Israel's Unspoken Goal in Gaza

By Richard MillerAuthor, "In Words and Deeds: Battle Speeches in History"

One of the most striking things about Israel's invasion of Gaza has been the absence of a clear, achievable political goal. After all, military action ultimately serves political objectives. As Clausewitz famously said, "War is a continuation of policy by other means."

It isn't that Israel hasn't articulated a goal. They have: the elimination of Hamas missile and mortar attacks on Israeli cities. Fair enough, but also not achievable.

Both Hamas' missiles and mortars are low-tech and very movable, and can be operated by 15- year-old terror entrepreneurs from their own backyards. If armchair generals across the globe understand this, you can bet the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) does too.



Fast forward to now. Israel could kill every Hamas leader around, and the missiles would still be launched, albeit in reduced numbers. There will always be new Hamas recruits. Israel knows that the only way to stop the missiles is to replace Hamas with Fatah. Israel, the U.S., the EU, the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Jordanians know that there's no doing business with Hamas. They are believersin the same way that Usama bin Laden believes. But Fatah is different. They're Arab Mafiosi with a political face. It's sort of as if the Gambino crime family took over the Democratic or Republican Party. Relative to Hamas, one cando business with Fatah.

Of course, Israel can't announce that its goal is the restoration of Fatah in Gaza.

That would discredit Fatah in the eyes of its Palestinian constituents. So naturally, news programs are filled with Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah officials engaging in the ritual denunciations of Israeli aggression. But that's what Israel's goal is -- pure and simple. And with Fatah waiting in the wings for Hamas' demise, it could happen. Behind the restoration of Fatah in Gaza would come a tsunami of Western cash and Israeli concessions.

Obama invites Abbas to the White House and the "peace process" rolls on. As for the Palestinians, well, Abbas fools 'em as he rules 'em.

So here's what an Israeli victory will look like: in six weeks (or six months) the PA's Mahmoud Abbas will be sitting in Gaza, smoking a cigarette and talking out both sides of his mouth -- denouncing the Jews in Arabic while in English praising Israeli cooperation for peace. It's not much by American standards, but in the Middle East it's called "progress."