The Corner

The Obama Administration Holds Israel to Stricter Standards than It Holds the U.S.

Let’s juxtapose two stories. First, after declaring that Israel’s attacks in Gaza were a “hell of a pinpoint operation,” Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Middle East to press for an immediate cease-fire, a cease-fire that would leave much of Hamas’s military infrastructure intact and hand Hamas a victory after the FAA and others shut down flights to Tel Aviv.

Second, on Saturday — the day before Kerry attacked Israel’s military tactics — a U.S. drone strike claimed eleven lives in Pakistan. This strike followed a Wednesday attack that claimed 15 lives.

I have a few questions:

‐Were any phone calls made or text messages sent to warn civilians before we struck the Taliban compounds in Pakistan? Did we even drop leaflets?

‐Were those Taliban engaged in direct and immediate hostilities against U.S. forces?

‐Did the Taliban possess any weapons that were capable of directly and immediately harming Americans on American soil?

‐Is the United States of the mindset that an immediate ceasefire against al Qaeda is in our national interest so long as it retains the capacity and intent to strike the U.S.?

The answer to each of those questions is almost certainly no. Even more, American drone operators have a reputation (I don’t know if it’s deserved) for so-called “double-tap” strikes that can also kill Taliban fighters who rush to render aid to casualties from the initial strike.

Moving beyond our drone strikes, our own urban combat operations have exacted a far higher toll in lives and property. Not only were cities devastated, but the casualty toll in Fallujah, for example, was far higher than the Israelis have inflicted. Peruse the archives of left-wing blogs, and you’ll find image after image of urban devastation from our fights in Fallujah and elsewhere. The picture below is typical.

Let me be crystal clear: I agree with our tactics in Fallujah and elsewhere, I support our drone campaign against al-Qaeda and its allies (including even the alleged “double taps”), and I think that our rules of engagement in general should be less restrictive — enabling even greater use of American firepower. During my own time in Iraq, our troopers once engaged in a 36-hour firefight in a village that left much of a local town devastated and culminated in an Abrams tank driving over buildings to literally crush the terrorist occupants inside. These things happen in war, and unless you want to empower the terrorist enemy by refusing to attack him while he attacks you, these things must happen.

So why is the Obama administration holding the Israel to a higher standard than it holds American forces? Why does it continue to do so in the face of continued, direct attacks on Israeli soil? By doing so, it does nothing but empower Hamas and weaken Israel. Europe’s long history of vicious anti-Semitism (combined with and compounded by its growing anti-Semitic Muslim population) is a motivating factor for Europe’s constant and reprehensible attacks on Israel and support for its terrorist enemies. What is the Obama administration’s motivation for its own indefensible double standards? Appeasement? Something worse?

Not only does Israel have a right of self-defense (which the Obama administration does at least acknowledge), it has a right of self-defense that is co-equal to America’s, with a freedom of action that is co-equal to America’s. Anything less is asking for a terrorist victory.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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