Sunday, January 4, 2009

What happens if Israel wins?

A bunch of analysts, including this NY Times article, are suggesting that the real reason behind the offensive in Gaza is to remove Hamas as a power in Gaza, as opposed to simply ending the rocket attacks.

In fact, the article argues, even if Israel doesn't WANT to remove Hamas, the mission will inevitably escalate to that point: leaving Gaza with Hamas still in charge would simply leave Hamas emboldened politically, and set themselves up as a lasting feature in Palestinian politics. Since this is obviously NOT what Israel wants, they really don't have a viable choice: Hamas has to go, and it has to go now, or else this fiasco will start looking like a repeat of the 2006 Lebanon war.

This leaves Israel with an interesting decision to make afterwards:
...Israelis may already be facing a kind of mission creep: after all, if enough of Hamas’s infrastructure is destroyed, the prospect of governing Gaza, a densely populated, refugee-filled area whose weak economy has been devastated by the Israeli-led boycott, will be exceedingly difficult.

IE, if Hamas goes down after Gaza has been so devastated, who is going to be left to rule the country? And if Israel doesn't submit an alternative government with real enforcement powers, misery continues, leading to more recruits for a future terrorist organization, and a power vacuum where it can easily arise again. Which is going to require another intervention down the road.

The only viable victory condition for this war is a detailed plan to win the peace afterwards. Unfortunately, Israel isn't motivated to put troops in Gaza for very long, and Fatah doesn't seem to have the ability to govern it. Nor are there any UN peacekeepers ready to pick up the torch.

In the end, this Gaza offensive won't accomplish much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

other reasons can include:
- near Israel elections
- Bush term is almost over
- Palestinain elections is supposed to be held around this time.