The Rise of the Western Alliance

Five Lessons We Learned from Iran’s Attack on Israel

Iran’s attack on Israel was unprecedented. So too was the coordinated response by Israel, the U.S., UK, France, Cyprus, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The Western alliance responded with haste, efficiency, and precision and may be strong enough to thwart China, Russia, and Iran, the so-called “Axis of Authoritarians.”

In the early morning hours of Sunday, April 14th, Iran launched what could be regarded as an overwhelming aerial assault against Israel. However, the assault turned out to be underwhelming as militaries from the U.S., UK, France, and Israel intercepted and destroyed 99% of the 400 drones and missiles launched from Iran and Yemen and intended to inflict significant damage and kill Israelis. There are five lessons to be learned from the recent escalation between Israel and Iran.

The U.S.-Israel Relationship is Deeper than Rhetoric

Despite the heated and public rhetoric between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu surrounding Israel’s anticipated movement into Rafah — when push came to shove, the U.S. rose to Israel’s defense in a manner consistent with the long-held belief that U.S. support for Israel is ironclad. Of course, Biden later told Netanyahu to “take the win,” and avoid any escalatory response. We are now left to wonder what support the U.S. would provide should Israel disregard that warning and strike back. Notwithstanding the post-conflict chatter, it must be acknowledged that the Western alliance stood together to thwart an attack on Israel from a malign actor with capabilities and ambitions to disrupt the Middle East and Europe. We cannot know what comes next. However, we do know that a triad for the 21st century has now been consummated between the U.S., Europe, and Israel.

Jordan Knows Where its Security Lies

The subplot of this story might be Jordan’s participation. Jordan opened its airspace to Israel and allowed French fighter jets access to its bases. Jordan creates increased operational depth for Israel, thus allowing Israel more time and space to react. At Jordan’s narrowest point, it is one-and-a-half times the width of Israel. At its widest point, Jordan is the equivalent of more than three times the width of Israel. When it comes to intercepting drones, cruise, and ballistic missiles, added depth plays in Israel’s favor.

Cyprus is a Little Country With a Big Role

Cyprus has proven to be a strong and vital strategic partner for Israel. In the two weeks before Iran’s attack, Israel used Cyprus to perform aerial combat exercises in preparation for an Israeli response. During the attack, British and French fighter jets used Cyprus airstrips to launch their intercept missions. Cyprus may be a little country off the coast of Italy, but it plays an outsized role in Israel’s security.

Israel’s Move to Central Comm Was Brilliant

Israel’s incorporation into U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is the reason for the velocity, precision, and effectiveness of the alliance’s response to Iran. Under the guidance and coordination of CENTCOM, European and Israeli air forces performed a military combat ballet, marvelously intercepting close to 400 aerial attack munitions.  An unnamed Israeli IDF official is quoted as saying, Israel has “been closely coordinating with Washington, London and Paris in readiness for the expected barrage, and that’s paid off.”  Moving Israel from European Command to Central Command was a brilliant move and had the intended effect: a coordinated military response by U.S., European, Israeli and Arab nations. 

Europe Accepts Iran is a Menace

European leaders appear to be waking up to the reality of the threat Iran presents to global stability. It’s no longer acceptable to kick that can down the road. Iran is a menace to the entire Western alliance. Leaders across Europe proclaimed strong support for Israel and condemned Iran. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President  Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed their condemnation of Iran and full support for Israel. Further, and rightly so, the European Union is preparing new sanctions on Iran.

A Triad is Consummated

While Germany is unable by law to enter into foreign wars, German Members of Parliament are pushing for Germany to support Israel with added munitions. The relationship between Israel and Europe has never been stronger. The broader and deeper these relationships become, the safer, stronger, and more stable the triad between the U.S., Europe, and Israel becomes. This Triad for the 21st Century was consummated under fire and will continue to harden as threats continue to test it.  Israel is not out of the woods. Israel still plans to finish what it started in Rafah and there are currently 80,000 Israeli refugees who cannot go back to their homes in the North for fear of Hezbollah. That means Israel must take action to create a buffer by pushing Hezbollah back 10 kilometers. If that does not work, Israel will likely have to take extreme measures to remove Hezbollah.  In what order will Israel address these threats, and of course, how will Israel continue to address the Iranian threat?  Time will tell.

The only thing we know for sure is that the Western alliance has risen. It was tested in a way not seen since WWII and responded with the excellence we all hoped for and expected.