By Jonathan Power
LUND, Sweden | 5 December 2023 (IDN) — The Barbarians were not at the gate, despite the massive rocket attack that provoked Israel to go to war with Hamas. There was no need for a rush to war in Gaza.
The Americans did this after 9/11 and raced into Afghanistan with the intention of eliminating Al-Qaeda. They failed and they got further and further bogged down in a quagmire until they were compelled to leave with their tail between their legs. Afghanistan was America’s longest war ever. 12,400 civilians lost their lives.
Some of the Taliban may have hosted Al Qaeda for a while, but accounts suggest they weren’t happy about it. Fighting them wasn’t worth a war, especially the all-encompassing bombing which destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians.
In Harvard University’s quarterly magazine, “International Security”, professors Alexander Downs and Jonathan Monten reported that they have studied over 1000 military interventions over many years. It is very rare that there has been success, they conclude.
Bogged down, bogged down. These two words should resonate in every Israeli, Western and Russian leaders’ head. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Libya. (Also, Russia in Afghanistan and probably Ukraine). There is such a long list of failures. Bombing has never worked. Give one good reason why it should be different this time, with Israel against Hamas and Ukraine against Russia. I think you will be hard put to.
The Gaza toll is higher than other conflicts in this century
Think of the innocents. According to the New York Times, more than 10,000 women and children have been killed in the less than two months of the fighting in Gaza. This is more than the 7,700 civilians documented as killed by US forces and their allies in the entire first year of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In fact, the Gaza toll is higher than other conflicts in this century. It is twice the number of those killed in Ukraine over the two years of its war.
Say it loud: President Joe Biden, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishy Sunak et al, by backing Israel and its bombing campaign have helped in the unleashing of demons that may be impossible to push back into the bottle for decades to come. Instead, the leaders of Israel and Hamas should be declared by Western heads of government to be war criminals, fit for trial at the International War Crimes Court.
There were other ways apart from war to cut Hamas down to size-sanctions that make sure that funding is cut off and its leaders and supporters cannot travel and closing down banks which hide money for Hamas. Private donors to Hamas in Saudi Arabia and Qatar should be arrested. Cancel the passports of those Palestinians resident in the West and Russia who have gone to fight.
Remember what Russians did in war against Napoleon
Encourage the civilians of Gaza to empty their towns and villages and to head for refuge in Palestine proper, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Let them stand at the gates of these countries or circumnavigate them on country paths. Persuade the Red Cross and other NGOs to feed them on the way. Then deny the Hamas militants, once they take control over an emptied Gaza, food, water, phone systems, electricity and medical supplies. (Only the seriously ill, the seriously wounded and medical staff should stay behind in the hospitals that still function.)
Something not too dissimilar was carried out by the Russians in their war against Napoleon. Muscovites were ordered to abandon the city. From that moment on, lacking fresh supplies and shelter, Napoleon’s campaign went downhill.
As for Israel, if it doesn’t halt its bombardment of Gaza, cut off its arms supplies from the West. Cut off its access to the international banking system. Thus, both sides should be compelled to make a truce and start talking with UN mediation. A two-state solution should be the matter on the table. Without some imaginative policies like these the war between Hamas and Israel could drag on for a decade.
This is what is called “lateral thinking”. This, indeed, is how we all need to think. Otherwise, Israel and Palestine are heading towards the unthinkable, without thinking. Bombing will have got them exactly nowhere. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Copyright Jonathan Power
Photo: Residents inspect the ruins of an apartment destroyed by Israeli airstrikes. CC BY-SA 3.0
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