Commentary Magazine


What the U.S. Should Do About the SCUDs

Elliott Abrams cautions that we can’t be certain whether the SCUD missiles, which can reach major Israeli cities, have in fact been delivered to Hezbollah and whether the Israelis is fact were restrained by the Obami from attacking. What we do know it that such arming is a a plain violation of UN Resolution 1701 :

As the resolution was being drafted and debated, the government of Israel approached the U.S. government to ask for a critical clarification. Suppose Syria violates the resolution, the Israelis asked? Do you agree with us that Israel will have the right to bomb any truck caravan carrying missiles or rockets from Syria into Lebanon for Hezbollah? And the answer was as clear as the question: Yes. With that now understood, Israel said it would go along with Resolution 1701 and begin to withdraw from Lebanon.

Abrams advises that it would be helpful for the U.S. and Israel to make it clear that:

The supply of SCUDs to Hezbollah is a violation of Resolution 1701, and Israel has the right to act to prevent it, both under 1701 and as an exercise of the right of self-defense. It should also be made clear that if Israel strikes, it will have U.S. support, and we will veto any Security Council resolution criticizing Israel for doing so.

That message would no doubt be heard in Damascus but also in Tehran, where Bashar al-Assad’s new best friends are assessing how badly U.S.-Israel ties have frayed. A reminder that the administration is ready to enforce UN resolutions and back Israel’s right to self defense would come at an opportune time — when there is considerable doubt as to both. Will the U.S. do so? It would be welcomed but entirely out of character. And our silence will, of course, send another powerful signal to the mullahs – just as our quietude on the deaths of Americans in Iraq at the hands of Iranians did: that there is no price to be paid for aggression against the U.S. and its allies.