Victor Davis Hanson

Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality -- given that at any moment, old frontline enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.

The Arab Spring has turned Israel's once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.

Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically -- well beyond the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.

In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could -- and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.

The old nexus of radical Islamic terror of the last three decades is unraveling. With a wink and a nod, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. In the deal, terrorists got money and sanctuary. The Arab Street blamed others for their own government-inflicted miseries. And thieving authoritarians posed as Islam's popular champions.

But now, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors. And even the most ardent Middle East conspiracy theorists are having troubling blaming the United States and Israel.

Secretary of State John Kerry is still beating last century's dead horse of a "comprehensive Middle East peace." But does Kerry's calcified diplomacy really assume that a peace agreement involving Israel would stop the ethnic cleansing of Egypt's Coptic Christians? Does Israel have anything to do with Assad's alleged gassing of his own people?

There are other losers as well. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to turn a once-secular Turkish democracy into a neo-Ottoman Islamist sultanate, with grand dreams of eastern Mediterranean hegemony. His selling point to former Ottoman Arab subjects was often a virulent anti-Semitism. Suddenly, Turkey became among Israel's worst enemies and the Obama administration's best friends.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.

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