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Clueless in Gaza
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The Israeli attack on Gaza is far from a simple operation to stop homemade rockets being fired into Israel. According to the Israeli media, it has been planned for six months and is expected to destroy the Hamas infrastructure as well as much of the remaining Gazan economy. So far, the death toll is over three hundred Palestinians vs one Israeli killed by a retaliatory rocket and more is coming as tanks and infantry gather. Critics of Israel have noted that the Palestinian rockets have been in response to recent Israeli efforts to starve Gaza and destroy its economy, so what we are seeing is the normal cycle of violence begetting violence with the Israelis using overwhelming force and US provided weapons in an attempt to make the political problem arising out of their suppression of the Palestinians go away.

The only problem is that Hamas will not go away and will only be strengthened by the Israeli action, something that the Israeli leadership surely knows, so there must be another objective. With Israeli elections looming it is almost certainly intended to make Kadima look strong on security to turn back the right wing challenge from Bibi. But I also have to think of Obama. Is this a deliberate attempt to create a widening conflict that will draw in Iran among other players? Iran is already calling for volunteers to fight the Israelis and there are large demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Is it an attempt to confront Obama with a fait accompli in which he will have to weigh in on the side of Israel (note the comments by Pelosi and other leading Dems endorsing Israel’s action and blaming the Palestinians)? Is it a test for Obama to see where he comes down, which is predictable, and to bind him irrevocably to the Israeli actions? I cannot imagine that the Israelis would initiate a major destabilization of the situation vis-a-vis the Palestinians withous a strategic objective and without reckoning the likely impact on the new POTUS.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Gaza, Israel 
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  1. I would think Iran would be very cautious about being drawn into anything–that’s certainly their pattern. I’d love to know what Obama, Hillary and Jim Jones are saying privately to one another. Jones strikes me as no fool, while Obama will do what’s best for Obama.

  2. It seems that the Israelis broke the truce in the first instance by raiding tunnels the Palestinians rely on for supply. It was in revenge for this raid and the death of a few of their gunmen that Hamas launched their primitive rockets into Israel. It follows that the Israeli blockade/quarantine of Gaza is the ultimate cause of this violence. By punishing the Palestinians for electing Hamas, the Israelis create the hostility that they in turn cite as the reason for their own aggression.

    The Israeli use of American high technology weapons to avoid casualties will seem more and more cowardly to the American public as this aggression goes forward.

  3. Corie says:

    Personally, I’m just bothered by the fact that the U.S. has put itself into a position where it cannot avoid taking a stance on this issue. Having Israel ( or anyone, but obviously Israel in this case) as an unconditional ally, puts the U.S. in a dangerous, and unwanted position.

    This is the DEFINITION of an entangling alliance. I’m convinced that there’s very little – if anything – that the U.S. (or anyone) can do to stop the complicated Arab-Israeli conflict.

    Even OBAMA! and his magic hope wand won’t fix this one ….. But the folks at the New York Times haven’t recognized this yet … I had to laugh when I read the NYT coverage of what’s going on … They’ve equated hawkishness with ‘far right’ politics (not recognizing, of course, that ‘far right’ = isolationism), and blamed the Bush Administration for what’s going on in Israel right now … Now, I’m no Bush apologist, but what … ? The conflict runs very deep. I know ‘Bush’ is a good scapegoat for many a problem, but please …..

  4. TomB says:

    Seems to me the relative “cluelessness” of this on Israel’s part depends on Israel’s true ends.

    No-one can deny that Hamas has been taunting Israel firing those rockets, but the timing of this Gaza thing would seem to strongly argue that it isn’t really being launched merely because Israel has gotten fed up with them. After all why now exactly? In this short little interregnum before Bush leaves and Obama takes office?

    As the Church Lady used to say on Saturday Night Live … “How conveeenient.”

    In other words, isn’t this just more of the same-old same-old? For Israel time and delay has been its friend, as it has been for the last forty-some years since ’67 in terms of expanding its realm. And it’s just been revealed in Haaretz about a week ago or so despite Bush’s “roadmap” that Israel felt obliged to give lip service to, Olmert and Barak have just been quietly going along as before approving/allowing the expansion of settlements anyway.

    So how isn’t this Gaza business just more of the same-old same-old? Knowing that it will dynamite the moribund “roadmap” peace talks which Obama might have seized upon and pressured Israel under; knowing it will make Abbas look like a fool as Buchanan says and castrate him … all essentially setting the clock back towards zero.

    The funny thing about it is how oblivious Bush is. After all here’s the Israelis very possibly saying “Well except for your failure to attack Iran we got what we wanted out of you over the last eight years and you’re now of no use to us and by the way this is what we really think of your stinking roadmap.” And despite this denying Bush even the smallest good legacy molecule he still doesn’t seem to realize it.

    I.e., the cluelessness might not be in Gaza but is instead still sitting right there on Pennsylvania Avenue.

  5. bruce says:

    Israel never seems to learn and time is running short.After a brutal 18 year occupation of South Lebanon in the 1980’s,it was forced to withdraw leaving a more radical Hizbollah foe that did not exist prior to invasion. Israeli forces in lebanon slaughtered over 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians(most non combattants).Israel’s overwhelming use of US supplied cluster bombs against civillians(a violation of the US Arms export act)resulted in in the birth of suicide bombing.It is yet to be seen how long the unwitting US taxpayer will supply Israel with unlimited arms with no strings. Israel’s 2006 war against lebanon saw Israel request millions of dollars in emergency munitions and aviation fuel from the US to enable it to maintain it’s bombing camaign.

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