In 1967, Israel demolished the military forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Consequently, Israel developed the “Low Probability Arab Offensive” concept. The 1973 War – along with Mideast unpredictability and objective intelligence constraints – devastated that concept, threatening the Jewish State with oblivion.
In 2003, following the US occupation of Iraq, Israel recycled the “Low Probability” concept. Israel assumed that the US military in Iraq precluded the possibility of a conventional Arab offensive on Israel’s eastern front – a lethal threat to Israel’s “soft belly” (Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv). However, in 2009, that concept has been rendered obsolete by the gradual US evacuation of Iraq and by the lowered US military profile in the Mideast, which have energized Mideast radicals. The gradual US withdrawal from Iraq should free Israel from the “Low Probability” delusion, thus preventing a 1973 War-like disaster. It should put to rest the illusion that the US military presence in Iraq is a fixture, thus supposedly permitting dramatic cuts in Israel’s defense budget, while lowering the critical significance of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria to Israel’s survival.
The potential implications of the drastic change in US policy – from an offensive and defiant posture to one of retreat and engagement – highlight the unpredictable, treacherous and brutal nature of the Mideast. It mandates a very high security threshold, especially for the besieged Jewish State. For instance in 1969, Libya was transformed abruptly from a US – to a Soviet – ally. The largest US (overseas) air force base, Wheelus, became, overnight, a Soviet base. In 1979, Iran was switched violently from the “US Policeman” in the Gulf to a chief “Anti-US Gangster.” In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran in violation of their peace treaty, while avoiding US surveillance facilities in the region. In 1989, the Communist USSR collapsed and policy-makers deluded themselves about peace dividends and the end of the war era. However, the globe and particularly the Mideast, have become less-certain, less-predictable, less-stable, less-familiar and therefore much more threatening. In 1990, Iraq violated its peace treaty with Kuwait, plundering and raping the sheikhdom. In 1993, the Israel-PLO Oslo Accord was concluded and Shimon Peres authored “The New Middle East,” claiming that borders and territory lost their significance. But, instead of peace, the Oslo Process ushered in an unprecedented wave of hate-education, non-compliance and terrorism. The IDF and Israel’s Secret Service had to reenter Judea and Samaria, in order to defend Israel’s “soft belly” in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the 9-15 miles coastal plain (pre-1967 Israel).
In 1948/9, Jordan’s King Abdullah broke his commitment, to Golda Meir, to refrain from fighting the Jewish State. In 1966, King Hussein breached his commitment – to the US – to prohibit US-made tanks from crossing the Jordan River. In 1967 and in 1973, King Hussein was forced by Egypt and Syria to join the wars against Israel. During 1968-1970, King Hussein provided the PLO with logistical and operational bases for anti-Israel terrorism. In 1990, King Hussein collaborated with Saddam Hussein. How would the toppling of Jordan’s Hashemite regime (by pro-Iran, pro-Syria, or pro-Hamas/PLO terrorists) impact the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the potency of the Eastern Arab Front threat on the Jewish State?!
The expected completion of the US retreat from Iraq and the minimization of the US as a global policeman would exacerbate local, regional and global conflicts in the Mideast, would intensify pro-Arab Russian, Chinese and North Korean involvement, would escalate Iranian and Syrian belligerence and would fuel Islamic terrorist subversion against Arab regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sheikhdoms.
The progressive US withdrawal from Iraq sheds light on the potential of uncertainty, instability, treachery, non-compliance and violence in the Mideast, irrespective of Israel’s policy or existence. Mideast precedents behoove the Jewish State to base its policy on realistic Mideast scenarios and not on lethal wishful thinking, such as the “Low Probability Concept.” The Mideast requires (especially) Israel to maintain a high security threshold, which protects its most vulnerable eastern flank: The mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which constitute the “Golan Heights” of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; the most effective tank obstacle in the region (3,000ft steep slope dominating the Jordan Valley in the east); a dream platform for invading the 9-15 miles sliver of flat land along the Mediterranean Sea (2,000ft moderate slope in the western mountain ridge).