Blog post

The Limits of Might

Michael Warschawski23 November 2012

Once again, the State of Israel initiated an attack on one of its neighbor, and once again it fails. Despite the colossal use of violence, hundred of air strikes and heavy artillery from land and sea, Israel has been defeated. As in Lebanon in 2006. In order to mask the failure, the Israeli leaders are trying now to claim that from the very beginning the objective was limited only to destroy partially the military potential of Hamas armed forces as well as part of the tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The truth is that the goal of the last aggression was to provoke the end of the Hamas government (Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman) and “bringing Gaza back to Middle Age” (Minister of Interior Eli Yishay).

As it happened with Hezbollah in 2006, the Israeli underestimated completely the capacity of retaliation of the Hamas armed forces, and its extraordinary steadfastness. Though the balance of fire power is one to thousand, Hamas has been able to fire rockets throughout the whole week of confrontation, and to reach even Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Israeli military intelligence expected a unilateral strike, but, how surprising, they got a counterattack. Despite the mobilizations of tens of thousands of reserve soldiers, the government took the decision not to engage in a land battle in which many Israeli soldiers may have been killed. Final result: a major defeat for Israel.

The first winner is, without doubt Hamas which not only imposed a war on Israel, but got a cease-fire agreement in which it obtained major gains: the opening of the border with Egypt, some improvements in the ongoing siege on Gaza and the promises that there will be no more targeted assassinations and Israeli military attacks on the Gaza Strip.

What the Israeli government did not understand, is the deep change of the geo-political Middle East situation, as a direct result of the Arab Revolutions. It lost its major ally, Husni Mubarak, and has instead to deal with an Egyptian State lead by the Muslim brothers… close allies of Hamas.

The second big winner is without doubt the new Egyptian government who could play a role of mediator… and get warm congratulations from Barak Obama and the whole international community

The fall of Mubarak has allowed Egypt to become again a major political factor in the Middle East, and Washington has no choice but to accept it, in order to implement its strategy of war against Iran. This can explain the mediator’s role of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers Government and its ability to impose on Israel a cease-fire agreement which is no less than humiliating for the Jewish State.

That failure of the Israeli political and military leadership to read the changing political map in the Arab East is typical of a colonial mentality shaped by decades of victories due less to its military might and more to the lack of real adversaries. The extraordinary emergence of the Arab masses on the map, from Tunisia to Yemen, marks a radical change in the relation of forces, and may even oblige Washington to revise its strategy in the great Middle East. Not only did the Israeli intelligence not foresee that major turning point, but even today they have great difficulties to understand its implications.

The team Netanyahu-Barak is still prisoner of their neo-conservative philosophy and George W Bush strategy of Preemptive Global War against terrorism, i.e., against Islam. The American Empire dream, however, is dead: confronted with its own crisis and the emergence of new Powers in the region (among others, China, Russia, India, Turkey), the USA have been substantially reducing their hegemonic aspirations and must, for their own interests, calm the Israeli war objectives; they have learn the limit of might, and now they must convince their hyper-active Israeli active to do the same.

Will the Israeli defeat in Gaza help such a process? It is highly doubtful: with its typical militarist mentality, the Israeli establishment is summarizing today its balance sheet of the failed operation in Gaza in the following way: what did not work by might, will work next time by more might. If they were not so blinded by their colonial outlook, they have learn something from the failure of similar primitive military thoughts by the French Generals in Algeria and US Generals in Vietnam…

One can bet that Israel will not respect the agreement drafter by the Egyptians, and, already now, planning a second or third or forth round against Gaza. It is built in their neo-conservative strategy; it is also crucial in order not to loose its deterrent power in the area. For, without deterrence, why should the US continue to pay each year 3.5 billion dollars to Israel? 

Filed under: gaza