Cordesman On Gaza

January 13, 2009

Anthony Cordesman at CSIS has written an analysis on the Israel-Gaza war that raises the excellent question of whether or not Israel has a viable strategy in this war. The whole thing is short and well worth reading entirely, but to briefly summarize, whatever tactical successes the Israelis have had, the strategic results of the war seem to be a greater radicalization Gaza’s population, increased anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment in the region and worldwide (few in the region are drawing fine distinctions between Israel and the US, whether that’s fair or not), and greater support for Hamas from all quarters. Meanwhile, Israel’s tactical successes do not add up to any real strategic gains. Attacks will likely persist. Hamas could very well come out of this conflict in a stronger position than when it started, much like the case with Hizbollah 2 years ago. As Cordesman puts it:

“Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal or at least one it can credibly achieve? Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel’s actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process? To blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes.”

Cordesman also considers the enormous death toll (which is increasingly civilian) and the fact that Gaza’s economy and infrastructure is being reduced to bronze-age levels.

This is pretty harsh criticism, and Anthony Cordesman is certainly no lefty terrorist-hugger (the board of CSIS includes Republican heavyweights like Scowcroft and Kissinger, and Cordesman himself served as John McCain’s National Security Assistant). I wish we’d hear more views like this in media that actually reaches people and not just journals for the eggheads. Instead, the mainstream media serves up Ann Coulter and Joe the Plumber.

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