Israel’s Gaza Campaign and the Danger of Sloppy Comparisons

When not showing video and photographs taken by journalists embedded with Hamas forces, news outlets are showing an endless stream of images of the devastation in Gaza, which in turn are used as fodder for those arguing that Israel has “done enough” and must work for a ceasefire. One of the more reasonable versions of this argument has been made by the journalist Shadi Hamid, first on the website formerly known as Twitter and then in the Washington Post. Robert Satloff refutes it, beginning with Hamid’s reliance on faulty comparisons with the U.S. campaign against Islamic State:

Comparisons between Gaza and the U.S. experience in Syria and Iraq are false and misleading. Distance and time matter. The U.S. was under no time pressure to complete the mission in a huge, faraway place and did not have CNN embedded with the enemy, so it could operate a certain way.

By contrast, Israel is securing its own border after a horrific next-door attack, with the global clock ticking, under the glare of international media. No one ever threatened the U.S. with demands for a ceasefire; thousands of Islamic State-sympathizers did not march in world capitals. So if Israel uses more bombs per day than U.S., that’s a function of time and space; if you told Israelis the world would let them finish the job without interference, that there was no race to achieve success before global patience ran out, their tactics may be different.

Then you make the straw-man argument that Israel is “likely to further radicalize more Palestinians.” Israel doesn’t say its goal is to eliminate radicalism; it’s to deny Hamas territorial control, political rule, and military capacity. For that, nothing succeeds like success. . . . If you truly care for the future of Palestinians in Gaza and potential for Israel-Palestinian peace, let alone Israeli national-security interests, then the only thing worse than the current fighting is fighting that ends with Hamas still in power.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, ISIS


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy