The Aug. 28 editorial “Israel’s ominous escalation” acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself from Iranian attacks by attacking Iranian-linked militias and facilities in Syria — but condemned similar action in Iraq as an “ominous escalation” by Israel. The editorial distinguished Iraq from Syria based on factors such as the degree of lawlessness in Syria and the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, but no mention was made of the nature of the threat to Israel emanating from Iraq.

The editorial seemed to suggest that Israel acted irresponsibly regardless of what the reasons for its actions might have been. If Israel acted in response to new or increased threats from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, and if the attacks were reasonable in light of those threats, then the “ominous escalation” charge was misdirected. Of course, one could argue that the risks posed by Israel’s actions outweighed the risks those actions sought to prevent, but only if both sets of risks are considered. 

Perhaps the editorial can’t be faulted for not addressing the reasons for the actions it condemns, because Israel hasn’t yet acknowledged taking those actions, much less explained them. Acknowledged attacks tend to provoke retaliation and further escalation more than unacknowledged ones. But if the available information wasn’t sufficient to justify Israel’s actions, it wasn’t sufficient to condemn them, either.

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Shalom Brilliant, Silver Spring

When the Soviet Union attempted to put nuclear weapons in Cuba, the United States did not wait for those weapons to be deployed and ready to fire. Israel, a tiny country of 9 million people, can’t wait for Iran to surround Israel with advanced weapons. For its survival, Israel needs to destroy those weapons whenever and wherever it finds them. Iran has vowed to “wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.” Israel hasn’t escalated; Iran has.

The United States has 330 million people, the world’s strongest military and benign neighbors — and is isolated by two big oceans. The sense of security and permanence Americans feel is unimaginable in Israel.

Marvin Perlman, Potomac

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