It has been more than two weeks since the bloody incursion into Israel, in which Hamas massacred hundreds of Israeli men, women and children, most of whom were unarmed. Despite repeated threats, Israel has yet to invade Gaza although it has repeatedly bombed it.
The war has resulted in a great deal of rhetoric on both sides, widespread protests, and an aggressive posturing by the U.S. military. However, I think this is probably all unplanned, as I have laid out below:
Hamas planned to raid Israel, undertaking what they largely expected to be a suicide mission. Due to a surprising lack of preparedness by Israel, who reportedly had guard towers manned by one person over the holiday weekend, the Hamas attack succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, in part because of a slow response by Israeli quick reaction forces. Hamas had not planned to be so successful and had no phase two in mind. As a result, their disparate units that survived the night of the attack did not work together and did not try to hold the land they had taken. They were terrorists, there to terrorize Israelis, not soldiers sent there to capture and reclaim land.
In response to the massive death toll, Israel immediately declared war on Hamas, activated 300,000 reservists, and formed a war government. They started waves of airstrikes against Hamas targets in just hours, giving civilians little warning. Because Hamas built its bunkers and tunnels in and around civilian buildings and uses civilians as shields, thousands of Palestinians and other Gaza residents have died.
The deaths in Gaza have set off a wave of protests in Arab countries and in Arab populations of European countries and even in the U.S. I expect this was also unplanned, although welcomed by Hamas and Iran.
Because they cannot afford to offend the Arab “street,” countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia who had or were on the cusp of forming good relations with Israel, had to pull back or face the possibility of internal protests and riots that could potential threaten their government. The attack and resulting war will set peace back by years.
The whole thing is a clusterf*ck; a raid that became a war.
We Can’t Stop the War
The U.S. immediately expressed its unwavering support for Israel and then spent the next two weeks begging, negotiating, and threatening Israel behind the scenes to get them to hold off on the ground invasion.
They may delay, but unless Hamas releases all 210 or so hostages, Israel cannot stall its invasion forever. It may slow it, minimize it, and execute it cautiously, but they have to invade. If Hezbollah attacks, they will have to respond. If Iran becomes too aggressive, they will attack Iran.
Why? Because Israel’s military might and the promise it will kill its attackers is the only thing that has kept it safe for the past several decades. Israel always counterpunches, often above its weight class. The U.S. should either help or get out of the way because unless Israel is seen as strong, they will be overrun and their very existence will be threatened.
The further Israel’s response is from the attack, the less justified it will seem. We are using this delay to build up our forces, but so are Iran and their allies. The raid caught everyone by surprise, but that is no longer the case and it removes some of the strategic advantage a rapid invasion would have given Israel. Now all parties involved (or potentially involved) are issuing threats, preparing for war, and making plans. For example, would you be surprised if we learned Iran has started producing a nuclear bomb? We’ve always heard they were just weeks away. Is this delay giving them those weeks?
Much as Russia may turn to nuclear weapons if its existence is threatened, so too will Israel, and the threats faced by Israel are far worse than those faced by Russia. Russia faces embarrassment; Israel faces elimination.
The Silver Lining
While the downside of war in the Middle East will greatly outweigh the positives, that doesn’t mean there are no positives. One is that we now know where people and countries stand on the issue, and we can use that as a proxy for other issues. We, as voters, can also see the positions taken by our elected officials and vote accordingly.
As Bill Maher said the other day, “There are few, if any, positives to come out of what happened in Israel, but one of them is opening America’s eyes to how higher education has become indoctrination into a stew of bad ideas, among them the simplistic notion that the world is a binary place where everyone either an oppressor or oppressed.”
We all knew that academia is where young conservatives go to be turned into liberals, but the recent protests on college campuses really drive it home.
Changing Liberal’s Minds
This article by Konstantin Kisin discusses how some liberals who went to bed on October 7th turned into conservatives by bedtime on the 8th after they saw what Hamas had done and the woke reaction it generated here and abroad. Well worth reading the entire article, but here are three paragraphs:
Those with “unconstrained vision” think that humans are malleable and can be perfected. They believe that social ills and evils can be overcome through collective action that encourages humans to behave better. To subscribers of this view, poverty, crime, inequality, and war are not inevitable. Rather, they are puzzles that can be solved. We need only to say the right things, enact the right policies, and spend enough money, and we will suffer these social ills no more. This worldview is the foundation of the progressive mindset.
By contrast, those who see the world through a “constrained vision” lens believe that human nature is a universal constant. No amount of social engineering can change the sober reality of human self-interest, or the fact that human empathy and social resources are necessarily scarce. People who see things this way believe that most political and social problems will never be “solved”; they can only be managed. This approach is the bedrock of the conservative worldview.
Hamas’s barbarism—and the explanations and celebrations throughout the West that followed their orgy of violence—have forced an overnight exodus from the “unconstrained” camp into the “constrained” one.