Itâ€™s nothing new to say that Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, anxious over Netanyahuâ€™s recent rise in the polls â€“and pretty website â€“ are using the current conflict to gain a hard line advantage over their opponent. Many commentators have said it, both leaders have earnestly denied it, and so itâ€™s not farfetched to contend that the two seek to ride the wave of public support for Operation Cast Lead into the Knesset. Barak, absolutely. With Livni, more gray area.
But personal politic aside, could there be a bigger strategy unfolding right before us, with Operation Cast Lead as catalyst for a more moderate Arab leadership to emerge? Try and follow this chain of logic:
(1) Hamas disintegrates under Israeli military pressure and abandon by its so-called allies in the Arab world. Labor wins in Israel.
(2) Palestinians say goodbye to extremism and fall in love with moderate Fatah, a clear win for Livni and brokered by the Obama-Clinton dream team, eager to make an early success.
(3) This change gives more weight to power players in the Saudi and Egyptian government, many of whom are critical of Iranâ€™s fiery rhetoric and fearful of extremist sentiment growing in their own countries
(4) Ahmenijhad loses the general election in June, Iran chills out on its quest for nukes, and the world remains happy until the next shit storm arrives
Thatâ€™s a pretty big gamble. Huge. Idealistic.
But this isnâ€™t just about defending citizens from rocket attacks. Thereâ€™s something bigger happening. Netanyahu wrote: â€œThere is the need for the regime to disappear once and for all. The required initiative is to put them out of the picture.” And Livni herself told Sarkozy: â€œAt the end of the day, Hamas is a problem not only to Israel but to the entire Palestinian people.â€ Israel wants to redraw the map, both politically and militarily. Livni has to win to stay in her seat of power, Israel has to win to rebuild public morale, and so Hamas will need to be decimated to pave the way for a fresh start.
And what will THAT look like? Remember how things fared in Lebanon II: a relentless attack by the air, with infantry sent in only on the last two days. Hezbollah emerged victorious and stronger than ever. The IDF is locked and loaded at the gates, its boys ready to fight. A serious ground assault and sustained occupation is inevitable. Believe it. Gaza is cruisinâ€™ for a bruisin.
The question is, and has been: Will it work? Why do countries believe that the sword can change hearts, and turn enemies into friends? How much artillery will Israel need to fully sway the Palestinian people to ditch their current leadership and cooperate?
I donâ€™t know. But my guess, a shitload. Either way, Israel is going ALL IN in on this one, as the world waits to see what card sheâ€™ll pull next. Get ready for some red.