Tactics and Strategy in Gaza
Very nearly since the beginning of the hostilities between Israel and Hamas that flared up two weeks ago and are ongoing critics have been saying that, not unlike the Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006, Israel was fighting towards a tactical victory and a strategic loss in Gaza. In a short piece for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the knowledgeable Anthony Cordesman made precisely that point a couple of days ago:
It is also far from clear that the tactical gains are worth the political and strategic cost to Israel. At least to date, the reporting from within Gaza indicates that each new Israeli air strike or advance on the ground has increased popular support for Hamas and anger against Israel in Gaza. The same is true in the West Bank and the Islamic world. Iran and Hezbollah are capitalizing on the conflict. Anti-American demonstrations over the fighting have taken place in areas as “remote” as Kabul. Even friends of Israel like Turkey see the war as unjust. The Egyptian government comes under greater pressure with every casualty. The US is seen as having done virtually nothing, focusing only on the threat from Hamas, and the President elect is getting as much blame as the President who still serves.
As I said above, the piece is short and worthwhile. I recommend you read it in full.
A few days ago James touched on much the same point and was answered by a hail of insults which, intellectually, amounted to Oh, yeah?
If you believe strongly that Israel is achieving a strategic victory in Gaza, I’d ask two things of you. First, remember that both the Israelis and the Palestinians plan to be in that neighborhood for a long time. Second, produce evidence for your claims. For example, if you think the solution is for Egypt to re-assert control over Gaza, please present evidence that Egypt is willing to do so. So far I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Egypt is willing to do that.
It may well be that Israel has no choice either politically or tactically but to respond as they have and I completely agree that it was Israel’s right to respond in self-defense to the rocket and mortar attacks that have bedevilled them increasingly since Hamas took control of Gaza. That they had no choice is not synonymous with the hostilities advancing Israel’s strategic objectives.
The picture above is of a statue of Pyrrhus of Epirus.