The Third Lebanese War Won’t Be in Lebanon
There’s no sugarcoating this. Israel is looking like a country that is quickly losing its mind. Consider this statement:
In an interview Tuesday, Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said Israel’s main goal is to “destroy completely” what she called a “terrorist gang.”
I truly truly hope this is empty rhetoric. Because the evidence is accumulating that Israel is determined to escalate its bombardment of Gaza in the most astrategic ways. Hamas is not the sort of thing that Israel can “destroy completely,” no more than it could wipe out the PLO in 1982 or Hezbollah in 2006. How’d those turn out again?
What Israel can easily do instead is drive Palestinians into Hamas’ hands through collective punishment. These sorts of civilian-casualty heavy overreactions are precisely what jihadist organizations feed on. Israel feels like its deterrent was shaken by its 2006 blunder in Lebanon. Escalating in Gaza will just make that worse.
This is the unforgiving reality of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. We have seen this movie spool out again and again and again, in Israel, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Iraq and now in Gaza. Via Laura Rozen, Zvi Barel has no patience for its ending:
It should be remembered that Israel chanted the same slogans when the Second Lebanon War began, from which it came back badly bruised. The optimistic scenario did not materialize then and it is hard to believe it will now in Gaza. The legitimacy of the Lebanon war triumphed just as the war was lost.
Israel needs to step back from the brink. There is no chance, as long as George W. Bush has almost a month left in office, that the United States will compel it to do so.