Thursday was a head-swiveling day for all of Washington. When not transfixed by the horror of a commercial airliner spread all over the Ukrainian countryside, their eyes are glued to the sight of watching Israeli tanks roll into Gaza.
Unfortunately, that's typical inside-the-Beltway behavior: flitting from one crisis to another, intent on what’s just happened. It would do better to start thinking about what’s going to happen next, and what the U.S. can do to assure the best outcome.
What’s next? In Gaza, Hamas will be worse off for picking a fight with the Israeli military. The Arab world isn't rushing to defend the militant Islamist organization. Indeed, Cairo has sent plenty of signals that it doesn't have much use for Hamas.
The situation now? Hamas is running short of money. It's been clobbered by the Israeli military. And the latest Israeli land incursion will likely demolish its tunnels and military caches in the south and east along the border with Egypt. This will further degrade the group’s military power.
So the real issue for Washington is how to capitalize on the reduction in Hamas capability and stature.
For starters, the administration should realize that Cairo has just sent a big, fat message that it wants to be a force for good—a partner in on-going efforts to restore stability to the region. President Obama should act to take them up on the offer.
Hamas is a stooge of Iran. A bad day for the militants is a bad day for Tehran. It's time for the White House to forget about making nice with Iran and put their stooges and the regime on the endangered species list.
The White House has supported Israel's right to defend itself. The president should maximize our strategic relationship with the Middle East’s only functioning democracy, rather than marginalize the alliance.
To that end, the US should stop wasting time on the fruitless Palestinian-Israeli peace process. As long as Hamas—an organization sworn to destroy Israeli—holds sway among the Palestinian Authority, any peace “process” is doomed. The administration would do far better to focus its attention and considerable diplomatic resources on equally vital, and far more amenable, problems—such as keeping Iraq from spiraling into utter chaos.
The humbling of Hamas, now underway, opens new options for the U.S. The White House needs to get its head in the game and take advantage of the opportunity.