Why the Bush Team Pursues an Israeli Ceasefire

When I saw today that the Bush Administration is pushing for Israel to end its bloody air raids on Gaza, I thought immediately of TIME.com amigo Tony’s analysis from two years ago, in which he said that Israel has depended on the U.S. to function as the “Don’t hold me back” friend that jumps in and breaks up the fight before it gets too serious — the role the U.S. is playing right now.

The timing of this matters, in that America needs to jump in right after Israel has smashed everything but before the failures of fighting a guerrilla opponent start to appear. In the Lebanon war, rather than pulling the Israelis back, the U.S. urged them to fight harder. The result was a stalemate, but because it was a stalemate against the Israeli army, it was a victory for Hezbollah. Right now Israel is at that point: they’ve killed hundreds of Palestinians and angered the Muslim world again, but they haven’t sent in the ground troops yet to get stuck in the same Gaza quagmire that they left behind in 2005. In summary, the Bush people learned the hard way — at least they seem to have learned at all this time — and don’t want to repeat the same mistake.

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5 Responses to “Why the Bush Team Pursues an Israeli Ceasefire”

  1. Hey Pat –

    Happy New yr !

    I think our buddy Tony is way off the mark with his latest post – Israelis want nothing more than to live in peace and quiet — and the military option is always the last option on the table. The IDF also takes unprecedented measures to prevent civilian casualties – including leaving voicemails to civilians if they live near a Hamas target (http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052260.html)

    I’d also be careful falling into the narrative that “[israel has] angered the Muslim world again”.

    We’ve seen many official Arab states, prominent Arab columnists, and a bunch of opinion polls that show a real divide, with the majority of Arabs blaming Hamas for the current crisis (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24860529-15084,00.html). Most see Hamas as an extreme group backed by Iran and manipulating their own people. Hamas has had 3 years since Israel pulled out of Gaza to take it upon themselves to build a better life for Gazans — and instead they’ve armed up and continued to bomb civilians in the Israeli south.

    Let’s all hope that a real truce/cease-fire can take shape quickly, and then all parties can get back to working on a comprehensive peace plan.

    Posted by Raanan | January 2nd, 2009 at 1:47 pm
  2. Hey Raanan, happy new year to you too! I agree about Hamas being bad for the Palestinians and that Israel has the right to defend itself, but looking at how Israel is handling the situation it seems that a collective-punishment approach to the Gaza Strip is just increasing support for Hamas. I think of the fortress mentality that goes on in N. Ireland and the way that increasing the pressure on the other side only makes them rally closer together.

    The innocent civilians suffer the most when hospitals can’t function and supplies can’t get in, and the supply-line concerns were a problem even before this latest flare-up. I feel like the use of force has been tried lots of times before and the situation stays the same. I really hope Obama can bring a fresh approach to the problem.

  3. “it seems that a collective-punishment approach to the Gaza Strip”.

    What is Israel doing that is collective punishment ? And what should they being doing differently then in response ?

    “The innocent civilians suffer the most when hospitals can’t function and supplies can’t get in, and the supply-line concerns were a problem even before this latest flare-up.”

    The gaza hospitals themselves are not great, but the shortage of supplies & food has mostly been a PR effort – and make no mistake, both sides are spending a ton of time on PR.

    There was actually a report last week that the food stocks in Gaza were completely full:
    “The World Food Programme has informed Israel that they will not be resuming shipment of food commodities in to Gaza due to the fact that their warehouses are at full capacity and will last for approximately two weeks. ( mesi.org )

    Also how many countries exist today that have a sworn enemy on the border, and yet are pressured by the world to open up that border. There have been numerous attacks against Israelis at the border, and even the local power plant has been shelled. What’s more interesting is how Egypt has kept that border sealed almost entirely since 2005 ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7626675.stm ).

    p.s. with the new theme (looks nice) the comments don’t auto link URLs and Gravatars are gone. Maybe try installing http://intensedebate.com/ on this blog?


  4. That is the first I had heard of the warehouse issue. I don’t doubt it, because you are right that each side has a lot to gain by p.r. efforts. But Israel has used electricity and fuel supply cuts in Gaza as an effort to punish Hamas:


    Surely Hamas is not the only group using electricity and fuel to go about their daily activities, so then it does become more of a collective. The IDF does take big steps to avoid hitting civilians, but with the electricity and fuel issues it’s not a targeted thing going specifically at the militants. My biggest point, again based on the Irish thing, is that the best way to get the other side to calm down is to give them a sense of normalcy and participation. Keeping the lights off isn’t going to make the Gazans any more friendly to Israel, and they are going to turn against Israel before Hamas. Hamas knows that and is totally exploiting it, so then we get this continuing cycle of suckage for everyone living there.

    And yeah, Egypt and the other Arab states are totally cynical in their “support” for the Palestinians. They love nothing more than to shove their cause upfront and kick them around behind the scenes. Mubarak is clearly worried about an Egyptian form of Hamas taking control over his party by some religious-purity angle the same way Hamas did to the corrupt Fatah, so he has no problem dragging his feet on helping out.

    I turned off the gravatars because so few people who comment on my site use them, so I got tired of looking at the blank gray silhouette. The auto-linking seems to be working, but for some reason it keeps moderating your comments. I think I have the spam filter set to catch anything with 2 or more links in the body. I’ll take a look, my bad!

  5. Hey —

    Re: the fuel cutback of nearly a year ago, it’s important to realize that “Gaza receives as much as 70 percent of its electricity from Israeli power lines, Israeli and Palestinian officials say.” So when someone attacks you and then wants your fuel that creates a dilemma.

    And while agree that these kinds of tactics probably don’t help the cause, I think the solution is more about restoring peace & calm, and then getting business going again as it was in the late 90s, when many israeli business invested in Gaza and created thousands of jobs: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5087/is_/ai_n18474176

    Re: gravatars – gotcha. Although we now support indenticons and other nice looking gravatars for those who haven’t populated their own gravatar. Take a look at this thread for example: http://raanan.com/2008/12/10/wordpress-27 . To change those setting go to Settings->Discussion.

    And those links seem OK now 🙂

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