After reading Michael J Totten's interview of Jeffrey Goldberg (Instapundit link), I was struck again by the value of oppositional thinking. What if Israel's actions are not the prime mover in the Middle-East? We treat the Israelis as the determinants of all that happens there, as if whether they step with their left foot forward rather than their right foot matters much. Maybe it doesn't matter much at all.
From a practical perspective, we can of course say that bombing Iraq's nuclear facilities in the 1980's was huge, and that bombing Iran's nuclear facilities now would be equally huge. But this smuggles in many assumptions that I am not sure are warranted. These actions certainly affect Israel's survival. Evangelicals, trained to view events in the Middle-East as harbingers of the Apocalypse, also see the smallest details as potentially decisive. In the Bible, after all, trivial-seeming events do turn out to be huge in the long run.
But what if it's not the end? What if this isn't the incarnation of Israel that shows up with such prominence in the Revelation to John? What if the destruction of Israel would not be a latter-day biblical event, but just one more huge injustice in the sad history of Jewish oppression? A setback, but not a final word? In that instance, the other nations of the Middle East would still be there, still fighting, still enormously brutal and ignorant, still a distant yet present danger for the US.
And perhaps, no different than it is now.
I am not merely offering this as a speculation. I am increasingly coming around to the idea that we would have enormous difficulties with the entire Muslim world, entirely independent of what happens in Jerusalem.