Tag Archives: israel

The Fate of Israel

Summary: As Israel has another round of conflict with one of its neighbors, we should neither overlook the toll of causalities nor focus excessively on these details. More important is the long trend. History shows the difficulty of distinguishing strong from weak players in 4GW, and that choosing the wrong grand strategy can be terminal for a state.  It could easily prove fatal for Israel. Events today show how a nation might look strong while on a path leading to bad outcomes. This is a revision of a 2006 post, chapter two in a series of articles about grand strategy when 4GW has become the dominate form of war.

“It is not possible to found a lasting power upon injustice, perjury, and treachery.”
— Demosthenes (Athenian leader, 384 – 322 BC)





  1. Is Israel is stronger than the Palestine?
  2. Winning requires strategy, not just power
  3. Israel abandons the high ground
  4. Comparing the Strategies of Israel & Palestine
  5. Strengths of the Palestinian people
  6. How ight the Palestinian people defeat Israel?
  7. Other predictions of doom for Israel
  8. For more information


(1) Everyone knows Israel is stronger than the Palestinians. That might be wrong.

To plan a successful grand strategy the strategist must know if he has a weak or strong position. Failure almost certainly results from getting this fundamental wrong. Unfortunately, history shows the difficulty of correctly determining weak from strong during times of rapid change.

“So confident of victory were the French that many sat up late drinking, gambling and boasting about who would kill or capture whom. Some knights even painted a cart in which Henry V would be paraded through the streets of Paris!”

Description of the French camp on 24 October 1415, the night before Agincourt – the last of the 3 great English victories over the French during the Hundred Years War.

“You are now my prisoners. Let this be a lesson to you that Americans are weak. You must realize that Japan will rule the world. You are stupid for letting your leaders take you to war.”

Speech by Tetsunosuke Ariizumi, Commander of His Imperial Majesty’s submarine I-8, addressing captured Americans from the SS Jean Nicolet on 2 July 1944.

“No Viet-Minh cannon will be able to fire three rounds before being destroyed by my artillery.”

— Colonel Charles Piroth, French artillery commander at Dien Bien Phu, quoted in Hell in a Very Small Place, Bernard Fall (1966), p. 102.

Measuring strength between peoples has become even more difficult in our age — when 4GW is the dominant form of war. Hence the endless stream of surprises from the anti-colonial wars after WW2 to our defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So which looks stronger: a stateless people with no modern government, economy, or army – or a developed state with its vast superiority in ideas and hardware? An occupied people or the nations that rules them?

(a)  Israel, a western industrial nation, has rationally educated elites in a modern bureaucratic government. Israel’s army and intelligence service (the Mossad) are superior to their Palestinian counterparts in every way.

(b)  Israel has wielded these advantages to win many tactical victories over the Palestinians. For example, Thomas X. Hammes (Colonel, USMC, retited) describes how Israel won the second Intifadah in chapter 9 of his book, The Sling And The Stone.

(c)  The Palestinian people have none of Israel’s advantages: stateless, politically mobilized in only a primitive manner, with severe internal fractures, and a history of weak and self-interested leadership. Each year their enclaves on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank sink further into poverty and chaos.

Who has the best odds of long-term survival, Israel or the Palestinians?

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Why Israel didn’t win in Gaza

Summary:  Yet another in the long series of wars between Israel and its neighbors.  The trend is not their friend.  Power is not enough, especially when outnumbered and surrounded. Our support for Israel might be enabling them to act boldly but suicidally. Here is a guest post by Adam Shatz explaining what happened in Gaza.



Excerpt to “Why Israel Didn’t Win
By Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books
24 November 2012
Reprinted for a limited time with their generous permission.
Go to the LRB website to read the full article.


The ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after 8 days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever: according to a recent UN report, the Strip will be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020.

And this is to speak only of Gaza. How easily one is made to forget that Gaza is only a part – a very brutalised part – of the ‘future Palestinian state’ that once seemed inevitable, and which now seems to exist mainly in the lullabies of Western peace processors. None of the core issues of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the Occupation, borders, water rights, repatriation and compensation of refugees – is addressed by this agreement.

The fighting will erupt again, because Hamas will come under continued pressure from its members and from other militant factions, and because Israel has never needed much pretext to go to war.

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Israel becomes its enemy

Summary: Israel fights for its very existence against an enemy who has no regard for life.  From a cosmic sense, Israel can lose in two ways. Violent defeat in some fashion (causing economic collapse or out-migration). Or spiritual defeat, becoming inflected by the evil Israel has fought for so long: antisemitism in Christendom, NAZI genocide, and now Islamic racial hatred. The former seems increasingly likely, eventually.  The latter might be happening now.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
— Aphorism 146 in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

“A spoiled saint, a Pharisee, or an inquisitor makes better sport in Hell than a mere common tyrant or debauchee.”
Letter 23 from Uncle Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood


  1. Prelude to slaughter: Threatening a Gaza holocaust
  2. Fast Forward to today: the situation heats up
  3. Portents of the future, echos of the past
  4. For More Information

(1)  Prelude to slaughter: Threatening a holocaust in Gaza

During similar conditions in 2008, from Haaretz on 29 February 2008:

“The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves,” {Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai} told Army Radio on Friday.

… “shoah is “the Hebrew word for holocaust or disaster. The word is generally used to refer to the Nazi Holocaust, but a spokesman for Vilnai said the deputy defense minister used the word in the sense of “disaster,” saying “he did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide.”

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said of Vilnai’s comments: “We are facing new Nazis who want to kill and burn the Palestinian people.”

The Jerusalem Post whitewashed this more adroitly. Als0 see The Telegraph’s terse analysis.

(2)  Fast Forward to today: the situation heats up

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Where did the great post-war dream for a new world go sour?

Summary:  Tom Hayden’s post The Syrian dominos sparked some fascinating threads in the comments. One discussed what might be a formative moment in world history, one of events which set 21st century history on a very different track than that dreamed by the victors of WWII.  A path that means that their generation’s great sacrifice and hopes were in vain.

The Kindly Ones


The NAZI plan to conquer Eastern Europe for re-settlement by Aryans was the last large instance of a dynamic that dominated history.  One of the great goals of the Allies — led by America — after the war was to make this illegitimate and impossible. And so it was for a generation.

The world experienced wars in first and second world, but of political expansion. Regimes which to forcibly reunite their people under a single political system — Korea, Vietnam.  Countless internal wars, revolutions and civil wars. But no major attempts to displace peoples, then re-settle on their land. Until Israel began to expand into the East West Bank.  IMO this was a key moment after WWII.  {per a comment, I’ve tweaked this for clarity}

The outcome of the Cold War was, probably, inevitable.  The communist experiments in the Soviet Union and China were doomed.  People’s rational drive for self-preservation prevented atomic war (although USAF generals were gung ho for the a nuclear holocaust).  The real challenge would be from within, our ability to discipline ourselves, and avoid the temptations of power.  We did so after WWII.  Instead of reparations, we gave aid. Instead of puppet governments, we created democracies — and got allies.  We showed wisdom with few or no historical precedents.

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Assassination of an important Saudi Prince! By Syria. Or Iran. Or both. Or it might be a fake story.

Summary:  This news story might be important. Or fake. Either way, it illustrates hidden dynamics in the Middle East and provides a useful lesson — how the Internet can help us sift through the morass of information to find the useful gems of information.

“When I was sixteen, I went to work for a newspaper in Hong Kong. It was a rag, but the editor taught me one important lesson. The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when, but why.”
— Elliot Carver, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)


  1. Setting the stage
  2. The timeline of stories
  3. Tentative conclusions
  4. Updates to the story (also posted in comments)
  5. Tips for reading the news for information
  6. For more information

See the updates to this mystery in the comments!

(1)  Setting the stage

(a)  Useful backgrounder on Prince Bandar: “The Prince and the Revolution“, Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), Foreign Policy, 24 July 2012 — “Saudi Arabia is bringing back its most talented operator to manage the Arab Spring. But can Bandar stem the rot in Riyadh?” Note Bandar’s biographer is William Simpson, not “Sampson”.

(b)  What might have been a key overlooked note: “Saudi Prince Bandar: a flamboyant, hawkish spy chief“, Reuters, 20 July 2012:

“He’s just the right person for the right time in Saudi. They have a more hawkish foreign policy and he’s the leading hawk of the House of Saud,” said David Ottaway, Bandar’s biographer and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. The United States’ closest Arab ally is a firm supporter of the Syrian rebels now battling in Damascus to oust President Bashar al-Assad and is mending fences with Washington after a disagreement over last year’s Arab uprisings.

“Bandar is quite aggressive, not at all like a typical cautious Saudi diplomat. If the aim is to bring Bashar down quick and fast, he will have a free hand to do what he thinks necessary. He likes to receive an order and implement it as he sees fit,” said Jamal Khashoggi, an influential Saudi commentator.

(c)  Blast rocks Saudi Arabia intelligence headquarters“, Kurdpress News, 22 July 2012 — Iranian news media also reported this (Press TV, Fars News).

“Riyadh- Reports from Saudi Arabia said that a Sunday explosion rattled the country’s intelligence headquarters in Riyadh.Reporting from Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni al-Fajr news website said the deputy head of the Saudi’s intelligence service has been killed in the blast.The website side Mashaal al-Qarni, deputy of Bandar bin Sultan, the head of the secret service, has been killed in the blast.

(2)  The timeline of stories

None of these are reliable sources, except the Times of Israel (their story is straight reporting).  But they tell interesting stories, and sometimes they’re right.

(a) Syria reportedly eliminated Bandar bin Sultan in retaliation for Damascus bombing“, Voltaire Network, 29 July 2012 —

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The hidden objective of our alliance against Iran

Summary:  This is post #80 about our long conflict with Iran, continuing the FM website’s long-held forecast that there will be no attack on Iran.  At last we discuss the mystery of this conflict:  why so many years of bold threats by US and Israel against Iran, saber-rattling never followed by military action? Usually this weakens the aggressors, making them look like paper tigers — diminishing their reputations and credibility.  What do we seek to accomplish? The answer is obvious (like the Emperor’s new clothes), although almost never stated in our news media or by our geopolitical experts (who prefer pretty lies).  Sanctions, not war, are the tool shaping the Middle East into a form better suiting the US-Israel-Saudi alliance.

Why do they hate us?

Also see the follow-up to this post: Threats to attack Iran are smoke. Sanctions on Iran are our tool. Weakening Iran is our goal.


We are now in the fifth year of the most recent phase of a long-term campaign against Iran, extending back to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. This phase began in December 2007 with release of the National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, stating that in 2003 Iran stopped its explicit program to develop atomic weapons. This changed the dynamics of the struggle from explicit war-mongering of the previous phase (“Anyone can go to Bagdad. Real men go to Tehran”), which assumed that Iran — like Iraq — was developing WMDs and hence a legitimate target of western force (ie, the debate was about when and how).

Dire forecasts that Iran will have nukes soon go back to 1984 (see Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again)).  So many years of empty threats and repeated false forecasts are expensive, resulting in diminished reputation and credibility.  Especially in the past year, contradicted by so many statements by US officials and retired Israeli officials.

Are our actions rational? What are our goals in this conflict?   To see our goals, see what we’ve accomplished:  an ever-tightening network of sanctions on Iran, strangling its finances, trade, and infrastrcuture development.  After the destruction of the Baathist State in Iraq, the Shiite regime in Iran was the only potential regional hegemon.  The only State capable of and willing to oppose US suzerainty in the Middle East, Israel’s expansion into the Palestinian territories, and the Sunni domination of Islam.  Both Iran and Iraq have vast oil reserves, and crippling them not only pushed up oil prices but also removed them as potential leaders of OPEC — making weakening Iran a hat trick for the Saudi Princes.

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We should begin preparing now for the Evacuation of Israel

Summary:  This article by guest author Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired) looks ahead, beyond Israel’s current moment in the sun.  They face a divided Arab people and even more fragmented Islamic societies, which they overawe by their massive military strength — exercised in the shadow of the world’s hyperpower.  But these are ephemeral advantages; meanwhile the tides run against Israel.  Invisibly, quietly, decisively.  Deteriorating demographics, increasingly powerful enemies, and ever-growing hatred.  or an analysis of Israel’s grand strategy, showing why it might lose, see The Fate of Israel.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Physical Dilemma
  3. Hasty Implementation of a Thoughtful Vision
  4. Debating U.S. Responsibility
  5. Potential Israeli Objections
  6. Thoughts on Peaceful Alternatives
  7. Preparing a U.S. Home
  8. About the author
  9. For More Information

We should begin preparing now for the Evacuation of Israel

By Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired)

(1) Introduction (revised July 2014)

The conflict in Gaza is an increasingly lethal indicator that the U.S. must begin to plan for the evacuation of Israel. Our collective inability to prevent barbarism by military and diplomatic means has become obvious. ISIS gains are just a regional prelude. WMD proliferation also continues, and a broadly nuclear-armed Mideast is not unthinkable in coming years. Concurrently, unconstrained non-state enemies of Israel are becoming destructively super-empowered. The exponential progress of multi-purpose advanced technologies is relentless.

As we approach the middle of the 21st Century the most dangerous weapons will find their way into the hands of the least rational enemies of Israel. Some have called this assessment pessimistic, even naïve. But it it is realistic, based on real trends — historical, current, and forward-projected. The writing is on the wall, and we must plan and prepare a U.S. backdoor for the Israeli people to avoid a second Holocaust.

(2)  The Physical Dilemma

Including the West Bank, Israel comprises only 8,522 square miles, a strip of land area smaller than New Jersey. The preponderance her nearly 8 million citizens are concentrated in the northern half of Israel aggravating vulnerability through urbanization and high population density. Finally, she is surrounded by unfriendly neighbors, and antagonisms are growing. In a conflict she is constrained to internal lines, and her only relief is seaward. Israel has survived past conventional military conflicts benefiting from internal lines and maneuver finesse. Unfortunately, against surface, air, or high altitude electromagnetic pulse nuclear weapons attacks her conventional finesse is meaningless. Given Iran’s nuclear bomb progress and growing Palestinian discontent, an existential threat to Israel has arrived, and it is time to plan for contingencies.

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