09 January 2009 - Earth to Jackson Diehl
He begins his column today:
Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip is failing...
See Edward Luttwak in today's WSJ:
It seems that most of the West's news reporters and pundits agree with Islamists everywhere that an Israeli victory in Gaza is impossible. They decry Israel's defensive attack on Hamas, prophesying an inevitable strengthening of Islamism among Palestinians and a dark future for the Jewish state.
How do our commentators come to this conclusion? They point, most frequently, to Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, and echo Hezbollah's claim that it won a great victory. Indeed, this narrative goes, in launching their rockets at Israel, Hamas leaders were imitating Hezbollah's winning strategy.
In fact, Hezbollah was thoroughly shocked by the Israeli bombing campaign, and its supporters, who mostly live in southern Lebanon, are not likely to tolerate another wave of destruction caused by another Hezbollah attack. Even the inconclusive Israeli ground actions in Lebanon, which never involved more than six companies (roughly 600 men), resulted in the loss of some 400 Hezbollah fighters in direct face-to-face combat while Israel suffered only 30 casualties...
With few exceptions, Israeli ground forces are not advancing frontally but are instead mounting a multiplicity of raids. If their target intelligence remains as good as it was during the air attack, they will run out of targets in a matter of days. That is when a cease-fire with credible monitoring would be possible and desirable for both sides as the only alternative to renewed occupation.
Hamas will claim a win no matter what happens, but then so did Hezbollah in 2006. And yet, for the most part, Hezbollah remains immobile and the Israeli northern border with Lebanon remains quiet. If Israel can achieve the same with Hamas in Gaza, it would be a significant victory.
I think even Luttwak underestimates Israel's progress. Try Charles Krauthammer in your own paper, Mr. Diehl:
This is not about killing every last Hamas gunman. Not possible, not necessary. Regimes rule not by physically overpowering every person in their domain, but by getting the majority to accept their authority. That is what sustains Hamas, and that is what is now under massive assault.
Hamas' leadership is not only seriously degraded but openly humiliated. The great warriors urging others to martyrdom are cowering underground almost entirely incommunicado. Demonstrably unable to protect their own people, they beg for outside help, receiving in return nothing but words from their Arab and Iranian brothers. And who in fact is providing the corridors for humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians? Israel.
In the first four minutes of this war, the Israel Air Force destroyed 50 targets, taking down practically every instrument and symbol of Hamas rule. Gaza's Potemkin leaders were marginalized and rendered helpless, leaving their people to fend for themselves. At such moments, regimes are extremely vulnerable to forfeiting what the Chinese call the mandate of heaven, the sense of legitimacy that undergirds all forms of governance.
The fall of Hamas rule in Gaza is within reach, but only if Israel does not cave in to pressure to stop now. Overthrowing Hamas would not require a permanent Israeli reoccupation. A transitional international force would be brought in to immediately make way for the return of the Palestinian Authority, the legitimate government whose forces will be far less squeamish than the Europeans in establishing order in Gaza.
The disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza would be a devastating blow to Palestinian rejectionists, who since the Hamas takeover of Gaza have been the ascendant "strong horse" in Palestinian politics. It would be a devastating blow to Iran as patron of radical Islamist movements throughout the region, particularly after the defeat and marginalization of Iran's Sadrist client in Iraq. It would encourage the moderate Arab states to continue their U.S.-allied confrontation of Iran and its proxies. And it would demonstrate Israel's irreplaceable strategic value to the U.S. in curbing and containing Iran's regional ambitions.
Either way, Mr. Diehl, get a clue.