Gaza.

In private conversations, the administration has warned Israel against a significant escalation in Lebanon. If it were to do so, a new secret assessment from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) found that it will be difficult for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to succeed because its military assets and resources would be spread too thin given the conflict in Gaza, according to two people familiar with those findings. A spokesperson for the DIA did not offer comment.


Hezbollah, a longtime U.S. adversary with well-trained fighters and tens of thousands of missiles and rockets, wants to avoid a major escalation, according to U.S. officials, who say the group’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, is seeking to steer clear of a wider war. In a speech on Friday, Nasrallah vowed a response to Israeli aggression, while hinting that he might be open to negotiations on border demarcation with Israel.


Since Hamas’s October assault, Israeli officials have discussed launching a preemptive attack on Hezbollah, U.S. officials said. That prospect has faced sustained U.S. opposition because of the likelihood it would draw Iran, which supports both groups, and other proxy forces into the conflict — an eventuality that could compel the United States to respond militarily on Israel’s behalf.

Officials fear that a full-scale conflict between Israel and Lebanon would surpass the bloodshed of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war on account of Hezbollah’s substantially larger arsenal of long-range and precision weaponry. “The number of casualties in Lebanon could be anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 and entail a massive evacuation of all of northern Israel,” said Bilal Saab, a Lebanon expert at the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank.

Hezbollah may strike deeper into Israel than before, hitting sensitive targets like petrochemical plants and nuclear reactors, and Iran may activate militias across the region. “I don’t think it would be limited to these two antagonists,” he said.


In recent weeks, Israel’s regular shootouts with Hezbollah along the border have grown more aggressive, drawing private rebukes from Washington, said U.S. officials.

According to U.S. intelligence reviewed by The Post, the IDF has hit the positions of the U.S.-funded and trained Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) more than 34 times since Oct. 7, officials familiar with the matter said.

The United States views the LAF as the principal defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty and a key counterweight to the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

On Dec. 5, four rounds of Israeli tank fire resulted in the killing of one LAF soldier and the injury of three others. On Dec. 8, Israeli artillery fire containing white phosphorous hit LAF facilities, injuring an LAF soldier who inhaled the noxious fumes. On Nov. 4, Israeli fire against an LAF position at Sarda left a “large hole in a LAF structure,” according to the U.S. intelligence. Some details of these attacks were reported previously by CNN.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the Israeli strikes, but the White House National Security Council confirmed that Washington has conveyed to Israel that attacks on LAF and Lebanese civilians are “completely unacceptable.”

A National Security Council official said the Biden administration has been “very direct and tough” with the Israelis on the issue and has said Lebanese Armed Forces injuries and fatalities are not acceptable.

For most of the last three months, we’ve been asking how Israel’s offensive in Gaza will end. Increasingly, that question seems too narrow.

It remains the case that there’s no obvious end-game in Gaza. The war has killed upwards of 20,000 people and destroyed much of the infrastructure. What “destroying Hamas” looks like remains unclear. Indeed, aside from killing a lot of the leadership, it’s not clear that it’s even possible—especially in the wider sense of making Israelis safe from Palestinian terrorists.

At the same time, while they have their own agendas and motivations, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis are Iranian proxies. Israel seems determined that this war eliminates all of those threats and have essentially been fighting a three-front war and expansion on the Lebanese front seems inevitable.

And, while regional players not unreasonably see Israel as, if not an American proxy, able to prosecute this war only with American backing, it’s quite clear that the Biden administration has very little sway over their decision-making. That the IDF is targeting American-backed forces in the region, not just Iranian proxies, is pretty strong evidence of that.

I have no idea how this ends.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott says:

    It remains the case that there’s no obvious end-game in Gaza.

    I remember writing here right after the attack that I believe there are only two possible outcomes (outcome defined as a permanent solution): ) Israel annexation of Gaza and West Bank with full rights of citizenship to all inhabitants or 2) a Palestinian state with expulsion and resettlement of West Bank settlers. That only other result is repeated outbreaks of widespread violence at 10-20 year intervals.

    What “destroying Hamas” looks like remains unclear. Indeed, aside from killing a lot of the leadership, it’s not clear that it’s even possible—especially in the wider sense of making Israelis safe from Palestinian terrorists.

    There has been a lot of handwringing about the number of civilians killed and that the Israelis need to be more targeted. That assumes that Hamas is a clearly defined entity. However, what if the reality is that there is little or no differentiation between Hamas and the other Gazans. There is a reason the the Hamas Health Ministry doesn’t separate out the civilian and Hamas casualties. Maybe because there is very little difference.

    One thing I think we all know: It is going to get a lot worse.

  2. Cheryl Rofer says:

    The Israelis can stop any time.

  3. Tony W says:

    Apparently, Israel has decided to F around and find out.

    Few of us blamed them for retaliating for the attack from Hamas, but they have carried it way, way, way, way too far and now are committing nothing short of genocide.

    I’m no Iran apologist, but who can blame sympathetic neighbors from intervening?

    Israel has squandered the world’s goodwill after being attacked. Are they stupid enough to get into an all-out war with Iran?

    Given his right-wing tendencies, Netanyahu may well be that stupid.

  4. Scott says:

    @Tony W:

    nothing short of genocide

    Dumbing the term genocide down.

  5. Moosebreath says:

    @Tony W:

    “Given his right-wing tendencies, Netanyahu may well be that stupid.”

    My friends who regularly speak to Israelis are telling me that Netanyahu knows that when the war is over, he will be thrown out of power. He is doing everything in his power to lengthen the war to stay in power as a way of postponing his inevitable corruption conviction.

  6. Jim Brown 32 says:

    However, what if the reality is that there is little or no differentiation between Hamas and the other Gazans.

    There is no what if….this is the reality. It is, however, an uncomfortable reality because it brings into play justifications for collective punishment tactics used by terrorists.

    For decades, the West has eschewed the concept of collective punishment (unless it suited them) and the middle east has embraced it. But frankly, the West’s pushback was really about convenience and not any really philosophical arguments. Millennia of human history shows that human conflict is ALL about collective rewards and punishments–and no chin-stroking philosophers are going to change that. It’s how societies interact.

    That’s said, because there is no clear distinction between Hamas and the Palestinians, that still is no justification to ‘killem all’. I see the relationship between Palestinians and Hamas in the neighborhood of Stockholm Syndrome. These people are in dire straits–and dire straits people do not gravitate towards statesmen. They flock to fighters. It’s why people in rural America choose Trump over Romney–despite one guy being demonstratively better for their plight.

    This is human instinct. It a better world, leaders would consider this in their response to complex issues such as Gaza. This is not a better world.

  7. Bill Jempty says:


    Israel annexation of Gaza and West Bank with full rights of citizenship to all inhabitants

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the flaw with that is Israel would become majority non-Jewish in those circumstances. I seem to recall reading something that because the Arabs already living in the country have a higher birthrate, that Israel’s demographics were changing.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    They flock to fighters.

    For a while, then they don’t. We kept hearing that attacking Al Qaeda would just generate more support for Al Qaeda. It did not, and AQ is mostly moribund. Same with ISIS. After losing repeatedly to Israel, Egypt no longer shows any sign that they are looking for another round. Israel used to hit Syria at will and Syria’s response has been to fall into civil war. In fact the whole Arab world is ready for peace and normalcy with Israel. The only international support Hamas has comes from Iran and college campuses.

    Violence works. Not always, and not always in the way you want it to work, but the reality is that beaten people tend to stay beaten. See the WW@ Axis, Germany, Japan, Italy. Even people not beaten tend to try and avoid more war, see: Vietnam.

    Americans have a romantic attachment to underdogs. We like to think it’s all Star Wars with plucky rebels defeating the big bad. But that’s Hollywood, not foreign policy. Have not heard much from the Indians whose land we occupy, or the Mexicans whose land we stole. We fought a vicious war in the Philippines and that country remains an ally. Hell, we tried to invade Canada, and they seem to have gotten over it.

    At some point Gazans will look around at the rubble and, at the lack of water and food, medicine and sanitation, and, unable to strike Israel, will turn against the people who brought the rain of Israeli shells down on them. In the day-in-day-out of life when you’re looking for infant formula or insulin, you can blame the distant enemy in Tel Aviv, but you’ll be looking at the Hamas fighter who is lounging with his AK and not helping you.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    So can Hamas. They can lay down their guns and shove their missiles into the sea.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James, I don’t think wider war is inevitable. I’m not even convinced it’s likely. Israel has always been happy to drop a bomb in Lebanon when need arose, that hasn’t changed. Hezbollah has many more missiles than Hamas had, but they seem to be limiting themselves to using relatively small numbers in border areas. That’s an irritation to Israel, but short of a real threat.

    Nor is Iran going all-in. Iran is gaining ground in its effort to achieve a shorter break-out status for a nuke and the last thing they need is the Israeli Air Force (secretly flying out of the UAE, I’d not be surprised to learn) stomping all over their labs. The Iranians certainly don’t want the Americans to get into it and annihilate their entire military, root and branch.

    There are Israelis who’d no doubt welcome a sort of gotterdamerung reckoning, but with Bibi weakened I doubt they have the sway to do it. There are Americans who’d like to see either Israel or the US knock the Ayatollahs down. But I’m not convinced there are a lot of Hezbollah excited to take another beating, and the Arab world appears if not indifferent then certainly indolent. Arab governments want Hamas gone.

    ETA: The IDF has just announced they are moving to a less intense, more targeted approach in Gaza. I predicted this a couple days ago, and I’m only surprised they said it publicly.

  11. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Hamas could also release the hostages it criminally took. Hezbollah could stop toying with the idea of dragging the rest of Lebanon into a war with Israel by constantly attacking Israel from Lebanese territory. The Houthis could stop attacking international shipping, US warships, and Israel. Iran’s proxies could stop attacking US forces in the region.

  12. MarkedMan says:


    However, what if the reality is that there is little or no differentiation between Hamas and the other Gazans.

    Okay. And what if there is no difference between the Israeli government and the people massacred on Oct 7th? If it’s just being realistic that Israel needs to kill 20K civilians to get at Hamas because all civilians are complicit, why isn’t it being equally realistic to say that Hamas needs to kill civilians because they are all complicit? I mean, hell, the Israeli government was actually elected by its civilians.

    You are starting with a conclusion, “The Israelis are in the right and we have a moral obligation to help them, no matter what they do”, and then you work backward from there. The pro-Israeli side draw arbitrary lines, “Nothing before October 7th can be discussed”, they play pretend, “Israel never had any control over Gazan lives”, “Israel is a democracy because the 5M Palestinians living under Israeli control doesn’t count.”

    The pro-Hamas side is equally ridiculous. The reality is that there are no good guys here. Both sides are trying to drive the other off land they want and, among the most fanatical, believe God has specifically given to them. They are willing to use any tactics and frequently do. The US should not be picking sides in this fight. It’s about stealing land, it’s not about finding peace.

  13. Gustopher says:

    After calls last week by far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition for a return of Jewish settlers to Gaza and Israeli occupation of the strip, [Israeli Defense Minister] Gallant’s office outlined a postwar vision of Palestinian self-governance coupled with freedom for the Israeli military to act against security threats.

    Gallant’s vision doesn’t seem particularly likely. Self-governing people tend not to give their neighbors carte blanc to conduct military operations on their territory, and among their population.

    The far-right members of the coalition, openly calling for ethnic cleansing, are at least aiming for something possible. Either Gallant is stupid, or lying, or both.

    As Gallant sees it, a multinational task force led by the U.S., with European and Middle Eastern partners, should oversee the “rehabilitation” of Gaza.

    Ah, there it is, he really wants us to take over the role of occupier. On a “temporary” basis. I hope that Blinken was there to say “oh fuck no” to this.

    If Israel wants to walk into the trap that Hamas has goaded them into, that’s one thing. But we shouldn’t walk into it with them. We also shouldn’t be funding them, or selling them weapons, but we damn well shouldn’t be putting boots on the ground, or even flying boots overhead.

  14. DK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We kept hearing that attacking Al Qaeda would just generate more support for Al Qaeda. It did not, and AQ is mostly moribund. Same with ISIS.

    That’s not what we heard. We heard that indiscriminately killing Arab and Muslim civilians would create more Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda offshoots. The Bush administration’s initial wantonness in Iraq did in fact create ISIS.

    The strategy taken up later that successfully defeated ISIS instead rejected collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, and indiscriminate killing of women and children in the vicinity. It was surgical strikes against terrorists + an explicitly political and PR strategy of separating ISIS and terrorists from civilians. That’s why it worked.

    Israel’s “strategy” — repeatedly electing incompetent rightwing thug Benjamin Netanyahu, letting convicted terrorists like Itamar Ben-Gvir in its goverment, funding and boosting Hamas pre 7 Oct, repeatedly rejecting the counsel of its #1 ally, flattening Gaza, flouting international law, attacking US-backed Middle Easterners, promoting Israeli terrorism in the West Bank, and alienating allies across the West — explicitly rejects the counter-ISIS model.

    Aside from its amorality, this foreign policy is strategically dumb. Hence why it did not work, is not working, and will not work to make Israel more safe, secure, and supported.

  15. Michael Reynolds says:


    No one knows with certainty how many people have been killed and wounded in Iraq since the 2003 United States invasion. However, we know that between 280,771-315,190 have died from direct war related violence caused by the U.S., its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces from the time of the invasion through March 2023. The violent deaths of Iraqi civilians have occurred through aerial bombing, shelling, gunshots, suicide attacks, and fires started by bombing. Many civilians have also been injured.

    About 243,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan/Pakistan warzone since 2001. More than 70,000 of those killed have been civilians.

    The United States war in Afghanistan continues destroying lives due to the war-induced breakdown of the economy, public health, security, and infrastructure. Afghans have been massively improverished by the conflict. 92% of the population faces some level of food insecurity and 3 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition. Some regions are currently facing famine. At least half the population is living on less than $1.90 per day.

    The United States military in 2017 relaxed its rules of engagement for airstrikes in Afghanistan, which resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian casualties. From the last year of the Obama administration to the last full year of recorded data during the Trump administration, the number of civilians killed by U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan increased by 330 percent.

    Japan: between 550,000 and 800,000 civilians died, almost all from US action.

    France: Approximately 20,000 French civilians died post-D-Day.

    And just as a side note, Arafat claimed that Black September, when Jordan attacked the Palestinians, 25,000 were killed. If that’s true then still the largest killer of Palestinians were Jordanian bedouin. Jordan is the reason Palestinians are in Lebanon. And yet, not seeing a lot of Palestinian attacks on Jordan.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oh, and let’s not forget the 30-65,000 estimated civilian deaths from US bombing in Vietnam. Remember Vietnam? The folks making our sneakers?

    And let’s not forget German civilians. One estimate has 300,000 plus civilians killed by Allied bombing. But we split that with the Brits.

    In war civilians die, which is one reason why wars are a bad idea. Pity Hamas decided to start this one with a display of bestial brutality. 20,000 dead Palestinian civilians is horrible, but it will not lead to a stronger Hamas any more than Hamburg made more Nazis or Hiroshima made more Japanese militarists or Haiphong created revenge-seeking Vietnamese fanatics. Like I said, that’s Hollywood.

    All these countries whose civilians we massacred have something in common: they are almost all now American friends and allies.

  17. dazedandconfused says:

    I don’t think it inevitable because the actions of these so-called proxies and Iran have been desultory in nature. Had they wanted a war it there would’ve been missiles in Tel Aviv by now.

    Only one side seems bent on enlarging this into a major war, not two, and that one side is being checked by the saner parts of Israeli society. Strong chance they will, with the help of most of the world opinion, prevent or discourage the Likudniks from getting completely out of hand.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    This discussion of civilian deaths and the persistent American belief in the plucky underdog trope takes me back to questions about my approach to writing about violence. (When I write violence I always include the aftermath, I don’t do cartoon/Marvel violence.) I think we cling to the Star Wars rebels notion because the truth is so depressing. The truth is violence is very effective. Repression tends to work. Both the perpetrator and the victim pay a price, but most of the time, in the real world, victims are cowed and submissive. It’d be great if that were not the case because then violence would not be profitable. But a quick glance at a globe will reveal just how effective war can be – just about every square mile of earth’s surface is currently held by someone who took it from someone else.

  19. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Thos links tho!! Both of them. From B%&#@. Get thee to a neurologist STAT.

  20. DK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The difference being that the Israeli-Arab 80-Year’s-And-Counting War is not the Afghan War, Iraq War, Vietnam War, or WWII.

    For one thing, Israel is not the US, which a) has do far resisted giving rightwing religious nuts too much power for too long and b) understands that money talks, and is thus expert at buying the forgiveness of former enemies — internal and external. Does Israel plan to pump billions in aid, weapons, and/or markets to Palestinians for the next 40-80 years, as with the US and Germany, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, etc?

    For another thing, this 2024. Not 2004, 1964, or 1944. Or 1874, for the “But native Americans” crowd.

    For a 3rd thing — Japan, France, Iraq, Vietnam, and Afghanistan are thousands of miles away from US shores. Indeed, for all of America’s dumb foreign policy moves, post-Victorian Era US presidents have shown much restraint in response to hostile moves by Cuba and Mexico.

    If the thugs and terrorists Israelis have picked to lead think they can import war tactics from decades ago — in particular, copying major US errors in Vietnam or Iraq — then they are even more incompetent than they look.

    (Stay tuned, to see if the 21st century American electorate proves as gullible, self-defeating, and incapable of course correction as Israel’s, since MAGA is promising to send troops into Mexico to fight the cartels and “stop the invasion.”)


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