Photo: Israel soldiers entering the Gaza Strip
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, "neocon" Max Boot declares:
Israelis have to discard Gen. Douglas MacArthur's famous maxim: "War's objective is victory -- not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory."
They do, do they? Of course, the West in general abandoned such MacArthurian wisdom long ago--probably about the same time the general turned the well-known phrase. Before that, "victory" was an intuitive "objective" in wars including, oh, say, for example, World War II, and no one much needed Mac's reminder.
As for Israel, never having been allowed by the world or itself, to achieve total victory over any of its jihadist neighbors, "prolonged indecision" is nothing new. But such limbo has effectively caused its state of war with its enemies to last as long as the state of Israel itself. According to Boot, that's just the way it's gotta be--forever. Why? Boot writes:
Achieving total victory would require waging war in the way that America fought Germany and Japan -- all out and on many fronts until the enemy has no more capacity to resist. Then it would have to occupy the ruined land, imposing a peace at gunpoint to ensure that Gaza could never again be a launching point for attacks on Israel.
That's the best plan I've heard yet. But Boot demurs. Citing "world-wide condemnation" and "internal watchdogs," Boot writes that not only is such "total victory" not a likely objective, it's not an option--nor should it be. He continues:
The essential dilemma Israel faces is this: It can't ignore Hamas's attacks, not only because of the damage they inflict, but also because of the terrible precedent they set. Israel has always been a state that is one battle away from destruction, and it cannot allow its enemies to think that it can be attacked with impunity. But at the same time Israel cannot do what it takes to wipe out the enemy, because of the constraints imposed by its own public, which is far less willing than in the past to suffer or inflict bloodletting.
Oh, the hand-wringing! Israel can certainly do what it takes to wipe out the enemy if its leaders so choose to do what it takes to save the country. Conflicted, exquisitely, Boot goes on:
So the Jewish state is forced to fight an unsatisfying war of attrition with Hamas, Hezbollah and other entities bent on its destruction. ...This is the definition of a quagmire, yet Israel has no choice but to keep doing what it's doing. ... If Israel is to continue to exist, it will have to continue to wage low-intensity war for a long time to come -- definitely years, probably decades, possibly centuries.
Now there's strategic thinking for you: Unending war; paralysis; waste; misery. And here's that golden nugget Boot dug up as his solution:
Israelis have to discard Gen. Douglas MacArthur's famous maxim: "War's objective is victory -- not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory." They will have to settle for a substitute because from their standpoint "prolonged indecision" is better than the alternatives -- the annihilation of themselves, which would be unthinkable, or of their enemies, which would be unconscionable.
Unconcionable? Far, far from unconcionable, "annilihation" of the jihadist Hamas movement (total victory), like the annilation of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany (total victories), would be the triumph of the good over evil.