Several of my Atlantic colleagues have explained why they are not writing more frequently about this ongoing war.
My explanation is simpler, and is the opposite of Jeffrey Goldberg's. He says, in effect, that he knows too much about the situation. I know too little. I spent the first weeks of the Iraq war in Haifa and Tel Aviv, mainly working on this article (about the Mohammed al-Dura case, which of course took place in Gaza), and I was at Camp David with Jimmy Carter's entourage when he brokered the Sadat-Begin agreements of 1978. But I understand enough about the politics of the Middle East to recognize that I don't understand enough.
The one relevant thing I do know concerns a repeated source of tragedy in foreign-policy decision making. That is the reluctance to ask, before irrevocable decisions, "And what happens then?" For instance: so we depose Saddam Hussein. What happens then? This question is all the harder to ask when the step in question feels so good. Crushing Saddam. Or, punishing Hamas.
I can imagine the Gaza ground war "working" from Israel's perspective in the short term. The obvious question is, What happens then? I find it very difficult to imagine a sequence of events that leaves Israel -- or anyone -- better off one year from now, or ten.
If I thought the people making Israel's choices were stupid, I could tell myself that they hadn't properly weighed the consequences. But I don't think they're stupid. Instead I think that, like the people who rushed the U.S. into war in Iraq, they are reckless and unwise and will therefore hurt their country. Along with hurting a lot of others.
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