The current conflict between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas will not only be a case study in the failures in the intelligence cycle, but in the way in which the legitimate use of force has a boomerang effect, especially when used in a asymmetric confrontation against violent non-state actors – criminal groups, insurgencies or, as in this case, terrorist organizations.
In his seminal book The Utility of ForceRupert Smith argues: “Military force can achieve military success at the local level, but often this success fails to produce political promise: there is no ‘decisive victory’ and therefore force, despite of its impressive display, it has lost its usefulness.”
AlufBenn agrees with this in his article.Israel’s self-destruction: Netanyahu, the Palestinians and the price of carelessness”, for the magazine Foreign Affairs: “[Benjamín Netanyahu] “He has promised to ‘destroy Hamas,’ but beyond military force, he has no strategy to eliminate the group nor a clear plan for what would replace it as the de facto government in postwar Gaza.”
Without a doubt, the government of Israel, like that of any other country, had the obligation to use self-defense, especially after the incontrovertibly atrocious events of October 7 against its population. However, I have maintained it in other spaces since before the incontrovertible crhumanitarian isis in Gaza: the problem with legitimacy is that we often see it as a principle – the principle of legitimate defense – when in reality it is more of a kind of bonus. A principle does not change nor is exhausted; On the other hand, a bonus is spent from the first moment it begins to be exercised – and hence it is imperative to manage.
Hamas would have to be dismantled down to the last militant cadre and disappear from the Palestinian – particularly Gazan – political landscape for any possibility of lasting peace. However, the history of asymmetric confrontations teaches us that no violent non-state actor, whether in the form of an insurgency, terrorist organization, or criminal group, has been defeated exclusively through the use of military force. Furthermore, the reaction of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has guaranteed theHamas’ permanence as a political actor in Gaza. As they say in the jargon: you are simply pruning the grass, so that it will grow again later.
With this, Israel is sharing the same mistake as other countries such as the Soviet Union and the United States in Afghanistan, France in Algiers, Great Britain in Northern Ireland or Malaysia, the Ottoman Empire in Arabia, or Mexico… in Mexico: settling for the conventional military force deliver tactical results rather than strategic and, more importantly, political achievements.
For all this, for those of us who have dedicated part of our lives to these issues, it would be appropriate to ask ourselves, in what other way, and by what other means, could Israel have reacted to better manage its legitimate defense bonus, and thus avoid a series of moral and geostrategic implications in the face of a clearly provocative act by a terrorist group like Hamas?
Discanto: There is right and legitimacy in the fact that the Jews have managed to organize themselves as a State. Like any other nation… starting today with the Palestinians. Two-state solution.