Israel’s ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’: Crunch time has now come

Crunch time has now come. Not tomorrow, not in two days, not next month or the month after that – but now. The letting of two Iranian war or cargo ships through the Suez Canal uninspected and reportedly under cover conveniently of a ‘sandstorm’ and supposedly carrying at least two long-range missiles for Hezbollah in Syria/Lebanon (this is how it was originally reported on 2/19) - if not for Hamas in Gaza - is the fuse.
(Author note: This was written Sunday, 9AM, PST, 2/20, on the basis of the misinformation and the cloud of unknowing then circulating. Though the Americans have their military power concentrated on the Red Sea side of the Canal and the UN Sanction regime against Iran would basically permit stop and search of its ships on the high seas; little inspection seems to have been done and its basic message remains valid as the Egyptians do seem to have given permission for canal passage without inspection and on the basis simply of a cargo manifesto only; so I have left the piece in its original format without editing - 2/22).
This happening so soon after the deposition of Mubarak and the general unrest sweeping across many similar countries in the Arab Middle East shows ‘the handwriting on the wall.’ If these ships went through uninspected and surreptitiously (''under cover of a sandstorm'' as it was originally reported); then this shows the shape of things to come. Neither is this accidental and the speed with which it has taken place shows it is not incidental. Does anyone really believe that this kind of quick follow-up has not either been planned or coordinated?
That the Israeli Government has allowed the new Egyptian Government to move 6000 troops into Sinai and that Government’s announcement that it is honoring the ”Sinai Accords” will not do and is just more ‘cover’ - in effect, more ‘dissimulation’. All right, the Israeli Government is decent to allow this to happen and well-meaning but, obviously, not very sophisticated.
The troops are supposedly there to make sure the attacks on the oil and gas pipelines in Sinai do not continue and staunch the flow of weapons into Gaza through ‘secret’ tunnels or the like, though how anything can be considered ‘secret’ in a miniscule environment such as this is questionable. Let’s not be naïve, this weapons’ flow has been going on for sometime now, to say nothing of the steady stream of ‘immigrants’ flooding into Israel across Sinai; so how have the Sinai Accords really been observed even in Mubarak’s time? Not very well. Nevertheless, these were minor infractions compared to what is going on and going to happen now.
Does anyone really think that the Egyptian Army is going to fire on a sustained ‘rush’ upon it in Sinai by crowds of Hamas supporters from Gaza anymore than they have in Tahrir Square in Cairo or the Bahrain Government in Manama? These regimes are not Libya. In fact, the Hamas supporters in Gaza are already on their way towards controlling much of Northern Sinai and, towards that end, have ‘broken out’ (or were they politely freed?) many of their most dangerous and lethal operatives from jails in Cairo – again under the ‘cover’ of these disturbances.
What does this portend? I imagine that the Egyptian Army, as well-intentioned as it may be, in the present chaos is not going to exercise any better control other than a defensive posture (except against any Israeli incursion in Sinai) than they have already displayed in other locales throughout the country.
No, crunch time is just about here. It is a shame it is this inconvenient, coming at a time when Israel just survived - with American benevolence - a censure motion in the United Nations concerning alleged ‘settlements’  - whatever is meant by this term (often, it seems to me we were talking about ‘suburbs’, ‘cities’, ‘towns’ or ‘villages’ – are all these so-called ‘settlements’ – my, my , tell the Americans that about former Mexican territories in the Southwest and California or, for that matter, the British and the Russian ones in Oregon and Washington in the same 19th Century westward expansion,.Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles , and Phoenix – these are ‘settlements’ right?).
What has to happen in some manner now, regardless of the unfavorable circumstances (sometimes ‘chaotic’ conditions can actually be a plus, rather than a minus) and the fast pace or ‘rush’ of events, is that Israel must stop the two Iranian ‘warships’ on the high seas, just as they did the Turkish Marmara Flotilla (though this was not perhaps on the high seas), and ‘inspect them’ – as the new Egyptian Government is not doing so in its capacity as guarantors of Sinai and overseers of the Suez Canal hiding behind the technicality that treaties do not require inspection of ''military vessels'' (maybe they have already landed as this was written 9 AM, PST, Sunday morning, 2/20, in which case they will have to give mind to the next ‘shipment’ which will not be far behind and utter the appropriate warnings about such passage).
If this ignites a confrontation or an exchange of fire just as it did the Turkish Flotilla well, as the French would say, ‘tant pis’ (‘too bad’) – these are all part of the same coin as it were and as one should immediately be able to see. The alacrity with which this passage occurred confirms the conclusion or parallel. Israel is being tested. As the French would also say (but rarely displayed except in Napoleonic times) ‘l’audace, l’audace,’ and the unexpected – this is what wins the day in moments of chaos, indecision, and hesitant uncertainty and in crucial battlefield situations. Any good soldier can testify to this. It also very often saves lives as it certainly will, in the end, in this case both in the Middle East and ultimately the West generally.
Of course, we are talking about ‘l’audace’ used intelligently. That is what the present situation calls for. If the Iranians do not submit meekly or for propagandistic reasons or ‘saving face’ an exchange of fire takes place as in the parallel ‘Marmara flotilla’ episode; then like it or not, both sides have a ‘casis belli’ and all of Israel’s hesitant uncertainty will not help and will be inutile - this, regardless of whether one likes it or not or of the attitude of the Obama Administration or the U.S. Defense Department, who are both as unprepared as Israeli was for the quickness and suddenness with which this situation developed and which will undoubtedly be condemnatory.
Here one has a belligerent neighbor that has over and over again threatened war and never stopped insisting on and encouraging others on Israel’s annihilation - nay extermination. At some point one must take them seriously and at their word before it is too late. Now or later, unfortunately, is that point. Should an exchange of fire take place when Israel does finally stop the Iranian vessels and inspects their cargo before they arrive at port and unload (or the next time it occurs, if these ships have already landed and unloaded) to determine whether they have ‘peaceful’ or ‘warlike’ intentions; then Israel’s missiles should immediately go off - since it is missiles, it is being reported, that these ships are carrying - and Iran’s nuclear installations be immediately taken out.
This makes a virtue of adversity and would, be assured, put a stop to and a hold on the present incitement to war and unfettered and provocative announcements, governmental or private, ricocheting back and forth across the internet and the television tubes. This kind of irresponsible and rabid incitement would stop immediately, dead in its tracks. The U. S. could complain, as it most certainly would, and itself would be drawn into this interchange, like it or not – but those are the conditions of its involvement in the Middle East on the shorelines of Iran and have been for the last some 30 years. The same would happen over Taiwan, South Korea, or, God forbid, an attack on Japan – no matter how the interchange transpired. In fact, in a way, this is Israel’s ‘Cuban Missile Crisis.’
If the inspection(s) were allowed and there were no long-range missiles or missile parts or technology involved, well then one has simply had ‘a tempest in a teacup.’ If there were, then these should immediately be dumped overboard and, at the same time, Israel should probably also consider moving its forces into the virtually uninhabited spaces of Sinai, since this would mean the Sinai Accords were, in effect, basically being broken and that they were going to be broken in an uninterrupted manner in the future. Israel should not let Egyptian troops do this for them. They are really not doing it now and will not do it in the future. In fact, they are now and will be in the future even more incapable of accomplishing this (though they will try to stop Israel from re-occupying Sinai).
Actually, what some have described as happening even now is that the Palestinians, always canny and masters of propaganda and at portraying themselves as endlessly ‘aggrieved’ as they do, will themselves move in force into Sinai (where Israel always should have been from the start and from which, it never should have fully retreated) and create their second state there and in Gaza – this the ‘Hamas’ embodiment of the Palestinians - the first state being that of the PLO on the West Bank. Where will Israel be then?
No, this is the situation it faces and to act with alacrity and insight will help ensure survival – to hesitate, temporize, and remain indecisive might just lead, as it did during the Second World War, to disaster and unthinkable destruction. One is not saying that Israel should re-occupy the whole of Sinai – no, this is unnecessary, but only perhaps up to the pull-back Line of the 1975 Interim Agreement, i.e., the status quo ante. In fact, this need only really be up to the Eastern end of the Mitla Pass, just so long as the Hamas Regime in Gaza is not allowed to re-enter Sinai and take over the whole of the Peninsula– if only in a de facto manner – nor continue to enjoy more or less unfettered supply from there.
This is the situation Israel unfortunately faces today. The choices are stark. The Iranians, by jumping the gun in this manner, have unflinchingly put ‘the hand-writing on the wall’ and this is their ‘hand-writing.’ Israel has little choice but to respond in kind just as Kennedy finally did during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Oh yes, it has another choice, to do nothing, but this will just stretch out the day of reckoning to a future time – when circumstances may even be less favorable than they are now and the present chaos not present a kind of ‘fog of war’ as it were.
People will say, ''you are war-mongering'' for addressing such things. This is what was generally said when people like Winston Churchill uttered similar warnings in the days leading up to the Second World War before Britain was finally forced – against her will - to enter and meet her commitments. In fact, there is presently a fairly big controversy going on in the United States as the background to the Oscars and the award of ‘Best Picture,’ et. al. to “The King’s Speech,” where some are pointing out that this was George VI’s or ‘Bertie''’s attitude towards Churchill at that time, i.e., he considered him ‘a war-monger,’ and that there are secret papers that describe the bizarre and completely mysterious flight of Hitler’s Deputy Rudolf Hess to an unknown location in Scotland as having to do with just this matter.
Be that as it may, this is not ‘war-mongering.’ ‘War-mongering’ has been going on without cease from the other side and certainly from Iran for the last 20-30 years. In fact, it has been and is so insistent that one just doesn’t hear it anymore or take note of what it actually means or what is actually being said.
No, this is ‘desperation,’ ‘survival’, and ultimately ‘Peace-mongering,’ not only for Israel, but possibly the rest of the world too or, if one prefers, ''Western Civilization,'' which has certainly been the target of many of these inciteful and irresponsible threats as well, should Iran get ‘the Bomb’ and the Iranian ‘war-mongering’/’Mahdi’- State go nuclear. No, here is the casis belli and it should not be ignored in favor of a more favorable time. A more favorable time may never emerge. The world has the luxury of ‘wait and see’; their future existence is not yet at stake. Israel really cannot and has little other choice. Her future existence is.
In fact, she may even be doing the rest of the world a great favor, though this will never be admitted and she will never receive any thanks, just as it was not admitted and there never has been any thanks when the Iraqi nuclear station was taken out prior to the two Gulf Wars.