On the Flotilla
Like most everyone, I suspect, I am still in the process of fully processing the events (basics described here in the NYT: Deadly Israeli Raid Draws Condemnation and Raid Complicates U.S. Ties and Push for Peace). Given that this is a breaking story, there are good reasons to be cautious in making overly strident statements or proclamations at this stage of the game. Of course, this hasn’t stopped the predictable responses in various quarters (both pro and anti Israel) as well as the simplistic response at the Weekly Standard, where Israel can do no wrong and its all about the terrorists (The Terror Finance Flotilla).
However, I will say that one thing is clear: the Israelis have created for themselves a massive international relations problem. Further, even if from the perspective of the Israeli government that they were successful from the perspective of their own policy goals, the cost of that “success” cannot possibly have been worth it.
Indeed, Daniel Drezner is pretty blunt in the intro to his post on this subject:
Sure, you can argue that the people on the ships weren’t exactly Christ-like in their embrace of nonviolence. Based on the number of e-mails I got from the flotilla organizers in the last 72 hours, they were dying for a confrontation with Israeli forces. That said, it should be possible to gain control of an unruly ship without, you know, killing more than ten people, further worsening relaions with your primary regional ally, and forcing the UN Security Council into emergency session.
He concludes his post with: “Developing…. in a ridiculously bad way for Israel.”
Israel’s Haaretz editorializes, quite accurately (The price of flawed policy):
When a regular, well-armed, well-trained army goes to war against a "freedom flotilla" of civilian vessels laden with civilians, food and medication, the outcome is foretold – and it doesn’t matter whether the confrontation achieved its goal and prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza. The violent confrontation, whether caused by poor military planning or poor execution, resulted from flawed policy, wars of prestige, and from a profound misunderstanding of the confrontation’s meanings and repercussions.
Exactly (and the whole piece is worth reading).