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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Goldstone brings on the next war

One of the ironies of the Goldstone Commission Report is that in tilting so unreasonably in favor of Hamas, it has made the next war more likely and more likely to be fought with less restraint and to a decisive conclusion. This is Yossi Klein HaLevi of the Adelson Institute:
Israel's two unilateral withdrawals – from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 – both resulted in the creation of terror enclaves on its borders, negating long-standing strategy. The policy of prevention was replaced by a policy of containment.

That policy of containment was expressed in the 2006 operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and by this year's operation against Hamas in Gaza. In both those mini-wars, Israel opted not to uproot the terrorist enclaves, hoping that the partial flexing of Israeli power would deter further aggression.

The Goldstone report may well mark the end of Israel's limited wars against terrorist groups. Israel cannot afford to continue to be drawn into mini-wars against terrorists hiding behind their own civilians to attack Israeli civilians, given that each such conflict inexorably draws the Jewish state one step closer toward pariah status. Limited victories on the battlefield are being turned into major defeats in the arena of world opinion.

That untenable situation may well leave Israel no choice but to return to the post-1967 policy of preventing altogether the presence of terror enclaves on its borders. Better, Israelis will argue, to deal decisively with the terror threat and brace for temporary international outrage than subject our legitimacy to constant attrition, even as the terrorist threat remains intact.
Read it all.

This is from Aharon Leshno Yaar, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva (pictured).
The authors of this "Fact-finding Mission" had little concern with finding facts. The report was instigated as part of a political campaign, and it represents a political assault directed against Israel and against every state forced to confront terrorist threats. Its recommendations are fully in line with its one-sided agenda.


Regrettably the report, claiming to represent international law but in fact perverting it to serve a political agenda, can only weaken its standing in future conflicts. It broadcasts a troubling - and legally unfounded - message to states everywhere confronting terrorist threats, that international law has no effective response to offer them, and so serves to undermine willingness to comply with its provisions. At the same time, it signals an even more troubling message to terrorist groups that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we want to find a way to live in peace with our neighbors. This is the ultimate question that Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the General Assembly last week: "The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us ... of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense? [...] Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists? Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace."
Read the whole thing.

Thanks to the Goldstone Report, Israel will likely seek to engage in fewer military actions, but those military actions will be decisive. The next war with the terrorists is likely to see them uprooted completely and pushed out of their enclaves, as Israel did to the PLO in Lebanon in 1982. Israel will fight fewer wars, but will fight them with less restraint, because after Goldstone it understands (finally) that we will be condemned no matter what we do. It will fight its wars to a decisive conclusion, and hopefully it will fight them to win.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing after all.
BUT GOLDSTONE also ignores one final lesson from Hitchcock: Despite far higher casualties, Europe's liberation aroused less antagonism among civilian victims than Afghanistan's has, in part because "the Normandy invasion lasted just one summer, and the people whose homes were destroyed knew that it was all over and they could start rebuilding," Bernstein quotes him saying. Afghanis have no such comfort.

But neither do Gazans - because Israel used just enough force to secure a lull, not enough to destroy Hamas. Hence both sides know another round is coming. Hamas is rebuilding its arsenal, and will eventually resume the barrages; Israel will ultimately respond, and everything Gazans have rebuilt will be destroyed.

Indeed, the true tragedy of Israel's Gaza war was not excessive force, but insufficient force: insufficient to actually end the conflict and let both sides rebuild.


At 4:42 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

Excellent articles with important lessons for Israel. To fight a defensive war with one hand tied behind its back is difficult enough. Israel must not tolerate the demands of a hostile international community that that it fight the genocidal terrorists with both hands tied behind its back.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Yosef said...

I'm starting to see these signs recently of this significant sea-change in Israel's strategic thinking- it is so long overdue! And so relieving that it is finally happening!

At 7:19 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ashan, I blame Israeli governments for timidity and excessive difference to so-called international opinion. It has been afraid to defend Israel and has been more concerned with pleasing foreign countries than protecting the lives of its citizens. This policy must change if Israel is to survive. The Middle East is not a place kind to the weak.

And there will be another war. As I said in the previous thread, its only a matter of time before it breaks out again.


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