Reading over Richard Allen's op-ed in the New York Times today, I asked myself whether the author isn't suffering from the same mental infliction suffered by his beloved President Ronald Reagan. Allen, U.S. national security adviser in the early '80s, recalls his memory of Reagan's reaction to Israel's strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 (twenty-nine years ago today) only to compare it, shamefully, with the recent Mavi Marmara debacle. He does so with an insidious mixture of nostalgia and dementia that must be making Reagan smile in his grave.
The point of Allen's narrative is to caution against knee-jerk negative reaction to "daring, risky" Israeli military operations. Even high-ranking officials in Reagan's administration, including VP George H.W. Bush, Chief of Staff James Baker, and presidential aide Michael Deaver, advocated punitive actions against Israel in the wake of the surprise strike on Saddam's nuclear materials testing reactor in 1981, Allen remembers. But the most sober and far-sighted in the situation room--Reagan himself--after hearing all points of view on Israel, only "smiled and turned to the papers on his desk," and, when he did speak directly on Israeli policy, offered only private and pithy pearls of wisdom such as "Boys will be boys." There seems to be an implicit warning here to President Obama to curb any enthusiasm he might possibly have for condemning Israeli military policy, in this case regarding the Gaza blockade - or, more ominously, potential future Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Beyond the Alzheimerish absurdity of comparing a planned strike with botched crowd control, I find this an example of the worst kind of American staythecoursiveness with regard to Israel.