In February 2023, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neo-conservative think-tank, published a monograph – i.e., scholarly report – titled “Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program.” To date, it is one of the most in-depth reports addressing this subject matter, and in particular, it contains a detailed discussion of the threat which Iran's missile program poses to Israeli national security as well as the welfare of the United States' other allies and interests within the Arab region.
If Hamas' brutal attack on the innocent civilians residing within Israel, and the events which have followed, have proven anything – Hamas and Hezbollah being Iranian state-funded, proxy terrorist organizations – it is that the West was horribly wrong to write off the Israeli concern for the Iranian threat as doom-saying.
Unfortunately, this unprecedented threat, paired with the West's unresponsiveness, as well as the United States' post-Cold War indolence and attempts to recede from its responsibilities as the Global Leader, has forced Israel to make difficult decisions in order to preserve its national security interests. Perhaps the most consequential of these “difficult decisions,” is Israel's view of the necessity of maintaining amiable diplomatic relations with Russia, and more importantly, with Vladimir Putin himself.
As the FDD noted in its monograph, Iran continues to export its missile technology to bad-actors and rogue nations around the world; notably, in the Middle East, Iran has exported this technology and these weapons to Assad's Syria. Israel, ever since Russia's intervention in the Syrian Civil War, has – albeit, perhaps reluctantly – seen Russia as a possible stabilizing force in the Middle East region. This view has only been exacerbated by the United States' abandonment of its commitments within the region — not only within Syria, but with the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in the Summer of 2021, which China and Russia have both used as an integral component of an anti-United States propaganda strategy attempting to paint the U.S. as an unreliable ally and a hegemon in precipitous decline. In the United States' absence, Israel relies upon Russia to continue to stabilize the Syrian regime; more importantly, however, Israel relies upon its relationship with Russia to facilitate Israeli airstrikes targeting Iranian-made missiles in Syria, as well as other “game-changing” weapons. Russia, to this day, maintains a powerful presence in the Syrian air-space — at one time, Russia attempted to establish a “no-fly” zone. Israel, thus, cannot conduct airstrikes targeting Iranian-made missiles – many of which are inevitably bound for terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah – effectively, without Russia's tacit acceptance.
It is interesting that this stratagem of weaponizing instability is the hallmark of Russian neo-colonialism; for example, in the case of the ethnically-motivated conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia arms both nations with the goal of forestalling peace, and thus perpetuating Russian influence in that region.
This third-order threat posed by Iran's Ballistic Missile Program is a major concern for America's national security paradigm and threatens to destroy the United States' ability to project power abroad. The effect of this Israeli dependency upon Russia is quite grave, as it puts one of the United States' greatest allies in the dangerous position of appeasing an enemy of the U.S. and straining the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
Never has this become more clear than in the case of Ukraine. Israel has neglected to provide any significant military aid to the people of Ukraine, who have been oppressed and brutalized at the hands of the Russian beast, and whose condition has begun to resemble that of a genocide. Unfortunately, this cold-hearted indifference has become a pattern for Israel, which failed to participate in the international condemnation of Russia's 2014 aggression in Crimea. Additionally, in the past, Israel has advocated for the lessening of the United States’ sanctions on Russia. It is a cold and dark world, where a people who were a historical victim of horrific genocide, can abandon another people to the possibility of an equal fate. All this in the name of appeasement and the short-term illusion of security.
The United States' strength and ability to project power depends upon the cohesion and conviction of our allies. Unfortunately, Iran’s promotion of instability in the Middle East, and Russia's weaponizing of that instability have placed one of the United States' most important strategic alliances in jeopardy. It has created a situation in which Israeli short-term interests may, at least in the case of Russia, be directly juxtaposed with America's long-term strategic interests. This is just one of the many terrifying repercussions of the United States' failing containment against Iran.
Unfortunately for Israel, however, following the gruesome events of Saturday, the 7th of October, 2023, its “partner” Russia remained deafeningly quiet. As CNN noted amidst its coverage, “After hundreds of Israelis were slaughtered by Hamas near Gaza, condemnation and condolences poured in from around the world, but not from Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.” Russia's proxies, however, were anything but silent. In fact, several of these proxies became the only states in the Americas to withhold their support for Israel, or to declare open support for Hamas.
Cuba issued a short and delusional statement, blaming “Israel's aggressive and expansionist policy” for Hamas’ brutal acts of inhumanity, which is a view that isn’t remotely in accordance with reality. In this statement, Cuba stated that, in its warped view, “the United Nations Security Council must fulfill its mandate and put an end to the impunity of Israel, the occupying power, with which the United States has historically been complicit, by repeatedly obstructing the action of the body, undermining peace, security and stability in the Middle East.” Cuban officials were even more open when expressing their “personal” views of the Israel-Palestine crisis, although in Cuba – a totalitarian state in which the expression of any views considered critical of the regime can result in imprisonment and torture – there is no such thing as personal opinion without the approval of CPC (Communist Party of Cuba) officials, and they often used slogans which are linked to the genocidal notions of Palestinian extremists, such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This slogan has particularly troublesome connotations, because it calls for the complete elimination of the Israeli state, and it is the rallying cry of a number of Palestinian terrorist organizations – notably, Hamas, the very organization that initiated this brutal assault upon the innocent Israeli people. Additionally, just a single day before the initiation of Hamas’ terrorist assault, Cuba published a statement re-affirming the mutual state of “support and solidarity” between Cuba and Lebanon — despite the fact that Lebanon is the host-state of Hezbollah (i.e., Hizballah), another Iranian-backed terrorist organization which has become involved in this attack on Israel.
Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro blamed Israel for instability within the region, and stated that Israel had an obligation to “immediately and completely put an end to all the settlement and occupation activities of the Palestinian territory as the only way to peace.” This should come as a surprise to exactly no one, since Venezuela is a shell-state that has been essentially occupied by Cuba for decades, which provides Cuba with a source of income through its fossil fuel revenues — and which joins Cuba in committing many crimes against the global community, such as its participation in drug-smuggling and its state sponsorship of terrorism.
According to the Confidencial, Daniel Ortega, a former member of the Soviet bloc-backed terrorist group Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN; Sandinista National Liberation Front) terrorist organization and President of Nicaragua, declared himself “always in solidarity with the Palestinian cause, always fraternal, always close.”
Gustavo Petro, the President of Columbia – and a former leader of the Soviet bloc-backed left-wing terrorist organization Movimiento 19 de Abril (M-19; 19th of April Movement) – made an anti-Semitic, vile, and ignorant statement comparing Gaza to Auschwitz, and reverted to the ages-old trope that the media was being actively manipulated by the world’s Jewry.
Of course, Syria is attempting to take advantage of the situation by sending forces into the regions surrounding the Golan Heights, in preparation for an inevitable escalation of the assault upon the Israeli people, and by permitting mortars to be launched from Syrian territory targeting the Israeli positions within the Golan Heights.
Iran, Russia’s greatest ally at present, both in the Middle East and during Putin’s brutal assault upon the Ukrainian people, is the state-sponsor of both Hamas and Hezbollah. A senior general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and a key advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed open – even exuberant – support for what was termed a “proud operation.” He further stated that these Palestinian terrorists have “achieved brilliant victories during this operation, and this is a bright spot in the history of the Palestinian people’s struggle against the Zionists.”
When Russian President Vladimir Putin finally made a statement about the Hamas terror assault upon the Israeli people, he took it upon himself to accost the United States, failing to express any legitimate empathy for the Israeli people. It is an abandonment of the Israeli people, during an attack that has murdered more Israelis by ratio than the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks within the United States, and which killed more Jewish persons in one day – Saturday, 7th October 2023 -- than any other event since the Holocaust. Ostensibly, Vladimir Putin has not even attempted to reach out personally to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, to offer his personal condolences to another world leader with whom he supposedly has developed a friendly relationship. The message is clear: Russia will always be a true friend to Iran, and a back-stabber to the Israeli people.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s, statement in the face of Hamas’ terrorist assault, however, illustrated the clear juxtaposition between the liberal values of the Ukrainian people, and the authoritarian butchery propagated by Putin’s Russia. Zelenskyy not only asked to visit Israel to demonstrate the Ukrainian people’s solidarity with Israel – from one nation bravely resisting outside Russian aggression to another facing similar aggression perpetrated by Russia’s allies – but, he encouraged the leaders of other nations to do the same.
The tragedy that is presently being inflicted upon Israel should serve as a reminder to the United States, its policy-makers, and its citizens, of the real and human costs of the U.S.’ disengagement from the world. It should serve as a clear indication of the indispensable role that the United States occupies within the global order. The American people must understand that neither they, nor the United States’ allies, nor the liberal world order and the cause of global freedom, are made safer by a populist and isolationist U.S. government. What’s more, the brutal, inhuman, violent assault that is being committed against the Israeli people should serve to re-invigorate the close ties which exist between Israel, the United States, and their shared liberal ideology.
Israel, with the unwavering support of the U.S., will eventually vanquish Hamas. In light of Russia’s abandonment of the Israeli people, and the clear fraudulence of the supposed “partnership” that Russia claims to have cultivated with Israel, and similarly in light of the resolute hand of friendship which has been extended by Zelenskyy, it may be time for Israel to re-consider its refusal to provide military support to Ukraine. Destroying Hamas is only the first step on the road to securing Israel and its place in the larger global order; the second step should be the defeat of the Russian invader in Ukraine, the fortifying of a free Ukrainian nation, and the long-term containment of the Russia-China-Iran illiberal bloc that is forming at this very moment, before the world’s eyes — and which clearly contains the Ayatollah’s newly declared “axis of resistance.”
Logan M. Williams is a student at the University of Connecticut, studying History and Global Studies, and I am presently a researcher at the Center for a Free Cuba. The Center is an organization dedicated to monitoring human rights abuses within Cuba and to advocating for Cuba's eventual liberalization.