Analysis / Middle East War: Unique Test of American Power

US military power (Archive: Pixabay)

The United States has come out strongly in support of Israel during the Gaza war. The Americans are sending weapons, mobilizing warships and jets, and warning Iran and Hezbollah to stay out.

Beyond the support for a close ally, the current situation presents the US with a golden opportunity to reassert its global power. Consider the following:

American threats that stop Hezbollah and Iran from joining the war will show that US military might is still feared and respected. It will also indicate that America remains dominant in the region, while other world powers stay on the sidelines.

If the Iran axis does enter the war, Hezbollah in Lebanon would be an unusually convenient target for the US. Hezbollah is essentially a very small army, deployed in a small geographic area, with lots of assets to pound. In many ways the opposite of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Moreover, most of the fighting would be done by Israel. No need for American boots on the ground. No need for a lengthy deployment or efforts to build a functioning democracy. Limited US involvement, but significant US impact.

American revenge?

An important reminder: The US also has an old score to settle with Hezbollah. The group has plenty of American blood on its hands, including the US Embassy and Marine Barracks bombings in Beirut in 1983.

In this respect, hitting Hezbollah is a prime US interest regardless of the Israeli angle.

Leveraging US power to support Israel will also come with an unusually low diplomatic cost. Given the terrible atrocities committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians, much of the world supports the Israeli war effort. In any case, the Shiite Hezbollah is despised by many in the Sunni-dominated Arab world.

Ultimately, an Israeli victory in the war with robust US support would serve as a strong indication of US power, and of the value of siding with America. The US already gained some of those benefits in Ukraine. Now, Washington has a unique chance to bolster its standing in the Middle East as well, as the whole world watches.