Cordesman: Israel has no strategy in Gaza

posted at 2:17 pm on January 12, 2009 by Allahpundit

Worthy of mention for a few reasons. One, he’s no knee-jerk dove; in fact, he used to advise McCain on national security. Two, according to a friend of mine who embedded with troops in Iraq, his assessments of the situation there were consistently on the money. Three, after endearing himself to the nutroots in 2007 by insisting he saw no major improvements from the surge, he went back to Iraq last year and pronounced himself impressed with “major progress in every area,” going so far as to recommend freezing troop withdrawals beyond a certain point to preserve the gains. He’s also sneered at the leftist strategy of trying to intimidate the Iraqi and Afghan governments into political reconciliation by threatening troop pullouts, even while reminding the right that victory in both countries is still many years away.

Long story short, he’s a straight shooter. Which makes this bad news:

No one should discount these continuing tactical gains, or ignore the fact that Hamas’ rocket and mortar attacks continue to pose a threat. Nearly 600 rounds hit Israeli territory between December 7th and January 9th. It is also clear that there are no good ways to fight an enemy like Hamas that conducts attrition warfare while hiding behind its own women and children. A purely diplomatic response that does not improve Israel’s security position or offer Palestinians hope for the future is equivalent to no response at all…

This raises a question that every Israeli and its supporters now needs to ask. What is the strategic purpose behind the present fighting? After two weeks of combat Olmert, Livni, and Barak have still not said a word that indicates that Israel will gain strategic or grand strategic benefits, or tactical benefits much larger than the gains it made from selectively striking key Hamas facilities early in the war. In fact, their silence raises haunting questions about whether they will repeat the same massive failures made by Israel’s top political leadership during the Israeli-Hezbollah War in 2006. 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. To paraphrase a comment about the British government’s management of the British Army in World War I, lions seem to be led by donkeys. If Israel has a credible ceasefire plan that could really secure Gaza, it is not apparent. If Israel has a plan that could credibly destroy and replace Hamas, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to help the Gazans and move them back towards peace, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to use US or other friendly influence productively, it not apparent.

I’ve asked that question myself. There are obvious short-term benefits to the fighting — destroying Hamas weapons, seizing (temporarily) territory from which rockets are fired — but the only long-term strategic benefit, conceivably, is decapitating Hamas and reinstalling Fatah. Is that the plan? Like Daniel Pipes says, even assuming Fatah is accepted back into Gaza and not dismissed as collaborators, will it do any good?

Olmert’s said all along that they’re not out to topple Hamas, but then, Olmert says a lot of things. The fact that Mossad thinks they know where the leadership is hiding out means we could be approaching endgame. Exit question: What now?


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Exit question: What now?

Popcorn..?

the_nile on January 12, 2009 at 2:20 PM

Kill. Rinse. Repeat.

LimeyGeek on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

In fact, their silence raises haunting questions about whether they will repeat the same massive failures made by Israel’s top political leadership during the Israeli-Hezbollah War in 2006.

How was the 2006 war a failure?

Hezbollah hasn’t fired a rocket during this war besides endlessly braying about Israel and when some group of juvenile delinquents did fire three, Hezbollah fell all over themselves to say “wasn’t us, Israel!”.

After two weeks of combat Olmert, Livni, and Barak have still not said a word that indicates that Israel will gain strategic or grand strategic benefits, or tactical benefits much larger than the gains it made from selectively striking key Hamas facilities early in the war.

Why would they want to divulge the objectives of this mission to the enemy and to the press (redundant, I know)?

Seems to me OPSEC would require tight lips.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

One, he’s no knee-jerk dove; in fact, he used to advise McCain on national security.

Strike one.

Three, after endearing himself to the nutroots in 2007 by insisting he saw no major improvements from the surge, he went back to Iraq last year and pronounced himself impressed with “major progress in every area,”

Strike two.

This raises a question that every Israeli and its supporters now needs to ask. What is the strategic purpose behind the present fighting?

NEVER publish what your strategic goals are during a war less your enemy devise a counter.

Strike three.

Skywise on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

What now?

Olmert’s party gets a bump in the polls? Or not.

rhombus on January 12, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Skywise on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

I don’t get strike three. Our strategic goal in Iraq was to remove the Hussein regime and deal with the WMD program we believed he had. Our strategic goal in Afghanistan was the removal of the Taliban, eliminating the terrorist threat, and liberation of the country. How would Israel saying that it wants to deal with the threat once and for all be a problem for accomplishing that?

amerpundit on January 12, 2009 at 2:26 PM

So he’s a pessimistic realist with enough sense to admit when he’s (repeatedly and badly) wrong? Sounds familiar.

Were I in control of the Israeli government, I think I’d use different tactics, but that’s just me. I don’t have access to their intel, so I can’t know.

I can tell you that my response to endless rocket fire would not be to throw up my hands and say, “Gee, they’ve got hostages – guess I’ll go play Parcheesi.”

TheUnrepentantGeek on January 12, 2009 at 2:27 PM

your mom has no strategy in Gaza

Drunk Report on January 12, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Danial Pipes had a similar assessment just recently also.

lowandslow on January 12, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Why would they want to divulge the objectives of this mission to the enemy and to the press (redundant, I know)?

Seems to me OPSEC would require tight lips.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

I think IDF use ambiguity to headfake Hamas. Hamas don’t know when to run ,and look like cowards , or stay and get blown away.
They have to have game played this in every way after the Lebanon 2006 indecisive victory.

the_nile on January 12, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Danial Pipes had a similar assessment just recently also.

lowandslow on January 12, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Which you obviously read.

lowandslow on January 12, 2009 at 2:29 PM

The strategy: Kill Hamas.

infidel on January 12, 2009 at 2:29 PM

rhombus on January 12, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Sadly, that may have been the real strategic goal.

What now? Reoccupy Gaza after fumigation is completed. That is the only thing that will work long term and I doubt politics will allow it.

a capella on January 12, 2009 at 2:30 PM

endearing himself to the nutroots in 2007 by insisting he saw no major improvements from the surge

This phrase seems somehow not to have filtered into your opinion of him. Very gracious of you.

For my part, it is damning evidence that he’s a nitwit armchair general who was looking for a way to get some press, and perfectly happy to play patticake with the most anti-military segment of our society in order to benefit personally.

Eff him.

Jaibones on January 12, 2009 at 2:31 PM

How would Israel saying that it wants to deal with the threat once and for all be a problem for accomplishing that?

amerpundit on January 12, 2009 at 2:26 PM

That is their stated “goal”. Cordesman wants specifics. Now, personally I think the ultimate goal is that they either want to reoccupy Gaza or push Egypt/Lebanon into some sort of multi-lateral action to deal with the issue at the negotiating table.

If they’re planning to reoccupy Gaza they can’t SAY that because the UN will be in an ever greater uprorar.
If they’re planning on using it as a bargaining chip, they can’t SAY that either because they’ll get their bluff called.

Skywise on January 12, 2009 at 2:32 PM

Strategy?
This is not your fathers war.
The Strategy is to make the Palestinians so miserable
that they will turn on Hamas. Hamas has already started
cleansing Palestinians because they know the longer
the shooting keeps on the less control they will have.
Israel can play wack a Hamas longer than the Palestinians
will tolerate. A fury of Palestinians cleansing Hamas
is the “strategy”.

izoneguy on January 12, 2009 at 2:34 PM

I think IDF use ambiguity to headfake Hamas. Hamas don’t know when to run ,and look like cowards , or stay and get blown away.

Exactly. Why get specific?

If you say, “our goal is to eliminate Hamas weapon caches”.

You’re probably not going to find every one of the damn things, so Hamas will always be able to turn one up (real or not) and say “see, we won”.

Same with the tunnels.

It doesn’t help that the western media is slavishly pro-Hamas, either. There is nothing Israel can possibly do to “win” in their eyes. Hamas is getting the crap kicked out of it, but they are “winning”.

And this is Israel. There are no perfect outcomes here, unless not only is Hamas eliminated, but Hezollah and ultimately, Iran.

Seems to me though, that the objective here is to halt Hamas from firing rockets into Israel. That has to be one of the main objectives.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 2:35 PM

NEVER publish what your strategic goals are during a war less your enemy devise a counter.

Strike three.

Skywise on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

That was my take also. The Israelis know better than to trust strategy with anyone. Especially the way even high level info seems to get leaked. It happened again just this week.
Why these leakers can not be found and prosecuted is beyond me.

Itchee Dryback on January 12, 2009 at 2:35 PM

It would be foolish for Isreal to define victory for the press until it’s goals are met. Their goals should be kept secret with their military commanders and necessary politicians.

Rode Werk on January 12, 2009 at 2:37 PM

Skywise on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Skywise pretty much said it all here with all three strikes.

I’m sure there’s some IDF generals suggesting they publish some strategic goals so their enemies would have something to do. NOT!

The “goals” that were released this morning were to prevent Baza or any other country from firing rockets into their country, and #2) Stop the flow of arms from Iran, (or any other nation) from re-arming these idiots that persist on the destruction of Israel. For any “advisor” to suggest that the specific and strategic goals in achieving these ends is pure lunacy.

Rovin on January 12, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Just how moronic can you be? The exit strategy is to kill all Hamas’ militants, then go home. If this guy advises McCain … now I understand.

Onager on January 12, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Baza=Gaza…….whoops

Rovin on January 12, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Eff him.

Jaibones on January 12, 2009 at 2:31 PM

+1.
He’s played to his pet market too long.

a capella on January 12, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Israel’s strategy is and will always remain the same. Get the enemy before they get “us.” Sadly they realize Obambi is likely the enemy if not from his ignorance from his Liberalism, but I repeat myself.

viking01 on January 12, 2009 at 2:43 PM

My guess is they felt they needed to move before the Obama Golden Age started. The strategy is to hurt Hamas for attacking them. I would like to see more than that, but that is enough to justify this.

Mr. Joe on January 12, 2009 at 2:45 PM

killing your enemy is a strategy! Not pretty or carbon nuetral, neither does the story start with once upon a time or end with happily ever after. It is what it is, savages try to kill you so you kill them first period.

Dadzilla on January 12, 2009 at 2:45 PM

Since Hamas is an Iranian proxy, at a minimum this intervention diminishes the Iranian influence in Gaza and, to a lesser extent, the West Bank.

It’s either Fatah or Hamas. And it’s clear that while peace can’t be obtained with Fatah running things, war is the only option if Hamas is in charge.

At the very least, this diminishes – even if only marginally – Iranian influence in the region.

SteveMG on January 12, 2009 at 2:47 PM

Wait.. I thought changing your mind about something-ie “the Surge”- is called FLIP FLOPPING around here.

Right there should be a reason to make you think.. shouldn’t it?

Noelie on January 12, 2009 at 2:47 PM

NoDonkey’s response is perfect when he asks

“Why would they want to divulge the objectives of this mission to the enemy and to the press?”

HotAir is one of the more measured / less hyperbolic commentary sites, and it’s good to raise these questions. I for one though will wait (a month or so) before I slam Israel’s efforts as idiotic.

Quetzal on January 12, 2009 at 2:52 PM

This “strategy” stuff was important in wars past…”Take that hill, or take that airfield”, was where they had strategic targets easily identifiable.
Now it is much more fluid, as Iraq had shown. There are military objectives, but the strategy has to change moment to moment. When the enemy is holed up in a hospital, the strategy has to change, or if they are in a foreign country, it has to change…the objective is the same, take down Hamas, but the strategy to do it changes constantly.

right2bright on January 12, 2009 at 2:55 PM

I should think that cutting rocket attacks to 1/10th their previous rate would be a good enough reason. Destroying Hamas’ goodwill with the general population is another good reason. Finding and destroying the tunnels which supply Hamas — a third good reason.

Enlisting Egypt and other third parties to assure that the tunnels do not get reopened is a fourth reason (this can only be done from the superior position; the Isrealis can link withdrawing [which the Egyptians diplomatically want] to prevention of the reestablishment of the tunnels). I separate this fourth because it is the Kabuki dance of diplomacy, and is not military.

Preventing the reestablishment of the tunnels may involve concessions to the Egyptians — they have a legitimate claim that the status of forces treaty with Israel on their border prevents the Egyptians from adequately enforcing security in the area, as the deaths of several under-armed Egyptian border guards at the hands of Hamas showed.

If one looks at how the IDF entered Gaza, and where it’s currently concentrating its forces, one has a good idea of the military strategy — cut the main city in the north off from its weapons supplies in the south, and starve the fighters out.

While Hamas holds the political views it does, there can be no political strategy to engage them on the part of Israel. Engagement (other than unconditional surrender) needs to be with Fatah, which has shown a rather mature restraint during this whole thing.

unclesmrgol on January 12, 2009 at 2:56 PM

What now?

Kill the terrorists and their supporters at a steadily increasing rate until they either surrender unconditionally or are all dead.

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 2:58 PM

terrorists and their supporters

…which refers to the Palestinians in the Gaza strip.

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 2:59 PM

I also think one thing that’s been established is that Hezbollah and Iran are NOT fighting.

Shows they are weak and that they are all words, no action.

At some point, even the addled Arab and Persian populations have to start to recognize that their leaders are corrupt, worthless and incompetent windbags.

A lot of us Americans have come to the same conclusion here.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Cordesman is an assh-le of epic proportions. He has no idea what he’s talking about w.r.t. Gaza. He had the same stupid remarks after Lebanon too. Guess what? Lebanon was a success. Do you see any missiles flying into northern Israel today? Cordesman is not in the IDF, has no idea how to fight terrorism, and is a Jew-hater. F him and he opinions.

Andy in Agoura Hills on January 12, 2009 at 3:01 PM

The Hamas rockets are a nuisance that has to be dealt with, but are not an existential threat to Israel. They just have to get their nose bloodied like any neighborhood bully.

In the larger conflict, the fact that Iran has been drawn out into the open is victory enough for this round.

pedestrian on January 12, 2009 at 3:04 PM

I would think its obvious that Israel intends to destroy Hamas.

When you take into account the Egyptians and other arab leaders saying things in private like “take their heads off” to the Israelis regarding Hamas, and looking at how well our counter insurgency strategy has worked in Iraq with cowards that hide behind women and children, the conclusion of this will be/has to be the removal of Hamas. Otherwise peace will never happen in Gaza.

I think Israel has learned its lesson from Lebanon, hopefully.

Corey Wayne on January 12, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Btw, BOMB THE HELL OUT OF THE SHIFA HOSPITAL NOW!!!!!

Andy in Agoura Hills on January 12, 2009 at 3:05 PM

There are too many people, used to keeping score on the war scorecards of the good old days when battle lines could be determined on a map, the enemy fought under a national flag and bean counters kept track of the dead, wounded, and captured on little tote boards. They struggle to define what constitutes victory or winning in the type of warfare we find ourselves engaged in today.

In the past nobody kept track of electrical output, or infrastructure projects completed while at the same working to destroy those things on the way to victory.

The armies and governments of the west today struggle under the additional burden of arbitrary rules imposed upon them, quite often from outside sources who have no real stake in either the conduct of the operations or the outcome of those operations.

While it is easy for one camp to advocate killing all of Hamas, it is just as easy for the other side to condemn each and every death in the name of humanity. The military and the politicians must somehow navigate through the middle ground, the no man’s land, to figure out how to create victory but somehow do it with compassion.

The perfect end game here is to destroy Hama’s ability to launch rockets into Israel. The reality is they will never be able to destroy Hama’s desire to launch rockets into Israel.

No matter what happens when Israel quits shooting, critics will classify it as a failure as long as a single rocket still threatens Israel.

Israel may quit their hostile activities, Hamas and the Palestinians never will.

Just A Grunt on January 12, 2009 at 3:05 PM

The Hamas rockets are a nuisance act of war that has to be dealt with,

pedestrian on January 12, 2009 at 3:04 PM

FIFY

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 3:07 PM

NEVER publish what your strategic goals are during a war less your enemy devise a counter.

Strike three.

Skywise on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

That was my take also. The Israelis know better than to trust strategy with anyone.

Ditto. I’m convinced that not only their strategy but also their goals are fluid, depending on conditions on the ground and, alas, the UN. Olmert for once in his life seems finally to have grown some.

ProfessorMiao on January 12, 2009 at 3:10 PM

The perfect end game here is to destroy Hama’s ability to launch rockets into Israel. The reality is they will never be able to destroy Hama’s desire to launch rockets into Israel.

Just A Grunt on January 12, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Kill them ’till they’re dead or surrendered. The compassion is in letting them decide their own fate.

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 3:11 PM

While it is easy for one camp to advocate killing all of Hamas, it is just as easy for the other side to condemn each and every death in the name of humanity.

When their own leaders are saying “we love death as you love life”, why does anyone care?

Hey, they’re getting what they want. Yes, I sure hope their children grow up and become walking time bombs like their parents.

Like a rabid dog, Gaza needs to be put down for the good of all.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:11 PM

The problem, AP, is that whenever Israel manages to decapitate one of its enemies, someone worse comes along. Israel gutted the PLO in Lebanon in the 1980′s which gave rise to Hezbollah. And, ironically, Israel helped facilitate the creation of Hamas as a counter to Fateh – how’d that work out?

Should Israel manage to weaken Hamas sufficiently to create a power vacuum (a dicey prospect to begin with), it’s not automatically going to be Fateh that benefits. There are other groups in Gaza who would be only too happy to step in and none of them are better than Hamas and many are worse.

The problem with Israel’s strategy has long been a focus on the short-term at the expense of the long-term. Israel doesn’t consider the long-term effects of its actions and doesn’t seem to consider the possibility that destroying their enemy-of-the-moment carries significant long-term risks. Hence we see moderate Palestinians (with whom Israel could actually negotiate with and many of whom are Christian), leaving or getting executed.

Israel is digging its own hole. It needs to pull its head out and think about the long-term.

NPP on January 12, 2009 at 3:15 PM

The fact that Mossad thinks they know where the leadership is hiding out means we could be approaching endgame.

Oh really. Well there’s the solution. Execute the leadership while they are supposedly trying to escaped while armed.

This is the top down solution to the terror war. The leaders have to be hunted and killed–personal responsibility for ordering toothless peasants dying for nothing.

Just keep killing the leaders. If that doesn’t work, then and only then, start working down the food chain. The days of a bottoms up approach are over.

patrick neid on January 12, 2009 at 3:16 PM

I would think that causing chaos and flat out spanking Hamas in Gaza would be a good strategy. Helping those who terrorize or facilitate the terrorizing of Israel meet their maker would be an excellent strategy.

Chuck from Tacoma on January 12, 2009 at 3:18 PM

What now?

I think Israel doesn’t care. I think Israeli citizens are getting pissed at the rockets, and the Israeli government is getting pissed at Hamas.

I think they decided to give a big F U to the rest of the world generally, and the UN specifically, for not stopping Hamas for them, and now they’re going to stop them their way.

To paraphrase something I just read the other day:
I tried to do this the hard way, through peace and diplomacy. Now it’s time to do it the easy way. *Cue giant gun*

apollyonbob on January 12, 2009 at 3:18 PM

The days of a bottoms up approach are over.

patrick neid on January 12, 2009 at 3:16 PM

AKA The Ryan Doctrine.

You think maybe Mossad likes Clancy? XD

apollyonbob on January 12, 2009 at 3:19 PM

When their own leaders are saying “we love death as you love life”, why does anyone care?

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Excellent point! We’re doing them a favor by killing them, and the entire world benefits from their demise. There is no downside.

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Three, after endearing himself to the nutroots in 2007 by insisting he saw no major improvements from the surge, he went back to Iraq last year and pronounced himself impressed with “major progress in every area,”

So…he was wrong and pandered to the “nutroots” but then he right …….and this makes him credible?
I guess we have to wait (with baited breath) and see.

beththebaker on January 12, 2009 at 3:20 PM

I don’t get strike three. Our strategic goal in Iraq was to remove the Hussein regime and deal with the WMD program we believed he had. Our strategic goal in Afghanistan was the removal of the Taliban, eliminating the terrorist threat, and liberation of the country. How would Israel saying that it wants to deal with the threat once and for all be a problem for accomplishing that?

amerpundit on January 12, 2009 at 2:26 PM

…and here I thought that those were tactical goals, leading strategically toward making Islam less bothersome and bracketing Iran.

cthulhu on January 12, 2009 at 3:21 PM

Hence we see moderate Palestinians

What exactly is a “moderate Palestinian”?

A Palestinian who has not yet detonated?

It needs to pull its head out and think about the long-term.

And what, explain to her people that they need to tolerate daily rocket attacks from their genocidal lunatic neighbors?

Or they could “open the borders”, so their genocidal lunatic neighbors can send in scores of suicide bombers.

So many good options here, for some reason, I still like the “carpet bomb Gaza until the only thing breathing are earthworms”, option.

After all, it’s exactly what Hamas would do if they had the capability.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:22 PM

by his logic, we should withdraw from afghanistan and tell the pakis to surrender the fata to the taliban…

bottom-line: killing enemies who aspire to kill you and overthrow your govt and take your territory is ALWAYS a good idea

reliapundit on January 12, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Israel is digging its own hole. It needs to pull its head out and think about the long-term.

NPP on January 12, 2009 at 3:15 PM

And they’re running out of time. The long term solution to the problem of having terrorists living in the Gaza strip is to expel the terrorists and their supporters, the Palestinians, into Egypt.

If there are no terrorists living in Gaza then Gaza will no longer be a source of terrorism.

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 3:25 PM

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:22 PM

I think the avoidance of civilian casualities is always laudable, and I think Israel is right to avoid as many civilian casualties as is reasonably possible.

apollyonbob on January 12, 2009 at 3:26 PM

The end game,easy for me to say,mind you,is
to ask Hamas if it ever will accept Israel,if
the Palistines want there own State,and if any
Terrorist group that is funded by Iran will
ever stop the Terror!

If not,then have an all-out War,and be done
with this insanity by the Terrorist Jihadys!

And let Israel,and its neighbours live in peace!

canopfor on January 12, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Oops,that should be Palestinians,not Palistines!crap!

canopfor on January 12, 2009 at 3:33 PM

I think the avoidance of civilian casualities is always laudable, and I think Israel is right to avoid as many civilian casualties as is reasonably possible.

I don’t, not when it allows the enemy to live another day and its an enemy who daily vows to exterminate your people.

If Mexico were lobbing rockets into my city I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell about their civilians, I would care about my family and my friends. I’d prefer peace, but if they don’t want peace, then it’s the leader’s responsibility to defend his nation by any means necessary, including a devastating bombing attack on the civilian population, if that’s the only way to ensure national defense.

We bombed Dresden and no one cried for the German people. The German people had a lot less responsibility for what the Nazis did than the Palestinian people have for Hamas, Hitler wasn’t even popularly elected.

Elections have consequences.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:33 PM

What exactly is a “moderate Palestinian”?

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:22 PM

I had a Palestinian friend who told me that all of the moderate Palestinians leave the territories as soon as they’re able. He said there are a few that remain for various reasons but are only a small percentage. This guy hated most of the Palestinians that remained.

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Defining a strategy? Kind of like advertising a strategy of finding WMD’s? And when we didn’t find them the MSM’s had a field day, and nobody even remembered the 17 or 18 UN resolution violations that actually did justified the the removal of Saddam H. Israel may have learned from our Bush’s mistake. Why give any thing to the media that will be used against them, legitimate or not!

Goody2Shoes on January 12, 2009 at 3:34 PM

The problem, AP, is that whenever Israel manages to decapitate one of its enemies, someone worse comes along. Israel gutted the PLO in Lebanon in the 1980’s which gave rise to Hezbollah. And, ironically, Israel helped facilitate the creation of Hamas as a counter to Fateh – how’d that work out?

Yeah, if only those stubborn Jews would just let people kill them.

So, its the Jews fault that more vile terrorist groups keep popping up??? You are an ass.

Andy in Agoura Hills on January 12, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Oh really. Well there’s the solution. Execute the leadership while they are supposedly trying to escaped while armed.

This is the top down solution to the terror war. The leaders have to be hunted and killed–personal responsibility for ordering toothless peasants dying for nothing.

Just keep killing the leaders. If that doesn’t work, then and only then, start working down the food chain. The days of a bottoms up approach are over.

patrick neid on January 12, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Does anybody know what the hell this means? Sounds like mindless babbling.

Andy in Agoura Hills on January 12, 2009 at 3:37 PM

I think the avoidance of civilian casualities is always laudable, and I think Israel is right to avoid as many civilian casualties as is reasonably possible.

apollyonbob on January 12, 2009 at 3:26 PM

I would agree that it can be laudable but it certainly isn’t always so. In this case there is nothing laudable about allowing terrorists and their supporters to survive and continue to threaten the world with instability that will probably eventually go nuclear.

Think of how many dead civilians there will die then, all for the sake of laudability today.

FloatingRock on January 12, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Seems to me OPSEC would require tight lips.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Loose lips, sink ships.

Johan Klaus on January 12, 2009 at 3:44 PM

What is the strategic purpose behind the present fighting?

I’m surprised Cordesman doesn’t know. The strategic purpose is to reestablish the fear in the hearts of Arabs and Persians of Israel. That is the prime deterrent Israel has and it was lost in 2006.

bnelson44 on January 12, 2009 at 3:50 PM

A moderate Palestinian is one who blows himself up while making the bomb.

viking01 on January 12, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Israel has no strategy?

Think of it like the dollar. Lately, it’s just less sucky than other currencies.

Israel’s strategy is less sucky than others. They kill bad guys when they can. Hope Obambi is watching.

JiangxiDad on January 12, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Think of how many dead civilians there will die then, all for the sake of laudability today.

In Berlin Diary, William Shirer wrote of how if the French military would have confronted the German Wehrmacht in the Ruhr valley in the 1930′s to uphold the Treaty of Versailles, the Germans would have been forced to retreat, the Wehrmacht Generals would have overthrown Hitler and WWII could possibly have been averted.

Good thing the were thinking of limiting civilian casualties though, or someone could have been hurt.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:52 PM

A moderate Palestinian is one who blows himself up while making the bomb.

Either that or one of Bill Ayer’s old friends.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 3:52 PM

According to chessmaster Kasparov, Iran is Russia’s proxy and Hamas et al are Iran’s proxies. Same tune, different words?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123172143660372413.html

Does anybody know what the hell this means? Sounds like mindless babbling.

Andy in Agoura Hills on January 12, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Seems pretty straightforward. Kill the higher ups first, then progress downward till there are no leaders. As an analogy, no point in taking out the drug dealer on the corner till the main man is eliminated. That concept won’t work in a legal framework, but certainly will in a military sense, since it usually takes a street dealer to pinpoint the main man, but the Israelis already have identified the main men.

a capella on January 12, 2009 at 3:56 PM

I wonder what Cordesman thinks of Hamas’s strategy or lack thereof.

Christien on January 12, 2009 at 3:58 PM

I wonder what Cordesman thinks of Hamas’s strategy or lack thereof.

Good question.

Everyone in the media seems to be of the mindset that these terrorist groups are almost a force of nature, like an earthquake or hurricane.

You can’t defeat an earthquake or a hurricane.

But then again, unlike western nations, Hamas probably doesn’t have a helpful chart and webpage explanation, lazy reporters can copy and paste.

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 4:06 PM

Just keep killing the leaders. If that doesn’t work, then and only then, start working down the food chain. The days of a bottoms up approach are over.

Does anybody know what the hell this means? Sounds like mindless babbling.

Andy in Agoura Hills on January 12, 2009 at 3:37 PM

You know exactly what it means and that’s why you don’t like it.

patrick neid on January 12, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Cordesman has been wrong more then he has been right. This is not a war of attrition. Too many so called analysts look upon warfare in Lebanon and Gaza as guerilla fighting. It is not. This is back to basics Iwo Jima combat. Finding the enemy and then meticulously rooting them out.

OK military campaigning 101. Every one of them you kill cripples them. Ever casualty they suffer they have to replace. The second and third replacements are never as good or as competent as the ones they replace.

Killing the middle leadership is what this is all about. Kill the NCOs because officers are a dime a dozen. It is harder and more difficult to get middle level leaders then senior or executive leadership. These are the ones who say “follow me” and the “grunts” follow them through Hell in gasoline suits.

That is who Israel is after. Can these guys still parade around with their hankies covering their faces and looking bad and tough? Yes. Will they still be able to launch rocket attacks? Yes. Can Fatah take them on and defeat them? Let’s find out.

Jdripper on January 12, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Exit question: What now?

Militarily occupy Mecca, Medina, Tehran, Isamabad, Damascus, Constantinople, Cairo, Baghdad and Kabul (er, already got those last 2) and coercively compel the Islamic world to divorce its religion from its political and judicial systems and prohibit them from teaching their children any connection between religion and politics or law. After keeping our thumb on them for a generation or two, they might develop into productive world citizens like the Japanese after we divorced their political life from Shintoism.

I know, I know, but I can dream, can’t I?

tommylotto on January 12, 2009 at 4:16 PM

While it is easy for one camp to advocate killing all of Hamas, it is just as easy for the other side to condemn each and every death in the name of humanity.

The military and the politicians must somehow navigate through the middle ground, the no man’s land, to figure out how to create victory but somehow do it with compassion.

Just A Grunt on January 12, 2009 at 3:05 PM

The most compassionate form of war, if it exists, is to go in with massive, overwhelming and violent force and win at all costs as quickly as possible. This is how lives are saved, both combatant and non-combatant.

J.J. Sefton on January 12, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Strategy: Win an election.

lexhamfox on January 12, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Hmmmm…. If’n I was Israel?

I’d decapitate Hamas… leave a power vacuum… then tell Egypt they have a choice….

Either take over Gaza, or we go Biblical, and start at the North end, and push the “Palestinians” out of Gaza, right through the Egyptian border.

Do NOT offer the Pals a state… do not offer them mercy… offer them either Israeli occupation, or Egyptian. They have PROOVEN they cannot Govern themselves.

Then rinse and repeat with Fatah, and Jordan.

Bring REAL governments into play… ones who have a vested interest in stability…

but then… I’m kinda an A-hole…. LOL…

Romeo13 on January 12, 2009 at 4:44 PM

This article sort of makes you wish the Israelis had the Cyberdine Systems Series 800 Model 101 right about now. A simple infiltration into Shifa Hospital and game over…

jagdpanther on January 12, 2009 at 4:47 PM

One of the significant strategic goals is to knock out all, or nearly all, of the smuggling tunnels.

Another is to try to affect the psychology of the Palestinians living in Gaza, to make them blame Hamas for this disaster instead of blaming the Israelis. That appears to be happening.

Steven Den Beste on January 12, 2009 at 4:50 PM

One of the things I can’t figure out, is why Israel does not hold EGYPT accountable for the other ends of those smuggling tunnels.

The arms are being smuggled all the way through Egypt… you can’t convince me that Egypt could not shut them down (or at least seriously slow down the smuggling rate) if they did not want to.

Why has Egypt been given a pass on this?

Romeo13 on January 12, 2009 at 5:07 PM

I know, I know, but I can dream, can’t I?

tommylotto on January 12, 2009 at 4:16 PM

But, the Japanese, like the Germans were bombed into submission.

Johan Klaus on January 12, 2009 at 5:39 PM

Exit question: What now?

One real and acceptable option is for Israel to treat this Gaza operation as a lawn care exercise, specifically a mowing and weeding activity. Israel may simply realize that, until conditions change, Israel will periodically have to stomp their enemies; hurt them so bad that it might be the next new generation that causes trouble.

The political aspects of such a defeat (the patron demanding to know why the fighting side failed, and the defeated soldiers claiming betrayal), a lawn-mowing-and-weeding operation in Gaza might just force peace on all in the area for perhaps 30 years, perhaps indefinitely.

This seems to have worked with Jordan, and to some degree with Egypt and Syria. 1973 is just over 30 years ago, and the 1982 conflict with Syria is approaching 30 years.

There may not be trust or friendship between Israel and the others, but there is not armed conflict, and the strategic forecast looks to be more of the same into the indefinite future.

There’s talk about negotiating with Christian Palestinians. How are Christian Palestinians, or more generally, non-Muslim Arabs treated in an Arab land?

– Hamas has been threatening, bombing and killing Christian Gazans over the last 2 or 3 years

– Bethlehem, once ~80% Christian Palestinian is now perhaps 20% Christian, and this is due to Muslim Palestinian acts (immigration, threats, violence, etc)

– Lebanon, perhaps 80% Christian in 1960, is rapidly becoming, if it isn’t already, a Muslim-majority state, due to Lebanese Christian emigration because of Muslim encroachment behavior

– Recall the multipart YouTube segments about Coptic life in Egypt

Negotiating with non-Muslims in a Muslim-controlled (not necessarily even Muslim-majority) state is a waste of time.

Arbalest on January 12, 2009 at 6:22 PM

If Israel has a credible ceasefire plan that could really secure Gaza, it is not apparent. If Israel has a plan that could credibly destroy and replace Hamas, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to help the Gazans and move them back towards peace, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to use US or other friendly influence productively, it not apparent.

If Israel has any plan to take Gaza for the Israelis, it is not apparent.

Kralizec on January 12, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Hamas delende est.

Worked for the Carthaginians.

profitsbeard on January 12, 2009 at 7:38 PM

Kill ‘em all and let Allah sort ‘em out…That’d be my plan.

adamsmith on January 12, 2009 at 8:19 PM

Until someone has a strategic-conceptual breakthrough, Israel will have no good options. Their options come in four groups: bad, worse, really bad, and suicidal. Doing nothing is slow suicide. If they can find an option that’s merely bad, they should take it. And it looks like they are slowly destroying Hamas’s ability to impose its will on the Gazans. If they kill enough weeds often enough, maybe something better will take root in that soil.

At least there is a strategic concept. It might be the wrong one. But it might be the right one. If there is no strategic concept, then there is no chance of finding the right one.

njcommuter on January 12, 2009 at 9:33 PM

What now?

What now? Lemme tell you what now…

Oh, that ‘What now’! Never mind – :-)

RD on January 12, 2009 at 9:42 PM

I would suggest that Israel has a good idea about the number of GRAD’s out there and they’ll keep going until they are either fired off at Israel or seized/destroyed by the IDF. Follow that up with some serious ground pounding to collapse tunnels. After that Israel may promptly turn around and leave Gaza. I expect that Israel will then become the world’s masters at counter-battery fire.

I think Bush should sell the IDF about 500 Phalanx systems.

Jason Coleman on January 13, 2009 at 2:21 AM

NoDonkey on January 12, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Great points. It was well thought out and you presentated it very well..

kanda on January 13, 2009 at 9:22 AM

The fact that Cordesman has proven himself to be wrong about strategy until the war is one using methods that he was against, by AP’s own description, demonstrates there is little value in what he believe about this war, now.

Wait ’til it’s over, and maybe he’ll see improvement in every area again.

Cowboy is a compliment on January 13, 2009 at 10:02 AM

*one = won

Cowboy is a compliment on January 13, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Sorry mate. He is not a straght shooter. He consistently leans towards the Arab side in relation to the Israeli/Arab conflict.

davod on January 13, 2009 at 10:55 AM

I have no idea whether or not Israel has a strategy in Gaza but I do know that Anthony “Tony” Cordesman has no strategy and, in fact, is a clueless windbag.

Back in the First Gulf War days in preparation for the assault on Iraq, i can remember Cordesman giving dire warnings about the “bomb proof” tunnels the Iraqis were hiding in. As soon as the US led coalition forces attacked Iraq, these “skilled” tunnel builders would cause “thousands of casualties” by crawling out of their “invulnerable” tunnels and attacking us from the rear.

In fact no such tunnels ever existed.

MaiDee on January 13, 2009 at 10:58 AM

MaiDee on January 13, 2009 at 10:58 AM

Yes but despite the best efforts of the Air Force most of Saddam’s WMD stocks and facilities remained intact. The vast majority of that infrastructure was destroyed by the follow on inspection teams rather than in combat. It wasn;t until the inspectors got in there that they really knew the full extent of that. It highlights how combat alone can fail… you need both combat and diplomacy to a certain degree.

lexhamfox on January 13, 2009 at 12:19 PM