Sunday, November 18, 2012

World View: Israel Okays Mobilizing up to 75,000 Troops

This morning's key headlines from
  • Israel apparently prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza
  • Hamas's miscalculations in provoking Gaza War
  • Little input from Taiwan in the Japan - China dispute over the Senkaku Islands

Israel apparently prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza

Tanks and troops are massing on Israel's border with Gaza, and on Friday evening, Israel's cabinet authorized mobilization of up to 75,000 reservists, up from just 16,000 authorized the day before, with 30,000 already reporting for duty in their home districts. These moves are reactions to long-range rockets from Gaza reaching as far as Jerusalem, though without yet creating damage or casualties. But the vulnerability of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to rocket attacks from Gaza is causing Israel to get panicky.

Recall that in 2006, Israel went to war with Hizbollah in Lebanon, within four hours of the capture of two Israeli soldier, with no plan, and no objective, resulting in total chaos.
The current situation has the same feeling of Israel panicking. However, we have to assume that the Israelis learned a lot from 2006, and that they have a plan. Possibly the military buildup is just a bluff, and there's no intention of invading. Or the invasion may have begun by the time you read this. If the invasion does take place, it's hard to see what the objective will be. Even in the unlikely event that Israel manages to destroy every missile in Gaza, it will only be weeks before a new supply comes in from Iran through Egypt, through the Rafah crossing. Reuters and Debka

Hamas's miscalculations in provoking Gaza War

I frequently use the phrase "danger of miscalculation" in various situations. For example, in the East China Sea, where Chinese war ships and Japanese coast guard ships are circling each other and the Senkaku/Diayou islands, there's a danger of miscalculation -- an accidental weapon firing or something -- that could spiral into a major confrontation.
There are reports that Hamas actually did miscalculate in provoking the Gaza war with Israel. Hamas seems to have believed it had a free hand to do what it wanted because Israel would not want to risk angering Egypt's government or Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. But Israel went ahead with its military campaign anyway, and Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi, while harshly condemning Israel's actions, is working to mediate a truce, as we reported yesterday.
It's also worth stopping a moment and reminding ourselves what's going on here. These discussions about reservists and miscalculations are about what politicians say and do.
But as I point out frequently, it's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that politicians matter very little in bringing about great events, even in a dictatorship. It's the great masses of people, entire generations of people, that bring them about, and politicians are irrelevant except insofar as they're following the wishes of the masses of people.
In this case, the firing of rockets into Israel has a great deal of popular support among Gazans, and it's not clear that the Hamas government could prevent the firing even if it wanted to. In fact, there have been numerous reports in the past that Hamas is unable to control Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups that are launching the rockets.
In the case of Israel, it's clear that Netanyahu has no choice. The people of Israel are frightened and furious, and are demanding that something be done. I've heard some analysts say that Netanyahu is taking a "risky gamble," but in fact he's not gambling anything because he has no choice. He's doing what he has to do, and he can neither bring about a good outcome nor prevent a bad one. The Mideast is now on automatic flight control. Washington Institute

Little input from Taiwan in the Japan - China dispute over the Senkaku Islands

As the disagreement over sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diayou islands gathered steam in the last few months, Taiwan mostly stayed out of it, even though Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the same islands. There were a couple of critical statements, and there was a high-profile "sea protest" involving hundreds of Taiwanese fishing vessels, but it ended quickly. Taiwan's non-involvement is partially due to political disputes within Taiwan's government over whether Taiwan should be an independent nation or a province of mainland China. But the major reasons seems to be an almost total lack of interest in the issue on the part of the Japanese people. Attempts by activists to generate large protests have backfired when participants were simply uninterested. There is Taiwanese nationalism on other issues, but not on this issue, and there is little Taiwanese xenophobia towards the Japanese. This is in contrast to the Chinese people who are so xenophobic and nationalistic that they've been assaulting Japanese on the streets, smashing Japanese factories, and boycotting Japanese products en masse. As I said earlier, it's the great masses of people that determine government policy, not the politicians. Jamestown

No comments: