Iran’s Humiliating Defeat

RARELY IN RECENT DECADES has a military encounter been so overwhelming as the stunning Israeli air defense on Saturday — shooting down 99% of an Iranian barrage — which included more than 100 ballistic missiles, 150 drones and 30 cruise missiles. This was “an astonishing display of high-tech military prowess,” the columnist David Ignatius wrote in this morning’s Washington Post.

THIS WAS NOT JUST A MILITARY VICTORY, Ignatius and other Mideast experts declared. It was a humiliating psychological defeat for Tehran and its proxies; social media posts throughout the region mocked the Iranian failure.

A WIDER WAR in the Middle East seems less likely after Tehran curtly declared on Saturday night that “the matter can be deemed concluded” after the Iranian rout, which highlighted the overwhelming Israel military superiority with its “Iron dome” air defense.

NEVERTHELESS, THERE’S STILL A RISK of more confrontations, and the Persian Gulf and Red Sea remain a threat to the global supply chain. So Washington will provide more aid, quickly. Legislation will begin to move in the House later this week, giving more assistance to Israel (and, probably, to Ukraine as well).

IT’S TOO EARLY TO DECLARE THIS A CLEAR VICTORY for Joe Biden, since his testy calls for restraint have stirred opposition to him from U.S. hawks who continue to urge escalating diplomatic and economic pressure in the region, as Tom Friedman writes in this morning’s New York Times.

YET BIDEN’S ROCKY RELATIONS with Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be mending by last night — and Netanyahu now has the luxury of calling the shots on a possible invasion of Rafah. He could call it off, if Hamas offers a serious proposal. In any event, he now has overwhelming domestic support.

IN THE U.S., THE POLITICAL OPTICS ARE STRIKING this morning. Donald Trump begins an unprecedented trial in New York, while Biden can claim that he put together a coalition of Mideast and Western allies who lent technological expertise to this very successful operation. Biden’s poll numbers may continue to inch higher.

ASSUMING THE IRANIANS HAVE BEEN SUBDUED, the next focus may be on China, which has provided shoddy weapons to Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis. Officials in Beijing must be embarrassed by this weekend’s rout, and they might conclude that they’ve been betting on the wrong horse.

THIS PROBABLY WON’T BRING THE ISRAELI-HAMAS WAR TO A CONCLUSION, but it could be a turning point — a sign that Israel cannot be defeated. A strong arms package from Washington will reinforce that conclusion; nothing succeeds like success.

THE LONG-SHOT that’s almost too much to hope for would be an intensification of the internal Iranian opposition to the country’s hated leadership, which has stepped up executions of dissidents. From all indications, the Iranian people want regime change; could this week’s humiliation hasten that process?

Related: High Stakes as Trump Trial Begins

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