Now that Israel has accepted Egypt’s proposed truce and Hamas has rejected it, we will see whether politicians stop calling for “mutual restraint.” As we have noted, “mutual restraint” and “cycle of violence” lingo is so ingrained in the West’s diplomatic-speak that foreign ministers, presidents and prime ministers would hardly have anything to say if deprived of these empty phrases. Nevertheless, Hamas’s refusal to accept a truce or to halt targeting of civilians has brought some measure of clarity to the debate. John Kerry today announced, “I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a cease-fire, in which Egypt and Israel worked together, that the international community strongly supports.” Well, perhaps he could condemn the Palestinian Authority, which remains in a unity government with the Hamas war criminals.
Likewise, the current Gaza war exposes the fallacy of another admonition. President Obama at a Ramadan gathering repeated a favorite line: “The situation in Gaza reminds us again that the status quo is unsustainable and that the only path to true security is a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, where differences are resolved peacefully and in ways that respect the dignity of all people.”
This is a complete non sequitur. To the contrary, it is because radical jihadists seek to maximize civilian deaths and because the PA is joined at Hamas’s hip that no negotiations, let alone peace, are possible now. A much more accurate assessment would go like this: “The situation in Gaza reminds us again that Israel is threatened by the same jihadist forces that threaten the U.S. and the West more generally. The only path to true security is defeat of the jihadists and their sponsors in Tehran and repudiation by the PA of the right of return. It is only when these occur that there can be a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, where differences are resolved peacefully and in ways that respect the dignity of all people.”
Then there are the Iran negotiations. The Obama negotiation addicts insist on saying things like “the differences are narrowing.” This, too, is nonsense. Iran agreeing to “freeze” its program in exchange for sanctions relief and eventual repeal is not a narrowing of the positions; it is worse than the status quo because it leaves Iran with its nuclear capacity to be weaponized at a time of its choosing.
In all these cases, the administration has sought to blur distinctions, paper over differences and play the moral equivalence card. If there is a silver lining to the Gaza war, to the collapse of the “peace process” and the failure to get an acceptable nuclear deal with Iran, it is that these events make the phony nostrums even more preposterous. Eventually we hope they will be unsustainable. It is only then, with the addition of U.S. power — both hard and soft — that we can make progress against civilized nations’ common enemies. Until then, no restraint should be shown militarily (vs. Hamas) and economically (vs. Iran).