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17 January 2009


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I would advise President Obama that the odds will clearly be on his side, if, as a general rule, he puts himself in opposition to anything Tom Friedman is for.

Clifford Kiracofe

We will have to take a close look at the so-called agreement with Israel per Gaza.

Perhaps SST lawyers will weigh on it when details are out.

I cannot see how Bush can bind Obama who is free to have his own policies. Also, is this an Executive Agreement or what kind of legal (or illegal) vehicle do we have here??? Will Congress review this document? How, which committees?


i look at the map of the middle east and i think about israel and iraq and i wonder:

what do persians gain by championing the palestinian nationhood cause - by being militant anti-israeli?

is some of their energy a result of the anti-american fervor that was part of the iranian revolution?

do their bellicose attitudes and actions toward israel confer advantages in iranian domestic politics?

they are clearly projecting their power

what do persians have to gain projecting power in the arab middle east?

the arab states are not potential oil clients, they have always been oil competitors

was the iranian revolution more threatening to arab governments than is generally acknowledged in the media narrative?

do governments fear populist religious revolution in their countries?

still after almost 3 decades?

what politial advantage do persians gain by championing shiite against sunni in lebanese politics?

what are the power conflicts between iran and saudi arabia other sunni arab governments?

is it based on islamic culture and religon or is there more to it?

what do sunni arab governments fear will happen when iraq is squarely under iranian hegemony?

was this another political fault line created when nation-states emerged from being british colonies?

or is the loss about islamic religious and cultural politics?

it the israeli obsession with iran

a)a realistic assessment of threat

if so, why would the iranians attack israel and why would the do it

us-soviet relations vis a vis mutually assured self-destruction would indicate the israelis and iranians are checkmated if both had nukes

do israeli's who also built nuclear capability believe iran can be prevented from accomplishing what they accomplished?

what do the israelis think make iran drop nukes on israel?

b) political, there are domestic and international advantages to naming a specific threat #egypt, syria, plo, now iran)

c)a political symbol - the emnity of iran-us relations are used to leverage us-israeli relations?

Byron Raum


Greater involvement by the US in the Israeli conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. It is important to keep in mind that for the most part, Americans are a decent, well-meaning people, albeit frustratingly naive. Consider the Iraqi and Afghani occupations. There have indeed been incidents of quite savage brutality, and there are certainly ones that we don't know of yet. But, as a whole, it is fairly benign. The majority of American officers are genuinely concerned about making the places they are occupying better for the residents. This is the most admirable result of having it drilled into their heads, for several generations that all men are equal.

The real problem is that Palestine is very far from the US. If the suffering of the Palestinians could be brought to light in mainstream America, I suggest that 90% or more would be firm Palestinian supporters. One of the better things that can happen is dumping a few thousand average Americans into Gaza, and letting them see for themselves what is going on.


Anon AF

"If it was that evident, then why did Israel begin such an operation?"

Five hypotheses:
1) Very cynical: Electoral considerations on the part of Livni and Barak
2) The Israelis found the rockets in Southern Israel intolerable, and also frightening (what if there were, indeed, rockets than could hit Tel Aviv rather than Beersheva), and also, concurrently, wished to weaken Hamas
3) The Israelis have been itching to demonstrate deterrent capabilities, and improved military prowess, since the 2006 War (fiasco?)
4) Related to 2), the Israelis wished to weaken Hamas to strengthen Fatah, and to demonstrate to Gaza residents that Fatah would yield good outcomes, whereas Hamas would yield bad outcomes
5) The outcome was not apparent, at least to the Israelis. Mirror-imaging might be at play here. The wargaming and planning athe "The Bor" might have yieled different outcomes than that predicted on this blog (the Israelis too clever by half).

"The Israelis have failed to humble Hamas. Rockets still arrive in Israel. This failure in their self-declared war aim will cost them dearly in the strategic contest. They are going to halt their "offensive without any sort of concession from Hamas?""

It remains to be seen what "facts on the ground" will remain the same, and which will change, with behind-the-scenes maneuvering and diplomacy between now and the end (if any) to the self-imposed cease fire. The Israelis, merely be acting, did change facts on the ground, and altered what would have been the case otherwise.

"I suppose that they do not want the burden of this ongoing action to be carried forward into their relations with the Obama Administration."

The Israelis might have wanted to test a new administration, and perhaps take advantage of it, by presenting it with a fait accompli [sic] to which the new administration might simply accede, perhaps because said fait accompli is something with which it has little deal deisre to deal, instead sticking with predetermined agenda sequences. (Apologies for the run on.)

Or, they wanted the cover of a lame-duck pro-Israel president, and the advantage of overwhelming a new administration without its house in order, and (once more) with an agenda that might not have included this situation, thus rendering them (the administration) more inclined not to intervene.

"The futility of what they have done in Gaza will be burden enough."

The Israelis might not have perceived this is as a failure, just as Gaza residents perceive the Israeli operation an attack on Gaza, rather than the Israeli position of this being an attack on Hamas solely.

"It is claimed by the agitpropers that Hamas is a satellite organization of Iran. If that is so, then Iran has done a poor job of supplying their Palesinian subsidiary. Where are the Iranian product improved and manufactured weapons that Hizbullah possessed in numbers in '06? Where are they? Impossible to deliver? All of them?

It would seem that political support and encouragement is one thing. Supply is another.

This summons from Mubarak indicates a need to placate the Cairo mob. No foreign inspectors on Egyptian soil? That means that Egypt will not make a serious attempt to halt smuggling into Gaza.

Not a good outcome for Israel."

I imagine if the rockets stop, Shalit is returned (alive or dead), smuggling stops, and Israeli deterrent power restored (much more nebulous and future-determined than the other three), the Israelis will have considered a success. The international opprobrium over their actions, and the extent to which Hamas rather than Fatah gains from Israeli actions, will be countervailing factors the Israelis might or might not consider. The overall context of this operation is the problem that has never been solved since 1967, and arguably 1948: two states or peoples' with claims to a single land. If the Israelis let the Palestinians return, then the Zionist liberal democracy dream disappears. If the Israelis do not let the Palestinians return, then they will be forced to resort to repression of varying degrees. A two-state solution, in which the Green Line boundaries are sufficient to quell Palestinians desires to return to the places from which they were expelled, might or might not be expelled. In this sense, the operation was arguably par for the course, an escalation to nowhere, as Cordesman labeled the Second Intifadah.

(I have not followed this thread closely; apologies for redundancies or failure to advance the discussion)


Anon AF,

if the rockets stop, Shalit is returned (alive or dead), smuggling stops, and Israeli deterrent power restored?

I'll give you odds on 0 from 4

L Dubinsky Jr,

If you say that Israel has not humbled Hamas, you're wrong.
If you say that Israel has not stopped the rocket attacks, you're right.
If you think that Hamas can continue the rocket attacks beyond a few days, you'll probably not be surprised by what will again follow.



You ahould sign your own name here. Anonymity is unbecoming in one so warlike.

As I asked you off line, "is there anything that Israel could do that you would not approve of?"

I mean other than conclude a peace of equals with the Arabs. pl

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