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December 28, 2008

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Helena Cobban

On Obama, he is quite right to maintain the 'One president at a time" position in all his public utterances. One could wish he'd done it a bit more with regard to the economy. But you have no idea what he is urging the current administration to do in his private communications with them.

They, of course, do not have to listen to him, but would be wise to.

Zathras

I agree with Lynch with respect to Levy's comments, but would add to them that it is unlikely Israel acted when it did solely for reasons of domestic politics. It must have known that the Bush White House would have responded to the crisis by directing criticism primarily toward Hamas, and could not be certain than an Obama White House would react in the same way after Jan. 20 -- still three weeks before Israel's own elections.

Hamas is naturally less sophisticated in its reading of American politics than the Israelis are, and probably did not anticipate the violence of Israel's response to its increased rocket fire. The Israeli leadership's reading of how its assault is likely to impact Palestinian politics (and Arab attitudes outside the immediate area) is probably wrong, as it has been so often in the past, but within the context of Israeli reasoning it makes sense that a calculated response of great violence to Hamas' harassment would be made now, while Israel could still count on relatively uncritical support from Washington no matter what it did.

Kyle S.

Though I agree that in the broad scheme there will be no winners, this certainly seems to be driven more than anything by Israel's domestic politics than considerations of regional implications. A number of reports seem to point to the Israelis just wanting a tactical/operational success within a limited campaign to restore fear of the Israeli military back into potential Arab enemies following the IDF's humiliation at the hands of Hezbollah. Do you think this is possible?

It seems probable that Israel could decimate Hamas operationally, but does the political survival (and perhaps strengthening of Hamas) make for Pyrrhic victory regardless of Israel's ability to stop rocket attacks or make its public believe that the threat from Gaza has subsided?

Solomon2

"The legitimate object of war is a more perfect peace." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Israel's campaign in 2006 de-powered Hezbollah but allowed it to keep repressing its captive population and re-arm for external aggression. Let's hope the Gaza effort will see a better outcome for both Israelis and the Arabs of Gaza.

jonst

Zathras wrote: "It must have known that the Bush White House would have responded to the crisis by directing criticism primarily toward Hamas, and could not be certain than an Obama White House would react in the same way after Jan. 20 -- still three weeks before Israel's own elections".

Of course the Israelis can "be certain" how Obama will react. The same way Bush reacted. There is not a dime's worth of difference between the Dems and Republicans in their policy towards Israel.

Pococurante

Gazans elected Hamas to first oust Fatah, then provoke war with Israel. Hamas delivered on the first almost immediately, and now working with Hizbollah is delivering on the second. Everything seems to be going as intended.

Chanting "rockets rockets rockets" misses the entire stated goal of Hamas - never truly negotiate, just posture. They're not freedom fighters - they are organized crime that terrorizes Palestinians while wrapped in the flag of nationalism.

Despite the snark above I have tremendous sympathy for average Gazans. The Israeli settlers are war criminals who en masse should be uprooted and tried as such. But enabling Hamas' grip on Palestinian citizens is not the answer. As corrupt and useless as the PA/Fatah have been historically they are preferable players.

Solomon2

The Israeli settlers are war criminals who en masse should be uprooted and tried as such.

In case you haven't noticed, it is very tough to pin the "war criminal" charge on Israel. Lebanon, for example, has been trying since the 2006 war. The reason seems to be that there is no substance to it under international law, so at the moment no one will bring the charge to court, since the advantage of an official charge would be momentary compared to the lasting exoneration that Israel would ultimately receive.

Helen McElroy

Okay everyone, it is easy to play aideline politics unless you are in the line of fire in which case politics can go to hell. US policy will not change no matter what the lofty idealist Obama proclaims. As long as we have powerful Jewish lobbby and now it seems quite a few American Jews in Israel US policy will not change. Obama spoke out on the Mumbai attacks with no hesitation.The BS in DC will go on forever. CHANGE MY BUTT!!!!!!!!!

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