“Don’t!”— Or Ten Ways to Guarantee a Theater-wide War

 by Victor Davis Hanson

On the eve of the October 7 massacres, National Security Advisor bragged in an essay that his Mideast portfolio was “quieter than it has been for decades”. Now we are on the verge of a multifront Middle East war. How did Joe Biden inherit a decades-long regional calm and turn it into a precursor to a gargantuan war?

1. Talk loudly and carry a twig. Issue hollow Obama-like “redlines” or serial Biden threats to aggressive enemies like the vapid “Don’t!” Witness a U.S. President who works a 3-day week, struggles to read a teleprompter, and shouts more at conservative Americans than at America’s enemies.


2. Destroy hard-won deterrence. Abruptly pull out of Afghanistan. Abandon $50 billion in weapons to terrorists. Abandon a new $1 billion embassy. Abandon a $300 refitted air base. Abandon thousands of NATO allies, thousands of U.S. contractors, and thousands of Afghan allies. Lose 13 Marines in a horrific scramble to get out, while killing collateral Afghan civilians in a supposedly “righteous strike”. Call the entire American humiliation an impressive withdrawal.

3. Sit passively while a Chinese spy balloon traverses the continental U.S. Shoot it down only after days of escalating public outrage. Be afraid to call the Chinese out for the Wuhan-lab-generated, gain-of-function Covid-19 virus. Let Chinese diplomats dress down our silent and stunned secretary of state and national security advisor on American soil in Anchorage.

4. Assure Vladimir Putin that the U.S. reaction to a preemptive invasion of Ukraine would hinge on whether it was a major or “minor” invasion. Delay $100 million in military aid to Ukraine as Putin massed on Ukraine’s borders in hopes such forbearance would be reciprocated. Implore Putin to be more selective in his cyber targeting of U.S. infrastructure and institutions.

5. Coddle terrorist Iran. Seem eager to resume the Iran Deal. Lift sanctions. Allow $100 billion in oil profits to flow into Iranian coffers. Restore aid to the terrorist Palestinian authority and Hamas. Ignore Hezbollah’s terrorism. Remove the terrorist designation of the Houthis. Mostly ignore over 120 Iranian attacks on American installations. Transfer suspended funds to Iran at the rate of $1.2 billion for each American hostage it took.

6. Pressure Israel not to destroy Hamas—and not to reply to missile and drone attacks on the Israeli homeland. Threaten to cut off military aid to the only democratic government and longest U.S. ally in the Middle East should it finish off Hamas. Signal the Middle East that there is growing distance between Israel and America. Try to subvert if not overthrow the elected government of Israel. Transfer U.S. weapons stocks from Israel to Ukraine. Ignore thousands of missiles launched by Hamas and Hezbollah, and 100,000 Israelis internally displaced from their homes.

7. Run up the U.S deficit by $1 trillion every 100 days through reckless spending for entitlements, massive green subsidies, and DEI initiatives—while neglecting American shortages of munition stocks, arms, ships, and planes.

8. Recalibrate the U.S. military by substituting DEI criteria for past meritocracy. Accuse white males of being suspect white supremacists, then investigate them, then find no such evidence—and then suffer a shortage of a record 41,000 recruits. Lose the confidence of the American people in the military, so that less than half the population polls high confidence in the armed forces. Render the Uniform Code of Military Justice a mere construct.

9. Destroy the U.S. border for rank political purposes. Cancel all prior border enforcement. Abandon construction of the border wall. Allow in 10-million illegal aliens, among them thousands from hostile nations and some with terrorist ties. Provide generous subsidies, exemptions, and entitlements to immigrant lawbreakers, not always accorded to the U.S. poor.

10. Lose control of the world’s maritime commercial corridors. Allow the Chinese to harass allies in the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea. Allow the Houthis to shut down the Red Sea. Allow Iran to hijack ships in the Straits of the Hormuz. Witness the Black Sea become off-limits to maritime traffic.


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