The Biden administration, steeped as it is in military prowess and full of great military thinkers who understand both military strategy and tactics – and American military history – has dispatched General Antony Blinken to Jerusalem to help Israel fight its war against Hamas. Because the United States knows better.
First, according to General Blinken, the IDF should use smaller bombs to try to protect Gaza civilians “while still achieving its objectives of finding and finishing Hamas terrorists.” The US, according to The New York Times, is preparing to ship smaller bombs to Israel. Furthermore, according to The Times, U.S. officials have been encouraging Israel to use the tactics of US Special Operations forces against in Iraq: targeting Hamas leaders “using small teams of commandos, combined with precision strikes from drones and manned aircraft.” [Note: In Mosul, US and allied forces killed upwards of 9,000 civilians in the battle against ISIS.]
And then there’s that “humanitarian-pause-that-is-not-a-ceasefire,” even though stopping military operations is the actual definition of a ceasefire, regardless of the reason.
Israel rejected the first on military grounds – Hamas is thoroughly dug in underground in tunnels with the civilians sitting defenseless on top. Smaller bombs would still kill the exposed civilians but wouldn’t penetrate the hardened bunkers. How does that help the civilians of Gaza, General Blinken?
On the second, it was only back in July that the US asked for “clarifications” over Israel’s use of a UAV to kill 3 West Bank militants. “’The introduction of armed UAVs raises concern over the potential loosening of rules of engagement in an area that needs to see de-escalation,’ a US official told me,” an Israeli source reported.” [Note: The Obama administration ordered more than 542 drone strikes killing 3,797 people, including an American aid worker and his Italian colleague, and a 16-year-old American citizen who was in the car with his father, the target – and also an American citizen.]
Third, Israel rejected the “pause,” unless/until all of Hamas’s illegally kidnapped and illegally held Israeli civilian hostages are released.
On these and other issues, there is a fine line for the IDF and other ethical militaries to walk, and it does. It is part of Israel’s military training as it is American military training. General Blinken must know that.
What’s that? Antony Blinken is NOT a General? He is Secretary of State and has no military experience?
Well, then. A few months ago, Secretary Blinken thought he had a good idea. The Israel-Saudi conversation was moving forward quietly and productively, so he suggested “significant concessions” from Israel to Palestinian Authority (PA) strongman Mahmoud Abbas. Blinken, according to news source Axios, said Saudi Arabia would need to show the Arab/Muslim world that it got “significant deliverables from Israel for the Palestinians in return for a normalization agreement.”
Last week, Secretary Blinken told a Senate hearing that, after Israel succeeded in ousting Hamas, “At some point, what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to have governance and ultimately security responsibility for Gaza.”
“Effective” is an adjective never applied to the authoritarian and corrupt PA. Ever. So, what “revitalization” does Secretary Blinken have in mind? The part about PA incitement to violence? The part about paying terrorist “salaries” using funds the administration is sending them in violation of the US Taylor Force Act? The part about textbooks for West Bank children so hateful that even the European Union objected to them?
And if Secretary Blinken thinks PA leadership will be welcomed in Gaza, General Blinken, perhaps, would know better.
Hamas rules Gaza NOT because it won an “election” in 2006. It rules because it won the short but brutal Palestinian civil war in Gaza in 2007. The enmity between them continues – with Hamas having worked hard to insert itself into the cities and refugee camps of Judea and Samaria with the financial and weapons help of Iran. Israel’s goal in Jenin and elsewhere earlier in the year was to excise Hamas fighters from Judea and Samaria to help Abbas stay in power, at least for now. The US objected, urging Israel to “de-escalate, prevent further loss of civilian life…”
Moving the intra-Palestinian war from the West Bank to Gaza won’t help – if PA forces are not armed, remnants of Hamas will kill them. If they are armed, they will go for IDF troops. There is nothing de-escalatory here, politically or militarily.
President Biden has been verbally entirely supportive of Israel’s determination to root out the Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza. But war is the only way to do it – and war is hard. War is ugly – war against terrorists who cower in bunkers beneath their own people and shoot them when they try to escape, is uglier. War against terrorists who would massacre 1,400 civilians in a disgusting, self-congratulatory orgy is, perhaps, the worst.
That understanding appears to be missing – and it would be wise, therefore, for General Blinken and Secretary Blinken to both shut up.