Israel Banks on a Fence
The Future of Palestine
Israel's New Strategy
Can Hamas Be Tamed?
The Hamas Conundrum
The Untamed Shrew, Four Years On
Letter From Gaza: Hamas the Opportunist
Hamas’ Tunnel Diplomacy
How to Handle Hamas
The Perils of Ignoring Gaza's Leadership
The Palestinian Spring?
Hamas and Fatah Have Unified, but not Yet Reconciled
Israel's Gamble in Gaza
The Perils of Operation Pillar of Defense
Why The Group Thought It Could Get Away With Striking Israel
Where Hamas Goes From Here
Time To Regroup or Rupture
Hamas' Not-So-Secret Weapon
Meet Salah al-Arouri, the Man Behind the Group's Kidnapping Strategy
Why Cairo Can't Broker a Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas
The Near Enemy
Why the Real Threat to Israel Isn't in Gaza
Bibi's First War
Why Benjamin Netanyahu Has Never Liked Military Conflict
How Hamas Won
Israel's Tactical Success and Strategic Failure
Gaza's Bottle Rockets
Why Hamas' Arsenal Wasn't Worth a War
Notes From the Underground
The Long History of Tunnel Warfare
Why Withdrawing From the West Bank Would Make Israel Safer
Why Israel Should Stop Pushing Hamas to Give Up Its Weapons
Is Trusteeship for Palestine the Answer?
No matter how and when the conflict between Hamas and Israel ends, two things are certain. The first is that Israel will be able to claim a tactical victory. The second is that it will have suffered a strategic defeat.
At the tactical level, the success of the Iron Dome missile defense system has kept Israeli casualties near zero and significantly reduced the material damage from the rockets fired from Gaza. Israel’s ground invasion, launched on Thursday, will also reap rewards. Indeed, it already has: Israeli forces have exposed and destroyed several Hamas tunnels, including some that were intended to allow cross-border activity into Israel and others that facilitated the movement of goods, ammunition, and militants within Gaza itself.
Such tactical achievements should not be minimized. But they do not equal a strategic victory. War, as Clausewitz famously taught, is the continuation of politics by other means. Wars are fought to realign politics in a way that benefits the victor and is detrimental to the loser. But the Israelis have lost sight of this distinction.
In fact, Israel has a history of claiming victory when in fact it has suffered defeat; the October 1973 war is the best example. Israel claimed that it had won because its forces ended their war on the western side of the Suez Canal with Egyptian forces partially encircled behind them. The reality is that Egypt achieved the strategic victory. All along, Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat’s objective was to seize and hold some territory in order to dislodge stuck political negotiations and, ultimately, recover the occupied Sinai Peninsula for Egypt. Sadat got what he wanted.
Israelis might believe that, even though they are not likely to see a political realignment at the end of this war, at least Hamas won’t have achieved its own strategic objectives. The absence of large numbers of Israeli fatalities, the thinking goes, is a mark of Hamas’ failure. But Israelis are wrong there, too. Killing large numbers of Israelis
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