President Trump tweeted on Wednesday, “Any action taken against Hezbollah will be retaliation to attacks on Israel and the innocent people of Gaza.” U.S. Navy “Blue Streak” helicopters conducted special operations missions from Egypt to Beirut and into Gaza this week.
Yet Mr. Trump’s approach — alongside the Gulf-led campaign against Iran — is already proving inadequate, providing Hezbollah a chance to gain greater ground. Faced with weak responses, the network has been growing stronger. As a result, US credibility in the region is deteriorating, and many Arab states are now even less inclined to commit to U.S. commitments in Syria, the broader fight against the Islamic State, or to support Israeli initiatives against Iran.
The problem lies in the increasingly complex threats facing us in the Middle East. But as traditional approaches to national security no longer suffice, some new options are becoming necessary. Leaders must also realize that while Iranian “soft power” poses a major threat to the region, “hard power” — the use of military force — also matters. That is why Trump announced last week his “Remain in Syria” decision.
We believe that the United States must assume a larger role, including leading many of the ground and air missions on behalf of our regional allies and partners. A unified administration effort to assess the new situation would help, too.