Gee, if only there were a popular saying that conveyed the idea that you could win many battles and still lose the war.
Let us check some of the effects of the Krauthammer-style offensive: a greater association in the Arab-Muslim mind that the US is on the side of corrupt and brutal Arab autocracies; widespread global revulsion at the sight of a vastly superior army causing, even unintentionally, horrifying civilian casualties; a greater identification with Hamas among Gazans; a weakening of the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank; growing sympathy from the Sunni Arab street toward the Tehran theocracy.
And this is without a last-minute rocket volley from Hamas after an Israeli withdrawal. At this point, one hopes that this was a misguided attempt to forestall Iranian influence in Gaza before the Obama administration ends the Bush policy toward Tehran. Maybe it buys Israel time. Maybe that time is worth the costs. Or maybe Cordesman is onto something:
One strong warning of the level of anger in the region comes from Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Prince Turki has been the Saudi ambassador in both London and Washington. He has always been a leading voice of moderation. For years he has been a supporter of the Saudi peace process and an advocate of Jewish-Christian-Islamic dialog. Few Arab voices deserve more to be taken seriously, and Prince Turki described the conflict as follows in a speech at the opening of the 6th Gulf Forum on January 6th, “The Bush administration has left you (with) a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza…Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza.” Neither Israel nor the US can gain from a war that produces this reaction from one of the wisest and most moderate voices in the Arab world.
Meanwhile, the regional struggle between Egypt and Iran continues. Hamas is currently in the middle. But so is Israel. And America.
(Photo: Artillery shells explode in the air to lay down smoke cover over Palestinian homes as the Israeli army battles Hamas militants in the central Gaza Strip January 12, 2009 as seen from Israel's border with the Palestinian territory. By David Silverman/Getty.)
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