Sensing on where it all might wind up.
War and the reshaping of societies
Let me emphasize at the outset that my assessment of the looming Israeli invasion of Gaza is intended to be descriptive, not prescriptive. I am not proposing what Israel should do, but what it may do as the coming days and weeks unfold, even if Israel does not actually intend it now.
Having formed a “unity government” for the war, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has stated clearly that the permanent end of Hamas as the principal war aim. That this objective requires a land invasion of Gaza is also clear. But what can it take to destroy Hamas? Netanyahu has said that killing its terrorists fighters is a specific goal, but Hamas is not merely an organization. It is also an ideology. How does Israel end with not only the present Hamas organization destroyed, but also the ideology?
America’s Civil War and World War 2 may provide a clue.
But first, what is Hamas’ ideology?
It is very simple: Kill Jews, kill Jews, kill more Jews. Specifically, Hamas (and Lebanon’s Hezbollah) has said publicly and often that it has at least the following goals:
1. The elimination of the state of Israel and establishment of a Muslim nation “from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea.” Jews must vacate this land entirely or they will be killed.
2. In the meantime, and as a tactic to attain that goal, Hamas has said before and again very recently that Jews must be killed. Last Saturday, Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif announced, “Operation Al-Aqsa Deluge.” Al-Aqsa is the name of the mosque atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Deif said that the mass killings of Israelis were a mere “first strike,” with much more yet to come.
Donald goes on to discuss the CW1 parallels as reflected in the total-war philosophy of Sherman, then hits lightly on Eisenhower before landing squarely on Roosevelt’s somewhat-belated WW2 realization:
Hence, wrote Roosevelt in a letter to Secretary of War Henry Stimson,
It is of utmost importance that every person in Germany should realize that this time Germany is a defeated nation…The fact that they are a defeated nation, collectively and individually, must be so impressed upon them that they will hesitate to start any new war.
Precisely so—then, now, and always. As I’ve said so very many times here, about both Muslim Supremacists and the American Left, so it was with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. As Sensing quips: “One notes that Japan and Germany have been well behaved since 1945.” One does at that. Thus do we arrive in the unlovely place we were always doomed to:
The End Game
At this point, both Israel and Hamas must realize that, as Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, “In war there is no substitute for victory.” Victory for Hamas can be defined very simply: it survives as an ongoing, at least minimally effective, violent anti-Israel entity as before. Hamas’ leaders know that to abandon murderous violence to establish a purely Palestinian state by political measures, rather than violence, means two things: (a) Hamas would not even be Hamas any more, so what is the point, and (b) mere politics will never accomplish that goal anyway. Hamas’ true believers would literally rather die than take that course.
As for Israel, its leadership at least knows that Hamas must be ended and no Hamas-by-another-name can be allowed. There is no answer to how long it will take to destroy Hamas or how many casualties it will cost. But neither Grant nor Sherman knew those things ahead of time, either. So Israel must proceed, though it is doing so as Otto von Bismarck reportedly said about going to war, “entering a dark room blindfolded to search for a black cat that is not even there.”
Gaza’s residents, whether they know it now or not, must decide in whose hands they literally trust their lives and the lives of their children. Hamas is quite willing to sacrifice them. But they may come to realize that while Israel will not target them, neither will Israel refrain from attacking if Hamas militarizes their refuges. An international standard called Common Article 3 governs combat between state and non-state combatants. It states that civilians’ presence at a location does not automatically make that location off limits from attack.
S’truth. In modern, post-Napoleonic warfare, “civilian” doesn’t mean quite what it once may have. In fact, during WW2’s Ruhr Valley strategic bombing campaign civilians were redefined as “military assets” themselves due to their work in Germany’s military-matériel industry—steel- and ironworks, armaments factories, synthetic-oil refining facilities, among other things—centered there.
Official handwringing over “civilian casualties” might be all fine and well during times of (relative) peace, but once the two-way firing range has gone full-on hot, all bets—and gloves—are off. In guerilla warfare (ie, asymmetrical, 4G-5G, however you prefer to conceptualize it), restraint and “proportionate” responses will ultimately serve only to get even more of your civilians killed than might otherwise have been the case.
For the moment, Israel seems firmly committed to trading the kid-gloves in for a stout set of knuckledusters: razing Gaza to the ground, making the rubble bounce, and effectively depopulating the place. So be it, then; having been forced into the position of waging total war against a clearly-implacable enemy who has repeatedly, explicitly, and openly declared its intention to kill every Jew they possibly can, the Israelis must now see this thing through to the very end. Gaza may not survive; Hamas MUST not, period fucking dot. Sic semper jihadists, sayeth I.
Admittedly, this isn’t America’s fight. In truth, I seriously doubt whether—given our current sorry state of self-enfeeblement, in ways by no means restricted to military matters alone—the US could provide a whole lot of assistance anyway, to Israel or anybody else.
Send a couple carrier groups with newfangled electromagnetic catapults that won’t catapult, conned by Manwoman helmspyrsynnz who were never taught to navigate without crashing into other ships, seawalls, docks, and/or sundry land masses, their flight decks jam-packed with squadrons of combat-ineffective F35 Turduckens that are far too expensive to chance having to replace when they fall out of the sky inexplicably, or recover when the malfunctioning EM catapult lobs them gently into the sea? With a complement of overweight, out of shape lesbian Wokester-Marines in “support”?
Sure, why the hell not? Tell me the one about Goldilocks and the Three Bears next, Daddy, that one’s my favorite.
Expect any practical effect on the situation beyond humiliating self-beclownment, though? Surely you jest.
At this point, the best course of action for us is to firmly reject all pompous FederalGovCo demands that Israel be put back on its leash before any more Mooselimb terrorists get hurt; re-establish and secure the southern border; and muster the will to cleanse our own badly-broken nation of the domestic jihadist threat. A Sisyphean task to be sure, but that’s still just for openers. Sorry to bust any bubbles here, but there’s an extremely lengthy to-do list of domestic affairs needing to be settled before we can even dream of mucking about in anybody else’s.
After two decades plus of bootless circle-jerkery under the War on (Some) Terror rubric, we ought never to have wound up in such an awful fix. And yet, somehow, here we all are anyway.