Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Did Hamas Win?

By William S. Lind, Traditional Right

In the latest dust-up between Israel and Hamas–a few hundred dead is not a war–Israel once again appears to have triumphed. Hamas suffered around ten times as many casualties, and property damage ran at about the same ratio, or perhaps better, for Israel.

However, this assessment is open to question. In my view, the actions of both Hamas and Israel were driven by domestic politics, as is usually the case in foreign policy. Hamas’s real target was the PLO, which had just for the umpteenth time, canceled elections Hamas was likely to win. By attacking Israel, Hamas deepened its support on the West Bank and diminished further the almost gone legitimacy of the PLO. That’s a win. Israel’s disproportionate response was part of Netanyahu’s drive to remain Israeli Prime Minister, since if he is not in that job there is a good chance he will go to jail for corruption. So far it’s a win for him.

But if we look at the conflict between Israel and Hamas through the lens of Fourth Generation war, we see, emerging wraith-like from the rubble, what looks like a strategic victory for Hamas. How so? In 4GW, the most valuable target is the enemy’s homeland. Sometimes, as on 9/11, it can be struck physically. More often, and more potently, the goal is to hit it on the mental or, better still, moral level. The ideal attack bypasses the enemy’s defenses completely and goes straight for his soft underbelly.

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