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)

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"THE TEN COMMANDMENTS" 1956
Allstar/Cinetext/PARAMOUNT

Contents

  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

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(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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(2)  Winning requires strategy, not just power

As Carthage and NAZI Germany discovered, winning requires more than just battlefield victories — and that tactical excellence cannot overcome strategic weakness. An effective grand strategy is a key element of national strength; it’s a state’s collective policy with respect to the external world.

Paul Kennedy defined it as “the capacity of the nation’s leaders to bring together all of the elements {of power}, both military and nonmilitary, for the preservation and enhancement of the nation’s long-term … best interests.” (Grand Strategies in War and Peace, 1992)

Time: Why Israel Does Not Care About Peace

From a Trinitarian perspective (Clausewitz), it focuses and coordinates the diplomatic and military efforts of a state’s People, Government, and Army.

The late American strategist Col. John Boyd (USAF) said that a grand strategy focused our nation’s actions — political, economic, and military — so as to:

  1. Increase our solidarity, our internal cohesion.
  2. Weaken our opponents’ resolve and internal cohesion.
  3. Strengthen our allies’ relationships to us.
  4. Attract uncommitted states to our cause.
  5. End conflicts on favorable terms, without sowing the seeds for future conflicts.

— From Patterns of Conflict, slide 139

This gives us another framework with which to compare the strength of Israel and Palestine.

The Moral High Ground

(3)  Israel abandons the high ground

One of Israel’s greatest advantages was that it held the moral high ground in the eyes of most people in the West. The moral high ground has often provided a decisive advantage, as in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars (in both wars gaining support in the UK and other European nations).

Israel gained materially from its decision to colonize its conquests in 1967 from the Six Day War; the price was burning away their reputation. The polls tell the tale:

  1. Americans’ Reaction to Middle East Situation Similar to Past“, Gallup, 24 July 2014 — “Divided on whether Israel’s actions against Hamas justified”
  2. A Gallup Poll shows American’s support for Israel little changed from 2002 at 42%, but support among young only 25% – 36%. A bad sign for Israel’s future.
  3. The U.S. Is the Only Country Which Supports Israel No Matter What It Does“, Washington’s Blog, 25 July 2014 — Looking at the change in views of Israel by nation over time, per BBC polls.
  4. Why I Have Become Less Pro-Israel“, Jonathan Chait, New York, 29 July 2014 — Example of long-time supporters drifting away.

(4) Comparing the Grand Strategies of Israel and Palestine

No matter how many or great are its tactical successes, Israel’s strategic picture grows dark. Losing allies. Losing people. Perhaps even losing internal cohesion. Worst of all, strategically Israel is very weak.

Israel’s national survival – perhaps even that of its individual citizens – depends upon a sound grand strategy to turn their remaining strengths into victory, or at least survival. What about the Palestinians?

Primal Strategy: often found in the early years of a society when its people have a “single-minded” commitment to a goal, often just a drive to grow. A “primal strategy” is an expression of a people’s core beliefs. It is non-intellectual, with no need for theories and plans.

The Palestinians show us the raw power of a primal strategy, a belief in a shared dream. They dream about the extermination of Israel. That is the official goal of Hamas, the most powerful political party. Their primal strategy forges the Palestinian people into a powerful weapon, against which Israel has few defenses.

Forging this resolve has taken generations. After Israel’s creation the Palestinians hoped that their fellow Arabs would destroy it. After Israel’s construction of atomic weapons circa 1968 and the failure of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Palestinians abandoned hope of eliminating Israel through conventional war. They chose the path of 4GW, which might bring them victory – as it has for so many other peoples fighting modern western states.

T.X. Hammes (Colonel, USMC, Retired) explained the blindness of western experts to Middle Eastern 4GW, one that applies equally well towards the Palestinians and the Iraqi insurgents. From his “Dealing With Uncertainty“, Marine Corps Gazette, November 2005 (reposted at the Small Wars Council):

Today’s insurgents do not plan for the Phase III conventional campaigns that were an integral part of Mao’s three-phased insurgency. They know they cannot militarily defeat the outside power. Instead, they seek to destroy the outside power’s political will so that it gives up and withdraws forces. They seek to do so by causing political, economic, social, and military damage to the target nation.

After being driven out of Fallujah in November 2004, Abu Musad al-Zarqawi wrote, “The war is very long, and always think of this as the beginning. And always make the enemy think that yesterday was better than today.”

(5) Strengths of the Palestinian people

The Palestinian people have 7 strategic strengths to offset their numerous material weaknesses.

First is their larger and more rapidly growing population.

Second, the Palestinians are weaker than Israel. Not only do Americans often admire underdogs, but also weakness is in itself a profound advantage. From Martin van Creveld’s “Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did” (2004):

In other words, he who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat.

Much recent 4GW literature attributes an exaggerated significance to this theoretical effect, despite many counter-examples-near-genocidal warfare waged by states against weak groups with little or no global criticism. But given the Palestinian’s support by important elements in the developed nations and most less-developed states, is a powerful advantage for them – giving themselves and their supporters belief that they have the moral high ground.

Third, entropy acts as the Palestinian’s ally. It is easier to destroy than build. Israel must defend everything, while the Palestinians in the refugee camps show their willingness to tolerate a low standard of living while waiting for victory.

“He who defends everything defends nothing.”
— Frederick The Great (1712-1786)

Fourth, the increasing concentration of global oil production in the Middle East strengthens the Palestinian’s allies, and weakens willingness of developed nations to challenge them. Ever since Nigeria’s 1966 blockade and starvation of the Biafran people, developed nations will tolerate almost anything to ensure reliable access to oil.

Fifth, demographic trends point to increasing and inevitable weakness of Israel vs. the Palestinians. Demographics often decide ethnic rivalries. The Palestinians’ higher fertility rates inexorably increase their advantage over Israel and might eventually give them a voting majority in Israel. Neither certain nor precise forecasts are possible due to lack of reliable data on Palestinian population, emigration rates, and fertility rates.

Sixth, the success of Israel’s counter-insurgency strikes against Hamas and Hezbollah have resulted in a “Darwinian ratchet”. Israel’s security services cull the ranks of the insurgency. This eliminates the slow and stupid, clearing space for the “best” to rise in authority. “Best” in the sense of those most able to survive, recruit, and train new ranks of insurgents. The more severe Israel’s efforts at exterminating the insurrection, the more ruthless the survivors. Hence the familiar activity pattern of a rising sine wave, seen in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, and a dozen other places: successes by the security forces, a pause in activity, followed by another wave of activity – but bigger and more effective. The resurgence of Hamas and Hezbollah fits this pattern, and both have obviously taken Israel by surprise.

Seventh, in 1978 Egypt dealt the IDF a serious blow, which may prove fatal for Israel. The Camp David accords eliminated any serious conventional military threat to Israel. Since then the IDF has acted as police agency, fighting various kinds of insurgents. It is possible this has “rotted” away the IDF’s core competencies, explaining its otherwise baffling strategic and tactical failures in the current campaign.

(6) How might the Palestinian people defeat Israel?

Their actions appear limited to exerting pressure – economic, terror, political – on Israel, pushing individual Israelis onto one of two tracks.

  1. Supporting negotiations with the Palestinians. The Palestinians can sequentially renegotiate these into total victory, as we did with the American Indians, and as Rome did with Carthage. This is incremental surrender.
  2. Emigrating, leaving Israel for safer and more prosperous lands.

Progress has been considerable on both tracks, especially the second. Immigration to Israel peaked in 1990 at over 200 thousand. In 2003 and 2004, for the first time, Israel had almost equal number of immigrants and emigrants. This powerfully magnifies the Palestinians’ higher fertility rate.

Mao would have appreciated the commitment of the Palestinians as they wage a protracted struggle against Israel. From Mao ‘s “To be attacked by the enemy is not a bad thing but a good thing“, 26 May 1939:

I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if the enemy attacks us, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but also achieved a great deal in our work. …

We still have to wage a protracted struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology.

It seems obvious who will win. Israel might last 100 years if its people are both lucky and skillful — and if the Palestinians continue to have incompetent leaders. Nevertheless, in the future only historians will know that the war’s outcome was ever in doubt. Much as today’s students see the Hundred Years War between England and France, Israel’s end will seem inevitable to them.

Whatever grand strategies Israel has used since their conquest of the West Bank and Gaza — and this paper has discussed only the results, not the specifics — have failed. However theoretical the debates over a state’s grand strategy, the stakes are of the highest kind.

Can any grand strategy by Israel overcome such odds at this late date? As Peter O’Toole said as Lawrence of Arabia in the movie of that title, “Nothing is written.” However, it seems clear how to bet. As so often in history, bet on the horrible outcome. It looks like another tragedy in the making, another destruction of Israel, and Diaspora for the Jewish people.

Israel might provide another example of a failed grand strategy proving terminal.

Could another strategy succeeded, allowing Israel to survive? That’s a debate for historians, but a powerful warning for America.

And the tears flow on forever
Southward in silent ranks
They flow to the Jordan River
And overrun the banks.

— Heinrich Heine’s Rabbi of Bacharach (1840)

(8)  For More Information

(a)  Interesting recent articles about Israel:

  1. How Hamas Won: Israel’s Tactical Success and Strategic Failure“, Ariel Ilan Roth, Foreign Affairs, 20 July 2014
  2. Wounded Knee 1890 – Gaza 2014. Manifest Destiny in the United States and Israel“, by WP at Sic Semper Tyrannis, 24 July 2014
  3. Stop the rockets, but lift the siege“, The Economist, 26 July 2014 — “Any ceasefire will be temporary unless Israel starts negotiating seriously with the Palestinians”
  4. Israel’s fears are real, but this Gaza war is utterly self-defeating“, Jonathan Freedland, op-ed in the Guardian, 26 July 2014 — “Palestinians and Israelis are saddled with leaders who with every move make their people less, not more, secure.”
  5. Why Latin American diplomats are pulling out of Israel“, GlobalPost, 30 July 2014 — This is the result of bad strategy, converting friends into foes.

(b)  Other predictions of doom for Israel:

  1. “Will Israel live to 100?, Bernard Schwartz, The Atlantic Magazine, May 2005. (Subscription required)
  2. History and demographics are ganging up on Israel”, Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (2 July 2002)
  3. Israel is Doomed”, Israel Shamir, May 19 2001
  4. Preparing for the Evacuation of Israel, Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired, 6 March 2012

(c)  Posts on the FM site about Israel:

  1. The War Nerd shows how simple 4GW theory can be, 22 January 2009
  2. Are Israel’s leaders insane? Jeffrey Goldberg thinks so., 15 August 2010
  3. We can only watch as the nation of Israel slowly commits suicide, 30 November 2011
  4. Israel leads America on a march to war. A march to folly., 16 February 2012
  5. Preparing for the Evacuation of Israel, 6 March 2012
  6. Israel becomes its enemy, 20 November 2012
  7. Why Israel didn’t win in Gaza, 6 December 2012

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21 thoughts on “The Fate of Israel

  1. There will be no Fabius Maximus to save the U.S. With the great interest about Israel’s future FM makes me wonder. There is a joke: shouldn’t Israel become the 51st state? If they did then they would have only two senators instead of the 100 they now have. You haven’t mentioned that if Israel, with U.S. support, crushes their enemies they will lose their victim status. They may lose their protected status right up there with blacks, illegals, gays, etc. So the whole thing is couched in Israel as victim. All the military writers here seem to love Israel and will do anything to support it. Why? This is America, we don’t need Israel. Maybe it is guilt for all the blood and treasure spent for nothing in the middle east and this is how we redeem ourselves. At least we can protect/save Israel after botching Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan to name a few. Being a vietnam vet I am tired of BS from any side, especially from our government and military leaders who want to keep fighting for others that is not in our self interest or self defense. America has no clue anymore. We get lost in a tea cup they say. Alex

  2. Great post. Agree with all your conclusions. One tiny snivel if I may: France won the Hundred Years War. So England winning at the battles of Agincourt, Crecy, and Poitiers may have been great but in the long run were only pyrrhic victories. Which puts 14th Century England in the same category as Carthage and NAZI Germany where as you say “winning requires more than just battlefield victories — and that tactical excellence cannot overcome strategic weakness”.

    1. Mike,

      Good point about the Hundred Years War. The ending is complex. Henry V won on the battlefield, totally. His reward was marriage to the French King’s daughter (Catherine of Valois) and getting the Treaty of Troyes (1420) by which his son would rule both Kingdoms.

      But in seldom things are not easily “done”. The deaths of Henry V of England and Charles VI of France gave the crowns to Henry VI at an age of one. Worse, he was insane (the revenge of France, probably inherited from his mother). Not only could he not hold France, he couldn’t hold England — the start of the War of the Roses.

      So Fate took back what England won on the battlefield.

  3. Interesting post. Elaborated on previous ones about the fate of an Israel.

    Fairly clear to me that Israel was seriously surprised by the strength of Hamas. They seem to be reeling internally and quite worried as evidenced by a Bloomberg flying over in an El Al jet. I’ve seen night videos of Hamas operating at will in well coordinated actions against the IDF. They sense now they are in a real mess.

    Grand Strategy?

    One must wonder how the Palestinians have been so capable? So effective. And the tunnels? Range of the missiles? Your description of the united strength if these Palestinians is just incredible to me. Spot on.

    Washington’s Blog about the world’s support of Israel should alarm them. of course given the victim hood inherent in the social meme will preclude such an observation by many Israelis. Bad news probably up ahead for these people.

    Without the US’s aid, would they be so foolish? So arrogant? So imperialistic?

    Breton

  4. Israel frequently pisses me off.

    Israel also has nukes.

    Ergo, my feelings are secondary.

    One bit of good news from the Mideast is that Israel does get along with the Kurds. And it obviously does business with the Gulf States. While I remain cynical about the settlements and related Israeli aggression, insofar as Israel is not “surrounded by enemies” but rather one of many players in a MidEast tapestry, the less likely it is to go nuclear. Which is what I want.

    More broadly, the point should be to remove the root causes of the Nazi attack on Jews, which is the root cause of Israel’s unease, and then simply let time and nature’s healing process cure wounds. To wit:

    First: The concentration camps were largely Taylorism, scientific management gone mad. Insofar as this ongoing new industrial revolution is going on, it is removing the 20th century scientific management framework which, in a bizarre distortion, gave rise to the camps. This new industrial revolution poses many problems – as we have discussed in other posts. But is is different. Which, for right now, is enough.

    Second: Insofar as National Socialism relies on the nation state, its impact recedes along with any decline in the nation state. We have often discussed the decline of the nation state in this blog.

    Third, and this is an idea about 3 hours old. Nazis also disliked “degenerate art.” So why not take this degenerate art and transform it into something they would not only dislike but fear. Degenerate art on steroids. In about a week or two, I’ll have this idea fleshed out.

  5. FM: There is probably a lesson for Israel in the 100 Years War. After all Israel’s war has been going since 1948 and I don’t see it ending in my lifetime. Agreed that in the 100 Years War that “the ending is complex” as you say. But it was probably more than fate and insanity.. English kings, sane or not, did not make strategy by themselves. They (the English) violated all of Colonel Boyd’s strategy that you listed.

    They lost their own internal cohesion, partially because of Henry VI, but also because of the impoverishment of much of the English countryside due to Henry V’s continuation of the war even after he married Catherine.

    They failed to weaken France’s internal cohesion. In fact after Agincourt French resolve was stronger not weaker and they won several other major battles while Henry V was still alive (Patay and Bauge come to mind).

    They failed to strengthen relationships with their allies. Burgundy deserted them and went over to the French. Ditto with Gascony and Aquitane. And they were not able to keep France from allying with Scotland. The Scot’s Guard (La Grande Armee Ecossaise) fought on French soil against England and Scots also tied down English troops on the Anglo-Scottish Marches.

    They did not attract uncommitted states to their cause, at least in the case of Spain where they backed the loser in the Castilian game of thrones. Spain allied with France and her navy was key in defeating the English fleet at La Rochelle, leading to loss of English dominance at sea and French piracy and coastal raids.

    They (or rather Henry V) did not end the conflict on favorable terms. After he got what he wanted at the Treaty of Troyes (marriage to Catherine and the throne of France for his heirs) he attacked his brother in law thereby continuing the conflict.

    Aside from Boyd and strategy they failed to keep up tactically and materially. They were still depending on the tactics of Edward III and the longbow 100 years later against French artillery.

    1. Mike,

      All great points. Thanks for the additional info!

      We easily forget how primitive was the conduct of premodern wars, even those of sophisticated states like the Roman Empire (who built roads and water-delivery systems on a continental scale). That goes even more so for the almost ad hoc armies of the late middle ages (like the Hundred Years War).

      Little concept of tactics and strategy. No staff or dedicated couriers. Few maps. Even Napoleon found it difficult to get is generals to put the date/time and their location on the communications.

  6. A valuable observation by Andrew Marshall, former head of Reuters’ Iraq bureau:

    “There is a tendency in the 21st century World of 24-hour rolling news coverage to overemphasize and dramatize individual incidents in a conflict, subjecting them to intense coverage, while at the same time failing to analyze the underlying causes and patterns of conflict. The task of analyses is to focus on the “signal”, not the “noise”, but most modern media do the opposite.”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/25/mh17-sacrificed-airliner/

  7. At the risk of opening Pandora’s box . Have you considered the original nationality of the settlers on the West Bank and their orientation.? (Don’t know f it even matters)

    Unfortunately both sides are driven by Religeous zealots who believe that their truth is the only truth and that God won’t let them fail.. As a result your views about strategy may make sense but in the final analysis the protagonists don’t care. Which makes the 100 year war a good analogy.

    1. Charles,

      (1). Who are the original settlers in the West Bank? The first cities were about 3500 BC. Why do we care?

      Who were the first settlers of North America? Do we care?

      (2). “strategy may make sense but the protagonists don’t care”

      They might not care about arithmetic either. But math and strategy have their own inexorable logic, which always rules in the end.

    2. I was attempting to obtain more information re your opinion about the current settlers with dual citizenship who IMHO may be the tail wagging the dog. It would appear however that I failed to properly express myself and came off as argumentative or Troll like. For that I apologize

    3. Charles,

      No apology needed, as IMO you were neither.

      The point of original ownership comes up frequently, as it is an essential justification for Israel’s legitimacy. Otherwise it’s just another Western colony, like Rhodesia, albeit with many of the Arabs helpfully leaving following the initial conquest.

      My mis-interpretation of your comment was based on the commonplace belief in American exceptionalism. Our past is judged differently than that of other people’s, since we are inherently good.

      As for your point about Israel’s internal political dynamics, it is an important question — but one about which I know little.

  8. “Their actions appear limited to … 1. Supporting negotiations … This is incremental surrender.”

    That negotiations are equivalent to surrender is the Israeli right-wing point of view. Do you really think that’s true though?

    1. Petteybee,

      I agree, that’s an insane view. Israel’s current prosperity results from negotiations with Egypt and Syria. They were successfully negotiating with Palestine until Isarel’s right-wing decided to use force to steal the Palestinians land. Which will, IMO, go down as one of the great strategic errors of our age.

      Future generations will ask how Israel’s people could have done something so stupid.

    2. “Future generations will ask how Israel’s people could have done something so stupid.”
      The usual. It’s a good way to buy votes, so it becomes policy and the consequences will be cleaned up later. Better than the disaster of another party getting into power. The voters figure it can’t be disastrous or our political leaders wouldn’t propose it. Those who benefit from cheap suburban housing find it easy to convince themselves that it’s not a bad idea.
      And that’s without even considering the folks who believe the Lord ordered them to populate the hills of Judea.

  9. “In other words, he who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses…”

    Nothing to add, but I can’t help saying — just so brilliant, really. Absolutely genius. I feel my IQ going up a point or two just reading this. So simply and clearly put, anyone can understand.

    “Whatever grand strategies Israel has used since their conquest of the West Bank and Gaza — and this paper has discussed only the results, not the specifics — have failed. ”

    For the life of me, I can’t make out anything coherent among the noise. Hamas are terrorists, I keep hearing, but okay. I can’t really decipher anything rational out of all this.

    But I think maybe it’s not about strategy, it’s about desires, and that’s another thing. I think Israel wants the same thing the USA wants — the ability to execute revenge attacks against Muslims with absolutely zero chance of any retaliation. Of course this is nearly impossible, but both countries are willing to sacrifice anything to achieve this goal. Israel has thrown away the goodwill and sympathy that came following the Holocaust and WWII. The USA has sacrificed it’s legal protections, the 4th amendment, the core of if its essential goodness.

    1. Cathryn,

      Re: the power of weakness

      To understand our world I strongly recommend reading Martin van Creveld’s books.

      “I can’t really decipher anything rational out of all this.”

      History is a tale we tell to comfort ourselves, so that we believe events have meaning and can be understood. People are rationalizing, not rational. It’s something that comes and goes for even the best of people. Israel and the Palestinians are playing on the low end of the curve.

  10. This is the result of bad strategy, as defined by John Boyd: multiply friends and discourage enemies.

    Why Latin American diplomats are pulling out of Israel“, GlobalPost, 30 July 2014 — Opening:

    Latin American nations are expressing their revulsion at the bloodshed in Gaza — and squarely pinning the blame on Israel.

    Chile, Peru and El Salvador said this week they are recalling their ambassadors from Israel for consultation. That was after Ecuador and Brazil did the same last week. And on Wednesday, Bolivian President Evo Morales declared Israel a “terrorist state.”

    Lots of world leaders have denounced the violence on both sides of Israel’s 3-week-old war against Hamas in Gaza. Palestinian casualties have reached 1,328, according to Gaza health authorities, while the Israeli death toll is close to 60. But the Latin Americans appear to be leading a diplomatic storm, flying envoys out of Tel Aviv.

    Recalling an ambassador for consultation falls short of breaking off relations outright, but it can lead to that.

  11. Another analogy to the present situation in the Levant is the Crusader states. The Western powers supported the establishment of a Western salient along the eastern Mediterranean that fought a more-or-less successful politico-military campaign of survival for 300 years. But in the end, just as Israel will discover, I suspect, the problem with their geopolitical position is that they cannot sustain the costs of survival as a Western island in a Middle Eastern sea of hatred.

    So viewed in that light actions like the present Gaza beatdown are in the long term a negative for the “intruders”. They succeed in crushing a local rival only to succeed in increasing the regional loathing for the crusader state.

    I can easily see Israel hanging on for another century or two. But cannot see it doing better in the long run than the Kingdom of Jerusalem did…

    1. FD Chief,

      I agree, The Crusader Kingdoms are a powerful analogy to Israel. Although a sad one.

      Many factors brought them down, but perhaps the chief of these was demographics. Outnumbered from the start, both internally and externally, net emigration to Europe shifted the balance of power terminally against them. The eternal occurrence.

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