Max Singer, at the neoconservative Hudson Institute
I missed this crazy argument out of Israel, but Paul Pillar has pointed it out in a great op-ed at the National Interest– a piece from two Israelis at the Bar-Ilan University calling for a largescale attack on Gaza to “mow the lawn” again before the end of the U.S. presidential campaign forecloses the possibility.
The Efraim Inbar-Max Singer piece reminds us that Israel’s chief and favored response to political problems is: massive violence. The attack would be bigger than Cast Lead of ’08-09! Demonstrating the role of impunity– Goldstone was squelched, these guys think that Israel can just squelch the next Goldstone.
Pillar denounces the thinking eloquently:
Their piece is titled “The Opportunity in Gaza”—it’s interesting how a violent, destructive clash is viewed as a “opportunity.” They argue for a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip now—one even bigger and more damaging than Cast Lead, with the objective of destroying as much of Hamas as possible. They blatantly recommend exploiting the U.S. electoral calendar, arguing that “until November, the U.S. is likely to restrain rather than promote international action against Israel in response to an action in Gaza.” They say “deterrence created by Cast Lead” is “wearing thin,” and “military action now could restore deterrence.” Someone should point out to Inbar and Singer than when you repeatedly have to go to war that means deterrence is not working. But they don’t seem to care, fully accepting the prospect that in the future “Israel will probably have to ‘mow the grass’ again.” There is not a single word in their paper about the lives and livelihoods of the residents of the Gaza Strip, or the effect what they are recommending would have on those lives.
From Inbar and Singer at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan:
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz stated several times that a large-scale operation in Gaza is inevitable. If he is right, this is the time…
Gaza is small enough so that Israel can find and destroy most of the Hamas military leadership and the leadership of Islamic Jihad and other groups that have been firing missiles at Israel. It is likely that doing so would reduce the amount of missile fire on Israel from Gaza for much longer than Operation Cast Lead did…
In addition, a serious blow to Hamas and other Islamist organizations in Gaza is a signal of Israeli determination to battle the rising Islamist forces in the region, which will buttress Israel’s standing among those powers in the region – as well as elsewhere – that fear the Islamist wave…
By taking the current opportunity to act in Gaza, Israel will greatly reduce the missile retaliation it would face if it attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities..
Finally, because of the election campaign in the US, it will likely be safer for Israel to act against missile attacks from Gaza now rather than eight months from now. Until November, the US is likely to restrain rather than promote international action against Israel in response to an action in Gaza…
Although an Israeli action in Gaza can achieve a significant increase in the protection of Israel from enemy fire for some time, and other security advantages, Israel cannot attain an everlasting victory. There is a good chance that Hamas would be able to restore itself in a year or so. In any event, Gazans and their outside supporters will create new organizations to fight Israel. Even though Israel can destroy a large share of the military equipment that has been smuggled into Gaza in the last several years – which will be an important benefit for the next year or two – we must assume that sooner or later other weapons will be smuggled in to replace those captured and destroyed by Israel. Israel will probably have to “mow the grass” again.
The tragedy of this piece is manifold. It is war to achieve political aims: to show the Islamic world that we know how to take on Islamists, to cripple Hamas (which is not directly responsible for the rocket attacks), to attack during the U.S. presidential campaign. And the military aims are disgraceful: to preempt attacks that might follow the preemptive attack on Iran, and worse, to “mow the lawn” in a way that Israel will have to mow it again in another year or so.
Also, Max Singer’s son Alex died in combat in Lebanon. You’d think Max Singer might be more thoughtful about the Palestinians who will die when Israel mows the lawn?