Gaza 2008
December 28, 2008

israeli_plane

I’m no expert on the Middle East and I don’t think about it that much, but as I have a blog I get to offer my uninformed ill-considered opinions along with the more carefully thought-out ones. So here’s my take on the mess in Gaza, following from Matt Yglesias’ comment earlier today. I basically agree with him, but want to add a little more.

It is perfectly understandable that Israel feels besieged and wants to retaliate against Hamas to disrupt the endless rocket attacks against Israel. And there’s a good point to be made about looking weak and inviting further aggression by not responding. But I think the rule has been pretty well established over the past few decades that airstrikes don’t work in this sort of situation. Even if Israel managed to kill all the Hamas leaders responsible for the attacks, people just don’t like being bombed by what they perceive as an imperialist power, and such attacks inevitably create more resentment than they can assassinate. And, after the 2006 Lebanon war, such campaigns don’t even make Israel look strong anymore. So, leaving aside all the other dimensions, Israel’s operational choice of an air campaign is counterproductive to their strategic goals. I really feel for them, but this isn’t the way to go.