For all the talk of Israeli failure, they are doing to Hamas what they did to Hezbollah in 2006 and Fatah in 2002. And in each of these respective cases there was a cessation in offensive attacks following an incredible degree of material damage. Israeli goals? Risks? (1) They are gambling that the IDF can show Hamas to be weak, isolated, and largely a costly puppet of Iran without a lot of sympathy from, or indeed covert support from, either the Arab capitals or Fatah/PA or both; (2) They are gambling that they can establish another quid-pro-quid protocol in which a Hamas or Hezbollah understands that every time they wish to start another round of killing and fighting, they will kill only a few Israelis at a cost of hundreds of their own and billions in material losses; (3) They are gambling that they can so discredit and humiliate Hamas that the Palestinian Authority gains in stature and shows a greater willingness to negotiate; (4) They are gambling that they can kill enough Hamas leadership and blow up enough caches to reduce the rocket attacks, or at least convince the Egyptians to shut down the tunnel accesses; (5) They are gambling that if the world and the UN and the EU all choose to side with a terrorist entity like Hamas, then they have lost all leverage with the Israelis, and, thereby, are shown to be bankrupt and impotent in their ability to change conditions on the ground.The operative word in that paragraph seems to be 'gamble'--and to a degree, it seems to be working. The question--as it is anytime Israel stands up for itself--is whether they will have the resolve to see Operation Cast Lead to the end or cave in to pressure to make an equitable ceasefire that effectively returns the situation to the status quo ante, rockets and all.
Also weighing on the mind of the West should be the opportunity Israel has provided to humble Iran and put a crimp in Iran's plans for spreading their influence:
We were told for 7 years that Iran was in the driver’s seat and we had only empowered it by invading Iraq, but consider. Oil prices have crashed, depriving it of tens of billions of dollars. Iraq looks like it made it, and its free media will prove more destabilizing to a censored society in Iran than Iranian agents were to democratic Iraq. The tab to clean up for Hezbollah after 2006 was reported in the billions. Replacing the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza won’t be cheap. All of Iran’s surrogates “win” only by getting pounded and requiring billions in terrorist replacement subsidies. The Arab world is in near lockstep against Iran. So why the conventional wisdom that it is ascendant? (And why talk to a foul murderous regime when it is tottering?)
For political self-interest alone, the West should see the opportunity they now have--and take advantage of it.
Unfortunately, these days the West has a rather poor record of doing things that are for their own benefit. Then again, only a few weeks ago the same could have been said of Israel.
There may be hope for the West yet.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad