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Thread: Israel's Tragic Gaza Dilemma
01-05-09, 06:25 AM #1
Israel's Tragic Gaza Dilemma
JANUARY 4, 2009, 11:19 P.M. ET
Israel's Tragic Gaza Dilemma
A modern democracy can't be as ruthless in counterinsurgency as Russia or Algeria.
By MAX BOOT
There is little doubt that Israel is morally justified in its offensive against Hamas. No nation can sit by and allow its territory to be rocketed with impunity. Not if it wants to remain a nation for long. But to say that Israel has the right, indeed the obligation, to act is not the same thing as saying that it is acting wisely.
It is too early to know whether its actions are well-advised. All will depend on how the offensive turns out. But even as Israeli troops push into Gaza following a week of air strikes, it seems highly unlikely that they will be able to decisively defeat the terrorist organization on their southern border.
Achieving total victory would require waging war in the way that America fought Germany and Japan -- all out and on many fronts until the enemy has no more capacity to resist. Then it would have to occupy the ruined land, imposing a peace at gunpoint to ensure that Gaza could never again be a launching point for attacks on Israel.
None of this is beyond the Israelis' military capacity (and Israel could do it without using nuclear weapons). They could also impose a peace at gunpoint. That is, essentially, what they did between 1967, when the Gaza Strip was won from Egypt, and 1994, when the Palestinian Authority was created. They could do it again if necessary.
Yet the odds are they won't. To understand the improbability of the total war scenario sketched above, all you have to do is recall how many people perished in Israel's last major military operation, the war against Hezbollah in 2006. The generally accepted estimate is that no more than 1,200 Lebanese died, half of them Hezbollah fighters. Even that relatively minuscule toll of 0.03% of Lebanon's population of 3.9 million -- probably comparable to the damage now being inflicted on Gaza -- evoked world-wide condemnation and accusations that Israel was committing war crimes.
Such denunciations by themselves do not have the capacity to stop a determined military machine. The Russians have inflicted World War II-level carnage in Chechnya since the mid-1990s, and they don't care what anybody else says.
But Israel is not Russia -- or Algeria or Burma or Syria or any other state that has taken a scorched-earth approach to counterinsurgency in recent decades. Israel is a liberal democracy in the modern age whose military operations are conducted under the intense scrutiny of lawyers, judges, opposition politicians, reporters and human-rights activists. And those are just its own internal watchdogs. To these must be added the "international community," which monitors Israeli actions with a degree of interest and antipathy reserved for no other state in the world.
For all the accusations of brutality that are routinely flung at Israel's armed forces, their conduct has been exemplary by historical standards. They have shown far less propensity for indiscriminate killing or torture than did European states in the 1950s when confronting insurgencies in such places as Kenya, Cyprus, Vietnam and Algeria, where the stakes for them were considerably less. The only comparable example of restraint is the conduct of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States, too, earns world-wide opprobrium for alleged brutality rather than approbation for its humanity.
Whether it gets credit or not, however, the U.S. has been right to use very limited firepower because in the kind of war it is fighting -- a classic counterinsurgency -- brutality can be counterproductive. Killing too many people, especially if they are the wrong people, risks jeopardizing popular support for elected governments that are likely to be important American allies in the future.
The tragedy for Israel is that a strategy of bolstering indigenous allies is not an option in Gaza. Hamas is, for all of the flaws of the electoral process, the choice of the people. No matter how much of a beating it suffers, there is little reason to think that Fatah could or would come in and effectively administer the territory in a way that would safeguard Israel's security. In the current, feverish atmosphere of Palestinian politics, those who would act with restraint toward the "Zionist entity" are branded as "collaborators" and liable to be killed.
That leaves only one option if Israel wants a friendly, or at least nonhostile, administration in Gaza: It would have to provide that governance itself. Before the first intifada broke out in 1987, Israel was able to administer both the Gaza Strip and West Bank at astonishingly low cost. But the intifada effectively made Israelis feel ashamed of themselves and ended their willingness to bear the costs of "occupation." In 2005, Israel evacuated its settlers from the Gaza Strip in no small part to wipe clean its moral slate.
We now know the settlers' departure did not mollify the extremists. It only emboldened them. So the Israeli armed forces are forced to re-enter the Gaza Strip on a mission without a clear exit strategy or even an obvious definition of victory. That is far from ideal, but it may also be unavoidable.
The essential dilemma Israel faces is this: It can't ignore Hamas's attacks, not only because of the damage they inflict, but also because of the terrible precedent they set. Israel has always been a state that is one battle away from destruction, and it cannot allow its enemies to think that it can be attacked with impunity. But at the same time Israel cannot do what it takes to wipe out the enemy, because of the constraints imposed by its own public, which is far less willing than in the past to suffer or inflict bloodletting.
So the Jewish state is forced to fight an unsatisfying war of attrition with Hamas, Hezbollah and other entities bent on its destruction. The current incursions are only one stage of this lengthy struggle. The odds are that once Israeli troops leave, Hamas will rebuild its infrastructure, forcing the Israelis to go back in the future.
This is the definition of a quagmire, yet Israel has no choice but to keep doing what it's doing. Unlike the French in Algeria or the Americans in Vietnam, it cannot simply pack its bags and go home. If Israel is to continue to exist, it will have to continue to wage low-intensity war for a long time to come -- definitely years, probably decades, possibly centuries.
Israelis have to discard Gen. Douglas MacArthur's famous maxim: "War's objective is victory -- not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory." They will have to settle for a substitute because from their standpoint "prolonged indecision" is better than the alternatives -- the annihilation of themselves, which would be unthinkable, or of their enemies, which would be unconscionable.
Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author, most recently, of "War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today" (Gotham, 2006).
01-06-09, 06:54 AM #2
Israel's Path To Peace
by Ted Nugent (more by this author)
Posted 01/06/2009 ET
There comes a point when violence is clearly the only answer. Peace most often throughout history is achieved through the application of relentless and superior firepower. Now is such a time for Israel.
Israel must defeat utterly the rabid, voodoo vermin known as Hamas. After launching more than three thousand rockets and mortars into Israel within the last year, Israel has every right and obligation to destroy Hamas. No nation can be expected to tolerate such a bombardment.
Cease-fires and negotiations never last with terrorist scumpunks because evil, hateful terrorists do not want to live in peace: they worship violence and don’t see their opponents -- be it us or the Israelis -- as human beings. Hamas, Hizballah and other soulless people such as Iran's Ahmadinijad apply vicious religious voodoo logic by believing killing non-Muslims, especially Jews, pleases Allah. Never forget these voodoo killers have vowed the complete destruction of Israel.
The world should know that Hamas started this latest round of violence by launching missiles into Israel. A December 29 article in the New York Times reported that Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since 2001. Failing to destroy Hamas today will only embolden these cockroaches to launch even more rockets and mortars at Israel tomorrow.
Let us be honest: mankind will be much better off when Israel destroys Hamas' strongholds in Gaza and captures or kills all of the Hamas militants and those who support them. Like all cockroaches, the only good terrorist is a dead one.
Total warfare is the answer if Israel is committed to protecting its people and breaking the back of the Hamas terrorists and the network that supports them. Not the kind of Donald Rumsfeld "Shock & Awe-shucks" selective warfare, but rather the General Sherman "scorched earth" military policies that broke the back of the Confederacy during our Civil War.
Israel shouldn't stop its offensive until the Hamas terrorists are dead and those who support terrorism accept the fact that they’ve been defeated. Wipe them out. That would send a powerful message to other terrorist scumpunks, voodoo regimes, despots and tyrants; "Don't tread on me."
By intentionally sacrificing much of Gaza and as many of their voodoo stooges as possible, Hamas is hoping to unite the Arab world against Israel and start another all-out war. Not surprisingly, terrorist leaders from Iran and Hizballah support Hamas. Punks of a terrorist feather flock together and should be shot down like the toxic crows that they are.
As I write this, Israel has so far turned a deaf ear to international pressure from the white-flag-waving French to suspend their air assault on Hamas. Good. Listening to the French is rarely a good idea. And they’ve done just what they should by sending ground forces in to root out the Hamas networks, seize or destroy their arsenal of missiles and defeat them decisively.
One of the biggest problems Israel and America face is the fact that Hamas and other terrorist groups find safe havens among the terrorist nations. Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas, isn’t sticking his scrawny neck out in Gaza. He lives in comfort and safety in Damascus, Syria. Which means Israel can’t win in Gaza without going into Syria and taking out the terrorist networks there. Hamas isn’t alone in Syria: the biggest and most dangerous terrorist organization -- the Iranian-backed Hizballah -- is there, too.
In truth, Israel can’t win in Gaza: but it can win in Syria and Iran.
Peace remains the ultimate objective in the Middle East, but rabid dogs such as the militants who compose Hamas, Hezbollah and dangerous regimes such as Iran can not, must not be tolerated by civilized nations and and true peace-loving people. These voodoo-inspired terrorists must have no seat at the peace table because they do not respect peace.
Peace can sometimes only be achieved through superior firepower. The civilized world must completely support Israel in their efforts to exterminate Hamas and end its operations for good and all. What say you, Mr. President-elect? Whose side are you on?
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