The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Let’s Discuss Israel And Gaza Again

There will be no weekly roundup today or next Sunday. It should return on the 21st of January.

Hezbollah just hit Meron airbase hard, in retaliation for Israel assassinating a Hamas leader in Lebanon. This was a major intelligence center, commanding drones and connecting other radar centers.

They have recently withdrawn two brigades from Gaza and intend to pull back more. They don’t control even the land in Gaza they claim to control, and are being bled white by an insurgency they can’t come to grip with and which is outfighting them.

Hezbollah has forced hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers to leave their homes near the Lebanese border. They’re systematically dismantling Israeli surveillance systems. If there’s a real war: if Israel tries to bomb the hell out Lebanon, they’ll strike Israel’s air bases with vast numbers of missiles. Without an air-force, well, Israel has nothing but terrible ground troops and some nukes.

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Meanwhile, the US (no one else matters) has not been able to stop the Houthis from attacking Israeli shipping. It matters less than people make it out to, they can go around the cape and much of Israel’s supplies come from Europe and North America anyway, but the sheer powerlessness, the inability to bigfoot, is instructional: American missiles cost millions, the resistance’s cost tens of thousands most.

What Israel is trying to do is to hold on and let famine do the work. Right now, 80% of the people starving in the world are in Gaza. They can’t win militarily, they’re too incompetent and their enemies are no longer punching bags, but if they can keep the blockade of Gaza going, they can still ethnically cleanse.

It’s worth pointing out that historically, Israelis have been very good at ethnic cleansing: after all, almost everything in Palestine was Palestinian less than a hundred  years ago, and now almost nothing is. This is the last gasp, the attempt to finish the job.

But Israel has systematically trained up its enemies. Hezbollah is their creation, it would not exist if they had not invaded and occupied Lebanon. Hamas was actively supported by them in order to undercut the PLA and fragment resistance.

Israel taught its enemies how to fight against overwhelming force; how to hide from assassinations and shrug them off when they inevitably happen; how to operate against air superiority and American style electronic intelligence.

And they’ve lost deterrence, they can’t back down the Houthis, and they have only partial deterrence on Hezbollah:

EU Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borell, has met a delegation from Hezbollah, in a last ditch effort to contain tensions on the Lebanese Israeli border and prevent a full-scale war Hezbollah informed Borell that there will be no discussions regarding the Lebanese front until the war on Gaza is stopped, and reiterated that they will not retreat a single inch from Lebanese territory.

Israel has been a US dependency for a long time, but right now, if it weren’t for the US, it would probably collapse economically and militarily.

This war an embarassment for the Israelis. It shows they can’t protect the settlers, they can’t win against Hamas and they can’t stop Hezbollah from striking settlements. It’s just embarassment all around. They want to widen the war and get Iran and the US into it, but they overestimate the US: the US can’t send ships into the Gulf and expect to leave. Most of its regional allies would be unwilling to let it run its airforce off their airfields, and the US can devastate Lebanon but it can’t stop Hezbollah from devastating Tel Aviv.

Israel’s on its way down. I don’t know how this mess will turn out, in the end, but US and Israeli weakness has been made clear. Neither are what they were. Add this to the humiliation of Ukraine and it’s clear the American century is all but over and that its allies are no longer safe.

As for a peace, if it’s negotiated, it’ll be done under Chinese auspices. Think about that a little.



Open Thread


Construction Of Reality: Humanity’s First Invention


  1. UphillBend

    All good points. But aside from the geopolitics and military situation, the most urgent thing at this point should be to prevent mass famine and disease – which the above article discusses as a fearful possibility.

    I’m hoping that calls for “Ceasefire Now!” could be paired with something catchy to the effect of “Let the food and supplies go through!”

    There should also be a media campaign to highlight the brutality of Israel’s blocking of aid from getting through, as much as has been done through social media to show the gruesomeness resulting from its bombs and snipers.

    Looking back at an earlier history of wartime barbarism underlines the importance of addressing both these issues. During the Korean War, as the US was carpet bombing North Korea to eventually kill 20% of its population, it also bombed irrigation dams that provided 75% of the water for North Korea’s agriculture. NK’s casualties would have been much worse than the 20% rate but for the emergency aid provided by its allies.

    Somewhat comparable to the current calls for a ceasefire there were armistice talks going on but that was a protracted affair. (Let’s pray and hope that getting a ceasefire in Gaza will be much quicker.) The US air bombing was horrific. And the armistice negotiations were important. Those were related to but still distinct from the mass famine that NK was facing, and which could only be addressed by immediate humanitarian aid. And the aid that they received seemed to have worked to avoid a famine.

    Also, suggestions of charity organizations that somehow can get around Israel’s obstructions better than others would be welcome.

    **Note that there were neither tactical nor strategic justifications for the carpet bombing of NK after the first year of the war. At that point, South Korea was a war-free zone and firefights were limited to the area around the 38th parallel. There was no tactical justification to fly far north of there and level the entire country. And since the US was no longer seeking victory but an armistice there was no strategic justification either. I’m not a fan of NK but the US bombing campaign there was one of modern history’s greatest atrocities.

  2. Poul

    Disease could be a much bigger problem than starvation for the people of Gaza. a classic cause of mass death in the Spanish concentration camps in Cuba (during the Ten Years’ War). Ditto with the British and German camps in Africa. (The Boer Wars & Herero Wars)

    Prof. Devi Sridhar, University of Edinburgh

    “We could see almost a quarter of Gaza’s population – close to half- a million human beings – dying within a year. Largely deaths from preventable health causes & collapse of the medical system. It’s a crude estimate, but one that is data-driven…”

  3. jump

    The US also overestimates itself and is playing a very dangerous game of chicken. The American century may be all but over, but they will be the last to admit it.
    Is the US support of Israel a way to assert itself in the middle east and gain some control of the energy flows (good cop/bad cop)? Does it want a wider regional war or is it hoping the threat of war is enough? Egypt, KSA, UAE as well as Iran joining BRICS cannot go unpunished. Is the price of allowing Israel’s ethnic cleansing worth it?
    I agree that there will not be Israeli success, or US success for that matter, and there will be plenty of embarrassment to go around. The question is how crazy or desperate will the crazy get?

  4. It is not the money, if it was the West would be vanquishing all. It is skills and the resources to employ with those skills that matter.
    Time is not money. Time is time and it is time to recognize that time cannot be subjugated to human whim.
    So the sooner the West realizes it is time for a time out, then better times are ahead for all.

  5. Tallifer

    Israel has no good options: stop fighting Hamas so it can replenish its weapons and missiles with confiscated Western aid, or keep fighting and inflame the Western left and help Hamas recruit another generation of fighters. Emotionally, they prefer the latter.

  6. Bill H.

    The second paragraph seems to say that Hezbollah has withdrawn two brigades from Gaza. I was unaware that Hezbollah had troops in Gaza in that kind of strength. Were you saying, perhaps, the Israel had withdrawn two brigades?

  7. GlassHammer

    “American missiles cost millions, the resistance’s cost tens of thousands most.”


    Some of the American missiles that cost millions have enough yield to remove the existing topography and the enemy at the same time. And from what I read the Seahawks that destroyed Houthi boats shot Hellfire Missles which cost $100k a pop not millions.

    If we want to say this is mismatched fight, or overkill munitions, or even questionable tactics we can do so with making overly reductive statements on U.S. warfighting capabilities.

    God it feels weird to defend the Military Industrial Complex but… this “U.S. equipment can’t match beat the Houthi tech” makes no sense to me. The USS Carney is routinely downing those cheap Houthi drones using just its main guns and and so is the USS Laboon. (Those ship rounds cost thousands of dollars each which makes the cost to drown the drones much cheaper.) To put that in perspective, the British HMS Diamond is actually using Missles that do cost 1-2 million dollars each to down the same Houthi drones.

  8. CrushZionism

    Where did Ian say the Houthi missiles were better than American arms. The facts remain the same, the Houthis are wreaking havoc on a tiny budget while forcing the US and Israel use weapons that are exponentially more expensive.

  9. Purple Library Guy

    @GlassHammer, I believe Mr. Welsh was referring to the munitions the Americans have been using to shoot down Houthi drones before they reach shipping–the countermissiles cost a couple million each, the drones maybe $2,000, each interception thus costing 1000 times as much as it costs the Houthis to attack.
    Yes, counterattacks are going to be less inefficient.

  10. GlassHammer

    I mean we are all aware that if the U.S. wanted to save money on enemy engagements at sea its best bet is to move against the source of enemy deployment, right?

    That outcome would have a lot more collateral damage then what’s currently going on in the red sea.

  11. bruce wilder

    Military tech is one thing and then there’s the quality of leadership and the factors that determine who occupies positions of authority and how and when those leaders are held accountable.

    I think politico (not all that reliable admittedly) reported that SoDef Austin was in the ICU 3 or 4 days before anyone notified the White House and meanwhile his number 2, having assumed an “acting” role, remained on vacation. In an Administration led by a barely functional senile old coot, the subjective picture seems to be of a government running on automatic cruise control, while crises escalate and multiply.

    You cannot expect much of a strategy if among the top rank of officials everyone is a spokesmodel reading a script.

    I saw an old clip of Jimmy Carter in an interview talking quite realistically about Israel, Palestine and the lock the Israeli lobby has on Congress. That guy was intelligently engaged with his own person and it made me question if anyone in the Biden Administration is.

    Stupid rules. And the only opposition is naive, ignorant protestors determine to keep their virtue by being ineffective. That’s more dangerous than any drone.

  12. Carborundum

    Hitting the Meron facility has a very specific resonance that I don’t see any of the Western twitterati insta-experts picking up. It was struck a couple of months before the outbreak of the 2006 war and is cited in the trade as something that IDF intelligence mis-read in the escalation to that conflict.

    It is not a particularly hard target to hit – it’s something like 10 klicks south of the border (reporting is that they were hit by ATGMs among other systems). My view, the dominant interpretative framework here should be political, not military. Meron is a handy, high value target with significant symbolism. In terms of really degrading military capabilities, I just don’t see it. The IDF knows how vulnerable it is and ultimately there’s not a lot of capability there that isn’t replicated in other places (e.g, they’ve already deployed their aerostat, which is based about 25 clicks further South and has an even larger field of view). Additionally, there’s too much other stuff that Hezbollah could have targeted that would have had a hell of a lot more material military impact (e.g., there’s a Patriot battery based about 5 clicks east of Meron that could just as easily have been hit). Hell, they could just have hit Meron with 500 rockets and wiped it off the earth, rather than dropped 60 on it for a photo op.

    As to the rest of it, I think you’re moulding a very small number of facts into a desired conclusion. As I have previously mentioned, IAF bases are extremely hardened – unless they have acquired deliverable nuclear devices, there is no way Hezbollah has the combat power to knock them out. They can harass them, they can make them less efficient and they can inflict casualties, but take them off the board, no. Similarly, the IDF just isn’t as terrible as you are making them out to be. They aren’t as good as they would like everyone to believe, but they look to be good enough to continue doing what they’re doing without massive casualties, unless something materially changes. I look at these guys and I look at what they’re messaging on and I see a bunch of folks who are settling in for the long haul.

    Analytically, my question would be whether the IDF have been handed a mission by their political echelon that is achievable (destroy HAMAS in toto, really?) and whether the material, political and moral costs of that mission and how it is being conducted are going to ultimately end up being far, far higher than Israel currently believes.

  13. Z

    One of the benefits of the existence of Israel to the Jewish Zionist Mafia (JZM), or Mega as they may prefer to refer to themselves (, is that it provides spying services to them that essentially have legal immunity in the U.S. because if an employee from the many private Israeli security and surveillance companies gets into any hot water in the U.S. they can flee to the safety of Israel with their dual passports. If they get themselves into big trouble in the U.S. and are arrested and held, there’s also probably a pretty decent chance, if they are important enough and/or what they are involved in is important enough, that diplomatic pressure from Israel might get them released because there is a tight tie between Mossad and many of these private companies in Israel. Some of the companies are, in fact, founded by former members of the Mossad so it’s not hard to imagine that intelligence is often exchanged between Mossad and these private companies, which have value to the Mossad because they are able to operate and take actions without directly implicating Mossad. That “intelligence” is also very useful to the JZM to help them gain leverage over politicians, business rivals, and such.

    Harvey Weinstein hired an Israeli company (Black Cube) to spy on some of his accusers and journalists covering the accusations.

    In November 2017, Farrow reported that Weinstein had, through the lawyer David Boies, employed private intelligence agencies Kroll and Black Cube and private investigator Jack Palladino to spy on and influence Weinstein’s alleged victims as well as Kantor, Twohey, Farrow and other reporters who were investigating Weinstein.

    Jeffrey Epstein fled to Israel when he first got charged for pedophilia around 2005 and remained there until a sweetheart deal got worked out with the Feds (


  14. Soredemos

    The reality is there’s too much fog of war to claim for certain either Hamas or the IDF are winning in Gaza. Both sides will claim whatever they claim and commentators are all over the map in their assessments because the clear evidence just isn’t really there.

    You can claim the IDF are getting their asses kicked and are scurrying away to let starvation do the job instead, but just as easily and based on the exact same evidence you can claim that the IDF is winning so handily they’ve decided they have the leeway to start pulling units out to either put the troops in reserve in case of a bigger fight to the north, or to get them back to work to shore up the economy.

    It’ll probably be years before we have definitive evidence of how Israeli forces actually faired when they went toe-to-toe directly with Hamas.

    Either way, since the actual goal has always been ethnic cleansing, after making a show for a few months of going in to root out Hamas, Israel can reduce ground operations and simply let disease and famine do most of the work, while continuing to blow up whatever little infrastructure remains from a distance (and houses full of families, which seem to be a choice target. Literally not a day passes without another ’18 members of a single family wiped out’ type report).

  15. StewartM

    Meanwhile, in US domestic politics, for those who think that Trump represents a different policy option:

    Mind you, while Pence is on Trump’s sh*t list now, his Christofascist base is definitely on-board with exterminating Palestinians, so Trump would likely do like they want.

    Over the holidays, I was listening to two relatives of mine discussing Gaza and one of them said she was “ok with the Israelis killing all the Palestinians” (she exclusively watches Fixed News). While usually for reasons of family peace over the holidays, I try to keep mum on political discussions (we guys were watching a football game) I hit the roof, telling them that the median age of Palestinians killed was FIVE YEARS OLD. I also told the others that the irony is that the Palestinians being murdered were the closest thing left on earth to the ancient Hebrews that the Israelis so claim to venerate, to shut up the other evangelical who claimed that they were of a different bloodline (so it was, like, ok to murder them??)

    Everyone shut up. Another relative of mine looked at me and smiled. And the political discussion ended. Later, I apologized to that relative (her family was hosting our get-together) for ‘messing up Thanksgiving’ I was told “Oh no, you were fine.” Over Christmas, the ‘kill them all’ relative tried to bring up another political discussion to which the hosting relative said “Not to change the subject but….[changing the subject]”. 🙂

    The ‘kill them all’ relative is very nearly a shut-in who’s not in good health and sits in a chair all day watching TV and movies. And I suspect if actually seeing things up close and not through the lens of right-wing media, wouldn’t be nearly so strident.

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