The Fighting in Gaza
January 5, 2009
The fighting in Gaza is already a major human tragedy for the Palestinians. It compounds the impact of Hamas’s takeover of Gaza, a heritage of terrorism and rocket attacks on Israel, and Palestinian and Israeli internal political tensions that have made the search for peace largely a matter of hollow rhetoric. The key question is whether this tragedy, and the casualties and damage on both sides, can have any meaningful strategic outcome? It is whether it will simply be another peak of violence in a continuing process of conflict or can actually move towards some form of stable result.
A Strategic Liability for the US
One thing is certain. The fighting has already become a strategic liability for the US. There is no good answer to what level of force is “proportionate” in this kind of asymmetric warfare. There is no equation that can decide how many rocket firings and acts of terrorism justify a given level of air strikes or use of conventional ground forces. The fact that the weak suffer more than the strong in war is a grim reality, as is the fact that no power is going to accept terrorism because its best military options produce civilian casualties.