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Israel, Hamas and the Third (and fourth?) Gaza War: A Clausewitzian Perspective: Frederick Krantz, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20, 2014 — Despite the hypocrisy and pusillanimity of the “international community” and the distortions and blindness of the media, the nature and goals of the Hamas terrorist organization in its third war against Israel are clear enough.
On Cyprus, the World Is Silent: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Aug. 14, 2014 — Cyprus is a beautiful island. But it has never recovered from the Turkish invasion of 1974.
The Islamic State’s Campaign of Terror Will Take More Than Words to Stop: Washington Post, Aug. 20, 2014 — With each day, the barbarism of the Islamist extremists terrorizing Syria and Iraq becomes more evident — as does the need for the United States and its allies to act more vigorously to block their rise.
Another Iraq War is Coming – the Only Question is Whether We Want to Win: Max Boot , Spectator, Aug. 16, 2014 — Iraq is a bloody mess.
On Topic Links
A Love Letter From Hamas to ISIS (With 10 Tips): Noah Beck, Algemeiner, Aug. 20, 2014
Why Israel is Losing the Information War: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20, 2014
Gaza Operation Reflects Shift by Netanyahu: Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15, 2014
What is Wrong with ISIS, is What is Wrong with Islam: Daniel Greenfield, Canada Free Press, Aug. 20, 2014
ISRAEL, HAMAS AND THE THIRD (AND FOURTH?) GAZA WAR:
A CLAUSEWITZIAN PERSPECTIVE
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20, 2014
“Violence, that is to say physical force (for there is no moral force without the conception of states and law), is therefore the means; the compulsory submission of the enemy to our will is the ultimate object. In order to attain this object fully, the enemy must be disarmed; and this is, correctly speaking, the real aim of hostilities in theory. It takes the place of the final object, and puts it aside in a manner as something not properly belonging to war.” – Carl von Clausewitz, On War
Despite the hypocrisy and pusillanimity of the “international community” and the distortions and blindness of the media, the nature and goals of the Hamas terrorist organization in its third war against Israel are clear enough. Hamas’ binding covenant explicitly proclaims its dedication to the destruction of the Jewish state, a genocidal intention expressed in terrorist murders of Jews and indiscriminate rocketing of Israeli civilian populations.
An offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood fundamentalists in Egypt, Hamas emerged as a radical, explicitly Islamist faction within Yasser Arafat’s PLO. Coming to power in Gaza after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2005, Hamas won a US-backed, onetime Palestinian Authority election, taking full power subsequently in a bloody putsch against the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas. Sworn to war against the Jewish state and backed by Israel’s nemesis, Iran, Hamas acquired and began to use a vast arsenal of short- and intermediate-range missiles against Israeli civilian populations. This lead to Israeli military responses in 2008, and again in 2012; despite short truces, new longer-range missiles were added, and tunnels dug for the secret import of contraband goods and weapons from Egypt.
The current war differs from the two previous conflicts in quantity and quality. More and longer-range rockets, supplied by Iran and capable of reaching deep into Israel, are being used, while the number, complexity and extent of cross-border attack tunnels has markedly increased. The political context is also different, in two related respects. First, under increasing domestic pressure as its economy sank, Hamas saw unemployment skyrocket, and its large 40,000-strong bureaucracy’s salaries went unpaid. Second, internationally, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi’s defeat of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt deprived Hamas of a political and economic patron, while Sunni Hamas’ support for the Iranbacked Assad regime’s Islamist opponents in Syria distanced Teheran from Gaza. Hence Hamas’ recent reconciliation with the PA, temporarily creating a reunified Palestinian government, was aimed as much at getting Gaza salaries paid by Abbas as it was at reconciling with the hated Fatah. Hamas’ launching of missiles, and then of the tunnel attacks, expressed a considered, if desperate, rolling of the dice, an effort to reinforce its shaken Gazan hegemony, attract Arab and Muslim (Qatar, Turkey) financial and political aid, and reaffirm its “revolutionary” leadership.
Yet Hamas alone cannot hope to defeat the regional hegemon, Israel; if a traditional military victory isn’t its goal, what is? The answer is three-fold: 1) To demonstrate, first to its own Gazan subjects, to the larger West Bank population and to Arab world generally, that it is indeed the incarnation of the “Resistance,” standing alone against the Jewish infidel “occupier” of the Palestinian Wakf, the regional area of Islam’s inalienable patrimony. Here Hamas’s readiness to use its Gazan subjects as “martyrs” turns on the assumption (proven in the earlier Gazan conflicts, and in the Arab-Israeli wars generally) that the “international community” – moved by the mass media’s scenes of civilian casualties – will pressure Israel into compliance with a cease-fire well before Hamas can be destroyed and/or Gaza re-occupied.
2) Importantly, Hamas’ notion of “victory” differs from the Clausewitz epigraph’s statement. Immediate submission of Israel’s will to that of Hamas, and its full disarmament [and therefore destruction] is not Hamas’ proximate goal (though it is, with the presumptive aid of the larger Muslim and international world, its hoped-for final objective).
Hamas’ specific goal is – by standing up to the Jewish entity’s superior military machine and inflicting casualties on Israeli civilians – to delegitimate the Jewish state internationally, by representing it to the world as a “genocidal” war criminal and racist human-rights violator. (Here, too, the functional, deeply anti-Semitic meaning of the world-wide “BDS” and “apartheid analogy” campaign is revealed: “delegitimation,” denial of the Jewish state’s right to exist, prepares the way for its destruction. Delegitimation and genocide are intimately linked. Hamas’ reliance on aggression and martyrdom, its seeking, as one of is spokesmen put it, for death rather than (like the Jews) life, to delegitimize Israel and thereby to spark a wider conflagration, is a good example of another of Clausewitz’s themes, that when war itself becomes an end, and not a means, it can have unimagined (or in Hamas’ case, imagined) consequences.
As current short-term truces collapse under the weight of Hamas’ truculence, Israel’s response to the third Gazan war’s amplified threat may morph from artillery and airborne bombing to a sustained ground war. It looks more and more as though Hamas has miscalculated, and that a quick cease-fire and a US – and “international community” – forced “peace” may not be available to rescue it. Squeezed between Sisi’s Egypt and Israel, with even Abbas (while condemning Israel for the mounting civilian casualties) condemning the rocket attacks, Hamas could be about to suffer a decisive defeat.
Clausewitz, well aware of the vagaries of war, and of the close filial relation between Bellona, the goddess of war, and Fortuna, goddess of chance, always insisted on the subordination of war to state policy. Currently unforeseen considerations (for Israel, massive international pressure resulting from a truly terrible accidental bombing) may give Hamas an escape route, or even realize its hopes for a widening of the conflict. For Hamas, a “success” – long-range Hamas rockets falling on densely-populated Tel Aviv or Jerusalem – could radicalize Israel’s determination to pursue the conflict to the bitter end, the “international community” and the media notwithstanding. The political objective, Clausewitz wrote, not war per se, is always the essential factor: “War is a… continuation of policy by other means,” not a substitute for it. In Hamas’ case, war – the killing of Jews, the hoped for genocidal destruction of Jewish Israel – is a nihilistic end-in-itself. This explains the seemingly paradoxical disproportion between Hamas’ limited means and its apocalyptic goal: steadfastness, unending aggression, murder and martyrdom are more important even than victory itself.
But for democratic Jewish Israel, a sophisticated, bureaucratic Western state, war is a calibrated adjunct of rational policy, not a nihilistic end-in-itself. When necessary, it is a means to achieve Israel’s overarching moral-political purpose: the preservation and well-being of the Jewish state, and of the Jewish People itself. As the third Gaza war enters its fifth week and casualties continue to mount, it is clear that Israel’s policy goal cannot be yet another easily-terminated de facto cease-fire. If a fourth Gazan war is to be avoided, the atavistic terrorists’ ability to re-supply, and ultimately to resume the deadly hostilities, must finally be blocked. And this may well mean the destruction not only of the missiles and tunnels, but of their recidivist progenitor, Hamas.
(Prof. Frederick Krantz is director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
ON CYPRUS, THE WORLD IS SILENT
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review, Aug. 14, 2014
Cyprus is a beautiful island. But it has never recovered from the Turkish invasion of 1974. Turkish troops still control nearly 40 percent of the island — the most fertile and formerly the richest portion. Some 200,000 Greek refugees never returned home after being expelled from their homes and farms in Northern Cyprus. The capital of Nicosia remains divided. A 112-mile demilitarized “green line” runs right through the city across the entire island. Thousands of settlers from Anatolia were shipped in by the Turkish government to occupy former Greek villages and to change Cypriot demography — in the same manner the occupying Ottoman Empire once did in the 16th century. Not a single nation recognizes the legitimacy of the Turkish Cypriot state. In contrast, Greek Cyprus is a member of the European Union.
Why, then, is the world not outraged at an occupied Cyprus the way it is at, say, Israel? Nicosia is certainly more divided than is Jerusalem. Thousands of Greek refugees lost their homes more recently, in 1974, than did the Palestinians in 1947. Turkey has far more troops in Northern Cyprus than Israel has in the West Bank. Greek Cypriots, unlike Palestinians, vastly outnumbered their adversaries. Indeed, a minority comprising about a quarter of the island’s population controls close to 40 percent of the landmass. Whereas Israel is a member of the U.N., Turkish Cyprus is an unrecognized outlaw nation.
Any Greek Cypriot attempt to reunify the island would be crushed by the formidable Turkish army, in the brutal manner of the brief war of 1974. Turkish generals would most likely not phone Greek homeowners warning them to evacuate their homes ahead of incoming Turkish artillery shells. The island remains conquered not because the Greeks have given up, but because their resistance is futile against a NATO power of some 70 million people. Greeks know that Turkey worries little about what the world thinks of its occupation. Greeks in Cyprus and mainland Greece together number less than 13 million people. That is far less than the roughly 300 million Arabic speakers, many from homelands that export oil, who support the Palestinians. No European journalist fears that Greek terrorists will track him down should he write something critical of the Greek Cypriot cause. Greek Cypriots would not bully a journalist in their midst for broadcasting a critical report, the way Hamas surely would do to any candid reporter in Gaza. In other words, there is not much practical advantage or interest in promoting the Greek Cypriot cause.
Unlike Israel, Turkey is in NATO — and is currently becoming more Islamic and anti-Western under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If it is easy for the United States to jawbone tiny Israel, it is geostrategically unwise to do so to Turkey over the island of Cyprus. Turkey is also less emblematic of the West than is Israel. In the racist habit of assuming low expectations for non-Westerners, European elites do not hold Turkey to the same standards that they do Israel. We see such hypocrisy when the West stays silent while Muslims butcher each other by the thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and Syria. Only when a Westernized country like Israel inflicts far less injury to Muslims does the West become irate. The same paradox seems to hold true for victims. Apparently, Western Christian Greeks are not the romantic victims that Palestinian Muslims are. In the 40 years since they lost their land, Greek Cypriots have turned the once impoverished south into a far more prosperous land than the once-affluent but now stagnant Turkish-occupied north — unlike the Palestinians, who have not used their know-how to turn Gaza or Ramallah into a city like Limassol.
Resurgent anti-Semitism both in the Middle East and in Europe translates into inordinate criticism of Israel. Few connect Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus with some larger racist commentary about the supposed brutal past of the Turks. The next time anti-Israeli demonstrators shout about divided cities, refugees, walls, settlers, and occupied land, let us understand that those are not necessarily the issues in the Middle East. If they were, the Cyprus tragedy would also be center-stage. Likewise, crowds would be damning China for occupying Tibet, or still sympathizing with millions of Germans who fled a now-nonexistent Prussia, or deploring religious castes in India, or harboring anger over the tough Russian responses to Georgia, Crimea, and Ukraine, or deploring beheadings in northern Iraq. Instead, accept that the Middle East is not just about a dispute over land. Israel is inordinately damned for what it supposedly does because its friends are few, its population is tiny, and its adversaries beyond Gaza numerous, dangerous, and often powerful. And, of course, because it is Jewish.
THE ISLAMIC STATE’S CAMPAIGN OF TERROR
WILL TAKE MORE THAN WORDS TO STOP Washington Post, Aug. 20, 2014
With each day, the barbarism of the Islamist extremists terrorizing Syria and Iraq becomes more evident — as does the need for the United States and its allies to act more vigorously to block their rise. On Tuesday the group that calls itself the Islamic State released a video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley . Mr. Foley, as President Obama said Wednesday, “reported from difficult and dangerous places. . . . [He] courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings.” One reason there has been so little outcry as more than 150,000 Syrians have been killed and millions rendered homeless is that reporting on that nation’s brutal war is so dangerous. Those like Mr. Foley, who risk everything to bear witness, deserve our admiration, and his killers deserve our contempt.
Mr. Foley is one among thousands of victims murdered by the Islamic State as it has conquered territory in Syria and Iraq. Mr. Obama summed up its record all too well. “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence,” the president said. “They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.”
In recent days, the Obama administration has made some progress in blocking the progress of this terrorist group. U.S. air raids have helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces recapture some lost territory. U.S. pressure may have hastened the appointment of a new prime minister in Iraq, who, it is hoped, will work across sectarian lines better than his predecessor and so be better positioned to rally his country to defeat the so-called caliphate of the Islamic State. Mr. Obama has emphasized the importance of enlisting the Iraqi army and other local players in confronting this scourge, a goal with which we wholeheartedly concur. But urging others into the fray will not be sufficient. Nor is it wise to assume that the Islamic State will collapse under the weight of its cruelty. “People like this ultimately fail,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday. “They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.” That may be so. But history provides too many examples of destroyers who hold power for long stretches of time and do not lose it until they are dislodged by “builders” who are finally roused to action.
For three years the United States stood aside as the Islamist extremists built up their strength inside Syria. Washington was surprised in June when they burst into Iraq, captured Mosul and threatened Baghdad and surprised again this month when they threatened Kurdistan. Now, according to most accounts, they are consolidating their hold inside a large swath of territory spanning the two nations even as they fight to expand. They are training hundreds of foreign terrorists, including from Europe and the United States, who could easily slip back into their home countries with malign intent. They proudly proclaim their enmity to America. America needs a genuine strategy in response.
ANOTHER IRAQ WAR IS COMING –
THE ONLY QUESTION IS WHETHER WE WANT TO WIN
Spectator, Aug. 16, 2014
Iraq is a bloody mess. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has extended its hold from eastern Syria into western and northern Iraq, massacring Shi’ites, Christians and Yazidis wherever it can. Meanwhile in Baghdad there has been a constitutional crisis, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatening to cling to power even though his own political bloc has chosen a different candidate. The situation is now so bad that it has impinged on the holiday arrangements of our own leaders in the West. President Barack Obama, as he relaxes in Martha’s Vineyard, is at the same time somehow meant to be directing US warplanes back into action to succour tens of thousands of trapped Yazidis and to relieve the pressure on Kurdistan’s capital, Erbil. David Cameron, for his part, had to take time out from his holiday in Portugal so as to order the RAF to drop humanitarian supplies to the Yazidis.
But these are small steps that will hardly shake the newfound power of the Islamic State. What more are Obama and Cameron prepared to do to deal with the growing threat from Isis — which, left unchecked, would not only be a strategic disaster for their countries but a political disaster for them? Faced with these troubles in a strange, far-away land, it would be natural for many westerners, including Obama and Cameron, to despair. No doubt many on both sides of the Atlantic are concluding that this latest spasm of ugliness is a natural result of the misguided Bush-Blair invasion of Iraq, that Iraqis simply like to massacre each other and that there is little the West can or should do about it. Didn’t our previous intervention just make things worse? This is alluring but wrong-headed. In point of fact, while the US and Britain did create a disaster in Iraq by not doing more to maintain law and order after Saddam Hussein’s downfall, the situation turned dramatically after the success of the ‘surge’ in 2007-2008. Violence fell more than 90 per cent and Iraqi politics began to function again. The situation was stable enough that in 2010 Vice President Joe Biden bragged on CNN that Iraq would be ‘one of the great achievements of this administration’.
The wheels came off only when, after failing to get a Status of Forces Agreement with Maliki, Obama pulled out all US troops at the end of 2011. With no Americans looking over his shoulder, Maliki was free to unleash his inner sectarian. His victimisation of Sunnis made them receptive to Isis, which was being reborn in the chaos of Syria. This history is worth reciting to refute the common prejudice that Iraq is a hopeless basket case condemned to perpetual violence. Remember how dire the situation was in 2006 when even senior American military officers were convinced that Iraq was lost and when senior British officers were sheltering in their Basra bunkers from incessant rocket fire? Yet within a year there was a nearly miraculous turnaround brought about by an increase in the number of US troops, a change in their strategy and the mobilisation of the Sunni tribes against al-Qa’eda in Iraq (as Isis was previously known).
Similar success could be possible now even without dispatching 170,000 western troops, because Isis has a major weak spot that we can exploit: it is unpopular even with its Sunni constituents. Already there have been rumblings of discontent from Mosul among Iraqis who are not happy to have jihadists destroying their ancient monuments, such as the tomb of the prophet Jonah, and telling them how to live. (Among other things, Isis is fanatically opposed to smoking and drinking, two activities that ordinary Iraqis love.) Unfortunately, past tribal uprisings against Isis were brutally snuffed out until in 2006-2007 US military forces came to their aid. The US and its allies, including Britain, need to mount a similar campaign to mobilise tribal fighters once again. It won’t be easy, because Sunnis are intensely suspicious — and understandably so — of the sectarian leaders in Baghdad. There should, however, be a decent chance to form a government of national unity under Haider al-Abadi (who, unlike the more insular Maliki, speaks fluent English and earned a DPhil at the University of Manchester) that would have more credibility with Sunnis and Kurds. Then it would be a matter of giving the vast majority of Iraqis, who detest and fear Isis, the means to fight back without having to rely, as the Shi’ites have been doing lately, on help from Iran’s notorious Quds Force.
What this means in practical terms is that the US and its allies will have to beef up their presence in Iraq. That doesn’t mean sending ground troops but it does mean sending more advisers, more intelligence personnel, more aircraft and more special operations forces. Obama has already increased the US presence to more than 1,000 troops and set up two joint operations centres with the Iraqi military in Baghdad and Erbil. He has also begun air attacks on Isis, which are being carried out from the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush. The CIA has apparently also begun to arm the Kurdish peshmerga, whose resistance to Isis had been hindered by lack of ammunition and heavy weapons. This is a good start but only a start. The US and its allies, Britain foremost among them, need to expand their goals and their means to achieve them. So far President Obama has talked only of containing Isis, of preventing it from massacring Yazidis or taking Erbil. That’s not enough. We should not tolerate the existence of a terrorist state similar to Taleban-era Afghanistan sprawling across Iraq and Syria. Already thousands of foreign jihadis, including many Europeans, have been drawn to Syria. If left unchecked, this terrorist playpen is likely to generate attacks not only on neighbouring states such as Lebanon and Jordan but on western targets too. The West’s goal should be rollback, not containment. In for a penny, in for a pound. If we’re going to bomb Isis, let’s do it right. Or, as Napoleon aptly advised, ‘If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.’…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
A Love Letter From Hamas to ISIS (With 10 Tips): Noah Beck, Algemeiner, Aug. 20, 2014—Dear Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Our leadership felt bad about all of the tough press you’ve been getting lately…
Why Israel is Losing the Information War: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20, 2014 —For most Israelis, the international discourse on Gaza is unintelligible.
Gaza Operation Reflects Shift by Netanyahu: Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15, 2014 —After the end of Israel's conflict with Hamas in 2009, candidate Benjamin Netanyahu railed against the Israeli government for stopping short of ousting the Islamist movement from power in the Gaza Strip.
What is Wrong with ISIS, is What is Wrong with Islam: Daniel Greenfield, Canada Free Press, Aug. 20, 2014 —Know your enemy. To know what ISIS is, we have to clear away the media myths about ISIS.
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