27 December 2008


OK, Israel has launched a large air strike on Gaza, see here, here, and here, with total reported casualties somewhere in the 225 range.

As to what the eventual death toll will be, FAIR's report on Jenin noted that similar numbers were initially counted there, but it turned out to be 52, and the original estimates at deaths on 911 were over 6,000, when the final tally was 2974, so the final number is likely to be much lower.

Note that is not meant to minimize what happened, but to note that people who are going to simply spew what are very preliminary numbers by and imply that this constitutes reasoned arguments are ninnies.

I tend to be more hawkish on these things than my other political leanings would indicate, so here is my assessment at this point.

I do not think that this, whether or not it is followed by a ground assault, will solve anything in the long term, but it will have the effect of disrupting the chain of command of Hamas, particularly as the leadership of the organization is likely to go to ground at this point, as they have when similar strikes have been launched against them.

It does not buy peace, but it will buy somewhere between 6 and 18 months of quiet.

I disagree with the rather simplistic assessment at Worldwide War Pigs of, "Don't like getting bombed? Clean up your act," particularly when he invokes the rather awful Sly Stallone movie Cobra in the process.

Nothing good ever comes from evoking Sylvester Stallone, and there is no purely military solution.

By the same token, I think that Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of J-Street is wrong too, where he makes rather mealy-mouthed statements about, "Respecting Israel's right to defend itself," but at it's core is the argument that this will contribute to the, "cycle of violence", which is such a useless cliche that it borders on the moronic.

Further I disagree with Mr. Ben-Ami's assertion that, "strong diplomatic intervention by the United States, the Quartet and allies in the region to negotiate a resumption of the ceasefire," is essential.

The Quartet has been part of the problem, as it has distracted the principals, Israel, the PA, and Hamas, away from dealing with each other, and toward gaming their position vis-a-vis support from the 4 nations. It has taken negotiation, and made it theater.

I believe that the stage given to all parties by the Quartet serves no one except the members of the Quartet, who are allowed to pretend that they are doing something positive.

At this point, the best course is for the rest of the world disentangle themselves from this situation.

As to final status negotiations, I do not believe that Israel can achieve its goals purely through military force, and I do not believe that the Palestinians, either Hamas or the PA are currently able to negotiate in good faith, as any serious good faith negotiations would result in compromises that would delegitimatize whoever made them.

I would also note the lesson of the American Civil War, where ambiguities that were "left for later", became the basis for conflict. Incrementalism is the enemy of a solution, not a friend.


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