There are certainly a lot of other questions to ask about the invasion of Iraq. But because the 'Was It Good for Israel?' question is such a live one, both for critics of Israel in the US and her staunchest defenders, I thought I'd return to it.
And basically along these lines, can any defender of this policy still claim with a straight face that the US invasion of Iraq hasn't been pretty much an unmitigated disaster for Israel?
I think the Israelis -- pretty much across the board -- understand that. Do the hawks in this country see that?
I really don't know if they do or not.
I can think of one very marginal advantage that has accrued to Israel's strategic position: the virtual destruction of a unified Iraqi state and thus what was at least once a fairly powerful Arab army, which was always an over the horizon threat to Israel, at least to some degree. That's one.
Against that, let's consider the following.
The vast increase in power of Iran, which is clearly the state that is the greatest threat to Israel in the Middle East.
The sharp weakening of the US's standing in the Middle East -- which amounts to a profound strategic setback for Israel in as much as US influence over the Arab and Muslim states of the Middle East has been a key factor in securing tentative acceptance of Israel by certain states in the region. Consider Sadat's switch from the Soviets to the US, as Egypt's key ally, as a backdrop to the Camp David accords.
Increased pressure on Middle Eastern regimes who've made either formal peace (Egypt, Jordan) with Israel or de facto reconciliation (like a few of the Gulf emirates.)
The dimensions of the disaster are so vast and its permutations so varied, it's hard to know quite where to start or where to end the discussion. But as number four we might say, the fact that the entire region has been set on fire. That can't be a good thing for a small country on the edge of the Levantine littoral that can't be a great thing.
What do you think? We've openned up the discussion in this thread over at TPMCafe.