Friday, January 02, 2009

Israeli Gov't can't make up its mind what it wants

I am reproducing this article from the Jerusalem Post almost in its entirety, as I think it makes an important point - that this is a stupid war with ill defined goals.

I would add that a stupid war is also an immoral war - since you need a damn good reason to kill so many and inflict so much damage. A war that leaves you not much better off than you could have been, had you negotiated, or a war that goes on three times as long as it needed to, is both stupid and immoral.

The Israeli leadership presented incoherent, even contradictory goals from the start for Operation Cast Lead, and that's why there is a growing sense of uncertainty about how it is unfolding.

This is the view of the former national security adviser and former head of the IDF's Planning and Operation branches Giora Eiland.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eiland told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that it made no sense to set, as goals of the operation, the need both to deter Hamas from firing rockets into Israel and to remove Hamas's capacity to fire.

"If the idea is to deter attacks, then you don't need a ground operation," said Eiland. "If, however, you want to destroy Hamas's ability to fire rockets, then you need to invade Gaza," he said. "The problem here is that the political establishment has not decided which course it wants to follow."

"You can reach a situation where Hamas is sufficiently deterred. Or you can invade Gaza, with greater risks and casualties. But there's really nothing in between. And it's hard for the political echelon to accept that."

Eiland said an agreement that binds Hamas "could be reached tomorrow" and would hold for months, and probably much longer, since the Arab states and Turkey would be pressing Hamas to honor it. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "doesn't want this, because it would legitimize Hamas," said Eiland.

Eiland added that far too much attention had been paid by the political leadership to the "relatively straightforward" military aspect of the operation, and far too little to the diplomatic side.

"The military aspect is much easier - it involves us and them, that's all, and the IDF can take care of that. The diplomatic field is far more complex, with all kinds of players - Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, the UN, the US, Turkey, the EU and others - all with something to say.

"The political echelon needed to decide on Saturday afternoon [the first day of the war] what [arrangement] it wanted [at the end of this operation] and how to get it. ...


Blogger Marianne said...

Thanks for this article, Syd. By following links from one of your previous posts I came across this site with postings by Daniel Levy discussing the possibilities for diplomacy:

Also I got this link to a podcast and transcript with Rabbi Marc Gopin from Jerusalem: --
reinforces the sense from the Eiland article that a diplomatic rather than military approach now could have been fruitful.

9:13 pm  

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