When the U.S. government justified the invasion of Iraq by claiming it was a preventive measure, critics warned this would create a dangerous precedent. This week’s air strikes in Syrian territory flown by Israeli planes makes clear how right such critics were and how hard it is for the United States to condemn such attacks now that it has set the precedent.
The strike, flown in Syria last weekend in response to a suicide attack in the Israeli town of Haifa, targeted what Israel officials claim was a “militant camp.” It remains highly questionable, though, if the camp even had ties to the attacks.
The U.S. government’s response was the usual one: President George W. Bush issued a statement that Israel has a right to protect its territories but should be careful not to escalate the conflicts further.
By now it should be obvious that this kind of response simply will not cut it.
The reason for the timid measures is that the main export partner of Israel, accounting for 42.8 percent of Israel’s exports according to the CIA, is the United States. The strong economic ties complicate the matter, as a blow to the already weakened U.S. economy is the last thing the Bush administration is striving for.
Israel is also one of the very few “friendly regimes” in the Middle East as far as relations with the United States go. Iraq might be a newfound base of operations one day, but it will be years before it could replace the foothold in the Middle East that Israel has been.
This, however, cannot mean that the United States should allow Israel to do as it pleases.
The recent military actions in Iraq. though, make it hard for the United States to come out and criticize Israel without somebody calling into account its own questionable actions.
It is also unlikely that the Bush administration will not go through the United Nations to chastise Israel as it has shown numerous times that it would rather not do so.
Again it is proven to the United States that brushing the United Nations aside when rushing into Iraq was not the best idea. While it may have seemed as a quick fix at the time, the long-term repercussions are now beginning to be felt.