It sounds completely preposterous, but several political observers are extending the logic of American intervention in Libya and wondering whether Israel might not be next.
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense and conservative pundit Frank Gaffney imagines the following scenario:
It begins with the Palestinian Authority seeking a UN Security Council resolution that would recognize its unilateral declaration of statehood. The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, one of the prime movers behind the resolution that authorized the use of force against Qaddafi, and a vehement critic of Israel, urges that the United States abstain, rather than veto the Palestinians’ gambit. She is joined in that recommendation by a kindred spirit at the Obama National Security Council, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power, and by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose unalloyed sympathy for the Palestinian cause dates back at least to her days as First Lady.
This resolution enjoys the support of the other four veto-wielding Security Council members--Russia, China, Britain and France--as well as the all of the other non-permanent members except India, which joins the United States in abstaining. As a result, it is adopted with overwhelming support from what is known as the “international community.”
Israel finds itself on the wrong side of internationally recognized borders and the Palestinians demand that Israel remove all settlements and checkpoints. The Palestinians launch thousands of rockets against Israel to emphasize their point. Israel fights back and the Palestinians then ask for international help in "liberating" their land.
As with the Qaddafi precedent, writes Gaffney, the first to act is the Arab League. Its members unanimously endorse the use of force to protect the “Palestinian people” and end the occupation of the West Bank by the Israelis.
Clinton, Power and Rice urge Obama to align himself with the “will of the international community" and Obama complies, citing the Libyan precedent.
Sound scary? Conservative blogger Ed Lasky points out that part of this scenario has already come about.
I have been warning the last few days that Barack Obama's endorsement of the trendy Responsibility to Protect Doctrine (R2P) was opening a Pandora's Box and could be used by groups to attack Israel. Yesterday we had Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister calling on the world to bomb Israel to protect Palestinian civilians (since the UN, the Arab League, and Barack Obama have validated this approach to protect civilians in Libya). Today, R2P is now being used by the Palestinians to pressure Israel.
Indeed, Lasky cites a Los Angeles Times report in which the Palestinian Authority asks for international protection from Israel:
Ghassan Khatib, director of the Palestinian Authority media center, issued a statement holding the Israeli government responsible for what he called "serious and systematic escalation" in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War.
Khatib called for "urgent international protection to prevent further crimes against the civilians."
Will the United States and the West heed his call? Unlikely.
Under previous administrations, however, it would have been unthinkable. What is scary now is that the scenario Gaffney and Lasky paint is no longer unthinkable.